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

January 2008 Archives

Showtime Has My Vote: Down With DVD Screeners

January 31, 2008 4:34 PM

Let’s bring an end to useless DVD screeners.

I’d be happy never to receive a screener DVD from a network again. So I’m going to follow Showtime’s lead of nixing DVD screeners. I don’t want the silver discs, either. I don’t want cardboard boxes or envelopes to recycle or jewel cases to wonder about how to recycle. I don’t want to be responsible for more oil used in more trucks to deliver DVDs by mail or UPS. Public relations executives, send me your TV shows, your videos, your screeners online!

Showtime Networks partnered with Internet TV provider Brightcove today to send the Showtime programs eligible for Emmy consideration to Emmy voters online. That’s right—not in the mail, not via UPS, not by FedEx.

Starting Feb. 15, Showtime will offer full seasons of its original shows via the Brightcove player to Academy of Television Arts & Sciences members for balloting. The shows will be available throughout June on Brightcove’s new player designed specifically for hi-def, hi-res, full-screen viewing.

Showtime said it’s the first network to offer shows online for award consideration. The network hopes others will follow suit. “It’s much more economical, ecological and also makes it easier for the member,” said Richard Licata, Showtime executive VP of corporate communication, in a phone interview.

However, the Emmy effort is not 100% digital. Showtime still will send three DVDs via mail, although that’s down from 20 last year. I asked Mr. Licata why they’re sending any discs in the mail.

“The demo of the TV Academy does have some members who may not be as technically confident, so it’s always kind of been a baby-step type of thing. This is a way to bridge it and get started,” he said. “And if there are older members who are not as comfortable online, they will see two great episodes from every one of our shows.”

Showtime has my vote.

Zucker Admires British Pilot System

January 29, 2008 10:30 AM

Look across the pond.

That’s what NBC may be doing with its new approach to pilots.

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker talked at NATPE this morning about his new mandate to radically reduce pilot production at NBC and to rely on a model of ordering series direct-to-air, the way it’s done in Britain.

“We will do fewer and order series straight to air. Or like in Britain, where there are no pilots and we keep ordering their shows,” he said.

How to End the Strike

January 29, 2008 8:15 AM

You can’t go wrong with puppets. Especially puppets as attorneys. So if you want to know how to end the writers strike, check out this video, written by Seth Macfarlane. Warning: it’s got swear words in it.

The WGA Negotiating Table - Watch more free videos

MTV’s Geoff Keighley in Hi-Def

January 28, 2008 6:00 AM

MTV Networks launched its first network show in hi-def online in “GameTrailersTV With Geoff Keighley” last week. The show is fronted by video game expert Geoff Keighley—obviously, given the name—and it premiered Jan. 25 on Spike TV.

But the show is all about multiplatforming, so you can also find it on Gametrailers.com, Xbox Live Marketplace, iTunes and Amazon Unbox. GameTrailers is the evolution of “Game Head,” the show Keighley hosted on Spike for two years. The show, which airs Friday nights on Spike TV, features all the latest videogame news, reviews and previews.

Keighley says it’s the first show MTV has put up online in hi-def.

Also, MTV Network’s Entertainment Group inked a talent and development deal with Keighley last week. Under the deal, he’s the executive producer for his show; he also will create additional TV programming, consult on Spike TV’s annual “Video Game Awards" show and host a number of specials.

As for GameTrailers, I don’t think I have a hi-def monitor on my laptop, but the show still looks darn good. You can watch it, too:

The Show Must Go On: Gary Vaynerchuk’s WineLibraryTV to Continue

January 25, 2008 11:00 AM

Whew! Gary Vaynerchuk was just teasing Wednesday when he said in episode 392 of WineLibraryTV (http://tv.winelibrary.com/) that he was only producing seven more episodes of the hyper-popular daily online Web show about wine.

At the end of Wednesday’s episode he said there would be only seven more. But I noticed on my Facebook page that he’d joined a new group, “Keep Wine Library TV Going.” See, I could be a detective. Because that was my clue. Why would he join a group to save his show? After all, he has the singular power to save his show.

So I e-mailed him and asked point-blank if the show was ending. And Vayniacs of the world can breathe a sigh of relief.

“It is not ending,” he wrote. “It’s my random mind doing things, just getting the Vayniacs excited and me excited :) it’s awesome. I adore them!”

Get Your Hulu Videos on Openhulu!

January 24, 2008 10:04 AM

Talk about freedom of choice.

You can get your Hulu videos from www.Hulu.com and www.Openhulu.com, a clone of the original.

Openhulu features nearly the same content as the NBC Universal-Fox joint venture, with full episodes of shows like “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights.”

At first blush, the site has trouble written all over it and seems like a prime target for a copyright lawsuit, a la Viacom’s $1 billion suit against Google-owned YouTube.
But it turns out Openhulu is legit. “[Hulu] allows embeds. I took all the embeds and made them publicly available,” said Matt Schlicht, who’s running Openhulu.

Hulu said that’s true. “Openhulu is using Hulu’s embeddable video player to feature videos on their site—they do not have a formal relationship with Hulu,” said Hulu spokeswoman Christina Lee.

“We encourage viral distribution of Hulu content on the Web,” she added. “That said, viral distribution of premium content is still a new concept and we evaluate each usage of the Hulu player on a case-by-case basis.”

Who would have thought? Big media being cool with viral distribution.

Advertisers Team With Online Stars

January 23, 2008 10:55 AM

Want to know how advertisers are getting into viral video?

Here’s a creative example.

General Motors has teamed up with online comedy duo Rhett and Link to cover the Sundance Film Festival. The pair of viral video stars is in Park City, Utah, producing daily videos with an irreverent flare. Here’s an example:

Tuning Out During Your Pre-roll Ad

January 22, 2008 9:50 AM

This is kind of weird. Consumers don’t like ads. Even in online video. Even when it’s streamed. So strange…

A new study from Burst Media, an online advertising firm, found that while more than half of online video viewers (53.6%) recall seeing pre-, post- or mid-roll ads in video, more than three-quarters find them intrusive.

Also, half of online video viewers say ads in video content disrupt their viewing experience. To add insult to injury, 50% of viewers also stop watching an online video if they encounter an ad. Only 43% stay tuned in to watch the ad and the rest of the video.

But here’s the silver lining: Young folks are more willing to watch ads. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, nearly 58% will stay tuned in during an ad.

The Skinny on ‘Quarterlife’ and ‘KateModern’

January 21, 2008 9:55 AM

The Internet TV show “Quarterlife” had reached nearly 4 million views online as of late last week. The show has been running online for a little more than two months. It’s headed for an on-air premiere on NBC on Sunday, March 2, at 9 p.m., a change from its scheduled Feb. 18 debut.

In other Internet TV show news, season two of “KateModern” is up and running on Bebo at http://katemodern.bebo.com.

The show averaged more than 1.5 million weekly views in its first season last summer and more than 35 million views total since launch. The show is produced by the creators of lonelygirl15.

When Facebook Meets Wikipedia Meets Snopes Meets YouTube…

January 18, 2008 9:51 AM

What happens when Wikipedia, Facebook, eBay, Amazon and Craigslist meet at a party?

Check out this video from comedy troupe Those Aren’t Muskets! to find out.

Videos from Those Aren't Muskets! have been featured on the front pages of Cracked, Funny or Die, Veoh, Revver, Crackle and College Humor. You can check out more of their videos at www.thosearentmuskets.com.

Sexy Suburban Grandma

January 17, 2008 10:56 AM

Web video financing and syndication shop 60 Frames fired up some new Web series Wednesday, including “G.I.L.F.”

At first I thought, was the “G” for “girl?” Then I quickly realized it was for “grandma.” So if you want to see a real GILF and a funny new Web series, this is worth a peek.

60 Frames is distributing its show on MySpace, iTunes, Bebo and YouTube.

MacWorld Keynote in 60 Seconds

January 16, 2008 10:39 AM

Missed Steve Jobs’ keynote at MacWorld yesterday? “Mahalo Daily’s” Veronica Belmont condensed the keynote into 60 seconds. That’s it—all you need of Steve. Plus, there’s a great section at the end with a quick collection of all of Steve’s superlatives, like “extraordinary,” “most successful,” “incredible,” “tremendous” and others.

Here you go!

And if you want the context behind the keynote, check out my New Media Minute report.

Jobs Announces iTunes Movie Rentals at MacWorld

January 15, 2008 11:22 AM

For exclusive video from MacWorld, click here.

In a sweeping move to capture the online movie rental market, Apple announced the availability of movie rentals on its iTunes service starting today with movies from all the major Hollywood studios.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the new offering during his keynote address at MacWorld in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Films from Paramount, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax, MGM and Lionsgate now are available to rent on the iTunes service.

New releases will be available on the service 30 days after their DVD release, he said. Films currently on the new service include recent hits “Knocked Up,” “Ratatouille” and “Blades of Glory” as well as library titles such as “The Matrix.”

Apple is aiming to dominate the online movie business as it has done with online TV downloads and music. Apple will compete with services such as CinemaNow, Vongo and MovieLink, but none of those offerings has achieved much commercial traction.

Download-to-own services, which allow consumers to own a digital copy of a film, also have failed to take off. Wal-Mart recently shuttered its online video download service. Even Apple has only sold 7 million movies on its download-to-own movie service on iTunes in the last year. “That’s more than everyone else put together, but it did not meet our expectations. We think there is a better way to deliver movie content,” Mr. Jobs said.

Under the rental service, library titles cost $2.99 and new releases cost $3.99. Consumers will be able to watch the movies within 30 days of renting them, but the film must be watched within a 24-hour period.

“This will be a transformative version of the rental model, and we are very excited about it,” said Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox, who joined Mr. Jobs on stage.

Mr. Jobs said he expects there to be 1,000 movies in the rental store by the end of February. The movies can be watched on a PC, Mac, iPod or iPhone. Consumers can start watching within 30 seconds of starting the download. “You can transfer while watching,” he said. “You can watch the first half on your computer, realize you have a flight to catch and transfer to your iPod.”

Mr. Jobs also announced a new version of Apple TV at a reduced price.

Apple TV is a device that lets consumers watch iTunes content on their TV sets, but it has failed to take off to a meaningful degree.

“We tried with Apple TV and designed it to be an accessory to iTunes and your computer. That’s not what people wanted. What people wanted was movies, movies, movies. We weren’t delivering that,” Mr. Jobs said.

The addition of movies to the device may give it a boost in the marketplace. Consumers can rent movies from the new iTunes rental store using Apple TV.

The updated Apple TV offering is available as a free software download to existing Apple TV users. The device now sells for $229, down from $299.

Mr. Jobs also said iTunes has sold more than 125 million TV shows since it began offering them more than two years ago.

Your Green Update From Trial & Error

January 15, 2008 10:32 AM

You know by now that I can’t resist telling you about a good green series.

Here’s one to check out:

Online Videos by Veoh.com

The host has a fetching accent, the pace is fast, and the show brings you useful information on companies like Frito-Lay and their efforts to go green.

Along these lines, cable’s HGTV commissioned a study that found more than 84% of respondents believe “it is a moral obligation” to care for the environment and 86% already participate in at least one green activity, such as conserving energy at home, recycling, driving a fuel-efficient car, buying recycled products or picking up litter.

The study also found 81% of respondents think the current focus on environmental or "green" issues is “here to stay” rather than a “passing fad.”

20,000 iPhones Per Day

January 15, 2008 9:36 AM

Apple has sold 4 million iPhones since the product was introduced this summer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced at his MacWorld keynote in San Francisco. That's 20,000 iPhones each day.

Mr. Jobs said in the first quarter the iPhone was on the market, Apple had captured 19.5% of the smartphone market in the United States, second only to RIM's 39%. RIM makes Blackberries.

Goosebumps at MacWorld

January 15, 2008 8:59 AM

The Mac faithful are out in full force this morning for the Steve Jobs MacWorld keynote. Word is folks were lining up as early as 4 a.m. outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco this morning awaiting the appearance of their black turtleneck-clad leader. He takes the stage in four minutes. Goosebumps abound.

Home With a Helipad on Frontdoor.com

January 14, 2008 12:50 PM

If I didn’t already work from home, I would definitely commute to work via helicopter.

So if any of you copter commuters are looking for a new pad, complete with a helipad, of course, check out new show “Cool Houses Daily” from frontdoor.com.

Frontdoor.com is the Scripps-owned site catering to home buyers that launched late last year. The site offers three online Web shows: “Savvy Woman Homebuyer,” “Cool Houses Daily” and “REwrap.”

Other episodes of “Cool Houses Daily” have included famous architect-designed homes, best bachelorette buys and island escape homes.

It’s a cute show, but what’s missing is the host. The show’s host never appears on-screen. We only hear her voice. I’d like to put a face with the name, though.

G4’s CES Picks on New Gadgets for Media

January 11, 2008 10:36 AM

Want to know the new five new gadgets and gizmos from CES that might impact the TV and media business in the year ahead?

Here they are, in G4’s words:

--iRiver WING: Compact, ultra-portable PC with 4GB Flash storage, full QWERTY keyboard, 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen, WiFi. Also features instant message and SMS/MMS support.

--Sirius Backseat TV Audio/Video Tuner: SCV1 receives Sirius radio and family-friendly Sirius Backseat TV content. Mounts in vehicle to provide live audio and video.

--Archos 705 WiFi: Device combines portable media player with media storage center capabilities. Available in 80GB and 160GB models.

--Panasonic/Comcast AnyPlay Portable DVR/DVD/CD Player: Portable media player features DVR capabilities within portable media player.

--Slingbox Modem: All-in-one streaming device and cable modem allows remote control of cable TV services.

Here’s that Rhett and Link Video

January 11, 2008 10:31 AM

If you watched my New Media Minute this week you know I’ve been busy pimping the online video comedy duo of Rhett and Link. In the New Media Minute I mentioned a terrific video the pair produced from the Grammy Awards last year. I think it’s great, so here it is.

Showtime on iTunes

January 10, 2008 2:51 PM

Showtime released the first season of “The Tudors” on iTunes on Jan. 2 and the first season of “Californication” on Jan. 7. As of 2:30 PT today, Showtime was commanding five of the top 10 slots on iTunes in the Top TV season category.

Other shows in the top 10 include Showtime’s “Dexter” and two seasons of “Weeds.”

Beet.TV Interviews NBC’s Digital Guru

January 10, 2008 10:41 AM

Tech-centric blogger Andy Plesser interviewed NBC News executive Mark Lukasiewicz at the Consumer Electronics Show Wednesday. Mr. Lukasiewicz, VP of digital media at NBC News, spoke about NBC’s presence at CES, including “NBC Nightly News” broadcasting from the show Wednesday and the launch of the new Web site for the evening news program.

The interview is worth checking out. You can’t hear Andy’s questions, but stick with the video, as Mr. Lukasiewicz’s answers are articulate and insightful. Here is the interview.

One of the key benefits of the revamped MSNBC and “NBC Nightly News” sites is the ability for bloggers to embed the video directly on their own sites, just as you can with a YouTube clip. “We get it that embedded video just works better in the blog context than a hyperlink off to another site,” Mr. Lukasiewicz said during the interview.

To demonstrate, here you go!

'NBC Nightly News' Revamps Site

January 9, 2008 10:25 AM

“NBC Nightly News” revamped its Web site today and my very first thought was: “I don’t feel like I am on a Web page. I feel like I am watching TV on the Web.”

OK, I know that sounds totally cheesy and corny. But hear me out.

This new site reflects that it is a Web site for a news show. Video is center stage, plain and simple. There’s a video player smack dab in the middle of the home page with full-screen options and easy controls. Off to the left are two columns—one with thumbnails for additional videos and the other listing playlisted videos, favorite videos and most viewed videos.

And that’s it. And that’s a good thing. It is simple, it is video-centric and it works. Check it out.

I might actually start watching news videos online now…

Flight of the Conchords: Business Time

January 8, 2008 11:40 AM

While I gotta give props to Brian Roberts for actually making news during his keynote this morning at CES, as I suspected, the best part of his speech was the appearance of HBO's Flight of the Conchords. The New Zealand digi-folk-pop duo performed their hit "Business Time." And just in case you haven't seen the actual video (and clip from the HBO episode in which it appeared), here you go:

It's funny every time I watch it and it was even funnier in person.

How Tru2way Started, According to Brian Roberts

January 8, 2008 11:34 AM

This morning at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts opened his keynote speech with a story. He said Comcast’s decision to reinvent itself and craft its “Comcast 3.0” strategy to introduce new, innovative products to consumers took shape at a CES show a few years ago.

“I was walking through the massive exhibit halls with my friend Glenn Britt, the CEO of Time Warner. This was one of my first visits to CES, and we were here with CableLabs, right when HDTV was becoming the rage. We were hearing price points were moving down. As Glenn and I saw the expensive technology on display we were struck by an amazing fact—cable with hundreds of channels was almost invisible at the Consumer Electronics Show.”

After that show, CableLabs and cable CEOs devised a plan to meet with executives of consumer electronics companies to talk about working together, Mr. Roberts said. The cable CEOs asked the electronics execs how they could work together.

The electronics execs’ response? In Mr. Roberts’ words: “Your systems operate as regional silos, your [consumer electronics] equipment is closed and proprietary, and historically cable hasn’t had the best track record of working with third parties, but even if [you] could innovate, every local cable system had a different technology, so we can’t sell our products at retail.”

Now that’s telling it like it is.

That experience formed the basis of Comcast’s tru2way platform rolling out this year, Mr. Roberts said.

6 Billion Views for Comcast VOD Content

January 8, 2008 10:08 AM

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the company has logged more than 6 billion views of its video-on-demand content since it launched its VOD service several years ago.

That’s twice as many downloads as Apple's iTunes store has generated, he said. That’s also six times more rentals than Netflix generated in its first eight years, he added.

Comcast reaches 15 million homes with VOD.

NBC Truly Is Everywhere

January 7, 2008 2:48 PM

You know how NBC Universal is really big on the whole idea of getting its content everywhere online? There's NBC.com, Hulu, NBC Direct, the company's own free download service, and others.

In keeping with that philosophy, at NBC Universal's CES booth you'll find folks passing out USB thumbstick drives. What do you with the thumbstick drive, you ask?

You just stick it into a USB port right in the middle of one of several kiosks at the booth and choose which NBC show you want to download from a touch-screen.

That, my friends, is how serious NBC U is about content ubiquity.

(I picked an episode of "30 Rock.")

TV Advertising To Make Strong Comeback in 2008

January 7, 2008 1:04 PM

Television advertising will make a strong comeback this year, said Starcom's Tracey Scheppach, senior VP and video innovations director, on a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show.

"When you think about a world where you can have census data that's anonymous for homes and you can send ads directly to a home, that's a powerful world, more powerful than the Internet," she said. "A big chunk of video will continue to be on TV."

So expect 2008 to be the year of data when more cable and satellite operators share detailed information with advertisers on how consumers are watching shows and ads, she said.

Jerry Seinfeld on Digital Blah Blah

January 7, 2008 9:53 AM

We have this running joke at my house. My husband will ask me who I'm talking to for stories and I say, "You know, some VP of digital blah blah."

Because sometimes, it's sort of hard to know what everyone really does in this TV business thingamajig we work in.

Evidently, Jerry Seinfeld feels the same way.

The comedian appeared on stage this morning at the Sony Pictures Television Press Event. He opened with: "I don't know what I'm doing here. I don't know what you're doing here. Nobody really understands what you do for a living. You try to explain to your relatives and they don't know what it is."

See, it's not just me.

Pregnant Dads!

January 4, 2008 10:25 AM

Arnold Schwarzenegger really did it best in the 1994 flick “Junior.”

He made the whole idea of being a pregnant man kinda funny. So as I’m watching this online video show “DadLabs”, I have to admit I just don’t find it quite as amusing when a regular dude dons a pregnancy pillow.

But others evidently do. Because “DadLabs” is picking up steam and snagging advertisers. The show is billed as an “edgy, fun and informative show for fathers and the women who tolerate/love them.”

So listen, pregnant guys and dad issues aren’t my cup of tea. But I’ve got to give it up to these enterprising dads because they’ve already scored ad deals with major brands like Bjorn and Graco. Go daddy.

The show is produced in Austin with a staff of five. The producing partner is For Your Imagination. The site layout is sharp and the video player from Viddler works great.

How Next New Networks Grew to 100 Million Views

January 3, 2008 9:06 AM

Talk about transparency. Next New Networks has pulled the curtain back, all the way back.

In a blog posting on its own site, http://blog.nextnewnetworks.com/index.php/2007/12/31/we-did-it-100-million-views-in-one-year/, the online network details in a timeline how it achieved 100 million views of its videos last year.

First of all, 100 million views is darn impressive. Second, the nuts and bolts of how Next New Networks got there is great to see for anyone with a vested interest in the online video business.

Lost in Eight Minutes, 15 Seconds

January 2, 2008 9:27 AM

I’ve never seen an episode of “Lost.”

But now I kinda feel like I can tune in on Jan. 31 and be totally up to speed. ABC.com created an eight minute and 15 second video that summarizes everything that has happened in the first three seasons. (Oh, and now thanks to the video I even know it was flight Oceanic 815 that crashed.)

What’s interesting as a non-viewer is how entertaining the video actually is. And this from a person who didn’t know a single thing about the show except there are some people called “the others” and that there’s a lot of sexual tension between these two characters called Kate and Sawyer.

But now, well now I know about Jack’s future pill addiction and Sun’s pregnancy and Locke’s knife-throwing abilities and lots more.

Anyway, even if you don’t plan on tuning into the return of the show, check out the video. It’s just funny to hear and see three seasons summed up so matter of factly.

The clip is on the home page of ABC.com.