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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error


January 2007 Archives

Kudos to Cartoon Network

January 31, 2007 1:58 PM


In my ongoing kid blog reports, I need to do a shout out today on behalf of Cartoon Network.

Here’s why.

My six year-old son has developed a Pokemon addiction. Trust me—I have done nothing to foster it. In the meantime, I am trying to break the addiction by reading Harry Potter to him. But for now, though he’s keen on tales of giants on motorcycles and boys who are wizards, he still likes Pokemon. I still don’t know what Pokemon even are.

However, I did let him visit the Cartoon Network Web site the other day to check out Pokemon. And here’s why Cartoon Network gets props—all I had to do was type in cartoonnetwork.com into the browser window. I walked into the other room and he figured out the rest. He was able to navigate the site, find the video player, locate the Pokemon episodes and get them to play all by himself.

And guess what? I don’t have to report on the ins and outs of how the player worked or if it was easy to find or anything like that. Because obviously it was. Obviously it did the job. So a big hand to Cartoon Network—you get an A + for ease of use.

YouTube Gets a Helping Hand from Daddy

January 30, 2007 1:12 PM


What happens when you put the two biggest beasts in online video together? They get even stronger. Check this out.

Just last week, Google said it would start including YouTube videos in its Google Video search index.

A few days later audience measurement firm Hitwise reported that the integration is already paying off handsomely.

On Saturday Jan. 20th, the Saturday prior to YouTube’s inclusion on the Google Video index, YouTube lured 0.54 percent of all Internet visits in the United States. On Saturday Jan. 27th, the Saturday following the integration, YouTube’s share rose to 0.64 percent of all visits. Don’t let those seemingly small numbers fool you. They are actually HUGE numbers and the change represents a growth rate of 18.5 percent.

The day before the index integration Google Video was responsible for 0.73 percent of all YouTube’s traffic; by Saturday it was responsible for 8.68 percent of all YouTube’s upstream traffic (where visitors were before they came to YouTube).

So watch out. The big get bigger. The rich get richer.

Finding YouTube on Google

January 29, 2007 5:45 PM

Yesterday YouTube and its new corporate owner made a big to-do about how YouTube videos are now included in the Google Video search results. Let’s see if that news was worth the big to-do.

I pop over to Google Video. Let’s start big. I enter “YouTube” in the search bar. And I’m greeted with a list of YouTube videos. The first is for “Free Hugs Campaign,” and I click through easily to get to a video that generated more than 9 million views on YouTube. Next is a CBS News video on the iPhone that lured nearly 2 million views on the viral video site. There are also links for my favorite, “Dick in a Box,” as well as “Evolution of Dance” and OKGO’s music video “Here it Goes Again.” These are among YouTube’s all time most popular. So I conclude that when you simply search for “YouTube” on Google Video you get primarily the top viewed videos of all time, which makes sense.

But what if we look for something a little less popular? Like skateboarding dogs?

As it turns out, the top result on Google Video search is also the top result when you search for “skateboarding dogs” on YouTube—a clip from www.funnyanimalvideos.com.

So here’s my conclusion. This partnership appears to be yet another mechanism to drive usage of the already dominant YouTube. Google’s smart to marry its search tools with YouTube’s ease of use.

'24' on Explorer But Not the FireFox

January 25, 2007 1:18 PM


I really hate to admit this. It pains me to say what I am about to say.

But I must tell the cold hard truth. And the truth is that video plays better on Internet Explorer than Firefox.

I recently became a Firefox convert. After hearing my husband, a Firefox evangelist, berate me for years for still using IE, I officially switched this month. Firefox is easier and the tabbing function is just way cool.

So, I visited MySpace today to check out the first few episodes of this season’s “24.” I found the show easily, after navigating to the video page from the homepage. However, when I clicked play I was asked to download the latest version of some player or other. As I’ve written before, I’m fed up with new player downloads and the constant barrage of updates that various sites require.

But I soldiered on and opted for the download. And the download didn’t work. I barely remember why now. All I remember was I got some annoying message and then the browser just sat there with a tantalizing “loading…” teaser note for nearly an hour. Until I closed that tab.

So I reluctantly opted for Explorer and jumped onto MySpace. And everything worked. It just worked fine and dandy.

The video loaded. The video played. The video fast forwarded. The video paused.

Is Netflix Listening?

January 25, 2007 1:16 PM

Want to start a campaign on my behalf? One week and still no word from Netflix on setting up the Watch Now service on my account.

TR Knight on 'Ellen'

January 23, 2007 1:42 PM


Here’s the deal with this online video age we’re living in. You can’t get away with anything anymore and that’s a good thing. By now, most of you have heard about how “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington denied at the Golden Globes that he had used a gay slur in reference to his out co-star T.R. Knight. Well, today it looks like Mr. Washington didn’t want to lose his job. After he was chastised by ABC and after thousands of fans called for his firing via an Internet petition, the star met yesterday with gay rights activists to discuss how he might “help educate the public about the cruelty of such language,” according to the Associated Press. Good. That’s what he should do. In the meantime, if you want to see an example of how an actor can graciously and thoughtfully handle being the subject of said slur, check out T.R. Knight’s appearance on “Ellen,” captured here on YouTube. He is awkward, he is heartfelt, he is real.

HealthiNation Syndicates Content

January 22, 2007 1:31 PM


As many of you know, I’m fascinated by the emerging business of online video syndication. So when the news landed on my desk last week that online health education network HealthiNation had syndicated its health videos to consumer Web sites such as QualityHealth.com and Nubella.com, I decided to go online and test the experience.

I’ve tooled around on HealthiNation’s site before and have given it high praise for ease of use. I start my new test at qualityhealth.com. The video is easy to find; it’s promoted right there at the top of the Web site.

But, and there’s always a but it seems, when I click through there’s no video in the player, just audio. I can pause the clip, but the video player just features a blank screen as the audio chirps along in the background. At the end of the video a message pops up that I need to upgrade to the latest version of Flash.

This frustrates me. I feel like I am on this constant treadmill of always needing to upgrade players or technology or other assorted whatnot on my computer to play videos. It gets annoying.

But in all fairness, I decide to leave Firefox and try the service on Internet Explorer. The good news is the service works fine, the videos play easily and I can quickly scroll through the various offerings. But now there’s probably a virus or something from Microsoft on my computer.

NBC Works Better on YouTube

January 19, 2007 2:20 PM


As I was checking out viral videos yesterday on Youtube, I found one posted by NBC. The video is a great spoof on cell phones and the new iPhone from Apple. You can check it out at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xXNoB3t8vM.

Since the clip comes from “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” I hopped over to NBC.com to see if I could find the video there too.

And you know what? You guessed it.

Impossible to find.

The video player took forever to load. And when I clicked on the link for the show, I was unable to find a link for “Conan” clips. Nor could I find a promotion or link for the video on the main page.

The networks could learn a lesson from YouTube. It’s still the easiest site in the world to view video on.

Hoping to Watch Netflix Now

January 18, 2007 1:01 PM


So we don’t have the new Netflix “Watch Now” feature set up on our Netflix account yet. My husband logs in to the site and says to me, “What gives?”

I explain that Netflix is rolling the feature—that lets its users watch movies and TV shows online—out over the next six months.

Then I think—why should we have to wait? I just sent a note to Netflix PR asking to get the feature turned on so I can review it for Trial and Error.

Stay tuned!

MSNBC Buries the Blog

January 17, 2007 3:51 PM


MSNBC launched a new “World Blog” today with blogging from Baghdad coverage. Reporters, producers and staff will include text, video and photo entries not only for news in Baghdad but around the world.

I took a quick look at “Blogging Baghdad” this morning with contributions from NBC News’ Middle East correspondent Richard Engel. This is a great example of where a blog can be beneficial—it provides that intense behind-the-scenes, first-person style that can help a viewer connect with both a story and a network.

The site is located here.

But here’s the big criticism. The blog is really tough to find from the home page. What if I didn’t have the link? Well, I would go to MSNBC.com then. When I do, I look around the home page for some sort of promotion for this new feature and see none. Also, when I click on blogs I don’t see it listed under blogs.

It seems kind of silly to bury content this good.

Looking for Innertube Videos, Finding a Maybe, Possible, In Consideration New Show

January 16, 2007 3:07 PM


CBS sent out an email blast promoting new offerings on its innertube service. I haven’t been there in a while so I figure this is the chance to take CBS up on its suggestive email.

I scan the offerings

“Jericho.” Eh. No interest.

“CSI.” Not drinking the kool-aid.

“How I Met Your Mother.” OK, I’m game.

Right underneath an ad for Victoria’s Secret (I can just feel the web clicks rising as I write this) is a list of recommended videos.

“Armed and Famous”. “Jericho”. “Numb3rs”. But no “How I met your Mother” video. I don’t even see a link for “How I Met Your Mother” in the thumbnails that scroll across the bottom of the page.

I go back to the email again and click through once more on the “How I Met Your Mother” video link. Same issue. It takes me to the site, but there’s no visible link.

Then I realize I have to allow pop-ups on my browser. The CBS site now takes me to the video. But it doesn’t play just yet. Nope—the site needs one more piece of data. Am I a Windows or Real kind of girl?

I select Windows, but now I’m getting annoyed with all these steps I have to go through. I know. I know. It’s not that many. Still.

But then the video starts and the show is actually pretty good. I’m not a regular watcher, but I must admit that “How I Met Your Mother” is now on my waiting list for The Next Regular Show I’ll Add To My Regular TV Watching Schedule When And If I Find The Time Or Inclination.

Yep, pretty impressive accolade.

The Dick in a Box Campaign

January 15, 2007 1:37 PM


I’ll admit it. I’m a closet “Dick in a Box” fan.

I often sing the song in the car, and even in front of the kids, making sure to bleep myself out at those 16 spots that need bleeping.

I have watched the “Saturday Night Live” uncensored video easily more than a dozen times since it premiered online on Dec. 16, doing my part to drive up those 10 million-plus views on YouTube of what’s now the 7th ranked video of all time on the site. Thus begins my campaign to make this video the most viewed of all time because I think it might possibly be the funniest piece of video from 2006.

I know by heart the best parts, like when Justin Timberlake points to his forehead when he says “gonna give you something so you know what’s on my mind,” or towards the end when the singers begin their fast riff: “every single holiday a dick in a box, over at your parent’s house a dick in a box, mid-day at the grocery store a dick in a box.”

But I’m torn between the two best parts and here’s where I want your help. Which is funnier—when she mouths “thank you” or when they give the 1,2, 3 instructions on how to make a “dick in a box?”

Watch it again and then weigh in here.

Local News on the Smallest Screen

January 12, 2007 12:55 PM


At the Consumer Electronics Show this past week, cell phone video was one of the hot topics, with competitors at MediaFlo and Modeo demonstrating their broadcast TV quality services.

Before I left for the show though, I actually checked out cellular TV from a different source—the local CBS affiliate here in San Francisco. The station’s spokesperson visited me, wanting to show me the stations’ news, weather, sports and traffic clips on her Verizon phone. KPIX launched its mobile TV service in April 2006 with 68 subscribers from Sprint and Verizon combined. In October, the station had grown that to 552.

Small potatoes, for now, to be sure. But, the station is getting money from this venture since it’s a monthly subscription service at $2.99-$4.99.

The cell phone actually pulls videos from the station’s Web site, which is a pretty cool notion in and of itself. Think about it—that little phone is somehow communicating with a Web site to grab its videos and display them on a little screen. It almost reminds me of that neat thing called TV. How does that work after all? Transmitting video through the sky?

The quality was good, without the herki-jerkiness cell phone video can have. Navigating around the videos can be a bit clunky and one or two didn’t load, but by and large if I were a local news junkie, I’d pay the few bucks a month.

That Dog Can Skate!

January 11, 2007 3:44 PM


I had the good fortune to land some Blinkx tips while at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this week. In my continuing efforts to track the evolving and critically important world of video search, I learned about a cool feature on the video search site. Go to Blinkx.com and type “Skateboarding Dogs” into the search bar. The first thing you will see is the coolest dog ever, who can carve with the best of ‘em. Then click on the “Wall It” button right next to the search bar. Watch the left hand side of the screen fill up with thumbnails of pooches who shred. Then mouse over that video wall and watch the videos pop up. It’s totally cool and a great way for TV executives to pass the time. A little psychedelic too when you move the mouse really fast.

P.S. No, I don’t work for Blinkx either.

Now It’s Time for Your Regularly Scheduled Video Search Update

January 10, 2007 12:58 PM


In my ongoing quest to report on developments in video search, I am taking the temperature of three of the leading video search engines this week— Truveo, Clipblast and Blinkx. I want to see how easy or hard it is to find videos from various networks on their sites.

I start with Truveo at searchvideo.com. I plug in A&E’s “Criss Angel Mindfreak” and the results bring up an episode on AOL Video. That’s good news since it’s a network-sanctioned version, not a pirated one. I click on a Truveo link to find the show on iTunes too, but I get some funky error message saying Truveo can’t locate iTunes on my computer. Well, we all know I have iTunes.

Next, I try Discovery’s “Mythbusters.” That search brings me directly to the Discovery.com page on “Mythbusters.” Discovery should be quite pleased.

I move to ClipBlast. I decide to look up “MTV Unplugged,” but I only find Bob Dylan videos from 1994. Next I try “Laguna Beach,” but only get results for local CBS stations’ news clips on the California locale. Then I spot a link near the bottom of the first page of results for MTV Overdrive, MTV’s broadband service. MTV probably wants that link to be higher in the results, but at least it’s there.

Next I go to Blinkx to try “Rachael Ray.” As you can imagine, a search for Ms. Ray is bound to yield a wide range of results. But I am curious which of her ventures will appear first. The first result is a clip for “30 Minute Meals.” But it’s from MSNBC, not Food Network. Weird.

The good news is that results are improving. The same search conducted in August would primarily have yielded links to unauthorized clips of these shows on YouTube or other sites.

Amanda and Me: We Could Be Sisters!

January 10, 2007 12:39 PM


Here you go—the photographic proof of me hanging with my homegirl, Amanda.

We could be sisters, right?

Well, duh. Of course, I am the older one. By like nine years.

Touring

January 10, 2007 12:38 PM

Programming executives from Turner, A&E, ABC, MTV and other networks are getting ready to take a VIP tour of the show floor and check out companies such as Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, Pioneer, Qualcomm, Intel, Sony and LG. The National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences Advanced Media Committee is sponsoring the event. The goal of the tour, said Advanced Media Committee Chair Shelly Palmer, is to help programmers better understand technology.

Moonves Speaks

January 9, 2007 9:08 PM


“Since the dawn of civilization, man has demonstrated a fundamental desire to gather,” a voice boomed from the stage at CES.

During CBS CEO Les Moonves’ keynote at CES, he turned the stage over to a prepared CBS video that claims that audience interactivity in today’s digital age stemmed all the way back to Roman days of old when audiences voted on whether the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum got to live or die. The video then fast forwarded in time to the Salem witch trials, apparently another great moment in the timeline of audience interactivity.

How do these epochal events portend our digital desires of 2007? Mr. Moonves said, “These days if we join together to watch the effect of Mentos on diet coke, the bridge between content and community is strong and developing faster than at anytime in history.”

I guess we’re all just doing our part to turn modernity into history when we post clips on YouTube. Or something like that.

Amanda and Me

January 9, 2007 8:19 PM


We’re best friends now. I have the picture to prove it. I’ll post it later once I can get back on a decent wireless connection to send it.

But seriously, folks, I just met with Amanda Congdon outside the iRobot booth in the Sands Expo that showed short round dirt devil cleaning devices.

ABC had reached out to me wanting to change my perception of her. I’m a convert now! I’m on the Amanda bandwagon!

Just kidding.

However, I am impressed to learn about her lineage. Her Dad performed in the original cast of “42nd Street” on Broadway as Sawyer’s love interest, Amanda said, and since that’s my favorite musical of all time, Amanda gets points.

We also discussed what I don’t like about her video blogs on ABCnews.com and starringamandacongdon.com. They’re kind of dull and all over the place. She took the criticism well, was not defensive and simply explained her approach. For ABCnews.com, she said, “What I am trying to find when I write the show is something that interests me, a little gem.” Tomorrow, look for a video blog on four interesting products from CES and an interview with Dell Chairman Michael Dell.

As for StarringAmandaCongdon.com, she describes it as more of a free form project. “I’m not putting any controls. It’s more of a scratchpad to get ideas out. There’s not so much a goal, but it’s really an exercise,” she said.

Maybe I am just too old. I’m also not a 25 to 40 year-old guy.

Where the Bigwigs Are in Vegas

January 9, 2007 8:02 PM


Want to know what TV and advertising executives are up to at CES? Well, they aren’t going to the sessions, that’s for sure. They’re doing VIP tours of the show floor.

I crashed a tour today that The National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences Advanced Media Committee hosted. In the group I piggybacked onto was none other than the WPP CEO himself, Sir Martin Sorrell. His top lieutenant Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer with Group M, attended, along with several WPP executives.

Mike Bologna, the digital guru with Group M’s Mediaedge:cia company, said he arranged for his clients Paramount Pictures and Pizza Hut to take the tour and learn more about new devices on the show floor. He then reached out to Mr. Scanzoni, who apparently decided it would be good too to kick the tires on companies like LG, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft.

I hitched onto the group to visit Qualcomm, which demonstrated its new mobile TV service MediaFLO, slated for a launch on Verizon phones later this quarter.

After the MediaFlo demonstration, executives from our group, asked about battery life (4-6 hours), whether the MediaFlo service is separate from VCAST (it is), and if you can toggle between video and calls (you can).

Paramount Pictures Alexander Fragen, senior VP of domestic TV distribution, said he signed up for the tour to see what the devices look like that are carrying programming from studios and networks in new ways.

Sling Media

January 9, 2007 2:07 PM


Over at the Sands Expo, Sling Media has got the biggest booth in the Anytime Anywhere Tech Zone. Of course, that may have something to do with Sling being the sponsor of this little area. Nevertheless, the booth is hopping more than any other so far at the Sands with attendees checking out the newly introduced Sling Catcher. It should be available later this year and it’s a new Sling tool that lets you send programming from your TV to another TV in the house. Sling also is angling for every sales opportunity possible. It’s set up a Sling Box store right next to its booth and if you buy a Sling Box here and now you get the software for Sling Mobile for free and also a $25 Visa debit card. “Use it in Vegas and treat yourself to something nice,” the woman at the booth said in her pitch to me. I asked how many boxes Sling had sold so far at the show. The answer: more than 10 and less than 100.

Tip of the Day

January 9, 2007 1:56 PM

Tip of the day: Home Security in a Box at the Sands Expo wins the bustiest award. I haven't even seen any other exhibits but I am confident there will be no toppers.


CBS and the Virtual World?

January 9, 2007 12:44 PM


During my visit to the CBS rehearsal suite yesterday, I had the chance to meet Philip Rosedale, the CEO of Linden Lab. That’s the company behind the Web site secondlife.com, an online virtual world. Mr. Rosedale said he’ll play a role in CBS CEO Les Moonves’ keynote today. So stay tuned and we’ll see if Mr. Moonves provides more clues about CBS’ foray into virtual worlds.

Will They or Won’t They?

January 9, 2007 12:41 PM

Wondering if “Lost” stars Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox or Evangeline Lilly and Josh Holloway will get together this season?

Look no further than the “Moonlighting” series of days gone by. During his CES keynote, Bob Iger remarked that once the characters played by Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis got together the show went off the air. Yep, romantic tension is one of the big sustaining factors in a show. So don’t look for any sort of “consummation” any time soon on “Lost.” It’s a showkiller.

Get Your Moonves Tickets Here

January 8, 2007 11:20 PM


I spotted a few CBS executives when I popped into the Bellini meeting room at The Venetian designated for “CBS rehearsals” for CEO Les Moonves’ keynote speech. I was only hoping to snag one VIP pass for tomorrow’s speech, but new CBS Interactive executive Quincy Smith gave me four when he learned I was with TelevisionWeek.

I wonder how much I could get for the tickets on eBay. Or maybe we could just start an auction here for the three I don’t need. Any takers?

Disney Out in Full Force at CES

January 8, 2007 8:35 PM

Disney sent quite an entourage of suits out to Las Vegas for CES and Disney CEO Bob Iger’s keynote on Monday afternoon. With more 200 seats earmarked for Disney here in the Venetian ballroom, Disney’s been filling them with the likes of Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney-ABC Television Group; Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media with the Disney-ABC Television Group; and Bruce Gersh, senior VP of business development for ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television. But I like to think of him as my supplier, since Mr. Gersh was kind enough to get me addicted to my most favorite show in the whole universe, “Grey’s Anatomy,” when he slipped me the DVDs for seasons one and two of the show back in September.

Disney is also packing those seats with executives from ABC.com, Disneychannel.com, ESPN and its mobile television group.

Amanda, Where are You?

January 8, 2007 8:34 PM

I’m still waiting for my rendez-vous with the queen of video blogs Ms. Amanda Congdon. While waiting I had the chance to rap with Bernard Gershon, the senior VP and general manager for Digital Media with the Diseny-ABC Television Group, who was involved in her hiring and happened to be hanging out in the VIP line with me for the Bob Iger keynote at CES.

He said that Ms. Congdon’s videos rank among the top 10 videos each week on ABCnews.com. That’s out of 350 to 400 videos that ABC posts on its news site each week, including pieces on the war in Iraq, for instance. “She brings a new audience. Younger, hipper, more Internet savvy,” Mr. Gershon said, as another Disney executive charged his Blackberry while in line.

Mr. Gershon admits that some viewers love her and some don’t. “She has a real talent,” he said. I asked what that talent is and he said, “It’s a new way of presenting information-based content. She’s not doing investigative reporting. She’s finding interesting stories and presenting them in an upbeat, non-traditional way.”

And the Answer is Behind Door 14!

January 8, 2007 6:44 PM


I’ve got two words that will make your CES trip a breeze.

Door 14.

That’s right.

Door 14.

I can pass this along to you now that I’ve used it already.

If you want to avoid the vicious cab line at CES (and trust me that line is snaking ‘round and ‘round McCarran airport), go to door 14 beyond the baggage carousel and you can get a car service. Sure, you’ll have to pony up a little bit more than a cab would cost, but not too much more.

It’s worth it because I only waited a mere five minutes instead of an hour or more in the cab line.

Time is money, as they say, and now I am at my hotel a mere 35 minutes after my plane landed. That enabled me to write this blog entry and pass on this insider tidbit, rather than tapping my foot, cursing CES and generally giving off signs of discontent while standing in that good-fer-nothing, can’t-believe-I-have-to-wait, why-do-I-come-to-this-show cab line.

Now, I’m off to the Bob Iger keynote. Reporting back shortly.

CES Report: AOL-Sony Tango, Modeo Launches, Tivo Demos Service on Comcast

January 8, 2007 6:36 PM


As I prepare to descend on the tundra that is Las Vegas right now—how does a weather pansy like myself dress for 47 degrees after all?—allow me to share a few quick announcements from the show.

In the continued quest for convergence, AOL said it will make content from AOL Video available on Sony’s new “Bravia Internet Video Link.” That’s a new feature that should be built into the majority of Sony TVs by the summer. At last year’s show, AOL announced its partnership with Intel’s Viiv project to deliver Internet content to various devices. Little has come of that project, so only time will tell if the Sony partnership has more bang. Consumers can use the remote to access the Internet and navigate through AOL Video, AOL said. Users can also pause, fast forward and rewind using the remote.

On the mobile TV front, Crown Castle International said its subsidiary Modeo has launched a live trial of its mobile television service in New York City. The trial features live feeds Fox News, Discovery Channel and other programmers. Modeo’s service is similar to Qualcomm’s MediaFlo—it’s a means to deliver programming to cellular phones at broadcast TV quality. I’ve seen demonstrations of similar services and the quality is amazing—lightning quick and clear, rather than the herky jerky quality of mobile video today. Keep an eye on Modeo as cell phone TV proponents have said the introduction of Modeo and MediaFlo’s service this year will be big drivers in mobile TV adoption.

Finally, remember that deal from a few years ago when Comcast partnered with Tivo and we all thought, “OK, Tivo gets to live another few years?” Don’t worry—the boxes still aren’t out. But to keep the fire burning, Comcast and Tivo said they’ll demonstrate the service at CES today. Under the deal, Comcast will incorporate Tivo’s technology into its boxes. That would be a good thing as the Comcast boxes are clunkers. I’m on my 7th box in two years, after all.

YouTube and Google: Too Many Copies

January 8, 2007 12:38 PM


Question for the day: Why doesn’t YouTube have a system to filter out multiple copies of the same video?

You’ve probably gone to the site before and found oh, say, 50,000 copies of the same video. Like, maybe, NBC’s “Dick in a Box” video. The NBC clip from “Saturday Night Live” has generated more than 9 million views on YouTube in less than one month, making if the 9th most popular video of all time on the site. But if you do a search on YouTube for “Dick in a Box,” you’ll see at least 10 different copies.

The same thing happened last week with the cell phone video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Both YouTube and Google Video posted several different copies of the same video. OK, it’s not that big a deal for me to add up the number of views from each copy to arrive at a total number of views for our Viral Video of the Week feature But it’s just easier for viewers to find ONE copy of a video.

Break, Revver, Veoh and Blip usually only have one copy of a video. Why can’t YouTube and Google smooth out their video-sharing sites a bit and just post one copy? I am confident the technology exists to do this easily. After all, we can put a man on the moon and all that.

I’ve Had Enough

January 5, 2007 12:46 PM


I’m sick of services not working. I’ve had enough of poor products. I’m done with bad players and software that’s sluggish.

Consider this my final warning. For all the online video sites, networks and service providers that make bad software: STOP. Just stop.

A few weeks ago I had downloaded BitTorrent to learn more about peer-to-peer technology for a story. The end result: my computer suddenly needed to be restarted twice a day, compared to once every five days prior. And then my wireless network went on the fritz and I had to buy a new router and pay for a computer geek to fix the whole thing.

So I expunged all the interlopers from my computer this week, starting with BitTorrent. Then I uninstalled the History Channel “Shootout” game that I had downloaded but was never able to play because it just didn’t work. Didn’t work. That’s right—it just didn’t work. And I gave the boot to the Veoh Player. Wiped it off the computer. Because it too did nothing when I downloaded it. And, as you know, I uninstalled Amazon UnBox a long time ago.

So now, I am left with the good children. I have iTunes on my computer. I still have AOL Hi-Q for watching high-resolution videos from AOL Video. And that’s it.

So start making players and services and software that works. This is my zero-tolerance policy.

Me and Amanda: Hanging in Our Tees

January 4, 2007 7:51 PM


Picture this. The frenzy of CES. Gadget makers peddling their wares. Geeks with headset microphones doing product demos. Scantily clad booth babes haunting the floors of the Sands and Las Vegas Convention Center. And in the midst of it all, you’ll find Amanda Congdon and me hanging in our cool girl tees. That’s right. Amanda wants to meet with me. Apparently, ABC has been reading my blog and wants to change my perception of her. I’m looking through my vast tee-shirt collection now. I won’t be beat in that department

Amanda Full of Light

January 3, 2007 12:37 PM


So Amanda’s got another home. The e-lebrity (I just wanted to use that word) has added to her oeuvre a new show hosted on both Blip.TV and starringamandacongdon.com. I have often lain awake at night wondering what cool new tee-shirt she might wear and whether I can make it through a full five minutes of her new show. After 10 days of mental preparation, I am ready to face Amanda again.

I arrive on Blip.TV, but Amanda isn’t under “Don’t Miss” or “Hot Episodes.” Is Blip trying to tell me something, I wonder? Perhaps subliminal messaging?

After a quick search, I find several full episodes of her show. I try “Fantasy of Lights,” a video of Amanda driving down the street checking out Christmas light displays. There’s actually a really cool image of a street with lights arranged to feel like a tunnel. I pause the video to thoughtfully consider the lights (and really to write this entry), which gives me the chance to tell you that the pause feature on Blip works just fine. I also notice the Dove ad perched next to the video player. The great thing about the ad is it’s not overwhelming. It’s subtle, it works and I might go buy some Dove products right now.

OK, now Amanda just got out of her car and she’s freaking out over some holiday lights. And now, it appears that the lights are talking to her. One of the lights tells her that her New Year’s resolution should be to stop being so annoying.

I agree.

But I still can’t do it. I just can’t bring myself to finish the video. But, the moral of this is that the Blip service works great!

Is it Live? Isn’t it Live?

January 2, 2007 12:41 PM


ManiaTV, a round-the-clock online TV channel, added new features recently. The new site now includes a “group channel platform, preference-driven video offerings and dynamic profiling.” Yeah, my head’s spinning too. That all sounds like mumbo jumbo, so let’s just go online and see if the site is easy to use.

My first thought is video doesn’t play instantly when I show up. Generally, I like that feature. But with a 24-7 video service I expect the live channel to start playing instantly. Instead, I choose to watch a show called “Hollywood Minute.” I learn many useful things, such as the latest speculation that Nicole Kidman must be pregnant because she has bangs. (That means she’s supposedly hiding her now visible forehead wrinkles under her hair since she can’t get botox shots with a bun in the oven.)

That’s enough celebrity gossip for me so I click on the “Live TV” tab to see what’s playing at this very moment. And it’s Madonna’s “Vogue” video. I watch a few seconds, and then click on the next video in the queue. It doesn’t load. Of course, this is where I smack myself on the forehead (that’s my low-tech way of knocking out the wrinkles too) because I just remembered that I am watching the live channel. But, I had forgotten that little fact because I am on the INTERNET, which I think of as an on-demand experience. I want what I went when I want it.

I tool around on the site and click on a few more videos and channels. They all work fine, load quickly and play easily. But I’m just not convinced that this site is easy enough yet. Is it live? Isn’t it live? It’s all too much to figure out. I’m going to log off and just go watch TV on the TV.