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

July 2008 Archives

LATV Fest Offers News and Insight, Not Usual Rehash

July 31, 2008 8:50 AM

My work is done at NATPE's LATV Festival. I spent all day Wednesday covering the event and the night hosting screenings of digital series.

While the conference continues today and into Friday I’ll be off to other environs in Los Angeles today, visiting the set of ManiaTV and shooting a segment for TV Guide Network’s “Hollywood 411.”

I wanted to say that I go to a lot of conferences and attend a lot of panels, and as an audience member you can hear the same message over and over. As a reporter it can be tough to generate news, because all you’re doing is recapping the same old same old.

But I was impressed with this conference, especially with the opening panel that brought insight from the Milken Institute and Pricewaterhouse Coopers and with the session on the syndicated video economy led by Will Richmond of VideoNuze.

I learned something at each of those sessions, including that CBS Local has inked a new ad deal with American Express, and I hope readers were able to as well from the coverage.

That’s high praise in my world, so I applaud NATPE and those panelists and speakers for bringing their A game and making sure the conference wasn’t just another rehashed bit of the same.

I also wanted to give a shout-out to the Hollywood Reporter's Andrew Wallenstein as a moderator in the afternoon. I was only able to catch 15 minutes of his panel because I had to chase down "Heroes’" Tim Kring, but he’s an engaging moderator and he also managed nicely a group of speakers who didn’t always appear to get along.

Slow and Steady Wins Online Ad Race

July 30, 2008 3:01 PM

Advertisers are still kind of skeptical about online video, so what’s a network or content producer to do?

Hold the marketers’ hands. That’s what Peter Hoskins, CEO of online TV network ManiaTV, said during a panel at the LATV Festival on Wednesday.

“We have 90 brands on our network for the four years we have been doing this,” he said. “And it takes a lot of work and a lot of trust to get them to write a $50,000 check, a $100,000 check, and now they are at the stage where they deliver $1 million checks. But that is because we have been there with them all along.”

Patience, my boy, patience.

Quote of the Day

July 30, 2008 2:52 PM

"Content is king and distribution is the bling."

—Brian Shin, CEO of Visible Measures, at Digital Day of the LATV Festival, presented by NATPE in Hollywood

Hayden Black Is So Cool

July 30, 2008 2:09 PM

I just walked past Hayden Black, the "Abigail's Teen Diary" and "Goodnight Burbank" star, here at the LATV Festival's Digital Day in L.A. and he looked so L.A., wearing his black suit and aviator shades and looking like he has an entourage. Hayden Black, you are Internet famous!

Views vs. Revenues: Which Would You Prefer?

July 30, 2008 10:31 AM

YouTube is kicking Hulu’s butt in views, but Hulu is going to be laughing all the way to the bank, said Milken Institute economist Kevin Klowden at this morning’s “Just How Screwed Are We?” session at NATPE's LATV Festival.

Mr. Klowden pointed out that despite YouTube’s name recognition and 4 billion views a month, it’s only selling ads on 3% of its videos. Hulu “does a much better job making money,” he said.

YouTube is expected to generate $200 million this year, while Hulu, with its 80 million monthly streams, will generate $45 million to $90 million.

Come on Down to the NATPE LATV Fest!

July 29, 2008 4:51 PM

I’ll be hosting an evening of digital screenings at the NATPE LATV Festival Wednesday evening, July 30. If you’re at the event, please come join the festivities and say hello! If you’re not attending, go get a pass!

The event should be fun. We’ll be screening short clips from some terrific Web series including “PopSiren," “Writers Room," “Foreign Body” and “Break a Leg."

I’ll also run a panel discussion and Q&As with the creators. Some topics to be discussed include surprises, challenges, promotion of online video, costs, the push-pull between making money and creativity, partnerships and the endgame.

MySpace Is Yesterday, Facebook Is Today

July 29, 2008 10:50 AM

If you’ve still got your MySpace account, it’s time to ditch it because MySpace is so yesterday. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Facebook has grown 40% year-over-year, according to the latest research from online audience measurement firm Hitwise. Facebook now accounts for 16% of all Internet visits to social networking sites and, although MySpace still dominates with 72% of traffic to the category, its market share is down 6% year-over-year.

Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks you get to be on top forever.

And in the meantime, friend me up on Facebook!

In Memory of Randy Pausch

July 28, 2008 6:00 AM

If you ever doubted the humanity of YouTube, and by that I mean the site’s potential to do good, then consider that without YouTube we’d probably never have known of Randy Pausch.

The Carnegie Mellon University Professor and best-selling author died Friday after a 22-month bout with pancreatic cancer. That battle, but even more his approach to life in the face of such a battle, became the basis for his last lecture, aptly dubbed “The Last Lecture.”

That video has earned more than 4.5 million views on YouTube since December. Not bad considering it’s more than an hour.

So it seems fitting to share once more one of the best videos YouTube has ever had the pleasure of hosting.

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”
—Randy Pausch

Real or Fake? Figuring It Out Is Part of the Fun

July 18, 2008 7:04 AM

I’ll be on vacation until July 28, but in the meantime you can check out my latest report for NBC-owned KNTV in San Francisco. This story ran on-air earlier this month and you can also see it online. It’s on viral video marketing: Is it real or is it fake?

The report was inspired by a column I wrote for TVWeek.com on this topic.

Getty Putting Video on iPhones

July 17, 2008 4:11 PM

Getty Images says it’s prepping a video service for iPhones to launch in December.

Getty introduced an image store last week as part of the new iPhone applications store that debuted in tandem with the release of the latest iPhone.

Getty, through its subsidiary Wire Image, is developing additional features for the iPhone, including video, said Catherine Gluckstein, VP of iStockphoto, a Getty Images company.

That will include celebrity videos, news videos, fashion programming and other content.

What Did You Like About ‘Dr. Horrible’? Vote Now!

July 16, 2008 10:01 AM

By now you know that Joss Whedon’s Web musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” was a site-crashing success.

The site crashed Tuesday because of the sheer volume of traffic. After all, this is a Web series created by the revered Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame and starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.

A good Samaritan and one of my Twitter followers reached out to me yesterday (thank you, Tabitha Smith) and offered to give me the episode on iTunes.

I watched the first installment of the three-part Web series last night on my AppleTV. I thought it was good, not great. But I LOVED the singing. Then again, I am a huge fan of musicals.

At any rate, I created a survey to learn why everyone else liked it so much. Cast your vote!

(Yes, I know the character’s name is actually MOIST, I just like referring to him as Mr. Soggy.)

Just Because Everyone Can Do a Video Doesn’t Mean Everyone Should

July 15, 2008 10:31 AM

I wonder if we’re going to have a Web video glut soon.

It seems everyone—every marketer, every business, every site—wants to start a video show. And while I would never want to discourage the growth and experimentation in Web video, I have to wonder if videos make sense for everyone.

Yes, I do believe in the power of video messaging. And I do believe in the democratization of Web video. So I say, “Try it!”

But you need to have a reason to do it. If you’re a marketer, you need a specific branding purpose behind the video. If you’re a personality, you need a shtick. If you’re a CEO, you need a focus for your show.

I had this discussion yesterday with attendees at the Metzger New Media Summit in Boulder, Colo. That’s a private conference produced by the Boulder public relations firm Metzger Associates to help marketers and public relations executives make better use of new media.

Doyle Albee, president of the firm, told me that he has explored whether it makes sense for his company to produce some sort of weekly webcast or Web series, sort of a “Metzger Minute.” It’s an interesting idea, he said, but right now it’s not in the cards. And that’s because there isn’t a reason to do one at the moment, he said.

I liked his response because it recognizes that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Or that you need to. Sometimes a blog is enough. Sometime a Web site is enough. And sometimes even just a phone call, memo or e-mail can convey the same point.

When Will Online Video Pay Off?

July 13, 2008 4:59 PM

In the last three years, investors have shoveled more than $8 billion into the online video business, but have yet to see much in the way of return on investment. That’s the conclusion of a Silicon Alley Insider report on the so-far sorry state of making money on Web video.

And if you look at the ad predictions, it may be quite some time before investors make back that $8 billion. Forrester Research said advertising in streaming video hit $471 million last year and should reach $7.2 billion in 2012. That’s still less than the total investment. While advertising is not the only revenue stream – online video technology firms for instance get paid license and delivery fees – it is ultimately the financial foundation for the industry.

Read More »

Special Friday New Media Minute: Rides With Strangers

July 11, 2008 9:39 AM

It went against everything I warn my children against. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t take rides with strangers. And especially don’t take rides from strangers after they’ve just been at a party with alcohol.

But I did it anyway. I’d just attended the 500th episode of Gary Vaynerchuk’s “WineLibraryTV” and my husband and I were looking for a cab. We weren’t having any luck when a dude in an SUV rolled by and asked if we needed a ride. Was that safe, we wondered?

If you want to know how we decided to take that ride, click on my late-night edition of the New Media Minute…

And feel free to check out one Mr. Andy Jolls of VideoCreditScore right here.

Looking for a Few Good Salespeople

July 10, 2008 6:00 AM

One of the toughest commodities to find in the new-media economy is a good salesperson. Heck, some companies, Web shows and publishers would simply settle for a salesperson.

I’m not saying this new site AdTeams.com is going to solve that problem, just as no new nursing job site is going to solve the nursing shortage. Still, it’s good to see efforts afoot to try to find the guys and gals who can peddle new-media ads.

AdTeams launched in May and is designed to allow potential interactive ad salespeople to see ad sales jobs available around the country.

The site’s blog also covers topical issues, such as how to hire top salespeople and how to transition to sales management in a rapidly growing online ad market.

And, you know, if you want to sell ads in the New Media Minute, just contact me directly…

2 Girls, 3 Cameras, 1 Set

July 9, 2008 10:29 AM

I knew I had reached the big time when I didn’t have to count myself down.

OK, fine. It was just a one-time thing. Still, when I went to Revision3’s $500,000 hi-def studios on Monday to shoot an episode of the New Media Minute with the amazingly talented Sarah Lane, host of Revision3’s “PopSiren,” I got a taste of a real studio.

You see, I’m used to shooting the New Media Minute with just my husband behind the camera. It’s a scrappy operation we run, like most Web video creators. And when we shoot our episodes, I do the traditional 3-2-1 countdown before I start talking.

So when I was on the set with Sarah on Monday and producer Heather Frank said to start the run-through, I naturally jumped into my 3-2-1 countdown. Immediately, but politely, the show’s studio manager Joshua Villegas interrupted to let me know he’d count me in. Wow. Talk about service. You might have just pinched me then. I think I was dreaming.

Suffice to say, the shoot was big-time in other ways, too. We used three cameras and a teleprompter. I have used a teleprompter once before (when I shot a few episodes at the PixelCorps studio, and the teleprompter was a liberating experience), but switching between cameras was a bit challenging. I’m used to one camera, but I had to suddenly shift between the cameras several times during the episode depending on whether I was reading, listening or talking to Sarah. I hope I pulled it off without completely embarrassing myself, Sarah, Revision3 or TVWeek. If not, I hope you enjoy it anyway.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I also finally (there is a God, now I am sure) got to meet my Internet hero, idol, superstar, crush, etc., in person: The one and only Martin Sargent of “Internet Superstar” fame. You can see the proof here with this photo.

And here’s Sarah and me:

An Attorney's POV on the YouTube-Viacom Ruling

July 8, 2008 7:57 AM

Last week, the judge overseeing Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement case against Google-owned YouTube ruled that Google is required to turn over the user histories on every video viewed on YouTube. Rather than speculate on what that ruling means, I decided to ask an attorney to discuss it. Below is my e-mail interview with Jeff Sanders, a partner with Roberts & Ritholz, a New York law firm specializing in media, entertainment and technology.

TVWeek: Is there any chance of Google appealing this ruling?

Jeff Sanders: As a procedural matter, Google has no automatic right to appeal. In the federal courts, in most cases, appeals are allowed only after a final ruling. This is an interim discovery issue, and could only be appealed if the District Court permits Google to do so. I would expect Viacom to oppose any application for leave to appeal, and it is unlikely that an interlocutory appeal would be permitted.

TVWeek: Does Google risk a class-action suit by users if it complies with the court order?

Mr. Sanders: Not in any meaningful way. Google has a legal obligation to comply with the order of a federal district court or face contempt sanctions, so the possibility that compliance with a lawful order of a federal court could trigger class liability to YouTube users is pretty remote. In this case, the disclosure is being compelled under tight confidentiality procedures, so individual users cannot really establish separate injury. If Google has exposure regarding user data, it arises from the manner in which YouTube collects IP addresses and associates them with specific content in the first place; mere compliance with a federal court order requiring confidential disclosure of data that YouTube has already collected and manipulated cannot be the basis of liability. 

TVWeek: Do you think the users’ information can be protected to such a degree to ensure privacy?

Mr. Sanders: Can digitally stored user data ever be securely protected? Again, I don’t think that sharing the data with Viacom under court supervision compromises the data collected by YouTube—if anything, users’ privacy is compromised by YouTube’s collection and manipulation of the data in the first place. Suppose that rather than sharing the information under a court-ordered confidentiality agreement, the same information was hacked from Google’s servers by an unauthorized malicious third party. That poses much more of a real threat to individual users than disclosure to Viacom’s counsel under Judge Stanton’s order. .

TVWeek: What privacy concerns does this ruling raise?

Mr. Sanders: The ruling doesn’t raise genuine privacy issues. Google is doing a good job positioning this as an anti-privacy ruling—which is good PR, but factually and legally inaccurate. The ruling does not allow user information to be disclosed in any manner other than that which Google collects itself, and does not permit disclosure to anyone other than Viacom’s counsel. [Electronic Frontier Foundation] has also weighed in, citing this ruling as an erosion of privacy rights. I generally respect EFF’s work, and think that the public advocacy angle here is more of a "slippery slope" argument: If user data can be disclosed in a confidential setting under court supervision, how far is that from the telcos' unlawful secret disclosure of voice and data communications to the Bush White House, without judicial review?

TVWeek: What do you think the long-term impact will be of this ruling?

Mr. Sanders: It will increase the cost and complexity of discovery in DMCA litigation—a boon for litigators but not really a concern for users. However, the ultimate question posed in this case—can content-sharing services like YouTube take advantage of the DMCA’s safe-harbor provisions for ISPs?—is likely to make it to the Supreme Court one way or another. And the result will shape the business models of the entertainment, media and Internet industries for years to come.

Words, Words, Words: Dirty or Just Offensive?

July 7, 2008 7:51 AM

Are residents of Pensacola, Fla., more likely to search the Internet for “apple pie,” “watermelon” or “orgy”?

The defense in the trial of a pornographic Web site operator in Pensacola wants to prove that residents in that town are indeed more drawn to the salacious when they are alone in front of Google

The defense hopes to use such search terms to demonstrate that community standards—the barometer by which obscenity is judged—are broader than we might think.

It’s still unclear whether the defense will be allowed to use the data, but the case raises interesting questions about our mores, what we tell Google and how search data could be used in new ways.

So Silicon Alley Insider decided to use Google Trends to discern which U.S. towns are, in fact, the dirtiest. The online publication used the late George Carlin’s famous seven dirty words as a proxy for obscenity and found that the greatest percentage of Internet searches looking for those seven dirty words were:

1. Louisville, Ky.
2. Rochester, N.Y.
3. Philadelphia
4. Newark, N.J.
5. Los Angeles
6. Irvine, Calif.
7. Pittsburgh
8. Las Vegas
9. Albany, N.Y.
10. Orlando, Fla.

And while we’re on the subject of words, I want to go on a soapbox right now to discuss one word in particular. I hear a lot of people—often podcasters and other public personalities—use the word “retarded” to refer to something or someone they think is stupid. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think we should use this word only when it actually applies; when someone truly is mentally disabled. I don’t think we should use the word to insult other people.

In Case You Haven’t Seen the Amazing Ball Girl Catch

July 3, 2008 11:00 AM

By now, you’ve probably heard that the ball girl catch was fake. I’m talking about the video of a ball girl executing a major league catch at a minor league game.

Nope, she’s not channeling Willie Mays. She’s the creation of Gatorade.

The sports drink maker never “officially” distributed the ad, but someone obviously did since it’s the water-cooler viral video these days and has earned more than 3.5 million views across various sites, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s the video…

YouTube’s Response to Building a Web Brand

July 2, 2008 11:40 AM

Yesterday I posted a column urging Web video creators to focus on building their own brands for their Web shows, not YouTube’s. You can read the column here.

Yesterday evening, YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan emailed me her thoughts on the piece. In the interests of transparency, I’d like to share her comments with you. I also told her I would be doing so and she was cool with that.

Here’s what YouTube says about building a brand for a Web show.

“In my opinion, you make some good points about brand building (being a marketer), but I’m not sure you presented a full, balanced case for your argument. Brands need to use all the resources on the Web to build value and audience. YouTube is one of many distribution channels for size and reach as well as advertising potential/impressions. As Jordan [Hoffner, YouTube director of content partnerships] mentioned when you met with him, capturing all audiences wherever they are is the way to go—a multiplatform strategy with your site only being one of many distribution channels. You cannot dismiss the people who ‘surf and look around,’ as they could be a new audience rather than those that already know what they are looking for. Again, each strategy has a unique approach.”

She does make a good point about people who surf on YouTube and find new shows that way.

So yes, I think creators should have their videos on YouTube as part of a super-distribution strategy. But I still contend the best bet is to build your show’s brand so viewers will watch on your site, or via RSS, or on iTunes.

What do you think?

Om Malik on ‘The Circuit’: A Must-Watch

July 1, 2008 10:45 AM

So I’m having lunch solo yesterday at a cute little café called Slow Food in San Francisco. (And if you’re wondering why I was there, it was because I had just finished appearing as a guest on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” and yes, you can listen to me talk about viral marketing campaigns here. And as I’m waiting for my food it hits me—I don’t have to just sit there! I have an iPod. I can catch up on Web video.

And, folks, these are the moments when I love, love, love my iPod—the interstitial moments when you feel like you have a little secret, a little something up your sleeve, because you’ve pre-loaded your video iPod with really good stuff you can pretty much only get online.

In this case, I had several episodes of Mojo HD’s Web series “The Circuit.” The show is a sort of tech show, but done in a “Daily Show” style. Translation: It’s funny and irreverent and you need to subscribe to it in iTunes, because this is one of the best shows on the Web.

The bit that cracked me up was this interview conducted by the show’s host, Deepak, with tech god Om Malik of Gigaom.com fame. So here you go!