Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Cynopsis: DIGITAL

05/06/09

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, May 6, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. 

Stars of the digital media space were anointed yesterday when the annual Webby Awards were announced – the closest thing the industry has to The Oscars. And while the complete list of winners is far to vast to recap here, the group singled out the best of the best this year in a new category dubbed “Special Achievement Awards.” Person of the Year goes to Late Night host, Twitterer extraordinaire and gadget aficionado Jimmy Fallon. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, whose iPhone app was just rejected by Apple for being too crass, wins Artist of the Year for his innovative distribution techniques. Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy creator (and Hulu pitchman) Seth McFarlane was named Film and Video Person of the Year. Matt Damon fling and political commentator Sarah Silverman took Best Actress. Web Therapist Lisa Kudrow won for Outstanding Comedic Performance. And the Webby for Breakout of the Year goes to, who else, Twitter. It’s interesting that all the personalities here were successes in mainstream media first. At least this will make for a more glamorous Webby ceremony, slated for June 8 during Internet Week of New York.
 

~ MULTIPLATFORM CONTENT NEWS ~

 
Following the purchase of music discovery site Last.fm, CBS has decided to reorganize all its digital music assets under a single roof. The CBS Interactive Music Group will house Last.fm, CBS’s 100 or so music websites and audio streams, widgets and various mobile music apps CBS uses to distribute its content. At launch the group, to be headed by former CBS Radio President of Digital Media and Integrated Marketing David Goodman, will reach nearly 40 million uniques worldwide. The Music Group become the 4th division under the CBS Interactive banner, joining Technology and News; Business; Sports and Games; and Entertainment and Lifestyle.
 
Liberty Media partner Mobile Streams announced the off-portal launch of its popular mobile internet store Ringtones.com, providing direct access to mobile phone users in the US to over 20,000 ringtones available from artists such as Katy Perry, Coldplay, Flex and J. Holiday. The site runs on the company’s MultiMobi platform.
 

~ INNOVATORS & START-UPS ~

 
Toronto-based digital music distribution start-up Yangaroo was granted a U.S. patent on its “Content Distribution System and Method,” built to help labels securely distribute songs to radio stations across the country. The Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS) is slowly replacing the cumbersome padded CD envelope method. Yangaroo says it has made over six million deliveries of over 21,000 songs from more than 600 record labels to major U.S. broadcast chains.
 
A family that kills together stays together. Mockumentary “88 Hits,” about the once-powerful Pascadelli mob family who has fallen on hard times, debuted yesterday on Koldcast TV. It’s the latest web series from filmmaker Blake Calhoun, who brought us “Pink,” and The WB.com’s “Exposed.” 


~ DIGITAL ADVERTISING ~

 
The IAB has turned its attention toward defining metrics related to the burgeoning social media space. Its new social metrics release divides the space into social media sites (Facebook, MySpace), blogs and widgets & social media applications built to improve functionality on profile pages.
 
Online video ad start-up YuMe introduced a new ad unit designed to synchronize an in-stream video ad with an accompanying banner ad. The In Synch Video Takeover unit enables elements within the video literally jump off the video player and attach themselves to a banner placement. (Check out the demo-it’s pretty tough to ignore.)
 

~ TECHNOLOGY DEALS, MERGERS AND SKIRMISHES ~

 
In the interest of transparency and inclusiveness the Senate Rules Committee voted yesterday to make the US Senate voting record available in web-friendly XML (extensible markup language) format. The controversial idea was proposed last week by Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and the Senate voted on the issue in seemingly record time. The XML voting data (click here for votes of the 111th Congress’ first session) appears as a jumbled mess without an application to read it. But the development should nonetheless be an important first step in the sharing and gathering of public information. Now developers are free to access these records to track committee votes, earmarks and wealth of other government business long hidden from public scrutiny.
 
The FTC is looking into the possibility of antitrust violations due to excessive overlap between the Google and Apple boards of directors, reports The NYTimes. The companies have two directors in common: Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson.
 
Broadcast-focused software maker Platformic introduced a new version of its development tool and CMS solution that doesn’t require the use of expensive third party authoring tools. The point-and-click interface also includes new tools such as an improved Video Feed solution enabling users to drag, edit and transcode video from a number of formats into the industry standard Adobe Flash.
 
Digital music distribution company The Orchard renewed its current digital distribution deal with NYC hit hop label Definitive Jux. The deal expands the previous agreement to encompass national physical distribution for the US marketplace.
 

~ TRENDS, RESEARCH, ETC.  ~

 
True to its parent company’s renewed focus on engagement metrics, Nielsen Games ranks its top PC and console games in terms of minutes played. Blizzard’s cult Massively Multiplayer Online Game World Of Warcraft was rightly placed at the top of the PC game title list for March when compared against the top 100 pre-installed games measured. Interestingly visitors to the virtual world Second Life actually logged in more minutes per week, but from a much smaller base of users. The console rankings remind us how powerful the PS2 platform remains, due to its huge installed base of users. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 actually ranks above the Nintendo Wii despite its smaller audience.
 
Top 10 PC Game Titles: March 2009
    
Game                                    Publisher Avg. Min/Wk  TMP%
1  World of Warcraft                    Blizzard Ent.   653         46.710
2  Second Life                            Linden Lab      760        3.206
3  Dark Messiah of Might & Magic   Ubisoft          582        3.049
4  Civilization IV: Beyond Sword     2K Games      668        2.690
5  Bookworm                              PopCap Games 169        2.263
6  Half-Life 2                              Vivendi Games  313        2.195
7  Civilization IV                          2K Games         332       2.053
8  Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos      Blizzard Ent.      213      1.739
9  Chessmaster Challenge             PlayFirst            54       1.714
10 StarCraft                               Blizzard Ent.     334       1.676
Source: Nielsen Games – GamePlay Metrics
Share is the percentage of the gaming audience measured that played the title
TMP% represents the percent of total minutes played from the Top 100 non-casual/pre-installed PC games measured
 
Topline Console Usage – March 2009
         Console         Usage Minutes %
1        PlayStation 2         22.0
2        Xbox 360              21.2
3        Wii                       17.9
4        PlayStation 3         10.3
5        Xbox                      6.6
6        GameCube              2.6
7        Other                    19.3
Source: Nielsen Games – GamePlay Metrics
Usage Minutes % is the percent of all measured console minutes. “Other” consists of any other console systems found in the home
 

~ GADGETS & APPS ~

                                                                                    
Nine Inch Nails (see the top story) aren’t the first to be affected by Apple‘s random app approval process. Thankfully Apple plans to address the age-appropriate issue with the release of the upcoming iPhone 3.0 OS, according to 9 to 5 Mac. It will enable parents to maintain control of which apps are downloaded by choosing the age of the iPhone owner – controls currently available in the latest iTunes release. This should open the floodgates for more adult-themed applications.
 
The makers of the highly anticipated The Beatles: Rock Band introduced two vintage replica guitars that will be available for purchase when the game hits stores Sept. 9: John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325 and George Harrison’s Gretsch Duo Jet. The Harmonix/MTV Networks/EA game began accepting pre-orders for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii systems yesterday.
 
This time Paramount is mining its movie vault for iPhone game material. Paramount Digital Entertainment and Freeverse (maker of the “Flick” sports games) released a high budget first person shooter named after Top Gun. It features an innovative use of the device’s accelerometer – enabling players to control their F-22 Raptor or B-2 Stealth Bomber by tilting the phone. It sells on the App Store for an introductory price of $1.99.
 

~ EXECUTIVE MOVES ~

 
Discovery Communications
has named former top Scripps digital programming executive Jody Jones as SVP/Digital Programming, overseeing editorial programming across the company’s portfolio of websites. She reports to Kelly Day, EVP and COO of Digital Media and Commerce for Discovery. She is based in Discovery’s New York office.
 
Contextual advertising company Vibrant named former Yahoo video syndication guru Bob Hammond as SVP/Technology. Bob will be responsible for running Vibrant’s business systems, algorithms, technical operations, database administration and product management. Hammond’s team will span Vibrant’s offices in the United States, London, Germany and France.
 
Transit advertising company Titan Worldwide named Mike Collins as VP, GM for its Dallas region.
 


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~ WEBSITE OF THE DAY ~

 
Evidence is mounting that video syndication is becoming the engine that drives video consumption on the web. Youth-targeted video distribution network Nabbr, which makes a business out of delivering video impressions to media clients and brand advertisers, cracked the top 10 of ComScore’s Video Metrix rankings for the first time in March. Despite the lack of a destination site, Nabbr delivered 140 million videos to 22 million unique visitors by syndicating music videos, movie trailers and TV show previews to a network of affiliated sites that provide content apps for social networking pages. (These are the sites social networkers use to trick out their profiles, such as MyProfilePimp and RockYou.) ComScore says Nabbr videos didn’t show up until tags were activated that enabled their panels to track the videos. Other distributors such as Broadband Enterprises and Video Egg, which are normally pulled from published provider rankings, are also climbing the charts. A sizeable chunk of Hulu’s meteoritic rise in video views also come from videos embedded on social networking sites. The trend is so pronounced that ComScore is considering breaking out video views on destination sites vs. distributed sites in the near future, according to spokesperson Andrew Lipsman. All this is good news for content producers and advertisers alike, as affiliated networks will always be more powerful than individual sites, no matter how consolidated they get. “We’re working toward syndicating to the same kind of reach as broadcast, but to do it more intelligently – this is the big dream,” said Mike More, CEO and founder of Nabbr. 
 
Later — Wayne
 Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
05.06.09

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SITUATION WANTED: COLLEGE STUDENT/NYC/DC: Seeking exciting summer internship (paid or unpaid). Drama & Psyc major at Vassar College, particularly interested in film and TV. Enthusiastic and hardworking. [email protected] (5/7)

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