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

August 2008 Archives

Bankers vs. Consultants: The YouTube Rap

August 29, 2008 10:06 AM

Imagine bankers and consultants talking smack in rap.

Wait, don’t imagine it anymore. Check out this very funny new video. (You went to public school? Egads!)

The WB.com, Take Two

August 28, 2008 1:45 PM

So now that TheWb.com is officially in its public beta, I popped back over to the site on Wednesday evening to see if the experience was any smoother.

I wanted to test the video search feature because it allows for some interesting granularities that you don’t usually find on other sites.

Because there are only a handful of programs on TheWb.com, you don’t really need to use the search functionality to search for a show, as you do on a Hulu.com.

Where the search capability does come in handy is if you want to search for a specific piece of dialogue from a show.

For example, “monkey” is a popular word that peppered the dialogue of “Friends.” So if you search “Friends” for the word “monkey,” the site returns a list of video snippets containing the actual moments where someone says “monkey” or where the Marcel the Monkey appears on screen. That’s a pretty cool feature because you can then jump to those sections of the show.

The video search on the site is powered by Digitalsmiths.

Taking TheWB.com for a Test Run

August 26, 2008 7:00 PM

I’m going to confess something: I’ve never seen the first episode of “Friends.” Or, really, any episodes for that matter. I just never got bitten by the “Friends” bug.


But now I have seen the first five minutes, and I’ve seen it online, because the show is being carried on TheWb.com, which goes live to the public Wednesday morning when Warner Bros. Television Group launches the site.

The site is billed as an ad-supported, interactive, video-on-demand network that includes full episodes of the show that defined the now-defunct WB network, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Everwood” and “Gilmore Girls,” as well as newly acquired series such as “Babylon 5” and “Firefly.” The site will feature original Web programs, too.

I had the chance to check out a sneak preview of the site for the press. There’s a lot to like about the site, but like most beta projects, it needs some work.

The good news is the videos look sharp and load quickly. Most are relatively easy to find—that’s one of the benefits of offering a selection of shows rather than everything under the sun.


The site lists about 20 shows under the “shows” tab on the home page. When you click on a show, like “Friends” (which also is available on Hulu.com), the site will bring you to a video player and an episode list. The caveat is that TheWb.com, like most video destinations, does not feature all the episodes at once. This is similar to Hulu, and even to video-on-demand from the cable operator, where you’ll find a smattering of episodes at any given time from a particular program.

In this case, TheWb.com is featuring half a dozen episodes from the iconic sitcom, including the premiere. So I saw the wet bridal dress moment finally (How did I ever live without “Friends”?).

I toggled between full-screen popout player and embedded player options. All worked fine, though I felt as if I missed perhaps a second or two of the action while switching.

I do wish Web video destinations would make it clearer that they don’t feature all the episodes at once. I understand that offering 100 or more episodes from one show is cumbersome, so I think Web sites should simply explain what they offer at any given moment, because viewers often want or expect them all. A simple disclaimer or explanation would help immensely.

The search functionality on the site lets you search by several parameters. If you’re looking for a word or a phrase, you can search according to the show, season, episode and even character.

Seeking Top Web Video Creators

August 26, 2008 1:02 PM

Who are the top Web video creators? Tell us!

We are working on a feature story for mid-September listing and profiling the top Web video creators. We want to focus on creators, on-air and behind the scenes, for scripted entertainment content. Who is the best? Who should be on this list? Tell us what you think? Write in with a comment.

NOTE: Please submit your comment once only. If they contain URLs, they need to be approved, which may take a little time. But submitting them half a dozen times does not speed up the process.

How to Make an Online Hit

August 25, 2008 9:54 AM

Everyone wants to know what the secret is to success in Web video. Personally, I think the Internet is just a bunch of dark magic. But I suppose there is something more than that.

The Web video news site TubeFilter.TV offers seven tips for launching a successful Web show. Some of them are things you should know already like “upload to a video hosting site with a premium, embeddable player.” The author, Marc Hustvedt, recommends Blip.tv, Vimeo or Veoh. (I think what’s going unsaid in this tip is don’t use YouTube).

The other tips are build a brand for your show with a Web site, logo and artwork; reach out to bloggers and press early (especially because, as Hustvedt says, reporters like to break stories early. Hint, hint: tell me about your show first!), commit to a regular schedule of release dates, have several episodes in the can before you launch, create an RSS feed for your videos and use social media like Twitter and Facebook to connect with the audience.

Let the Democratic Games Begin!

August 22, 2008 5:24 PM

The Olympics are winding down, but on Monday there will be a new event to watch online when the Democratic National Convention begins.

NewTeeVee lists all the places to watch the political action online. That includes hi-def streaming of the entire event at Demconvention.com.

Also, uStream will offer “Big Tent” coverage.

C-Span will get into the game, NewTeeVee says, with a video site that will include videos from citizen journalists.

You also can find live coverage online from the Washington Post, Newsweek and ABCNews.com. And let’s not forget that CBS’ Katie Couric will produce Web-only shows from the convention.

Let the games begin!

Daisy Dons Her Critic's Cap

August 21, 2008 7:46 AM

Last week on Twitter I invited followers to submit one episode of a Web series for me to review in TVWeek. The rules were simple. I’d take the first five submissions. I didn’t specify who could submit shows; just that you needed to be fast. Some were submitted by the show’s star, some by the show’s producer and some simply by fans. I’ll run this contest every week or so on Twitter.

I’m not going to review the Web shows according to my personal taste because taste is completely subjective and what makes me laugh may make you yawn. I’ll instead critique the show’s presentation, explication, and potential market.

"Mahalo Daily": The episode submitted covered BestFest, a student film festival for high school and college students. “Mahalo Daily” has always been a well-produced show and remains so with new host Leah D'Emilio, but the show seems too broad. "Mahalo Daily" bills itself as a pop culture show. That description has become catch-all Internet lingo for “permission to cover whatever you want,” so I’m not entirely sure who the audience is. That said, "Mahalo Daily" continues to pull in sizable numbers.

"Directors Notes": The show is a combination audio podcast and Web video show. The audio podcast is an in-depth interview with an independent film director, while the video portion is a compilation of clips and scenes from those movies. As a result, the show feels like a well-constructed documentary—because it is. The problem is that the point of the show isn’t clear to me at first. This could be solved by a simple explanation at the start of each episode. This combo audio-video show would be most appealing to hard-core independent film fans and filmmakers. I suspect the audience will be most drawn to the audio portion, especially since host MarBelle with his British accent is easy to listen to. (Sorry, you'll have to go to the Web site to sample the video.)

"Scam School": I have to admit, this episode made me smile a lot. Host Brian Brushwood teaches bar tricks for viewers to scam free drinks. But in this edition, he plays puzzle games with a cute woman at the bar. The lower-thirds are like winks to the audience: “Encouragement is key even if the answer is wrong” and “Always appear helpful.” This show is so clearly hitting in the sweet spot for young men in their 20s, it seems like a sin if they don’t watch.

"Web Drifter": Host Martin Sargent travels around the country and visits the people behind some of the most outlandish sites on the Internet, including one run by a man who dresses only in leather, rubber and vinyl and maintains a log of which leather outfits he has worn every single solitary day. OK, this is a little weird. And it’s definitely explicit. But watching this episode is kind of like rubbernecking: You really can’t take your eyes off it. “Web Drifter” is definitely for people who aren’t squeamish, aren’t judgmental and are interested in the underbelly of the Internet and of, well, people.

"Bottles, Blends and Brews": Host and creator Zack Luye provided a sneak preview for TVWeek readers of this new show rolling out this week. The show is a weekly review of teas, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages. The show is targeted to beverage aficionados. The show has potential but needs to be shortened to about five minutes or less. If we can see more of the cool production moments (like when he fast-forwards the tea being brewed) and shorter reviews, the audience can grow. Luye said future episodes will be five minutes or less.

YouTube Producer Adds to Debate Over Partner Revenue Shifts

August 20, 2008 10:38 AM

Creator revenue from YouTube videos is a moving target that changes wildly each month and does not often correlate with views for the videos, according to top YouTube producer Kevin Nalts.

In a blog post yesterday, Nalts revealed that his YouTube income dropped sharply in May and rose only slightly in June.

I’ve been hearing from other YouTube creators recently that their income from the site has become much less predictable in the last few months. A handful of top creators told me that June was way up for them, while others said June was one of their worst months ever.

Nalts said in his post that YouTube partner revenue relies heavily on whether the site was successful in selling overlay ads that play on the lower-third portion of the videos. These are the most remunerative.

Of course, one of the drawbacks to YouTube’s ads is that they play only on videos viewed on YouTube itself, not on YouTube videos embedded on other sites.

Nalts offers these guidelines to creators: Be realistic, don’t count on YouTube partner revenue as your primary income, expect fluctuation and find other ways to earn ad income from your videos.

My Dream Come True: When I Appeared on 'Internet Superstar'

August 19, 2008 9:45 AM

Every girl's got a dream. And mine came true today when I appeared on an episode of Revision3's "Internet Superstar." So if you want to know whether I'd have posed for Playboy, how to maintain your credibility as a reporter and a Web host, and my must-watch picks for Web TV, then check out the episode below.

Calling All Twittering Web Video Creators

August 18, 2008 7:37 AM

Calling all Web video creators!

I have begun hosting weekly Twitter contests to review Web video shows.

Here’s how it works: Once a week at a random, unplanned time of my choosing, I will announce on Twitter that it’s time for submissions for weekly reviews. I will take the first five submissions and watch one episode of the show. You’ll need to pick the episode number you want me to watch. Then I will review that episode in my TVWeek blog.

Know what that means? You all need to follow me on Twitter! You can do so here: Twitter.com/DaisyWhitney

Get Your Latest Numbers Here!

August 15, 2008 12:06 AM

Here are the latest numbers on making money in online video.

—Transactional revenue for Internet video will hit $6 billion by 2013, according to Parks Associates.

—Online video ad spending will rise 63% this year to $1.1 billion and more than double to $2.4 billion in the next two years, according to Lehman Brothers.

Naked Guy Runs Across the Whole Country

August 13, 2008 7:43 AM

A naked guy runs cross-country, posing in front of all the major U.S. landmarks. A film crew captures every mile. The filmmakers then blur out the unmentionable parts of the video and post it to MySpaceTV.

You tell me: Did Greg Johnson really run across country naked? Or might this be the latest attempt at going viral? You be the judge. This video just posted yesterday so weigh in on whether you think it’s real or fake. And whether you think it’s good.

The video was created by the New York-based production company Disposable Television, which has done work for Comedy Central, Bravo, Sundance Channel and others.

Naked Guy Runs Across the Country

A Big Wheel Instead of the Batmobile

August 12, 2008 10:48 AM

Let’s never forget the truly creative Web video work that is being done in someone’s backyard. Like this spoof of “The Dark Knight” trailer using a Big Wheel instead of the Batmobile, a plastic gun instead of a machine gun, and school-age kids instead of Heath Ledger and Christian Bale. (I gotta say, the Joker is still scary in that makeup, even when played by a 10-year-old!)

Hats off to Alex Kropinak and Dan Reilly, who crafted this YouTube video parody.

Help TVWeek Gig at South by Southwest!

August 11, 2008 10:08 AM

South by Southwest in Austin is one of the most exciting, important and newsworthy events in the interactive media business. TVWeek has the opportunity to be involved in one of the panels and we need your help!

I’m in line to moderate a panel titled “Video Content: Super Distribution or Super Disaster?” The way the conference works is Web visitors can help pick which panels make it to the final lineup by voting now through Aug. 29.

So go to the panel picker, create an account (it’s simple!), and then vote for this panel to be included.

I’m not the only one on the panel of course. I don’t think I am allowed to name the other panelists, but trust me when I say they are fabulous!

Here’s to seeing you in Texas!

Friday Fun 'Drinking at a Bar'

August 8, 2008 10:29 AM

It’s nice to see "Phantom Edit" whiz Mike J. Nichols getting some love in Wired.

Nichols is the creator of the occasional very short (ah, I love the words “very short” when applied to Web content) comedic Web series “Two Guys Drinking at a Bar,” which spoofs TV shows.

I’ve seen the first episode a few times already, but I still laugh when Kevin Farley says, “But in the dream so am I.” So here’s your Friday fun video.

Oh, and “The Phantom Edit” was Mr. Nichols’ slice-and-dice of “The Phantom Menace” that removed most of the annoying parts of the "Star Wars" installment.

Web Video Sponsorship Could Cost You Peanuts

August 7, 2008 8:07 AM

How much does a Web video sponsorship cost?

If you buy it on eBay, you just might be able to land a sponsorship for $1,500. Which is kind of like the equivalent of peanuts.

Hey, that’s fitting! Because the Web series “Playing for Peanuts” auctioned off a sponsorship for the show on eBay and the winning bid of $1,500 came from Most Valuable Network.

MVN, an independent sports media company, will sponsor the first episode of the show, which chronicles a year in the life of minor league baseball's South Georgia Peanuts of the independent South Coast League.

The TV series premiered in May on regional sports networks in nine markets and averaged 150,000 viewers per week across all markets, according to producer John Fitzgerald.

The 10-episode docu-reality TV show about minor league baseball will premiere online in late August.

Is It OK to Laugh at 'Retarded Policeman'?

August 6, 2008 10:51 AM

One of the most popular Web series these days is “Retarded Policeman,” which has been racking up the views over on YouTube.

But some viewers and Web watchers have expressed concern that the show is exploitative. That’s because the titular character is a retarded policeman who says shocking things, things that are all the more shocking because he is retarded. Because of the show’s popularity, some critics have asked if the show is making fun of retarded people.

But the lead actor, Josh Perry, has Down Syndrome and expressed his feelings about the part in this quite funny video post.

I, for one, think it’s terrific that the show’s creator, Mediocre Films, hired a retarded actor rather than just an actor to play a retarded character.

So I decided to solicit community feedback on the show. I posted a Twitter update earlier this week asking for feedback on the show and I have amassed it here.

“Enjoyed it but found it a little all over the map. From reference humour to zany slapstick to outright nonsense.”

“It's kinda like an aristocrats joke... a few seconds of laughter resulting in a few days of on and off guilt.”

“Wow...that's messed up on several levels...”

“Weak gimmick. Josh is actually a good actor. But, this is a one-shot funny, not a series.”

“The vid was funny, irreverent and very un pc! If Josh was cool with it, everyone else should be too. I loved his response...”

“Truly surprised how funny I found it.”

“It is one of my husband's favorite shows. At first he has cautious bc he was not sure of the intent—were they making fun of him?? Then he saw the star's parents were on it and the actor did some video responses etc explaining that he was an actor, his parents and sibling supported him and were protective of what he did. Once he figured out it was not done to humiliate the lead actor, he could enjoy it.”

'That Media Show' Worth Imitating

August 5, 2008 11:28 AM

I’ve checked out a lot of Web video shows in the last year. And in the last month. And in the last 24 hours.

Most of them don’t stand out.

But “That Media Show” does stand out.

The series is a new project from the independent filmmaker and technology guru John Flowers, whose work I admire. And what I like about his new show—which covers the business of visual effects, movies, indie filmmaking and post-production—is that the series hits the ground running from the very first episode. That means good production values, smart writing, funny asides, insightful content, oh, and a really damn good host.

My only suggestion for the show is to embed the episode on the home page rather than offer links to iTunes and blip feeds, because when I first landed on the URL I expected to see an episode there and it took a few seconds to realize I needed to click on a link.

Here’s the first episode. And be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end. I do love outtakes.

How Will You Watch the Olympics? Vote Now!

August 4, 2008 9:54 AM

The 2008 Summer Olympics starts Friday and is likely to be one of the most newsworthy Games ever. The sporting event will feature 2,200 hours of live online coverage, up from a mere two hours just two years ago in Turin, Italy.

The Games’ taking place in China has drawn plenty of attention and controversy. Last week on the audio podcast “This Week in Media,” Alex Lindsay said he would be silently protesting China’s political policies by not watching the Games across any medium.

That got me wondering if people will be watching the Olympics and on which medium. So cast your vote!

Need an Extra Arm? iPhone Offers Help

August 1, 2008 10:50 AM

Don’t have time to Twitter your every move with only two arms? Then consider the iPhone Arm, a new extra arm that will let you keep delivering every annoying thought to all your friends and followers. Check out this video from Revision3 and Internet Superstar.

iPhone Arm - Internet Superstar - Watch more free videos