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.


Trial and Error

November 2007 Archives

Remember the 'Chocolate Rain' Guy From This Summer?

November 30, 2007 9:34 AM

Grad student Tay Zonday, who’s got a voice like Barry White, only deeper, rocketed to viral video fame this summer with his original song and video "Chocolate Rain," viewed more than 11 million times.

He’s back with another video, “Cherry Chocolate Rain,” released Nov. 28. It’s got the same keyboard-heavy, hip-hop infused, R&B flavored style that made him a Web star. Already, the video has been viewed more than 550,000 times.

But get this—this one was commissioned by Cadbury Schweppes for its new Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper.

Sure, it’s an endorsement. Sure, it’s a commercial. But more than anything—it’s still good, it’s still entertaining and the video makes Dr. Pepper look really hip as a brand.

Straight From the Republicans’ Mouths

November 29, 2007 9:45 AM

If you missed the Republican debate last night on CNN or YouTube, you can go to this page on the video-sharing site: http://www.youtube.com/republicandebate.

There you’ll hear the candidates’ responses to loads of questions on immigration, guns, taxes, debt and even whether they believe every word in the Bible is the word of God.

This one-stop shop—a page that features videos of all the questions and answers—is a great, easy-to-use resource. My only complaint is you have to actually stop playing the video you are currently watching before you start another one. A small kvetch, I know, but sometimes we don’t always watch all of a video and we just want to jump to the next one.

And You Thought Bungee Jumping Was Crazy

November 28, 2007 9:03 AM

VideoHow about strapping on a winged suit and just flying—no plane, no nothing—alongside the mountains? These guys jump off the side of a mountain and fly in what’s known as “wingsuits” alongside the cliffs, practically touching them with their fingertips.

Beyond nuts.

But eminently watchable. Check it out.

Similar videos have also landed on Metacafe, YouTube and DailyMotion as well as several extreme sports sites.

How to Get Free HBO

November 27, 2007 12:42 PM

I just got free HBO for a year. Yep, feeling pretty good. Want to know how you can do it too? Pick up the phone and call Comcast. Yep, that’s it.

Oh, sure, you’ll need to tell the customer service rep something about how your sister or brother or dog or babysitter or neighbor in Idaho or down the street or maybe even in Hawaii just got a six-month promotion on HBO, Showtime, Starz, and, why not, throw in Glamour and Rolling Stone and maybe even some Aveda hair products and a lifetime supply of toothpaste for good measure.

Point is—it’s about that scientific.

So here’s what happened. When “Entourage” ended this summer and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” tanked this fall, I dropped HBO and picked up Showtime instead because I love “Californication.”

Then just this past weekend, my sister in law, who lives ten minutes away, told me she got a deal for HBO, Showtime, Starz and other digital cable nets for about $91 a month from Comcast.

So I picked up the phone yesterday to call Comcast and see if I could score such a deal, thus getting my HBO back but at a much lower rate.

Comcast had no knowledge whatsoever of such an offer in our area—we live in the same county!—so the rep was unable to give me the same deal.

But would I like HBO for a year for free instead?

I said yes. Obviously.

And now I am passing the tip on. You can try it too.

Writers Outsourced to India

November 26, 2007 9:20 AM

We’ve all had this experience at one time or another. You call technical support, only to find your call has been outsourced to India.

Well, that same fate is befalling today’s A-list film and TV actors now that the writers are on strike.

Look what recently happened to Holly Hunter when she tried to get a writer on the phone only to learn her concerns had been routed to tech support in India:

But seriously, the PSA is from a new initiative launched on Thanksgiving by a group of Writers Guild Of America members. PSAs will be posted regularly on the new site www.speechlesswithoutwriters.com. But these won’t be any ordinary PSAs. They will feature A-list Screen Actors Guild talent, like Ms. Hunter, as well as Laura Linney, Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, also in additional PSAs currently running on the site.

So let’s hope that the return to the negotiating table this week not only brings a return to our TV entertainment, but also the end of online videos about the strike.

Thanksgiving Lovin’

November 21, 2007 9:56 AM

Our friends at Fuse have created a sexy little Thanksgiving parody video.

Fuse host, and former American Idol finalist, Jared Cotter sings and stars in the video "Thanksgiving it to you" along with season 5 “America's Next Top Model” runner up Nic.

Lyrics range from: “Believe me turkey, yea you're gonna get cooked," to “I’ll undress you like you’re Vanessa Hudgens.”

Oh, and there’s a great line about poking on Facebook. But I can’t use the words here, so go check it out.

Borat on NoGoodTV

November 20, 2007 10:48 AM

Popular online television network NoGoodTV launched a new Borat-themed channel Monday at http://www.ngtv.com/?channelId=borat&clipIdNum=1315822272.

NoGoodTV said the new channel will include uncensored interviews with Borat Sagdiyev from his current national book tour in support of his “Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and...Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

The site plans to add new content each week.

The channel also will include NoGoodTV’s original interview with Borat, prior to the release of his movie. That clip is NoGoodTV’s most popular clip of all time on YouTube with more than 7 million views.

NoGoodTV averages 25 million to 30 million views a month across ngtv.com, YouTube and mobile.

Flaming Hoops and Pizza—Tossing Lessons

November 19, 2007 8:25 AM

OK, I know I said I wasn’t going to spend much more time on videos from striking writers. But I guess these TV writers—who woulda thought—are kinda funny, kinda creative.

Here’s the latest one on how writers are spending all that funny money they’re getting on digital download residuals:

The Closest You’ll Get to 'The Daily Show'

November 16, 2007 10:13 AM

Eventually writers strike videos will get old. And tiresome.

But for now, there are some good ones out there. Like this video created by striking writers from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

Quarterlife Update

November 15, 2007 9:54 AM

In the last few days, a lot of folks have asked how the new Internet show “Quarterlife” is doing after I shared some initial thoughts in my video blog earlier this week at www.daisywhitney.tv.

So I did a little research this morning. Now, I am not claiming the information here is the definitive final word on how “Quarterlife” is faring. But here’s what I was able to find. (Incidentally, I don’t think viewership numbers are as easy to locate on MySpace as they are on YouTube and other services.)

According to this “Quarterlife” page on MySpace, the first three episodes collectively have garnered more than 247,000 views on MySpace.

That’s not too shabby in under a week. Most of the views—156,000—went to the premiere episode, but that episode has been available for longer than the others.

I’ll keep tracking the progress of the show.

Get a Shirt for Matthew McConaughey

November 14, 2007 10:29 AM

I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty darn happy that Ze Frank is back and sharing his thoughts on the Writers Guild of America strike.

Here’s a quickie for the day, since I’m at the NewTeeVee conference in San Francisco (located at a next-to-impossible-to-find conference center that in fact is so far away from civilization that I will be taking up a collection at noon for my cab fare back to the ferry terminal). At any rate, check out Ze Frank’s latest video. The first minute or so is devoted to the strike, with great digs at Matthew McConaughey and my least favorite actor in the free world, Tom Cruise.

Four Cents: Understanding the Strike

November 13, 2007 12:04 PM

Still struggling a bit to understand what exactly the writers strike is about?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

The issues are complex. But the Writers Guild of America has created a simple, easy-to-understand, three-minute primer video on its YouTube channel.

For the skinny on DVD and Internet residuals, check out this video:

At the heart of the impasse is whether studios will pay writers when shows run online. The WGA says the networks claim online video is simply promotional.

But one striking writer cobbled together a chilling video featuring soundbites from television executives Robert Iger, Sumner Redstone, Ben Silverman, Rupert Murdoch and Leslie Moonves touting how much money their companies stand to make on Internet video.
Check that video out here:

Click here for complete coverage of the strike.

iJustine Out On a Date

November 13, 2007 11:34 AM

Web video has officially become self-referential.

Internet star iJustine, she of the 300-page iPhone bill, appeared in a special guest spot on “net-work” a regular Web series created by online production shop Black20.

You can check it out here:

And you know what? It’s actually good. It’s actually funny. It’s actually well-written. Hmm…maybe we don’t need regular TV anymore after all…

For Your Consideration: Three Web Series

November 12, 2007 9:00 AM

If you’re jonesing to consume more online video, but you must, must, must find a regular series to watch on the Web, here are some options from PodShow network.

  • Geekbrief TV – http://geekbrief.podshow.com.

    Cali Lewis, a self-proclaimed gadget queen, produces this show every day.

  • 64mm Skateboarding Vlog – http://64mmvlog.podshow.com

    This show generates more than 2 million downloads a month and features young skateboarders hitting the half-pipes, as music from the latest indie bands plays in the background.

  • Blabbermouth TV – http://blabbermouth.podshow.com

    PodShow is producing this series for Cover Girl. It’s meant to be a forum for teen girls to chat about fashion, music and other topics.

    PodShow says its Web series are watched by 13 million unique users per month and are available on iTunes, Google Video and other sites. Advertisers across the PodShow network include Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Acura, Kmart, Hewlett-Packard, Sony Pictures and Coca-Cola.

  • Hearst Goes Green Daily

    November 9, 2007 9:00 AM

    As part of my ongoing effort to highlight Web sites and companies with green-centric content, here is the latest effort.

    Earlier this week Hearst Magazines Digital Media launched a site dubbed the Daily Green at thedailygreen.com. The site includes cool features such as how to calculate your environmental impact; a quiz to help users determine how green they want to be; and a slideshow that lists five things anyone can do to be greener, such as shopping at a farmers market, using canvas bags rather than plastic ones and reducing electricity use. The site also includes a handful of video clips, which can be found here.

    The video is a little clunky at times and takes a few seconds to load.

    Still, if you want to learn how to live a more sustainable life, the site will provide accessible, easily digestible and eminently doable tips.

    Watch a Song Get Made

    November 8, 2007 9:00 AM

    Media companies have not yet found a concept they can’t turn into an Internet video contest or challenge of some sort.

    Case in point: NPR launched its new multimedia music discovery site earlier this week. One portion of the site includes a new video series called “Project Song,” where a songwriter is challenged to write an original song in 48 hours in the NPR studios.

    The first songwriter to line up is Stephin Merritt. You can watch the creative process here.

    The show is well made, with good production values and offers a fascinating look at how the sausage gets made. The only problem is that I started watching “Project Song” in the late afternoon and then needed to pause the video for a kid break and dinner break. When I returned later, the video wouldn’t “unpause” so I had to reload and start over.

    You can find additional videos on the site under “Studio Sessions.”

    If you just want to listen to some good music while you’re working, then check out this audio file (you can stream or download) from the Arcade Fire concert from New York’s Judson Memorial Church earlier this year:

    ‘The Office’ on YouTube

    November 7, 2007 1:06 PM

    Watch this video, but don’t click on the ads!

    Because, well, the writers won’t get paid and that’s the point.

    The Writers Guild of America posted this clip on YouTube:

    From the picket lines in Los Angeles, “The Office” showrunner Greg Daniels talks about why he and some of the actor-writers on the show are striking.

    It’s pretty wild to see the actors as themselves doing “real people” stuff like picketing, but it also makes a strong point on the strike.

    Fan Fiction and the Writers Strike

    November 7, 2007 7:45 AM

    Here’s a solution for the writers strike. Let the people create shows.

    After all, we are living in the consumer-generated age. And as any fan of Harry Potter knows, fan fiction is a fast-growing content category online.

    Fan fiction refers to the creation of ongoing storylines for popular characters, series and TV shows by, you guessed it, fans.

    Online audience measurement firm Hitwise reports that the leading fan fiction site, fanfiction.net, has increased its Web traffic 42 percent in the last year and 59 percent in the last two years. It’s also the top-ranked site in Hitwise’s rankings of traffic for Web sites in the books category.

    So if you’ve got a hankering to keep the storylines going for your favorite TV shows, head on over to fanfiction.net and you can pen new scripts for “CSI,” “Lost” or “Grey’s Anatomy.”

    Ze Frank on Katherine Heigl’s On-Screen Love Life

    November 6, 2007 10:08 AM

    Internet TV star Ze Frank came out of retirement to offer his take on the writer’s strike.

    While I love the opening line about how writers are still sitting around in their boxers, just not typing, the best part of this video is 30 seconds in when he says that television sets have threatened to strike against the remote control union unless Hollywood writers stop putting Katherine Heigl in sexual relationships that don’t make sense.

    Now that’s some good writing, my friends. Someone should hire this guy to fill the gap.

    NBC and YouTube—Please Get Back Together!

    November 5, 2007 10:38 AM

    I miss NBC being on YouTube. I really, really do.

    Let me explain. I got an e-mail from a friend Sunday asking me if I had seen Feist on “Saturday Night Live” the night before.

    I hadn’t. But no worries, of course. Although I didn’t DVR it, I have the Internet! So I fired a quick note back to say, “I’ll check it out on NBC.com.”

    Of course I would be able to see it there, right?


    I went to NBC.com and clicked on the link for “SNL,” but was able to find only a few digital shorts from the most recent episode. I tried those out, but they failed to load after five minutes.

    But never fear! We have Hulu now. “SNL” should be there, right? That’s the purpose of Hulu, isn’t it? So I don’t have to go to YouTube. I scrolled through the links on Hulu and found several “SNL” digital shorts, including “Lazy Sunday,” but no Feist. I entered “SNL” in the search bar and the site returned a list of video clips. But still, no musical guest from the weekend.

    So I tried a generic Google search. And all I can say is, thank God for the little people. Who needs an official channel from NBC, when we can still find what we want? Here you go:

    But really, wouldn’t NBC benefit MORE from just leaving its official channel up on YouTube? I suppose the Feist performance might live somewhere on NBC.com or Hulu.com. Maybe if I looked longer I would find it. But that’s the point: Regular consumers don’t want to look longer. We want to find our video and watch our video when we want.

    Speaking of, I gotta go. I have a video to watch.

    KTLA.com Feels Heat From Wildfire Coverage

    November 2, 2007 12:30 PM

    Tribune-owned KTLA-TV, the CW affiliate in Los Angeles, said its video views were nearly four times higher than an average week during its coverage last week of Southern California wildfires.

    For the week of Oct. 21-26, KTLA.com served up more than 220,000 video views.

    KTLA also said views of KTLA clips on www.latimes.com, also owned by the Tribune Co., accounted for 44 percent of that site’s video traffic during that same time period, with more than 184,000 views.

    Dude, It’s Your Friday Fun Video

    November 2, 2007 9:43 AM

    Dude, I know it’s an ad.

    Dude, I don’t care.

    I have watched this Bud Light commercial three times now and it made me laugh each time.

    So check it out.

    Bud Light Dude - Watch more free videos

    Break posted the video on Wednesday night and had generated 69,000 views 24 hours later.

    Over on YouTube, the video attracted more than 1.2 million views after two days.

    Your Post-Halloween Fix

    November 1, 2007 9:36 AM

    It’s been well-chronicled here on this blog that I am an admitted sissy.

    But, first and foremost, I am here for you, faithful readers of Trial & Error.

    And if that means I have to watch a scary video to provide you with the most fun, topical or interesting videos, then by golly, I will do my duty.

    So for those of you who haven’t yet come down from your Halloween high, or for those of you still jacked up on Kit Kats and Snickers (by the way, whatever happened to Nutrageous bars? Did anyone score one last night? I didn’t), check out horror-centric digital network FearNet’s cool Halloween microsite.

    There are some fun videos under the “America’s Scariest Home Haunts” section showing you what the Halloween faithful around the country have done to decorate their own homes in the spookiest fashion.

    From a pure Trial & Error standpoint, the video quality is good, but sometimes there’s a lag time when you click on a new video. It feels as if it takes more than a few seconds to queue up the next video in the line-up.

    From the Halloween section you can also link to FearNet’s regular channels such as its shorts, interviews, online series, and free films such as “Catacombs,” FearNet’s first original movie.

    (OK, I am not that devoted. I am NOT going to watch a horror movie. You can do that on your own.)