April 29, 2007

Social Networks Continue To Be the Buzz, But How Niche Is Too Niche?

Quite a bit of social networking news has been popping up over the past week, as more and more companies are interested in finding a way to help facilitate community around their texts. This comes off news that was released in the past week from market research conducted by TNS, TRU, and Marketing Revolution on behalf of Isobar and MySpace, finding that, for more than 70 percent of Americans 15 through 34, social networks are an active part of their lives.

According to Daisy Whitney's report, "more than 40 percent of people who use social networks said they use them to learn about brands and products, and 28 percent said that at some point a friend has recommended a brand or product to them via social networks.

Whitney followed up with a report that at PaidContent's social media conference in L.A. this past week, the theme was that "social media is poised to be the next big opportunity for television networks as they extend their brands and video further online."

Nevertheless, Whitney's article also focuses on how the advertising industry and advertisers themselves have yet to find an economic model that monetizes the benefits of social networking to the point that most companies see the value on facilitating brand proselytizing as a major form of advertising.

However, the theme and takeaway of many of these initiatives is that social networks should not be constricted to using massive sites like Facebook and MySpace but rather to create a social network around each network's properties, or even specifically around a certain property. The plan is to use social networks to increase the "stickiness" of Web sites, to keep Web traffic high on network and show-specific Web sites.

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April 28, 2007

The Future and Promise of VOD: Looking at two TelevisionWeek Special Reports

I wanted to point toward a couple of interesting pieces that appeared on TelevisionWeek this past week by reporter Daisy Whitney, a two-part "special report" looking at video-on-demand.

The first of these articles, entitled "VOD: Getting Bigger, But Not Better Yet," Whitney explains that, while VOD is growing substantially as a market, that many cable and broadcast networks have not been putting significant energy into video-on-demand at this point and are instead concentrating on other platforms like Web and mobile. Whitney finds issues including the lack of "virality," to coin a word for the purposes of making it work in this sentence, as compared to Web video, which is embedded in a technology that has social connection built in at every turn.

Another major issue is the power of service providers in VOD, including such giants as Comcast, whereas digital video can be distributed through the Web sites of companies, such as with CBS innertube.

Bruce Leichtman, president of the Leicthtman Research Group, was quoted as saying, "Comcast alone had 1.9 billion on-demand sessions in 2006, but Apple's 51.3 million [TV shows] and movies sold [on iPods] in 2006 get much more hype and attention."

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Passions Fans Get Their "World without End" After All: The Soap Opera Lives on with New Episodes on DirecTV

One of the biggest news items in terms of media distribution over the past week, especially as my thesis defense on soap operas in a convergence culture looms on the horizon, is that the NBC Daytime series Passions, the soap opera set to be cancelled in the fall, will not be disappearing after all but rather picked up by DirecTV as content exclusive to the satellite provider.

According to the press release from DirecTV and NBC Universal, "under the new agreement, NBC Universal Television Studio will produce brand-new episodes to air Monday-Thursday on DIRECTV's original programming channel, The 101."

DirecTV's EVP of Entertainment Eric Shanks said that "Passions fans no longer need to mourn the demise of their beloved program as it has found new life on DirecTV."

Josef Adalian with Variety calls this DirecTV's "largest original programming initiative ever." The budget will be lower, at $700,000 per week (1/3 lower than it is now), and there will only be four episodes a week instead of five, which will help producers deal with that lower budget.

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Xbox Live Originals Contest Looking for Pilots To Be Made into Six-Episode Series

An initiative that launched earlier this month might be of particular interest to readers of the Convergence Culture Consortium Weblog is Microsoft's plan for a user-generated content contest for an original television pilot through Xbox Live.

The contest comes in conjunction with the New York Television Festival, who hosts the official Xbox Live Originals Contest Web site.

The contest's winner will win $100,000 to make six episodes of their show. The pilots must last from five to 15 minutes and can be either animated or live action or some combination of both. Entries must be submitted by 29 June 2007. The winner will also receive a featured screening of that pilot at the 2007 New York Television Festival.

That festival will be hosted from 05 September to 10 September 2007.

Starting in July, the top finalists will be featuredo n the site, as Brandon Boyer with Gamasutra points out.

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Smallville Legends: Justice and Doom: Integrating Content and Advertising Across Multiple Media Platforms

News came out about a week-and-a-half ago as to an interesting new marketing and transmedia storytelling plan that will be launched across Warner Brothers and through the CW Network with Toyota.

John Consoli with MediaWeek reports on a marketing initiative for CW drama series Smallville which will last for five weeks across several platforms.

This marketing and storytelling initiative across platforms began with the CW episode of Smallville that aired on April 18 and will last through the show's season finale, which will air on May 17.

This cross-platform initiative is being called Smallville Legends: Justice and Doom.

The marketing part of this initiative is called a "content wrap," a model launched by CW this semester which Consoli explains is "advertiser-aligned content that takes the place of typical 30-second TV commercials during programming, targeted to appeal to specific demographic audiences." In other words, the story on the main show is supplemented by original advertiser-based content that airs during what would conventionally be commercial breaks.

However, this Toyota campaign is the first time this wrap has launched around a single advertiser across multiple media forms, driven by the online game, which relates to the final five episodes of the show this season.

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April 25, 2007

Collaboration 2.0: Ivan Askwith and TV's Terminology for User Engagement

The last featured guest speaker at this past weekend's Collaboration 2.0 at MIT was another member of the Convergence Culture Consortium team, fellow graduating CMS Master's student and C3 researcher Ivan Askwith, who made a presentation entitled "Television 2.0: Rethinking Television's 'Terms of Engagement.'"

As part of this internal conference for C3 corporate partners, affiliated faculty, and the C3 research team, Askwith presented work based on his thesis project, which focuses on creating new terminology for better understanding extensions of media properties.

Before coming to MIT, Askwith was a researcher for Steven Johnson's book Everything Bad Is Good for You and has worked as a freelance designer, consultant, and frequent contributor to online publications like Salon. For more on his background, see his C3 bio. He has also worked for groups such as Interpublic Media.

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Collaboration 2.0: Robert Kozinets and Star Trek

The second after-lunch presentation as part of the Collaboration 2.0 event for the Convergence Culture Consortium this past Saturday featured Dr. Robert V. Kozinets, who presented some of his research on Star Trek fan communities and how this oft-followed fan community continues to adapt in a convergence culture.

As part of this internal event with the C3 team, corporate partners, and faculty affiliates present, Kozinets' presentation was called "New Voyages and the Paradox of Prosumption."

Kozinets is an Affiliated Faculty member of the Convergence Culture Consortium and an Associate Professor of Marketing at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto. His work in the business school there is at the intersection of marketing and anthropology. His understanding of brands draws heavily on the consulting work he has done, advising a variety of companies on their brands, including TV Guide, Pepsi, and IBM.

As is referenced in his C3 bio, Rob has taught courses on entertainment marketing, new product placement, postmodern consumer behavior, and brand management, among others, and his published work focuses on branding, virtual communities, technology consumption, communal markets, and themed retail.

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April 24, 2007

Collaboration 2.0: Kevin Sandler and Scooby Doo

Dr. Kevin Sandler headed up the first presentation after the break for lunch at the Convergence Culture Consortium's Collaboration 2.0 last Saturday here at MIT. Dr. Sandler, who is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts at the University of Arizona in Tucson, presented some of his work on an upcoming book project on cartoon icon Scooby Doo.

Sandler is an Affiliated Faculty member with the Convergence Culture Consortium and has worked with the consortium in various capacities for quite a while.

Sandler's other work includes his book published by Rutgers later this year called The Naked Truth: Why Hollywood Does Not Make NC-17 Films, focusing on the productive and prohibitive practices of the Classification and Ratings Administration. He has also done significant work in studying other phenomenally popular media properties such as the Looney Tunes cartoon franchise and the movie Titanic.

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Collaboration 2.0: Jean Burgess and Vernacular Creativity

The third presentation of the day on Saturday here at the Convergence Culture Consortium's Collaboration 2.0 was made by Jean Burgess, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for Creative Industry and Innovation (CII) at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Her presentation was entitled "Valuing Vernacular Creativity: Flickr as a Model of Best Practice?"

Following up on the earlier presentation by her colleague, Dr. John Banks, Burgess' research focused on her continuing cultural studies research into how people are using new technologies and the everyday creativity of those users.

Burgess has a background in cultural studies and media studies, as well as music, and her research focuses on these common creative practices by users in relation to technological change and how these processes are happening today and have happened historically as well. She often helps design media workshops for organizations and community groups to help facilitate these "co-creative" practices. For more information on her prior work, see Jean's curriculum vitae.

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April 23, 2007

Collaboration 2.0: John Banks and Developer/Gamer Relationships

Our second presentation of the day at Collaboration 2.0 on Saturday was presented by Dr. John Banks, a postdoctoral research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation CCI at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Banks' talk centered on navigating co-creator relationships and on understanding new media and multimedia relationships among users themselves and between users and producers. His work drew on the insights of Yochai Benkler's influential book The Wealth of Networks.

Banks has done a significant amount of work in the video games industry looking at the relationship between game developers and gamers, informed not just by his academic work but his experience in the industry as well, as a former employee of the PC game development company Auran, where he worked in Brisbane as the online community relations manager. Some of his research through Queensland still involves funding from Auran. He worked directly with the company from 2000-2005.

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Collaboration 2.0: Henry Jenkins and Media Violence

The opening session on Saturday morning for the Convergence Culture Consortium's Collaboration 2.0 was presented by Dr. Henry Jenkins, the director of the consortium here at MIT, who talked about media violence and media effects theory in relation to the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.

For those not familiar with Henry's work, he is the director of the Comparative Media Studies program here at MIT and is the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author of Convergence Culture, as well as Textual Poachers, Hop on Pop, From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers, and The Wow Climax.

According to his biography, Jenkins

plays a significant role as a public advocate for fans, gamers, and bloggers: testifying before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee investigation into "Marketing Violence to Youth" following the Columbine shootings; advocating for media literacy education before the Federal Communications Commission; calling for a more consumer-oriented approach to intellectual property at a closed door meeting of the governing body of the World Economic Forum; signing amicus briefs in opposition to games censorship; and regularly speaking to the press and other media about aspects of media change and popular culture.

His talk at Collaboration 2.0 draws on that work, applying it to this tragedy and the public and media responses to acts of violence such as happened at Virginia Tech.

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April 22, 2007

Collaboration 2.0: Sam Ford and Soap Operas

On Friday evening, the first presentation as part of C3's Collaboration 2.0 was actually one that some readers of this blog might be quite familiar with, since my research has been built through a variety of posts here and some of the insights of various readers who have posted comments in response to those ideas. My thesis research here at MIT has focused on taking the perspective of the Convergence Culture Consortium and apply the types of issues we look at here to the soap opera industry in particular.

I'm a longtime soaps fan, and my interest in watching CBS' As the World Turns was driven by my grandmother and my mother's relationship with their "story." Today, my mom still watches, and my wife and I watch soap operas regularly. My contention has long been that soap operas can only truly be understood as a social text that reaches its fullest potential when one takes into account these relationships that are built around the daily text.

As I've worked on this research on the soap opera industry for the past two years, I have presented my work on a regular basis here on the blog as it has developed, and I have been appreciative by the many readers here, on soap opera fan boards, and in the industry for their insights that helped shape my study. Most recently, I was part of the soap opera panel at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association's national conference here in Boston, sharing my work with academics who have long worked on the soap opera genre such as Barbara Irwin and Mary Cassata. We had a soap opera roundtable afterward, joined by great thinkers like David Feldman and others, who even further helped develop some of these ideas.

See my C3 bio here.

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Collaboration 2.0: An Introduction

On Friday and Saturday, the Convergence Culture Consortium hosted Collaboration 2.0, a retreat that brought in representatives from each of our five corporate partners, some of the C3 affiliated faculty, and a few guest speakers from outside the consortium for a private event to discuss our current research on convergence, fan communities, and new technologies and media products and the social networks that build around them.

While the actual content from these presentations can't be presented since this was a conference within the consortium, we wanted to write generally about some of the interesting speakers that were brought in for the weekend both to give readers of the blog a better idea of some of the creative resources our consortium draws from and a little bit more about what we do here.

Our five partners--MTV Networks, Turner Broadcasting, GSD&M, Fidelity Investments, and Yahoo!--all sent representatives to both participate in this conversation and to hear these various presentations. For those who are not familiar with C3 outside of following this blog, more information about our work is available here.

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April 20, 2007

Toshiba HD DVD Users Rallying in Support Behind the Format They've Invested In

Here at the C3 blog, I write a lot about media fandom and brand fandom, but not as often do I write about fans of media technologies themselves. Of course, some major media companies have developed their products as lifestyle brands as well, such as Apple, but I'm referring here to the fascinating campaign that has been getting some attention of late by HD DVD fans to support that format vis-a-vis Sony's Blu-ray format for high-definition DVD releases.

For those who have not heard about these campaigns, see a Web page like HD NOW Online, a site that features a petition for greater support of Toshiba's HD DVD format with a petition that has thousands of signatures on it. These fans of the HD DVD format are asking that more studios support the HD DVD format with more releases, touting it as "the best and most consumer-friendly next-generation video format" which is available "at one-half, to one-third, of the price of the 'other brand.'"

The HD DVD format dropped below the Blu-ray DVDs in the first quarter of the year but has since risen again, thanks in part to an organized support system for the release of HD DVD products. (See this commentary for more on HD vs. Blu-ray DVD sales from the slant of HD DVD activists.)

TelevisionWeek's James Hibberd provides a fascinating account o what he calls a staged "group buy" of new HD DVD titles in the past week, as proponents of the format wanted to give it a boost in sales for those who keep close track of the numbers. He writes, "The group claims to have purchased nearly 1,000 HD DVD titles from Amazon.com and, temporarily at least, catapulted HD DVD sales past the rival Sony Blu-ray format."

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Endemol and Electronic Arts Team Up for Virtual Me

An interesting deal has been struck between a major television producer and a major video games producer with the intent to create a project that will create gaming versions of various game shows and reality television products, in an attempt to create more interactive gaming experiences for extant media properties.

Endemol will be partnering with Electronic Arts to create gaming situations through which players can create avatars to participate in virtual versions of popular Endemol shows, such as Deal or No Deal and Fame Academy and will launch through one of Endemol's biggest hits, Big Brother.

The collaborative project has been initially titled Virtual Me. As Mark Hefflinger succinctly reports it on the Digital Media Wire, "The companies will form an integrated team to create entertainment for TV, online and other platforms."

The press release touts that the concept "bridges the divide between traditional TV and videogames." It goes on to say that "the two companies will create an integrated team to share expertise in their respective fields and develop entertainment formats and experiences for a wide range of platforms, including TV and online."

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Lonelygirl15 Spinoff KateModern Integrated with UK Social Network Bebo, Funded by Product Placement

The creators of the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon are going to try to capitalize on the strong interest they generated with their series on YouTube by launching a European "social networking spin-off," as it was called on MarketingVOX, called KateModern.

The series of 2-to-4-minute Webisodes will air on Bebo, a popular European social networking site and will feature a teenage female from London. The plan is to create an interactive community surrounding the show in which, for instance, puzzles will be introduced that fans will get credit for solving on the show; if no fan solves these puzzles, the characters on the show will instead.

Lonelygirl15 has been an Internet phenomenon, and the MarketingVOX story points out that it is the most subscribed-to YouTube channel by this point, "boasting over 91,000 subscribers and 10.2 million views."

The show will be officially called Lonelygirl15 Presents...KateModern, and Deborah Netburn with the L.A. Times reports that it will be "the story of a Lonelygirl-esque 19-year-old British college student, her friends and the mysterious dark forces that permeate her life (the same dark forces featured prominently in recent Lonelygirl episodes).

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Aftermath of Steve Byrne's Win of TBS/MySpace Stand Up or Sit Down Contest

While the Ten Day Take contest from Comcast and Ziddio may be on hold while we wait for them to announce a winner, another contest I wrote about soliciting user-generated content for the chance to win a competition has declared its winner.

Back in October, I wrote about The Sierra Mist Stand Up or Sit Down Comedy Challenge, a partnership between TBS and MySpace. The contest invited amateur comedians to submit their work on MySpace, then allowing the MySpace community to view those videos and select their favorite amateur comedians. The finalists then appeared on a special that aired on TBS in November, and the winer received $50,000 and a developmental contract with the Turner-owned station.

In that post, I mentioned a variety of other examples of this type of contest as well. This TBS initiative, however, is very similar to the Comedy Central Open Mic Fight I wrote about yesterday. In that competition:

72 comics will be chosen from this pool to then compete in regional competitions across the country. That pool of 72 will be narrowed down to 12 via votes from online fans, who will then compete in a live contest in September. The pool of 12 will be narrowed down to three competitors, who will then have videos posted online, and fans will once again vote to select the winner.

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April 19, 2007

Ten Day Take Contest Over; Waiting for Winning Entries to Be Announced and Reality Series to Begin

As I wrote about earlier today, an increasing number of companies have been seeking user-generated content through contests to both provide online video for their platforms and also recruit potential new creative voices.

While Comedy Central's upcoming contest is one of the latest examples of this, another was announced late last year.

Back in December, I wrote about a new project between Endemol and Comcast called Ten Day Take.

At the time, I wrote:

Ten Day Take will require users to submit ideas for programs to Comcast, with a winning idea being selected to give that person a chance to work with Endemol to produce a pilot. The catch, as the name of the contest implies, is that the winning idea will only have 10 days to produce a pilot, working on a budget of $50,000. You can probably see where this is heading...The process of creating that pilot will be programming as well, as it will be a reality-style show which follows the production of that pilot. Think about the wealth of content this creates...a call for user-generated content that builds into a documentary on the making of a show by the winner of the contest.

The plan was for the reality show to be made available through Comcast's on-demand service as well as Comcast Ziddio, and the call for user-generated ideas came through Ziddio.

Apparently, however, the contest has stalled, and some of the contestants are not happy about it. An anonymous contestant posted here on the C3 site recently that the plan was to go public with the outcome of the contest, who would be the winner and would then be featured in the reality show, on March 12. Now that it's been more than a month later, the Ten Day Take Web site still features a message saying "Currently Being Judged," listing the contest as closed. Several of the submissions are still up for view.

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Comedy Central Looks to Recruit Stand-Up Comedians Through Web-Based Contest

Working with one's fan community through soliciting user-generated content can lead to some substantial rewards. One is the amount of content that it generates which then can be used as ancillary Web content. More substantial, however, may be the ability it gives entertainment brands to try and find its creators and entertainers of tomorrow from "among the ranks."

That's what contests like Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight, a call to seek comedians online will do. I have seen news of the call circulating this week, in which an online talent competition asks for users to send in video with the winner getting not only the chance to appear on a show on the network but also $10,000 in cash.

The competition on Comedy Central's site opened this week, and 72 comics will be chosen from this pool to then compete in regional competitions across the country. That pool of 72 will be narrowed down to 12 via votes from online fans, who will then compete in a live contest in September. The pool of 12 will be narrowed down to three competitors, who will then have videos posted online, and fans will once again vote to select the winner.

It is quite an involved process, with that many steps, but it creates the potential for an ongoing competition or saga that generates fan interest on its own, not just from those interested in submitting videos but from the much larger population who would like to participate as critics.

According to TelevisionWeek's Jon Lafayette, "The winner, who also will receive professional representation, will perform in a Comedy Central live tour and be a 'featured comic' on iTunes, VOD and mobile platforms."

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CBS Forms New Division to Create Advertising Connections Among Its Platforms

Sometimes, creating an environment that helps foster a better form of storytelling and distribution is just all about the infrastructure. It's always hard to know when a corporation releases a press release about restructuring or creating a new division whether it will actually mean anything when it comes to creating new content or new business models, but it always seems reassuring nonetheless.

CBS has done a significant amount of restructuring in the past year to better position the network to operate within a "convergence culture." Take the latest announcement, for instance, from earlier this week. The network is creating CBS Connections, which will deal with sales and marketing across media platforms.

According to TelevisionWeek's Jon Lafayette, "The new unit will offer advertising opportunities combining CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Interactive, CBS Sports, CBS Paramount Television, CBS Television Distribution, CSTV, Showtime, CBS Radio and CBS Outdoor."

Late last year, CBS created a new division called CBS Interactive, bringing in Quincy Smith to head the operation. Again, the idea was to create a change in infrastructure that more meaningfully acknowledged and allowed for increased digital efforts, among other intiatives. I wrote, "Smith's job will be to oversee CBS innertube, the online platform for redistribution of CBS shows and original Internet-only programming, as well as the various CBS Web sites. His job will also be to oversee the general trajectory of CBS' digital efforts and to forge partnerships for the network in expanding this area."

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YouTube Preparing for Preemptive Copyright Protection, More Substantial Advertising

Earlier today, I wrote about the quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt distinguishing the NBC Universal/News Corp. online video site from YouTube and claiming that the two cannot really be viewed as competitors. I agree.

But that quote came from a story with a much different focus, on the increasing ways in which YouTube hopes to combat copyright infringement on its site, including a new set of tools that will be tested and then rolled out this year which will allow content to be screened for copyright infringement before appearing on the site. As Google looks at how to create a successful business model surrounding the YouTube site, these issues are becoming increasingly pertinent.

The news came out of the National Association of Broadcasters Las Vegas convention earlier this week, where Schmidt spoke on Monday.

Daisy Whitney's TelevisionWeek article highlighted Eric's comment that these new tools would allow copyright owners to "claim their content," and Whitney writes, "As Google rolls out the additional copyright protection tools, the process will be automated and preemptive, letting Google and YouTube detect in advance when users upload unauthorized content."

As YouTube tries to move toward a way to more explicitly monetize its site, there are discussion of pre-roll and post-roll advertising. It remains to be seen how these changes in an effort to capitalize on the huge investment Google made into YouTube will resonate with the YouTube community.

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Google CEO Says Network Video Site Not a YouTube Competitor

In reading Daisy Whitney's story from TelevisionWeek on Tuesday about YouTube's plan for copyright control, I was struck by what I considered a substantial quote from Eric Scmidt at Google.

He said of the News Corp./NBC Universal online video network being planned for launch later this year that, "It's been labeled as a competitor, but it's a different animal. It's primarily targeted at long-form content. YouTube is not television. It's a different phenomenon."

I couldn't agree more. If the media industry looks at YouTube simply as another platform for distribution, they are missing what makes YouTube unique. As a place to watch video on-demand that a user can't get anywhere else, YouTube is only great in its ubiquity, that it's a one-stop shop. Otherwise, though, the video quality isn't great, the copyright issues are taxing, and no long content can be posted in its entirety.

As a site for cross-platform distribution, YouTube is much less interesting. What powers the site, however, in addition to the user-generated content, is its quotability and grabability.

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April 18, 2007

AOL Morphing into Online TV Network with Significant Original Content

For some time, we've followed the transition of AOL from an Internet service provider into a branded channel of its own. This week, Steven Zeitchik from Variety has proclaimed them "officially a TV network."

As part of the television upfronts, AOL has made an announcement of their own, that they are going to be releasing a series of AOL shows that would be built around an advertising model that would position them as an alternative to traditional broadcast and cable channels. Among their projects is a continued relationship with Mark Burnett with a followup to Gold Rush. The new project will be called Gold Rush Goes Hollywood.

Also among the biggest AOL projects is a partnership with DreamWorks providing a substantial amount of supplementary material for the movie studio's upcoming potential blockbuster Shrek the Third, which will involve a partnership with Burnett Productions and DreamWorks for a variety of games related to the movie.

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April 15, 2007

New York Times Previews Potential Upcoming Battle between Writers, Conglomerates

Last week, the New York Times had a great article about the potential upcoming battle between the writers guild and the entertainment industry as the writers unions for the Writes Guild of America, both East and West, will come down to what reporter MIchael Cieply calls "what are expected to be exceedingly difficult negotiations with the conglomerates that own the networks and studios."

According to the article, the major points of contention for the negotiations between the union and the industry this time around will be "the expansion of nonunion work by units of large media conglomerates like Viacom and News Corporation, and the way artists will be compensated for their work on the Web, mobile devices and other technologies still falling into place."

WGA West President Patric Verrone said that 95 percent of Hollywood's writing jobs for television and major films were covered by guild writers in the mid-1980s, as compared to about 55 percent now as companies use nonguild writers for reality television, animated TV, and other shows.

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HD Television Sets in 28 Percent of Homes, Primarily in Living Room

According to the newest information made available by the Consumer Electronics Association, the number of households in the United States which have at least one television set that is high definition is 28 percent, which would equal 35 million HD sets in the country.

Among those 35 million sets, more than half have at least 40-inch screens, and 86 percent of the HD owners were listed as "highly satisfied" with their set.

The study was taken from 2,090 adults back in December.

In addition to these numbers, James Hibberd with TelevisionWeek listed that "consumers paid an average of $1,347 for an HD set."

What interested me even more, however, was the data that he released in regard to user behaviors surrounding TV viewing. For instance, his study reveals that wall-mounting is not very popular for HD sets, even though they heavily publicized. The figures he cites is that 33 percent of those surveyed keep their TVs in entertainment centers and 37 percent in TV stands.

In this study, cable had a slight edge over satellite, 40 percent versus 34 percent, while HD users cited analog cable for 18 percent of their service, antenna for 10 percent and Internet and fiber-optic at 4 percent apiece, actually quite high. Of course, that early adopters with HD sets would also be using Internet or fiber optic might not be that surprising.

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Commercial Ratings, Measurement Accuracy, and Engagement

Yesterday, I wrote about a discussion from the 2007 TV Upfront Summit in New York this past week, sponsored by Advertising Age and TelevisionWeek.

Today, I wanted to elaborate on another interesting round of discussions that came from that conference, specifically centering on a conversation of audience engagement, commercial ratings, and the Nielsens.

Measurement has been the major question on people's minds over the past few years, both in how accurate current measurements are and the accuracy of what is being measured. WIth the Nielsen ratings sample being considered by many as an inevitably flawed number, yet a number the industry remains reliant upon for the whole economic structure of both broadcast and cable television, questions have swirled around both ways Nielsen can better measure viewership and also around potential alternatives.

Further, others are questioning the use of measuring whether someone has their television set on or not in the first place and whether there are better ways to measure engagement that take a more qualitative look at valuing the kinds of programs that keep people more involved, favoring serialized television in its various formats, among other programming types.

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April 14, 2007

Creating a System of Monetization for Digital Video

Even when viewer interest proves a new media format is driving changes in audience behaviors, the question remains how the advertising model that we have created to support video production will catch up to those consumer behaviors. Such was the case with the discussion at the 2007 TV Upfront Summit, in which professionals in the television advertising world got together to debate the future of advertising in relation to online video.

According to a story by Abbey Klaassen with Advertising Age, Merrill Lynch has estimated that about 5 percent of the television upfronts this year will be spent on digital video, a rise from 2 or 3 percent last year.

The networks, of course, emphasize that YouTube is not the answer but that there is a way to find strong models for ad-supported video on the Web. They are searching for a space which can easily port the existing advertising structure into a new media form.

Klaassen writes, "There's the question of where that money goes. While projects such as MTV Networks' Virtual Hills sounds intriguing, the jury's still out on how monetizable--at least through advertising--things such as virtual worlds are."

Continue reading "Creating a System of Monetization for Digital Video" »

DirecTV Using VOD, HD to Establish Itself as Premiere TV Provider

Both VOD and HD may be getting a big boost from the upcoming plan for DirecTV to launch a major video-on-demand service, including a significant amount of high-def content.

The service, which will go live in July, will be the first VOD service offered by a satellite service provider, will feature about 2,000 titles at its launch and will offer both film and television content. The variety of specific channels which already provide video-on-demand are set to create their own channel within the DirecTV VOD space.

According to the report from TelevisionWeek's James Hibberd, the satellite provider has committed to providing "as much as possible" in high-definition.

If that commitment is accurate, the VOD service might help further drive interest in purchasing HD televisions and service. However, the company warns that the available content for HD on demand will likely be small on launch.

Continue reading "DirecTV Using VOD, HD to Establish Itself as Premiere TV Provider" »

Norman Lear Asks Young People to Declare Themselves--in Multiple Media Formats

An old television name has entered into a multiplatform campaign to try to attract young people to participate in one of the oldest forms of interactive engagement in our country: voting.

Norman Lear, creator of the heralded All in the Family television series, among myriad television series, will be once again asking young adults to Declare Yourself to try and get as many 18-year-olds as possible to register and vote for the presidential election in 2008.

Lear has signed up a variety of teen television stars to help be spokespeople for the campaign and has further partnered with the A-list of online sites (Google/YouTube, Friendster, MySpace, C3 partner Yahoo!, Good Search, and Evite). Throw in massive radio conglomerate Clear Channel and C3 partner MTV Networks' Comedy Central and the Lear voter initiative has a campaign that can spread across TV, radio, and Internet to reach voters.

The project will officially launch this summer, and the voter registration drive is expected to have other official partners as well. See Declare Yourself's MySpace page for more information.

Continue reading "Norman Lear Asks Young People to Declare Themselves--in Multiple Media Formats" »

April 13, 2007

P&G, Product Placement, and Mo'Nique

Reality television is particularly open for product placement and even product integration. We have written about this here in the past, but the deal struck last week between major advertiser Procter & Gamble and reality television show Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance on Oxygen is yet another example of how this partnership works.

The reality show, now in its third season, will use P&G products in a lounge for its casting calls, and P&G products will be used as sponsors in on-air vignettes and online video as well. The deal is part of P&G's attempts to reach African American women with Cover Girl and Pantene.

For those who don't know about the show, F.A.T. stands for "fabulous and thick," and the show features women who emphasize that a "plus-size" look is beautiful. In the TelevisionWeek story from Jon Lafayette, an Oxygen representative called Mo'Nique's audience for the show "passionate, loyal and highly involved."

Continue reading "P&G, Product Placement, and Mo'Nique" »

Comcast Purchasing Fandango as Part of a Plan to Launch Online Video Destination

An interesting foray across media platforms was announced this week by Comcast, which has acquired popular movie destination site Fandango. Fandango, which provides previews, lists of showtimes and online ticket purchasing, will become part of a new Comcast offering called Fancast.

The Fancast site is set to launch this summer, and it will incorporate not only the aspects of Fandango that have made it one of the most popular online sites for American movies but also include much more multimedia access, including clips. Further, Fancast will expand well beyond what Fandango currently offers.

According to Jon Lafayette with TelevisionWeek, the site will allow consumers to "view clips, search and manage entertainment options across channels and devices, including television, computers and wireless."

Continue reading "Comcast Purchasing Fandango as Part of a Plan to Launch Online Video Destination" »

April 10, 2007

Vidmeter Study Emphasizes that Blatant Piracy Is Not What Powers YouTube Community

Online video viewership metrics service Vidmeter has released an in-depth study on a sample of the most popular YouTube videos to see how many of them were pulled for copyright violation in a 3.5-month period or so, finding that less than 10 percent of the videos sampled were pulled for copyright violations and that they only received almost 6 percent of the views of the videos in the sample.

In other words, copyrighted material does not explain the popularity of the video sharing site, and coloring arguments about the YouTube community as a site of rampant "piracy" is an argument that does not reflect the myriad ways in which the site is used by the YouTube that really matters, the community that empowers the site through its sharing activities.

The group concludes that:

Unauthorized copyright videos make up a relatively small portion of YouTube's most popular videos and an even smaller portion of views. While the study did find a fair number of blatantly pirated full-length clips from television shows and movies, the bulk of views to removed videos consisted of music videos and short clips from comedy sketches and unique sporting events.

This coincides with my prior arguments that, even when YouTube members share copyrighted material, it is most often as quotes from the overall program, or else sharing video that is not presently commercially available from the archives of a show.

Continue reading "Vidmeter Study Emphasizes that Blatant Piracy Is Not What Powers YouTube Community" »

Update: Lime TV Living On as Online/VOD Brand

When life handed Lime a lemon, it made lemonade. Or maybe it made Sprite. I'm not really sure. But I wrote back in February about Lime TV making the decision to switch from being a traditional linear channel and instead providing content through video-on-demand and broadband.

Since that time, Lime TV lives on, focusing on "healthy living with a twist." The Steve Case broadband video channel features multiplatform content through its Web site and VOD services and has launched quite a few campaigns, including a push to "live the change," encouraging its fans to walk as often as they can to get from place to place, log their walking minutes, and discuss their experiences while walking with friends or on their lunch break.

The "live the change" tag line also includes testimonials by stars like Penelope Cruz and multiplatform interactive features like forums, a blog, and user videos.

The company has also focused on more viral marketing for its campaigns, relying on building a community of health-conscious consumers around its broadband platform. Take, for instance, the way it connects with other Web sites focused around healthy living.

Continue reading "Update: Lime TV Living On as Online/VOD Brand" »

Fox and Hearst Team Up for Online Video Content for Popular Magazine Titles

News broke yesterday that Hearst Magazines has formed a deal with Fox Television Studio to create a variety of video series that would initially launch online and that might eventually filter onto network television. The television content will be based on popular Hearst magazine titles.

The first two of these projects will feature video content under the titles Popular Mechanics and Cosmo Girl, perhaps unsurprisingly two fairly explicitly gendered magazines. After first reading this, I envisioned a news-oriented or features-oriented magazine-style show bearing the name of the magazine, but it appears that, at least for the initial Cosmo Girl offering, the plan is quite different.

The Cosmo Girl Internet video content will be a series of 2-3 minute Webisodes featuring a serialized drama, called a soap opera by press coverage of the idea. However, the plan is to make interactivity key to the Webisode series, as fans will have the chance to submit ideas for the next direction for the narrative between episodes that may then affect the fate of the series.

Both shows will be featured in short Webisodes in this first version of the project and will be pushed through each magazine's Web site as well as through popular video sites like AOL and Yahoo!

Continue reading "Fox and Hearst Team Up for Online Video Content for Popular Magazine Titles" »

April 9, 2007

NBC Makes an Effort to Explicitly Embrace a Social Network Around Its Content

The NBC network is launching its own explicitly titled social network for fans of NBC programming, with a site that's gone public but which is expected to pick up steam in its full launch this June.

According to this preview page, the NBC.com social network will include message boards and groups, as well as blogs, a function to maintain buddies through the NBC social network, and personal profiles to manage. Basically, it will try to incorporate many of the popular features of sites like MySpace and Facebook except built specifically around NBC media content.

For now, the site provides links to various blogs, online videos, and message boards that NBC currently has located at various places around its Web site, with the plan for this social network to combine all of these various sites into a centralized space, from the sound of the preview material.

The site includes links to various NBC videos available through the Web, as well as message boards for daytime, primetime, and latenight programming and blogs for NBC producers, actors, and even characters.

Continue reading "NBC Makes an Effort to Explicitly Embrace a Social Network Around Its Content" »

SOAPnet Leaves Some Ardent Fans Feeling Betrayed, Questioning the Brand Identity of the Network

There are still several angry viewers out there, and the new approach by TV network SOAPnet leaves many questioning whether the company was in it to be the Long Tail platform it had originally claimed.

The cable channel, which has been built around airing several daytime soap operas in the evening after they air on their main networks during the day, has supplemented that material with content from the archives of popular cancelled soaps like Another World and Ryan's Hope...that is until a new daytime lineup came along and bumped off a lot of the soaps.

Now, instead of Another World, the channel will feature One Tree Hill, The O.C., reruns of ABC Family's Falcon Beach, and is featuring regular airings of Dallas as well--four hours a day, in fact. The network will also be launching General Hospital: Night Shift later this year, as I wrote about last month.

Ryan's Hope has been moved from its daily airing to Sunday morning and will now air from 6 a.m. until 7 a.m. Further, the short-lived Port Charles has been moved to 6 a.m. on Saturday only. Considering that, as Daniel R. Coleridge with TV Guide notes, the Another World reruns were averaging a 0.0 in the Nielsen's among the target 18-49 female demographic, that's not a good sign. Of course, it's also probably a sign that the Nielsen's don't help much when trying to measure Long Tail targeted material of the type that SOAPnet is pushing, but that's another story.

The question raised by the fans of these classic soaps is what the point of SOAPnet was, if it's going to now feature significant content from primetime shows that these fans argue aren't really even soap operas and that primetime dramas like The O.C. and 90210 and Dallas don't fit into the brand identity of a soap opera cable network.

Continue reading "SOAPnet Leaves Some Ardent Fans Feeling Betrayed, Questioning the Brand Identity of the Network" »

Xerox Touts Viral Marketing Drive with New Campaign, Leaving Some to Question What Viral Marketing Is

Viral marketing often comes with a nudge. Of course, that sometimes leaves one to question whether it's really viral marketing or not, but I digress. Representatives from Xerox sent word of an interesting ad campaign the company has been working on as of late.

There are several interesting advertising campaigns being launched these days, ones that don't just hawk a product but rather try to entertain an audience into wanting to spread the word. Now, they just have to hawk the ad campaign.

Xerox has gotten some attention for its video Extreme Offices, which focuses on an office in which something has been put in the water cooler to make the employees work at optimal speed, which leads to chaos rather than efficiency. The tag line is that there are better ways to achieve greater productivity, such as using Xerox multifunction devices which are reported to be "three times more productive than competing products on the market," according to a Xerox press release.

Follow that up with Frugal Color, a campaign which promises to "put the fun back into fundamental fiscal responsibility." Again, the key message is that Xerox's options are unbelievably cost-effective.

Continue reading "Xerox Touts Viral Marketing Drive with New Campaign, Leaving Some to Question What Viral Marketing Is" »

April 8, 2007

Lyro: What's the Worth of an Online Business Card?

It's simple enough. It provides a concise way to trade contact information. And it's searchable. Will Lyro catch on to the world at large?

A week ago or so, Lyro sent out a press release about the service's launch, calling itself "business card 2.0." While LinkedIn provides a high degree of social networking power to its users, as well as a free public site, Lyro keeps its functionality simple--just an online business card that can be accessed through Web searches, with little in the way of frills.

The company's press release, only sent to a select group of bloggers like me (I feel so special.), claims that, "while a large amount of searchable data on people already exists on the internet, this information is not always well organized, easily locatable, user friendly, or under individual control in terms of what's displayed and how." On the other hand, Lyro is best because it remains simple.

The company calls its service "the first open, fully searchable online business card." Their card directory is designed to be simple and easily searchable, but it's still in beta form at this point, so it's hard to know how helpful of a directory it can be.

Continue reading "Lyro: What's the Worth of an Online Business Card?" »

Gambling Inside Second Life: What Are the Legal Issues?

Debate continues to be raised about the nature of Linden Labs' Second Life versus the real world, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation attempts to decide whether casinos inside the virtual world are as illegal as unsanctioned gambling operations in "first life."

According to Adam Reuters' story, hundreds of casinos exist in Second Life, and the three largest casinos "are earning profits of US$1,500 each per month, according to casino owners and industry watchers. Growth is estimated to be about 30 percent a month."

The question right now is the culpability of Linden Labs if the government is to crack down on these gambling sites. At issue is the fact that the Linden dollars can be exchanged to and from U.S. dollars, as evidenced by the daily measurement of the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Linden dollar measured on the Reuters Second Life Web site.

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April 6, 2007

Behind the Scenes: Super Deluxe

I posted this interview with the team that created Super Deluxe on my blog, but I wanted to cross-post it here on the C3 blog as well, considering Super Deluxe's involvement with the consortium. Super Deluxe's parent company, Turner Broadcasting, is a member of the consortium.

"We're Super Deluxe. And by God, We're going to make you laugh." -- taken from the Super Deluxe webpage.

Super Deluxe is a new comedy site launched by Turner Broadcasting in January of this year. The site promises a mix of original professional content with community tools which will allow people to share amateur produced videos. It might be seen as one of the first of what are likely to be a series of attempts by major media producers to create their own YouTube like sites which combine authorized commercial content with fan generated materials. In this case, the site is targeting comedy as a genre that is likely to support both commercial and amateur produced material of high quality -- with their understanding of comedy including a fair amount of animation as well.

As the press release announcing the service explained:

Original programming will range from short films and sketches to episodic series and more. In addition to being available online, SUPER DELUXE content will be available via cable VOD, wireless devices and personal media players.

Programming is just the beginning, however. SUPER DELUXE's community tools will allow fans to interact with artists and each other, adding an extra dimension of value for the consumer. Through these tools, fans can express their own unique sense of humor and interact with artists and others by creating their own profiles, uploading their own videos, rating and sharing content, making comments, sending messages and more. Fans can even join or create groups with other artists and users to share and discuss their favorite humorous topics, comedians or anything else that strikes their interest.

The featured content on the site at the moment is quirky, original, and engaging. Consider, for example, a range of shorts featuring somewhat fractured versions of American presidents, contemporary and historical (with the idea of failed presidents a strangely recurring theme across much of the content produced so far).

Continue reading "Behind the Scenes: Super Deluxe" »

April 5, 2007

Google Launching into the TV Advertising Realm

Google has made a major step forward in moving its adverting system into the television industry this week, through a partnership with Echostar.

Daisy Whitney with TelevisionWeek reported Monday that the company unveiled "its first foray into TV advertising via a partnership to broker ads for satellite provider Echostar that will effectively bring online measurability and accountability to TV ads for the first time."

The purported claim from Google is that their advertising services are meant to coexist with traditional forms of advertising buying but wanted to move that process more toward efficiency. According to the TVWeek story, "The advertiser pays Google and Google shares the revenue with the operator. The advertiser will only pay for impressions delivered." The spots are auctioned off, with the highest bidder winning and paying one penny more than the second highest bidder. Google will then use Echostar's ability to measure commercial viewing second-by-second to show exactly how that commercial fared, focusing on the individual commercial rather than the rating for the show it airs in conjunction with.

Contrast this plan with the constant bickering over Nielsen commercial ratings.

The Google announcement emphasizes that the new process will give viewers ads more relevant to what they want to see, make advertising more accountable for its dollars, bring more advertisers to television, and create a more efficient model overall. "With Google TV ads, the entire process is automated--from planning the campaign to uploading and serving the ad to reporting on its effectiveness."

While more accountable television advertising and real second-by-second measurement certainly sounds like an improvement on the predominant system we currently have in place, there have been a lot of valid concerns raised, including from Joe at Techdirt, who writes, "While Google may be able to give good statistics on how many people have viewed an ad, unlike with its online ad sales, it won't be in a position to give advertisers a good idea of how well their ads are turning into sales, the true measure of an ad's performance."

Continue reading "Google Launching into the TV Advertising Realm" »

Cereality as an Interesting Example of an Experience Economy

I recently had some e-mail correspondence with B. Joseph Pine, who co-authored the influential book The Experience Economy with James H. Gilmore. Pine had read our recent series here on Kellogg's and the way the history of the marketing of breakfast cereals, including a multi-part look at the way modern breakfast cereals are marketed in the store and through Web extensions.

The series, called The Cereal Serial is available here, here, here, and here.

Pine pointed me toward a restaurant idea, launched in 2004, that makes particularly interesting use of this "experience economy" mentality, called Cereality.

In short, Cereality is a Cereal Bar, a breakfast shop decorated vaguely like a kitchen, with shelves and a pantry that features cereal boxes. The company calls their product "a new choice in fast food," serving cereal to customers and allowing them to choose from among their favorite cereal brands. The Web site touts that "Pajama-clad Cereologists fill the orders. And customers choose and add their own milk, just the way they like it."

Continue reading "Cereality as an Interesting Example of an Experience Economy" »

GodTube and "Baby Got Bible"

Last summer, my cousin and his wife, the future co-doctors Steven and Kara Ford, wanted to share a new user-generated video with me. They had read my posts about the remake of The Skeletor Show and consequently showed me a Brokeback Mountain remake of the Zach/Slater relationship from Saved by the Bell.

But, I'll have to admit that nothing could prepare me for what they would show me next: Baby Got Bible.

The parody video presented a Christian version of the rap classic from Sir Mixalot, except this brother has a fetish for big Bibles instead of badonkadonks. "You Christian brothers can't deny/That when a girl walks in with a KJV/And a book mark in Proverbs/You get stoked/Got her name engraved/So you know that girl is saved."

The full lyrics are available from 52tease.

Imagine my surprise, then, when "Baby Got Bible" reappeared, almost a year later, and this time on Steve Bryant's Reel Pop blog. Bryant was writing about an interesting new service called GodTube, now in beta form.

Continue reading "GodTube and "Baby Got Bible"" »

MTV Launching New Sponsorship Model with Integration into Content

Another interesting approach to integrating content and commercials into a new type of package is going to be offered by MTV this week, launching on Thursday. This will be an eight-week experiment in which a two-hour block, hosted by the famed Three 6 Mafia, in which short-form content will air alongside sponsor content which will be more entertainment itself than traditional 30-second spots.

According to Beth Duggan with TelevisionWeek, the content will include "digital shorts, exclusive series content, recaps, previews and unique sponsor content," fully integrating sponsorship and show.

A single sponsor will be focused on each week, with Universal Pictures sponsoring the first week by focusing on its Knocked Up film.

Continue reading "MTV Launching New Sponsorship Model with Integration into Content" »

College Nielsen Measurement's Effect on Daytime

Earlier today, I wrote about some of the initial impact of college viewers being calculated into the Nielsen ratings, and in that post, I mentioned that daytime viewership is up 5 percent taking into account the 135 or so college students now included in the Nielsen numbers, if my understanding of the sample is correct.

There has been further analysis of those numbers in a couple of articles, one at the beginning of daytime measurement from Forbes, and another written this past week from MediaWeek.

When the college viewers were first added to the sample back in January, I wrote, "Soap opera fans are discussing these ratings and wondering what it means, if anything, for measuring soaps viewing and also for how much soaps will focus on college audiences. At one time, especially before cable provided so many alternatives, soap opera viewing was significant on campus and still probably adds in viewers not currently counted."

Forbes' Rick Kissell, in the first week of Nielsen numbers, wrote that "NBC's young-skewing combo of Days of Our Lives and Passions shot up by more than 30% this week to week among adults ages 18 to 24." He further reported that ABC's General Hospital and CBS' Guiding Light received more than 20 percent more viewers in that category, and that As the World Turns saw an increase as well, while Young and the Restless did not gain in the week-to-week demographics.

Cut to John Consoli's article in Monday's MediaWeek.

Continue reading "College Nielsen Measurement's Effect on Daytime" »

College Viewers in Nielsen Ratings Make Impact, But What Is the Value of Such a Small Sample?

According to the latest numbers from Magna Global, in their analysis of Nielsen figures since the inclusion of college students have been added into the mix, primetime television viewership has reportedly increased by 12 percent, while daytime viewership is up 5 percent and late night is up 9 percent.

Perhaps these numbers are not quite that surprising, given that counting new viewers had to indicate a rise in viewership to some degree, but these very few college students out there will make a huge impact on brands targeting 18-to-24-year-olds, the most likely students to live in a college dorm. According to the Magna Global analysis, ABC gained more than any other network.

Grey's Anatomy jumped three full ratings points in 18-24-year-olds, and several other ABC shows that attract a college demographic has done well. Late night viewership showed particular growth for both the CBS and NBC lineups as well. Not surprisingly, cable networks targeting younger viewers have also seen huge increases, including Turner Broadcasting networks like TBS and Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and MTV Networks' channels MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central. Both MTVN and Turner Broadcasting are C3 corporate partners.

Continue reading "College Viewers in Nielsen Ratings Make Impact, But What Is the Value of Such a Small Sample?" »

Veoh Developing Deal with AMD to Connect High-Res Content To TV Sets

Online video distribution platform Veoh continues to add to its services, with an announcement this week that the company would be collaborating with new technological services to bring DVD-quality high-resolution Internet television to its video service, and to effectively connect that video service to users' TVs.

Veoh will work with AMD to offer more than 100,000 high-quality videos through its service, as Veoh sets to distinguish itself in the market based on its video quality. The videos will have no length restrictions and will include both user-generated independent content, as well as content through deals with major media owners.

And the technology from AMD, called Active TV, will facilitate the Internet-to-TV service in tandem with the Veoh videos. In the story he filed on Reuters' blog, Kenneth Li writes, "We're not quite sure where or in what form Active TV technology will pop up. And plenty of skeptics wonder if anyone will care at all. Competitors will also have to convince consumers why their gizmos will be better than Apple's new set-top box device, Apple TV, that links iTunes to TV sets."

Continue reading "Veoh Developing Deal with AMD to Connect High-Res Content To TV Sets" »

Transmedia Journalism: A Story-Based Approach to Convergence

For more than a year now, I've written about taking a transmedia approach to journalism and how that approach can be best accomplished. I'm not talking in this sense about giving conglomerates the chance to squeeze more blood from the stone, to get three times as much work from half as many journalists, or else the myth of the uberjournalist, where one person should be sent into the field to take the pictures, do the story, get video, and then come back to write the story, publish the photographs, put the video up on the Web, appear on the TV station, and so on. Instead, what I mean is finding the best platform possible to tell the story in, to use each medium to its strengths.

As I wrote back in that July post linked to above, "The problem is simply that convergence, as a buzzword, is too broad. As the word is sometimes legitimately used to mean the jack-of-all-trades journalists that would look awfully good on a spreadsheet of human resources expenses, I understand why so many professors were intractable in their opposition to even discussing convergence as a department."

The latest issue of The Convergence Newsletter features a piece by Randy Covington that originally ran in the Winter 2006 issue of Nieman Reports. The essay, entitled Myths and Realities of Convergence, focuses on just these questions. Covington, who is the director of the famed Newsplex at the University of South Carolina, writes this piece to dispel some of the convergence myths out there.

Continue reading "Transmedia Journalism: A Story-Based Approach to Convergence" »

April 1, 2007

Disney's Bob Iger, C3's Jason Mittell, and Understanding Dedicated Viewership

C3 Affiliated Faculty Member Jason Mittell has an interesting post on the network definitions of casual and dedicated viewers, based on a recent NPR interview with Disney's Bob Iger and what he attributes to a misinterpretation of data on Iger's part. In the interview, Iger said that "the committed or the avid viewer of that series, in a given year, will probably watch somewhere in the neighborhood of a third of all those episodes," speaking of a successful television show in general.

Most likely, Iger's comments were based on a misunderstanding of the idea that the average viewer of a series watches a third of the program, but the entire debacle, for Mittell, underscores the ways in which the industry remains transfixed on quantity of viewing while new models and modes of engagement point the way toward the importance of depth of viewership instead. Here is a partial transcript of the Iger interview.

Mittell writes, "The basic lesson is to always think about how the industry 'knows' its audience and how that knowledge contrasts with our own experiences and analyses."

Continue reading "Disney's Bob Iger, C3's Jason Mittell, and Understanding Dedicated Viewership" »

Bochco's Cafe Confidential an Interesting Foray into Web Content

Earlier today, I wrote about the launch of Prom Queen tonight, the Michael Eisner Webisode series that will feature 80 weekly 90-second episodes, distributed each Sunday night through MySpace and Monday through YouTube and its own Web site.

Another big name dipping his toes into the online video distribution waters as of late is famed television series creator Steven Bochco, who has teamed with online video site Metacafe for a new channel called Cafe Confidential.

The channel features Webcam confessionals, in which "reality TV" meets "the Web's clip culture," as Erick Schonfeld with The Next Net writes.

As opposed to Eisner's slick and professionally produced product, Bochco sifts through user-generated content to pick confessional videos for the channel, grouped in categories such as "Most Emarassing Moment" or "My First Time."

Continue reading "Bochco's Cafe Confidential an Interesting Foray into Web Content" »

A New Era of Publishing: Scarcity and Plenitude, Blurb, and GSD&M's Andy Hunter

Over at Idea City, the blog for our C3 partner down in Austin, Texas, Andy Hunter and other contributors have been doing some interesting work as of late. Hunter is a planning director for GSD&M, the advertising agency which has been a member of C3 since it's beginning in 2005.

What recently caught my eye was a post by Hunter, reporting from SXSW. In particular, Hunter was writing about Blurb, a "BookSmart" software package that works for both Macs and PCs which makes it easy for people to write and design their own books. Look here for publishing options.

The software is intended to appeal to those looking to create professional-style family books, professionals looking to create packages for clients, or those interested in self-publishing and selling their own books, without throwing money away to the vanity presses that feed off the desire to publish by those not in an easy position to do so.

Hunter writes that, rather than being evil, the folks at Blurb have "designed a site that's as easy as Flickr, intuitive, with Adobe-like page layout functions that won't mean spending a months pay on computer software. Write your book, lay it out yourself, print it for a ridiculously reasonable cost, and sell it online Amazon style."

Continue reading "A New Era of Publishing: Scarcity and Plenitude, Blurb, and GSD&M's Andy Hunter" »

Austen 3:16: Jane Austen Fan Communities Active on the Internet

Nancy K. Baym recently wrote a piece pointing the way to a somewhat unique aspect of fan communities that moves into the realm of traditional literature: online fan communities built around Jane Austen's literature.

Baym's piece was inspired by a recent piece in The Times Book Online in the United Kingdom, entitled "Austen Mania.

While I'm not surprised to see fan communities built around WWE performer Stone Cold, this Austen may sound somewhat unlikely for a strong fan community online, but the Internet is a place for people of all sorts of common interest to meet, and those fans of fictional worlds aren't just relegated to the modern media and entertainment landscape. By the way, I know what Austin 3:16 says, but I'm not sure about Austen 3:16.

Having read and watched film adaptations of several of Austen's works, I can understand why it has retained its continued power for generations, so the wealth of Jane Austen fan sites may not be so shocking.

Continue reading "Austen 3:16: Jane Austen Fan Communities Active on the Internet" »

Prom Queen Launches Today on MySpace, Monday on YouTube, Official Site

While my last few posts have focused on major moves being made in the mobile video field (see here, here, and here), there have been some major recent moves in the realm of original online content as well.

Today, Michael Eisner will debut its new Webisode video series Prom Queen, a series of 80 episodes which will each be 90 seconds in duration. The series will debut a new episode each week and is being produced by Vuguru, Eisner's digital production group. Prom Queen will be a mystery series.

Continue reading "Prom Queen Launches Today on MySpace, Monday on YouTube, Official Site" »

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