February 26, 2007

Finding More Nuanced Ways of Understanding Most Popular Sites, Posts

Our research director, Joshua Green, sent around this fascinating post that appeared earlier this month on the blog Read/WriteWeb, focusing on more sophisticated ways to measure what audiences are saying.

Alex Iskold writes, "In the web 1.0 world, understanding what people liked was a voodoo science. Luckily, in these days of blogs and social software, there are fairly definitive ways of measuring what people like. Comments on posts, del.icio.us bookmarks, Technorati links and of course Diggs, are all entries into the fascinating world of social popularity."

Instead of just tracing page views, they looked at the posts they had published which had received the most comments, with the most popular post in this regard receiving 201 comments, almost 100 above the next most-commented-on post.

They found a much different ranking of popularity by looking solely at bookmarks on del.icio.us, and yet a third much different list from digg.

The author concludes, "Using social information to measure user information is an effective way for bloggers to understand what their readers like. It is also possible to use the methods we've outlined here to measure the popularity and effectiveness of pages on a corporate web site."

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Online Reaction to Proposed Bill for Government to Require ISPs to Retain All Tracking Data Indefinitely

I've been tracking reaction to the announcement from U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, a Republican, a couple of weeks ago called the SAFETY Act, which is short for the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act.

According to the wording of the bill, the introduced legislation intends to track financial facilitations of access to child pornography, online hosting of child pornography and exploitation, and other such measures. What has most people up in arms is not the move to eliminate child pornography and the idea of protecting children's safety, but rather the means by which the bill intends to go about it.

According to Iain Thomson with VNU, the bill "would require ISPs to record all users' surfing activity, IM conversations and email traffic indefinitely."

Hmmm...wonder what could have people up in arms about that? Perhaps civil liberties, that forgotten concept of American freedom? As Thomson reports, the bill would make it a crime punishable not only by fines but even a prison term for up to one year for any Internet service provider which does not keep full records of the activities of its users.

Josh at The Seminal wrote a strong reaction to the legislation which my colleague Alec Austin sent my way. Josh writes that the legislation "is currently the gravest threat to digital privacy rights on the Internet. Given the increasing tendency of people, especially young people, to use the Internet as a primary means of communication, this measure would affect nearly all Americans in ways we are only beginning to understand. Also, given the fact that the Act requires all Internet Service Providers to record the web surfing activity of all Internet users, this amounts to the warrantless wiretapping of the entire Internet."

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Positioning Console Fandom Between Brand and Media Fan Communities: Reaction to an Essay from Elliot Panek

Earlier today, I wrote a piece which focused on the work of Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka and girl gamers' interest in Guitar Hero.

The piece appeared as part of a February special issue of Flow, the scholarly journal of television criticism out of UT-Austin, which focused particularly on video games.

Another fascinating study from that same issue of Flow is written by Elliot Panek of neighboring Emerson College, who writes, "Who Are Wii? The Study of Console Fandom."

Panek focuses on the brand communities surrounding gaming platforms, asking some intriguing questions: "Why do these objects mean so much to so many? Is console fandom something like other forms of media fandom? Is it akin to brand fandom, or something more like people's love/hate relationship with televisions?"

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Guitar Hero and Girl Gamers: Highlighting the Work of Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka

The UT-Austin online scholarly journal of television criticism Flow earlier this month came out with a special video games issue which included a number of interesting pieces. One essay in particular which caught my eye was by independent scholar Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka, entitled "Getting Girls to Play: The Broadening of the Video Game Market."

We have been doing some internal research here at C3 about the girl gamers sector, so I was interested in reading Suzanne's take. In particular, she writes about her own performances with Guitar Hero. She starts with the premise that "a system has been in place that creates barriers to the inclusion of women and girls from being seen as 'typical' game players by the industry. This has led to a small number of women and girls playing immersive video games," and notes that most games force these women to see the world as heterosexual men would. Socially, she posits that most women come to games through male acquaintances traditionally as well.

However, she has found that games like Guitar Hero have created a new space in which traditional non-gamers can engage with games that appeal to others outside of the core "gamer" crowd. She notes that "two of the six playable characters in Guitar Hero are female and three of the nine playable characters are female in Guitar Hero II.

Continue reading "Guitar Hero and Girl Gamers: Highlighting the Work of Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka" »

February 24, 2007

Fora.tv Provides Another Model for Niche Video Sharing Sites

Back in January, I wrote about various video sharing sites filling in the niches around YouTube censorship, based on an article by Brad Stone in the New York Times.

This post focused on sharing sites like LiveLeak, Dailymotion, and Stickam, all of which have carved out an audience by providing something that YouTube does not. For LiveLeak, it has been the posting of war videos and footage that YouTube would not allow. For Dailymotion, there is no limit to the length of the videos posted. And, for Stickam, it is the ability to send out live video feeds and have online video chats.

At the beginning of this month, Eric Benderoff with the Chicago Tribune featured another story that highlighted another set of these video sites which are developing niches around the more popular sites.

In this case, the focus was on FORA.tv, whose tagline is "The World Is Thinking." The site is described in the article as "C-Span for Web video," featuring a wide variation of international political videos that might not get that much attention elsewhere. The tight focus provides a model that may not have the ubiquity of YouTube but also has none of the noise. For people who might be looking for "Kuwait's minister of foreign affairs talk for an hour before the International Institute for Strategic Studies," as the article uses as an example, this site would be a concentrated place to find such video footage uploaded.

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Revver Announces Distribution Deal with Verizon FiOS

The online video distribution service getting the press most recently has been Revver, as the company has announced that it will be making its content available through the FiOS TV service offered by Verizon.

The Revver content will be available on FiOS later this year, as well as Verizon's Surround broadband entertainment portal.

The new FiOS service was officially introduced at CES. As Beth Duggan with TelevisionWeek puts it, FiOs "enables subscribers to access broadcast TV, the Internet, their private music and photo collections, and now Revver videos, through one media-management system."

Revver has hyped their ability to bring more attention to the creators who use the video service for their content, by providing more portals for distribution. On the other hand, this gives substantial new content to FiOS as well. The profit will be split half and half between Revver and its creators for earned revenue with the distribution.

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February 22, 2007

Anatomy of a Spinoff: Will Grey's Anatomy Create a Compelling New Show for Addison?

The latest news to come out, based on today's Wall Street Journal article by Brooks Barnes (subscription required), is that Grey's Anatomy will try to launch a television extension spinoff that there have been few examples of, with the pilot appearing as one of the latter episodes this season, to launch a full spinoff next fall, if the show does well.

The pilot will be two hours, featuring the character of Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepherd, played by actress Kate Walsh, who will be the star of the spinoff show.

The title hasn't been announced yet, nor has the plot been publicly solidified, only an announcement to build a series if the pilot does well as an episode of Grey's Anatomy.

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Momentary Community Arises Around Facebook Group to Raise a Student's Grade in Econ

One of the most interesting ad-hoc communities I've seen develop as of late was this group I was invited to join a couple of weeks ago (look here). You've probably seen this phenomenon before, where people just try to get others to join a group for some supposed benefit, in this case getting a million people to join the group by 10 February 2007 so that his economics professor will raise his grade from a 79.4 average to a B-.

The person who set up the group said the last ditch effort was "a deal with the devil" designed to "keep my dreams of Law school alive." The digg for the link was included on the group site here, and the group got up to several thousand members.

What fascinates me, though, is that there are no administrators left for the group, that the group was supposed to disband on 10 February 2007, but that it still has 59,618 members and continued posts written on the wall every day. There were two posts on the wall today, for a total of 2,497 total so far, and 36 discussion topics within the group, including one with 449 posts called "I can't believe this guy got a C in Econ!!???"

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Not Just "Merely Entertained": Information Gathering and Ad Recall for The Weather Channel

Some interesting news this week comes from The Weather Channel, who are claiming that they have higher advertising recall than other networks, based on a study that found higher ad recall for the network, when compared to Home and Garden Television and the USA Network.

Jon Lafayette with TelevisionWeek summarizes the take of the Weather Channel's VP of national ad sales, Liz Janneman, as being that "they're also paying attention because they've tuned in to get specific information, rather than be merely entertained."

Interesting point about push versus pull, in that people often go to the Weather Channel to specifically watch for a set period of time in trying to gather specific information. This says something about the activeness of the viewer (although it does discount all of those people I know who leave their TV set on the Weather Channel for no apparent reason, like my dad).

According to the study, by ASI through a commission from media buyer OMD, ads on the Weather Channel had a 19 percent recall, compared to 14 percent for both USA and HGTV.

Part of that has also been attributed to the fact that Weather Channel has more commercial breaks in the hour that are much shorter in duration, meaning it is not as easy to skip the ads.

Continue reading "Not Just "Merely Entertained": Information Gathering and Ad Recall for The Weather Channel" »

February 21, 2007

FCC Discusses Increasing Authority Over Violent Programming, Cable and Satellite

Among the big news items over the past few days is a plan from the FCC to move forward on more actively regulating violence on television and--perhaps most controversially--to expand that regulation to cable.

The decision stems out of an extensive study the communications group has made over the past few years to find ways that Congress can allow the FCC to regulate violent programming, all within the realm of the First Amendment.

The AP story says, "The long-overdue report suggests Congress could craft a law that would let the agency regulate violent programming much like it regulates sexual content and profanity--by barring it from being aired during hours when children may be watching, for example."

The report also focuses on furthering these restrictions to cable and satellite channels, such as focusing on "a la carte" programming.

Of course, media effects research plays a key role in the justification behind why we need to censor violence, and children remain the key to that justification as well.

The AP story says, "The recommendations are sure to alarm executives in the broadcast and cable industries, members of the creative community and First Amendment advocates." In particular, people are raising questions about violence on the news.

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Joost Deal with Viacom Expands Platforms for Content Across the Company's Brands

In the past month, I have written about the expansion of Veoh and Brightcove, News Corporation's investment in Roo, and YouTube's deal with Digital Music Group.

Add another interesting cross-platform distribution deal to the mix this week, as Viacom has announced a deal with Joost to distribute Viacom music videos and television shows through the online system. The deal will include Paramount movies and various MTV Networks properties, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Nickelodeon, CMT, MTV2, Spike TV, Logo, mtvU, and Gametrailers.com.

Ken Fisher provides plenty of information at ars technica about the partnership, with the prediction that Viacom is taking 2/3 stake in the venture.

Of course, everyone is making the YouTube connection, and the story in The Wall Street Journal emphasizes Joost's agreement to work on copyright protection as one of the "stumbling blocks" of the YouTube negotiations with Viacom, which I wrote about earlier this month.

He writes, "Truth be told, Joost is nothing like YouTube. Joost is all about TV-length programming, although it can show shorter clips and even feature-lenght films. Most importantly, Joost is focused on commercial video content, not the user creations that have made YouTube so popular. To wit, you cannot upload content to Joost."

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Citizen Journalism and the Replacement of the Pros with User-Generated Content

User-generated news. I've been hearing various media professionals lately criticizing moves in the industry that have led to columnists and journalists being let go in favor of less professional content and more homespun analysis. The blogosphere replaces professional writers, the collective intelligence the singular expert.

Now, certainly, even groups like C3 who value the idea of reader-writer dialogue and the sort agree that we're not going to see the professional disappear but rather be joined by non-professional voice who deserve a degree of validity.

Yet, I have heard of several instances lately in which a news division or editorial section dumps the staff entirely in favor of user-generated news and opinion. The most recent example came from earlier this month, in The San Francisco Chronicle, which carried a story about a small TV station, owned by Clear Channel, which fires its news staff and is looking for programming directly from its viewers.

The station is KFTY, situated in Santa Rosa, and it is listed as "covering one-eighth of the Bay Area" with an area so concentrated and ratings so low that it can't even be measured by Nielsen.

The station, "Channel 50," is asking the community "its independent filmmakers, its college students and professors, its civic leaders and others--to provide programming for the station."

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February 19, 2007

MTV's Scarred Raises Discussion About User-Generated Content on TV, But the Phenomenon Is More Than Just a Modern Fad or Buzz Phrase

While I was reading about upcoming plans for television projects, I saw that MTV is launching a variety of new series, one of which is being called Scarred. The series will be in the style of those syndicated programs which air people doing dangerous stunts and filming themselves while doing them, often unintentionally. MTV's version, hosted by Papa Roach will feature videos of terrible injuries and the like.

Chris Pursell emphasizes that this is the first MTV show featuring exclusively user-generated content, although I'm sure the network-produced Papa Roach won't hurt ratings any.

Nevertheless, that had me thinking about the "buzz phrase" of "user-generated content." I won't launch into a diatribe now, but I think the danger over the past few months has been in making "user-generated content" such an overused term that it starts to sound like a fad rather than new expressions of a long-standing part of the entertainment industry.

User activity, interactivity, and user-created properties that add value to a media property have long been a part of television, radio, literature, and myriad other media formats. Call-in requests on the radio, fan fiction, fan commentary, interactive storytelling of various sorts--all are more active and conversational forms of interaction with fans that values user input in meaningful ways.

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Showtime Interactive 2.0 Adding DVR Features, More Access to Ancillary Content

Friday, Showtime announced their own foray into interactive television with a new feature for Dish Network homes that will be called Interactive 2.0. The service, which will work with the regular Showtime channel for Dish subscribers, will allow these users to watch ancillary content through their remote control. Most helpful may be a feature that allows viewers to see Showtime programming for the next month and to select programs for recording weeks ahead of time.

The service also includes the ability to select angles when watching boxing matches, more developed details about actors, behind-the-scenes footage, trivia, and other features for fans.

According to the press release, the service will also be available in a limited capacity to non-Showtime subscribers and stretches across all 10 Showtime channels.

The service will include dedicated sections for popular shows such as Dexter, Weeds, and The L Word.

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DVR Viewers Watching Commercials After All? Nielsen Study Shows Significant Number of Commercial Viewers, Especially Same-Day

The latest DVR news is likely to have networks rejoicing, if the Nielsen statistics are any indication of how people are using their digital video recorders, especially in same-day viewing of advertisements.

A pair of stories from sources that I follow regularly have highlighted the implications of the Nielsen results. Louise Story from The New York Times highlights the Nielsen study that finds that people who watch television with DVRs watch an average of two-thirds of the advertisements as part of her story on Friday.

One of the reasons, and this is no surprise, is that people with DVRs still watch "about half of their shows at the scheduled start time," meaning that DVR users still watch things while they are on through their digital video recorder. If live viewing is still counted as DVR viewing, then I'm not quite as surprised at the statistics because live viewing is very much still a part of the television experience, even for people like me who have two DVRs in less than 500 square feet of space.

I don't watch much "when it's on," but there's another phenomenon that Story doesn't mention that is still important. Sometimes, in an effort to skip commercials, I wait several minutes before I start watching a program. Of course, if I miscalculate and start too early, I end up catching up to the live airing and watch the last couple of commercial breaks.

Nevertheless, she emphasizes that "even when people watch recorded shows later, many are not fast-forwarding through the ads. On average, Nielsen found, DVR owners watch 40 percent of commercials that they could skip over."

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LCDs Unquestionably Driving the Push for Widescreen and HD TV Sets

Yesterday, I wrote about the King of the Hill aspect ratio controversy regarding whether the animated show was really aired in high-definition and what it means for the future of an HD animated lineup on Sunday nights on Fox.

However, James Hibberd had another story that caught my eye in last week's high-definition newsletter, covering a study that has proclaimed that LCD sales have officially outsold plasma during the final quarter of last year.

The study, from DisplaySearch, confirms predictions that LCD would completely surpass plasma in the war for high-definition, widescreen television sales.

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February 18, 2007

King of the Hill Aspect Ratio Controversy Leaves Fans Asking What HD Really Is

Discussions continue about the transformation of animated shows to high-definition, this time centering around Fox Sunday night mainstays The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Back in August, I wrote about the percentage of network programming in HD. Fox was in last place among the six networks, primarily because of the primetime animation offerings that were not being converted to high-definition.

And plenty of people since then have questioned the value of having these cartoons in HD, particularly back in December when the makers of South Park crashed their hard drives trying to create a high-definition episode. At the time, I wrote that the FAQ section for South Park Studios stated that "there have been discussions but no decisions yet" about a transition to HD.

So what does this mean for King of the Hill and The Simpsons. King was recently aired in HD on Jan. 28, giving fans hope for further experimentation with a permanent HD product. However, according to James Hibberd reports that "Fox has no immediate plans to upgrade the production of its Sunday night animated comedies due to an aspect ratio dispute with producers."

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NBA 3D HD Viewing Parties in Las Vegas Tries to Popularize Public 3D Viewings

Television viewing is inherently social. While we've written plenty of times about the power of fan communities (see here and here and here and here) in the online space, the most basic formation of community among fans is the one-on-one or small group discussions that have always occurred around viewing and watching shows, whether these be sports show parties, DVD marathons for a series, or phone conversations or IMs after the latest teen drama or soap opera.

That's what the NBA is hoping to tap into on a grander scale with its newest plan for encouraging the adoption of new technology for three-dimensional high-definition NBA basketball games.

Earlier this month, the National Basketball Association announced that it is holding a series of game parties in Las Vegas to view the games in 3-D HD. The events will be elitist, invitation only, and will involve the screenings of both the All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday Night this weekend, both as a way to help promote new 3-D technology through an NBA partnership with PACE, which James Hibberd with TelevisionWeek calls "a company specializing in 3-D production founded by James Cameron and cinematographer Vincent Pace."

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February 15, 2007

Formation of CBS Mobile a Further Indication of a Commitment to Mobile Media Extensions

One big piece of news I neglected to mention on the blog over the past couple of weeks is news that CBS Interactive is creating a new division to focus particularly on wireless entertainment. The division, given the no-frills title CBS Mobile, will help direct the links the company has built with a variety of mobile distributors, such as Verizon V CAST.

Plans for the new cell service includes original mini-soap operas for mobile distribution, which will launch this year.

I don't know the specifics of the soap opera related plan, but the shift of CBS indicates that companies are getting more and more serious about formulating a definite mobile media plan.

CBS has been very forward-thinking in regard to some of the series and cross-platform distribution through CBS innertube for Web content, and this move more boldly into mobile media indicates the company is forwarding a multi-platform distribution model for its future.

This drive stems from the formation of CBS Interactive, which I wrote about back in November. Quincy Smith, formerly with the investment bank Allen & Co., came to CBS to help formulate a more aggressive approach to the company's new media efforts.

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Nielsen/DirecTV Deal to Give Nielsen More Valuable Data for Set Top Boxes

As Nielsen struggles to redefine itself to remain the center of the television industry, news came out yesterday that DirecTV had a valentine of its own for the measurement company: the satellite service provider will give Nielsen set top data from 300,000 DirecTV customers.

The move helps build Nielsen's increasing drive to move beyond its small traditional sample into a way to measure the way television is being consumed in an increasingly niche market and with new digital tools. This comes particularly alongside the plans for Nielsen Digital Plus, the service which will blend streams of data from Nielsen Media Resdearch, Nielsen Monitor Plus, A>C. Nielsen, Claritas, and Spectra and Bases into one service.

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NBC Nightly News the First Network Evening News Show in HD

Last summer, the network news race was toward transmedia content. This year, it appears to be gearing up for a race to high-definition.

And the early sprinter is NBC Nightly News, who will become the first of the evening news shows to launch in HD when the show starts a high-def broadcast next month.

NBC's Today has been broadcast in HD since last September, while Dateline, the other NBC news production, has not made plans for high-definition as of yet.

James Hibberd, the TelevisionWeek senior reporter who provides excellent continuous coverage of the industry's latest high-definition news, writes, "Though local news markets have increasingly embraced HD as a way of keeping viewers coming out of HD prime-time programming, national evening news departments have been slow to embrace the format. In addition to the cost of overhauling a studio, the department has to replace field cameras around the world. For NBC Nightly News, most field reports will continue to use standard-definition cameras until early 2008."

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Move Over Henry--Clay-mation Gumby is the New "Great Compromiser"

While YouTube has been in the news most heavily this week for complying to Fox's request for names, the company has also struck another significant deal in its continued negotiations with copyright holders. While dealing with Viacom may have gone sour, the company has struck a deal with the Digital Music Group (DMGI), so that users on YouTube will be granted th right to use particular DGMI songs for clips. According to Mike Shields with MediaWeek, the company "owns or controls over 40,000 musical recordings."

But wait...that's not all. The company has also agreed to make a variety of classic TV shows available through YouTube's video sharing services, including I Spy, My Favorite Martian, and Gumby. Ahhh...what classics.

DMGI gets a cut of the ad revenue from these videos, and YouTube will detect videos that use songs from their music library and will give DGMI an appropriate cut on ad money from those videos as well.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz, in When Google Met Gumby, points out that DMGI owns a variety of video content that would be potentially very valuable for the niche audiences that scour YouTUbe. "Besides, many of the claymation shorts--like Gumby Adventures and The Mr. Bill Show--in Digital's arsenal are perfect fodder for YouTube's short-attention-span audience."

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Google Hands Over Names to Fox in 24 Piracy Controversy

Last month, I asked, "The question is whether YouTube has the same rights as a lawyer, doctor, priest ,or journalist and whether the company sees its users in the same way those other professions see their clients, patients, parishioners, or sources." The answer to the latter question is now apparent.

Google has complied with the request from Twentieth Century Fox to name the users who uploaded videos of 24 and The Simpsons before their aired on the network, the legal move that I called a "symbolic subpoena." After all, this does little to correct the actual piracy, and these users were just passing video along and were not the ones who leaked it in the first place. However, they are the lambs being led to the slaughter.

It's not as if Google doesn't have the legal right. After all, they warned everyone. YouTube's privacy policy states that the company "may release personally identifiable information" if hte law requires them to do so or also "in the good-faith belief that such action is necessary to comply with state and federal laws (such as U.S. Copyright Law) or respond to a court order, subpoena, or search warrant."

So they had already explicitly stated that they have the right to hand over the names, and that's what they have done.

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February 14, 2007

Veoh's Revamped Site, Improved Syndication System Unveiled

In some news from Monday, Veoh's revamped service, which has been in beta testing for the past few weeks, has recently launched, featuring a video player that will allow consumers download and view content from other sites, as well as a new home page with personalized recommendations, listings for featured broadcasters whose content is available through Veoh and a popular categories option, with the downloadable service part of extensions aimed at facilitating longer videos.

The service also allows users to group videos together and embed that series in various places.

The new service will allow download-to-own and rental in addition to streamed videos, all on a larger player. This all ties into Veoh's plans to expand its online syndication business by allowing users to syndicate to iTunes, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Google. The distribution system, designed to set up modes of profitability for user video, is part of Veoh's Pro program.

And Dr. Pepper is one of the site's first major advertisers.

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February 13, 2007

A Soap Spins Off Into Primetime

Dear readers, I've been forced to accept that I will never be as prolific a blogger as my colleague, Sam Ford. And, if I keep waiting to post interesting items to this blog until I am prepared to write on them at length, I'll be holding back on a lot of items that some of you might find interesting.

So to inaugurate my return to the C3 blog, I'm making a symbolic gesture, and presenting a soap-related item that crossed my desk this morning:

The morning briefing from Cynopsis reports:

Based on the ABC daytime soap General Hospital, SOAPnet has ordered 13 one-hour episodes of its first exclusive, serialized drama called General Hospital: Night Shift (wt). The weekly drama will center on the soap's current characters and give viewers an extension of what happens during the nighttime hours at the hospital. The series is expected to premiere this summer and will be cross-promoted during the daytime version of General Hospital on ABC.

Not transmedia in the traditional sense -- no platforms being crossed just yet -- but it's an interesting experiment in creating television spin-offs that remain tightly linked to the narratives of their parent show.

Smart of SOAPnet; if they're going to branch into producing their own series, it's wise to start by capitalizing on an existing audience.

Verdict, Sam?

February 12, 2007

Ubisoft Blurs Distinction Between Films and Games by Branching into CGI

Here's another interesting--and natural--step in the world of convergence, this time from a video game company. For those who haven't seen the news this weekend, Ubisoft has announced that it will be entering the movie business, making its own animated CGI films based on the type of animation used for the company's games.

The company announced Friday that it would be adding a thousand people to its staff as part of a larger initiatives to expand game development. The plan is for this increase to take place over the next six years.

The company's announcement was that it would be investing as much as $383.9 million over that time to bring in those new people to Monreal, with half working on developing films while the other half works on traditional game development. The film division will initially make shorts that will be distributed online, some of them based on their video game properties, such as initial plans for an 8-minute film based on Assassin's Creed.

This would expand the size of the company's workforce in Montreal substantially, with 1,600 employees currently located in the city, according to a story from John Gaudiosi of Hollywood Reporter.

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Access vs. Censorship, Part VI: Final Thoughts

This is the final part of a six-part series on public policy and the trouble the U.S. government has with balancing its role in providing access, on the one hand, and policing content on the other. The first five parts of this series are available here, here, here, here, and here.

Restricting access to content and censoring content ruled objectionable manages to protect public sensibilities and can be extremely popular politically, but the long-term value of such approaches are harder to ascertain. As boyd points out, initiatives like DOPA do very little, if anything, to eliminate underlying problems and instead restrict the many positive uses of these technologies. Rather than providing new forms of access, these initiatives place broad restrictions on how these technologies are used. Overall, the greater public good seems to come along with a high prioritization to making as many people as possible involved in communicating using these new technologies.

In Henry Jenkins' and David Thorburn's book Democracy and New Media, cyberspace scholar Douglas Schuler writes that "the key to the goal of democratizing cyberspace is not to cling blindly to simplistic technocratic or libertarian platitudes," an important point in trying to decide how for Congress to best spend the next two years in forming public policy on regulating the mass media. This line of action, focusing on increasing access as opposed to restricting it, is emphasized here because of the greater foreseeable benefit of putting resources behind issues of access instead of holding solely to political philosophy. A pragmatic approach of utilitarianism emphasizes putting resources behind projects that stand to make a real difference rather than debates that lead to continued inaction.
These contemporary pieces of legislation about net neutrality and DOPA are far from the only current examples of struggles between the perspectives of free access and governmental restriction. Certainly last year's increase of the indecency fine regulated by the Federal Communications Commission appears alongside debates about how to help the industry make the conversion from analog to digital transmission, while the desire to tax online worlds is balanced with continued initiatives from both governmental and citizen groups to bridge the "digital divide." In short, the government's role in the industries of multiple media forms is constantly being balanced in this scale of access versus restriction.

Continue reading "Access vs. Censorship, Part VI: Final Thoughts" »

February 11, 2007

Access vs. Censorship, Part V: What Does the Debate on Net Neutrality Mean?

This is the fifth of a six-part series on public policy and the trouble the U.S. government has with balancing its role in providing access, on the one hand, and policing content on the other. This part focuses on the larger struggles inherent in the current battle on net neutrality. The first four parts of this series are available here, here, here, and here.

The debate of market rhetoric aside, the emphasis on net neutrality is the most blatant example of a push for continued government involvement as a moderator to ensure equality online. The question seems to be whether the government's major role should be one of content regulation or access regulation. In this case, the overall benefit of issues like net neutrality and bridging the digital divide seems to be that these initiatives provide insurance for a free marketplace for content providers and users with greater accessibility, at the exclusion of the private interests of service providers and finding new initiatives to provide services to a wide diversity of income levels and locations. In both instances, then, the initiatives are to increase the number of speakers, and listeners, in mass communication.

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Access vs. Censorship, Part IV: Net Neutrality

This is the fourth of a six-part series on public policy and the trouble the U.S. government has with balancing its role in providing access, on the one hand, and policing content on the other. This part focuses on the the current debate on net neutrality. The first three parts of this series are available here, here, and here.

While Congress was enmeshed in debates about the ill cognitive effects of screens on children, increasing indecency fines, and banning social networking use among teenagers from libraries and schools, there were important issues of access being raised on the blogosphere, in the popular press, and in Congress as well.

These issues include debates about fair use (look here, here, and here; also, see Siva Vaidhyanathan's Copyrights and Copywrongs and the Brennan Center for Justice's Will Fair Use Survive: Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control.)

They also include the struggle of citizens to gain some abilities to be able to quote effectively from visual and audio texts through their own video commentaries and parodies (look at Kembrew McLeod's Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity), as well as potential ways to bridge the digital divide to provide access to digital and broadband technology across geographic and socioeconomic boundaries. Seth Shulman writes in Owning the Future, page 183, "The Internet stands at a crucial juncture: This new communication tool could benefit all citizens, or it could line the pockets of select groups, reinforcing existing disparities." However, the battle for a free market and more equal access does not have to inherently be opposed, as the question about which aspect of "free market" a libertarian perspective would take into account indicates.

Yet, perhaps the most central online legislative issue of the past year has been net neutrality.

Continue reading "Access vs. Censorship, Part IV: Net Neutrality" »

February 10, 2007

Access vs. Censorship, Part III: Is DOPA Last Year's Concern?

This is the third of a six-part series on public policy and the trouble the U.S. government has with balancing its role in providing access, on the one hand, and policing content on the other. This part focuses on the failure of the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) to pass in 2006 and questions about what this means for the new Congress. The first two parts of this series are available here and here.

Because the U.S. Senate never addressed DOPA by the end of the previous Congress, this legislation is now back to square one, with the 410-15 vote an archive of last year's congress. Will a Democrat-controlled Congress revisit the bill, which obviously had strong bipartisan support in the House before? Andy Carvin with PBS points out the substantial concerns from Sen. Patrick Leahy and the Mark Foley scandal as distracting Congress from DOPA, particularly considering the resonance the Foley scandal had with the issues DOPA raised.

Then, when the bill's primary sponsor entered the final stages of a heated election race, Carvin said the ball was dropped on DOPA and may not be likely to be picked back up, especially considering that the representative who introduced it was not re-elected and that the bill was Republican-driven. "The question is whether the new Democrat leaders of Congress would look at the resulting public polling data and decide to enact their own DOPA-like legislation," Carvin writes.

The bill's critics are hoping DOPA will stay in the past, particularly in a non-election year and with a shift in focus for a new legislative body. However, DOPA itself may be gone, but the public sentiment against social networking site for fear of children is not. Child safety lobby groups are very active, as a recent New York Times story about video sharing sites points out. Journalist Brad Stone writes about Web site Stickam, which allows viewers to send out live feeds and have online video chats, even allowing anyone 14 or older to use the site. While the potential dangers on the site should be a concern, a spokesperson for child safety group WiredSafety was quoted as saying, "The only thing you get from the combination of Web cams and young people are problems. Web cams are a magnet for sexual predators."

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Access vs. Censorship, Part II: The Deleting Online Predators Act

This is the second of a six-part series on public policy and the trouble the U.S. government has with balancing its role in providing access, on the one hand, and policing content on the other. This part focuses on one of the most prevalent pieces of media restriction legislation in the past year, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). Part one is available here.

The Deleting Online Predators Act, according to the language of the bill, is aimed "to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial networking websites and chat rooms." A copy of the bill, introduced 09 May 2006, is available here.

The bill calls for prohibiting sites or chat rooms in schools on which students may "easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material;" "may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances" [ . . . ]; or "may easily access other material that is harmful to minors," with the same restrictions for libraries. The only caveat is that the site may be used by adults in these spaces or by minors in the accompaniment of an adult for educational purposes. This bill dealt with federally funded institutions only and was created on the heels of a 2003 Supreme Court decision that the 2000 Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was constitutional in requiring libraries to filter sexually explicit materials for minors, as Lisa M. Bowman with Tech News points out.

When the bill went to vote in the House on 27 July 2006, it passed with a 410-15 vote, receiving overwhelming support in both major political parties. At the time, analysts knocked the bill for being vague and playing on current societal fears about the dangers of these sites in order to restrict and control modes of communication. For instance, Marshall Kirkpatrick with the influential Web site TechCrunch wrote on the night the bill was passed in the Senate that the bill "has the potential to impact a huge portion of our readership and the companies we profile on the site. Though the viability of enforcing such a law is open to questions, web services offering collaboration in education are looking seriously endangered" (emphasis his).

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February 9, 2007

Access vs. Censorship, Part I: Avoiding Schizophrenia in U.S. Media Policy

The following series of posts is based on research I completed for the New Media and Democracy course at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in Fall 2006. As I think these regulatory issues are an essential guiding force for the convergence culture we write about here at C3, I wanted to share this work with the C3 readers in a series of upcoming posts. This first post in this six-part series will lay out the groundwork of the research I completed, followed by an examination of DOPA and net neutrality,which are examples of two types of government regulation of new media.

Parts two and three will look at DOPA and then whether or not DOPA is "last year's concern." Parts four and five will look at net neutrality and what the debate on net neutrality really means. Finally, in the conclusion, we will revisit the larger questions posed here.

Avoiding Schizophrenia in U.S. Media Policy

The United States government has focused on two forms of government intervention in the media industry in the past few years, and throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. These two forms of government regulation are often in conflict and display two distinct views of government. One of these perspectives views the government as a referee, or else as an enabler, to make sure that rules are enforced in the media industry to ensure fair business practices and to maximize citizen connectivity. The other mindset portrays the government as an active and maternal force, protecting citizens from the dangers of this connectivity.

Because of the collisions between these divergent views, the government may be seen as schizophrenic in its actions, encouraging free speech and innovation in one regard and demonstrating a desire to restrict that communication in the next.

Continue reading "Access vs. Censorship, Part I: Avoiding Schizophrenia in U.S. Media Policy" »

February 8, 2007

Comcast/Facebook Pair for TV Show Featuring User-Generated Content, While Leichtman Finds Online Video Viewing Growing Slowly

Viewing online video growth may be growing at a slower rate than some visionaries would like to see, but it isn't slowing the variety of new business models designed to facilitate online videos or to launch new media properties through Web programming. One key that seems to be driving the growth in online video viewing and new models, however, is the pervasiveness of user-generated content.

A partnership has been announced between cable provider Comcast and social networking site Facebook to create a television series featuring user-generated content through Ziddio, Comcast's user-generated Internet video platform. This fulfills one of Ziddio's major goals. As I wrote back in November, "The plan is to bridge this user-generated content cross-platform into video-on-demand for Comcast users as well, picking the best content for VOD."

The plan is for Facebook to encourage its users to post videos online through Ziddio or Facebook, with representatives from both companies choosing some of the user-generated clips for a new show called Facebook Diaries, which would air on VOD for Comcast as well as on Facebook's site and Ziddio's site.

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February 7, 2007

Caveman's Crib: Developing Branded Entertainment for an Insurance Company

I've never seen a site quite like this one. If you haven't checked out Caveman's Crib, it's definitely worth a look, especially if you've enjoyed the recent Geico advertising campaign.

It's a visual indication of one of the oddest success stories in recent television advertising. It's the story of the Geico plans for a one-time commercial that has turned into a continued advertising campaign for the company that has now developed into transmedia extensons taking on a life of their own.

It all reminds me of an argument we've had about the 30-second spot for a long time and its assured demise. That hyperbole, some of which I've taken part in myself, exists alongside ad campaigns that are more vibrant than ever. But it emphasizes a message--people are still interested in commercials that are exceptionally compelling, that build a brand-based entertainment property, in this case, that entertains, that you stop your DVR for.

Insurance has always been a particularly tough nut to crack when it comes to creativity. The service companies like Geico provides is, first of all, one that most Americans despise having to pay and that many feel is a leach on their wallets, sucking money for no return. After all, the only way your car insurance is of great use to you is if you have a lot of wrecks...and if you have a lot of wrecks, no one wants to give you insurance.

Nonetheless, Geico has built its brand by emphasizing its low prices while creating ads that, while they don't completely take the focus away from the insurance, are entertainment-based rather than service-based.

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Wal-Mart Downloads and TiVo/Amazon Unbox Connection Making Industry Headlines

The big news today is the full-fledged launch by Wal-Mart into the video movie download market, starting with a beta version of the product that features 3,000 television shows and films in the available library, followed by the Amazon/TiVo announcement that Amzon Unbox will be unveiling on TiVo.

To deal with these in chronological order, first with Wal-Mart.

The service unveiled yesterday. Oh, but you can't use a Mac. And...well...you can't use the Firefox browser. At least that's what has several bloggers upset with the new service on its unveiling, covered for instance by Paula Zargaj-Reynolds at Advertising Is Good For You. She writes, "You'd think with all the 'Wal-Mart sucks' bumper stickers, T-shirts and blog posts out there, Wal-Mart would be trying to improve its image by not greeting its website visitors with the Internet equivalent of 'F-you!'"

Meanwhile, Michael at DVD Dossier provides some real-time coverage of the service as a Firefox user.

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Three-Way Second Life, Virtual World Debate from C3's Jenkins, Coleman, and Clay Shirky

An interesting conversation has been happening all around me on virtual worlds and Second Life featuring C3 Director Henry Jenkins, C3 Principal Investigator Beth Coleman, and Clay Shirky at NYU. The conversation is part of a 3x3 posting in which each of the three wrote an independent piece on their respective blogs the first week with their own thoughts about the current states of Virtual Worlds, and Second Life in particular, followed by a round just completed yesterday that consists of each responding to the points the other two made in the initial rounds of posts.

It may sound confusing, but we've ended up with quite an insightful conversation about virtual worlds. Given C3's dedication to covering virtual worlds and facilitating a discussion about the present and futures of companies like Second Life (see the Not the Real World Anymore panel from our November Futures of Entertainment conference) and the involvement of two C3 members, I wanted to highlight the conversation and direct everyone to this series of posts.

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February 6, 2007

Soap Operas in Convergence Culture and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of "a Genre in Decline"

I haven't gotten back to covering this in full yet, but in a Bloomberg article on 26 January, NBC's Jeff Zucker made the assertion that soap operas are facing "the beginning of the end." This, of course, is based on his cancellation of the parody-of-sorts Passions, which is both the youngest and the least popular of the nine soap operas currently on American daytime television.

The article provides some reasons for such gloomy talk about soap operas as well as a response from various people in the industry. And I think the problem is that, for many people, the mentality is not all that much unlike the theme of this article: "soaps aren't dead yet, but they're gonna be." When network executives like Barbara Bloom, who has the two most popular soaps on American television on CBS and another that is in direct competition with all the ABC soaps for ratings over the past few years for that shifting "number three" spot, doesn't sound that positive, either, it emphasizes the problem: the people in decision-making positions, even those who still remain committed to soaps, are showing ambivalence about doing so.

And, if the networks and industry insiders believe that the decline of soaps are inevitable, then it's going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy

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C3 Affiliated Researcher van der Graaf Studying Valve

C3 Affiliated Researcher Shenja van der Graaf at the London School of Economics is working on a project on game developer Valve and is looking for interested people to take a survey. Details are inside the link.

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In the Heat of Battle, Viacom and YouTube Are Forgetting Something Important--The Consumer

While we were still recovering from the aftermath of the havoc, doom, and devastation brought onto Boston by cartoon characters, linked to our partner organization in the consortium Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of another of our partners was wreaking some havoc of its own.

Viacom, the company that owns MTV Networks, decided to make a statement on Friday, I guess, when it drew a Friday afternoon response from YouTube that about 100,000 YouTube clips featuring copyrighted material from Viacom properties be pulled down.

The Viacom statement released stated the reason being that "YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement," pointing out that these clips have been viewed 1.2 billion times but that there has not been a busienss arrangement worked out. Instead, Viacom indicates plans to come to a deal for authorizing distribution for YouTube to allow consumers to make its content available through the site, similar to the deal YouTube has struck with CBS and NBC, among a variety of other entities.

But never fear! The company has some of that content available on its own Web sites for the various cable networks. (The problem here is that the industry seems to not be able to legally distinguish between piracy and quoting and seem to want to define fair use as, "None," in fear of what legal precedents might be set--the recent Second Life decision notwithstanding.

Strangely missing from this business move from Viacom is the consumer, (or perhaps not strangely, sadly enough, considering the limited focus of many media companies that persists despite the fact that they have seen example after example of why this prohibitionist stance does nothing to fix the problems while further straining consumer relationships).

While this press release sounds good from a business perspective, that Viacom would pull its content from a distributor who is not working out a fair sharing agreement, what's missing is the fact that YouTube is not the entity posting this content--it's the fans, fans who see quoting from these shows and sharing their favorite moments with each other as part of expressing their love for these programs.

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With Dems in Power, Congress Replaces Constant Indecency Talk with...More of the Same

The newest version of Congress have sent out the warning signal that they are not going to backdown from reconsidering many questions in regard to the Federal Communication Commission.

The FCC made their first appearance before Congress, getting chastised for not acting in the public interest. And many people unhappy with the recent direction of the FCC, myself included, was excited to hear those words...that is, until I realized what the majority of the focus seemed to be, or at least the majority of what was reported on.

Instead of making a strong stand rallying about issues of diversity of voices or greater access or just the type of issues I think the FCC should be tackling, we get an extended discussion about the wasteland from Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Sen. Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, gives us this line about commercial television: "I barely watch it. I hope my children don't." Why, of course, we must censor to protect the children! Rockefeller followed this line of thinking up with this quote: "Since the broadcasters have continually failed to self-regulate their product for the good of the children, it falls on the government to step up to the plate."

What does Sen. Rockefeller want to do about it? How about bringing back legislation to take the power of indecency restrictions to cable as well? AND, we should give the FCC the ability to censor violence on television.

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February 5, 2007

In a Bold Move, Lime Moves Operations to VOD and Web--and Away from Linear Model

What I would consider a significant development in the television landscape, albeit not with a particularly significant network, is the decision by those at the head of Lime TV to go the way of NBC Universal's Trio and switch from being a traditional linear channel to instead providing programming through broadband and video-on-demand.

In this case, as opposed to Trio's losing its carriage with DirecTV, the decision to go broadband/VOD was driven by Lime.

The independent cable channel launched by Revolution Llc., the company owned by former AOL chair Steve Case, will be abandoning its traditional cable channel for VOD and alternative, non-linear distribution methods.

Lime originally launched in 2005, acquiring the Wisdom channel and transforming it into a healthy-living network available to 7 million cable subscribers.

In addition to its VOD plans, Lime will have programming available on its Web site and through deals with Joost and Yahoo! Health, according to the Reuters/Hollywood Reporter story from Andrew Wallenstein.

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AOL Pointe Getting Strong Reviews in Second Life

The number of brands extending into Second Life in one form or another continues, with AOL launching its major foray into the virtual world.

AOL's site within Second Life, an island "for fun engagement and interaction around AOL content," features movie trivia, interactive competition areas for Second Life avatars to play lone games or in groups to win Linden dollars, and even skateboarding, according to the beta for the site.

AOL Pointe launched as a beta in late January and then launched as a full site at the beginning of February.

Reports from Tateru Nino on Wagner James Au's New World Notes site, providing first-hand coverage of Second Life, covers the beta test run at the time of AOL Pointe's launch.

For Tataru, the the AOL Pointe island gets a strong review. Tataru writes, "I was expecting a big business branding-exercise that would leave me with a bit of a foul taste in my mouth, and in that respect I was a bit disappointed-- within a few minutes I was entertained and engaged. There's no mistaking that it's AOL, but this doesn't seem to be basic push-marketing or marketing at all, in the conventional sense. Could this be someone 'getting it?'"

Tataru hypes the site as a theme park, feeling that it's providing for a niche that is missing in Second Life with that themed atmosphere and a wide variety of theaters and other public screens for media content to play on-demand in the virtual world, as well as traditional linear channels playing within AOL Pointe.

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Yahoo! Brand Universe and OurCity

While C3 partners MTV Networks and Turner Broadcasting have made our news this past week, there's also been some interesting developments with Yahoo!, another partner in the consortium.

The company's plan to create a new approach to linking sites called "Brand Universe" broke during the week, with the company publicly discussing a new strategy to create more efficient links to entertainment content that stretch across the various Yahoo! services and Web sites.

The plan is to pick 100 "high-profile" contemporary entertainment properties and create sites dedicated to them. This will include movie properties and popular television shows and video games, as well as video game platforms, as well as particular celebrities. In particular, the company is hoping to target properties that appeal to 13-to-34s.

The idea is that Yahoo! content has been fragmented in the past, divided by media format and without any content links. Instead of dividing media information in flickr and Yahoo TV and fan forums, the idea is to create a site that will link all of that content together so that people can access the info by entertainment property across all of Yahoo!'s platforms.

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February 4, 2007

Project Apollo Moving Forward for Nielsen, Arbitron

News from Thursday is that Nielsen has reached its next step in working with Arbitron, forming a joint company, limited liability, called Project Apollo, with a variety of advertisers on the steering committee.

The mission? Tracking product purchase and media exposure behavior of consumers using the Arbitron Portable People Meter system and Nielsen Homescan technology. The plan is to uses these processes to create more effective means to measure not just who sees and ad but how advertising influences sales.

Development costs are shared, and the project has been in the works since 2005.

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February 3, 2007

Telephia/Third Screen Media Deal to Expand Mobile Marketing Research

According to news announced at the beginning of the week, the mobile research group Telephia will be partnering with Third Screen Media, a mobile phone advertising firm, with plans to provide information for potential marketers for the mobile platform.

Telephia will apply its research questions of user preferences and interests and make that information available to Third Screen's clients, putting together information for advertisers to better plan mobile media ad campaigns or transmedia/cross-platform campaigns that include a mobile component.

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WSX on MTV a New Pro Wrestling Transmedia Property with a Non-Traditional Product

Earlier today, I wrote about how UFC's launch to high-definition continues to raise questions of whether professional wrestling will be launched on HD, particularly the WWE. Meanwhile, I also wrote about WWE's creation of a broadband video channel earlier this week in order to solidify its online video offerings.

However, there's another bit of interesting news from the wrestling world that intrigues me in much the same way the soap opera Passions intrigued me with its animated scenes and Bollywood episode.

MTV, the namesake of C3 partner MTV Networks, has launched a 30-minute weekly pro wrestling show called Wrestling Society X, which now becomes the third company to have pro wrestling aired nationally in America, alongside TNA on Spike TV and the three WWE brands that air on USA Network, Sci Fi, and the CW.

The program blends an MTV aesthetic with "extreme" pro wrestling matches, a club atmosphere with models hired to sit in the crowd to make it seem more "hip." A band opens up each 30-minute show, and obviously it has to be paced differently than any other wrestling program with 30 minutes a week and a band performing within that 30 minutes on top of that.

It's not going to be a product that satisfies current pro wrestling fan, as the organization has to deal with the fact that top performers are already in one of WWE's three leagues or on TNA. Without the big names, the company is obviously taking their product a different direction and reaching out to new potential fans with a rock/wrestling hybrid.

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UFC Launches Its Mixed Martial Arts into High-Definition Tonight

Some fighting news that's been getting some coverage in the past week is that mixed martial arts organization the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will start making all pay-per-views, starting with tonight's UFC 67, available in high-definition. The HD initiative was first announced on Dec. 30 of last year, with this PPV being the first of the HD fights.

The company has been hyping its HD offerings as something demanded by the fans, which is likely not hyperbole, since sports traditionally make sense in HD. The regular broadcast is available for $39.95, while the high-definition broadcast will carry a $49.95 price tag. The high-definition version will be carried by both DirecTV and DISH Network, as well as iNDemand and Bell ExpressVu.

According to Dana White, the president of the UFC, the company has been shooting its fights in HD format since 2002 but did not have a way to distribute them. The plan was to create a fairly deep library of content in preparation for an HD launch.

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February 1, 2007

Cartoon Network/Boston Fiasco and the Connotations of Labeling It a "Hoax"

What is there to say about the nuttiness that has been happening around Boston and Cambridge in regard to the Turner Broadcasting marketing ploy through marketing firm Interference that was misinterpreted as a series of terrorist bombs?

The promotional stunt bombed all right, especially due to the perhaps disproportionate response to what was basically a lights show around the area. As Joe at Techdirt says, "It's safe to say that this isn't what they hoped to see happen." But, bottom line: while I think it was an ill-conceived concept not to have alerted someone that the devices would be placed there and perhaps this response should have been considered, this was an unfortunate misunderstanding and the reaction from the Massachusetts government and the news media made the situation much worse in fear-mongering and now in trying to turn this into an intentional hoax rather than a misunderstanding.

Immediately, I want to clarify, for the people who have e-mailed. Yes, Turner Broadcasting is one of the partners of the Convergence Culture Consortium. And, no, we had nothing to do with advising, planning, or anything else with the situation yesterday. I know...surprising, since MIT has long been home to the hoax. But I haven't even talked with anyone from Turner about the situation at this point, although I would like to publicly extend my sympathies for how this has all fallen out through the news media and our government's response.

The other thing to point out is just how insular the college campus would be. People started e-mailing me comments about the bomb scare during the day, and I had no clue what they were talking about. Family members called, concerned for our safety at the terror that was being described to them on the news networks. I didn't feel in any danger, since I didn't even know what was going on until about 9 or 10 that night. Guess we college folks really are removed from Boston life.

But the fact that Storrow Drive was shut down and the news stations basically interrupted all their programming to cover this great terrorist event proves both that Turner and the marketing folks probably should have thought more about the potential political ramifications of their plan and cleared it with the proper authorities beforehand to make sure this happened and also that our country has perhaps gone a little overboard in the name of homeland security and fear, "in a post-9/11 world," as the mayor said. The fact that "post-9/11 world" has become a regular phrase demonstrates the ways in which, more than five years after the attack on the World Trade Center, we have let the goals of that attack to disrupt the freedoms of American culture succeed. Find more information on what happened here.

I'm particularly interested in the response across the blogosphere to this example of marketing gone wrong. I'd say that it at least proves that ubiquity of advertising in public spaces may not be the best route for political and infrastruture realities such as these.

Continue reading "Cartoon Network/Boston Fiasco and the Connotations of Labeling It a "Hoax"" »

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