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

October 2008 Archives

When Men Are Faced With Secret Women’s Business

October 31, 2008 7:00 AM

Buying tampons for your woman is no laughing matter. Or is it?

Check out this Friday fun video of the day from comedian Chad Daniels on the things men kvetch about when their ladies ask them to pick up tampons from the store. Remember guys, if you do this, you’re a hero to all the other women in the store!

The video comes from Rooftopcomedy.com, an online comedy site where I have been serving as a guest editor this week. This video is one of my picks.

An Easy Way to Help Online Followers

October 30, 2008 11:43 AM

So here’s my big kvetch with the online homes for certain television shows. Would it kill them to have an episode list???

Wait, what I really meant to say is: Would it kill them to have an EASY-TO-FIND episode list?

Because few of them actually do.

MSNBC on Wednesday unveiled a new Web site for its darling Rachel Maddow. Look, I like Rachel. I follow Rachel on Twitter. (Hey Rachel, follow me back and I’ll recant this!) I think Rachel is one of the few on-air personalities who’s come really, really close to melding her TV presence with a Web one.

But despite the easy embeds, Twitter listings, podcasts (tops in iTunes for the last week or so), viewer interaction through Newsvine and video playlists for “most viewed,” “previously,” “my playlist” and “latest program” on her site, I still would have liked a simple “episode guide” or “episode archive” on the revamped site.

Maybe it’s there. But if it is, it’s not easy to find. And I’m all about stuff being easy to find online, because if it’s not, consumers will click off and surf, surf, surf away.

Time for a Laugh to Lighten the Mood

October 30, 2008 11:11 AM

If you’ve got election fatigue like me, nothing cures it like a little dose of comedy.

And this video has the added attraction of the Demi Moore “GI Jane” clips. At least I think the hot, sweaty midsection views are of Moore working her abs.

So here’s one for you today from last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” when host Jon Stewart shows his mock “Going Rogue: The Movie” segment.

How to Dress Like McDreamy for Halloween

October 29, 2008 10:21 AM

Want to be a sexy doctor on Friday? Then just hold a pillow in front of your naked body.

Wait, sorry. I was just McDayDreaming of a scene from a recent episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

But if you really want to dress up as “every girl’s fantasy”—hey, I didn’t say that, ABC.com did—then start with a pair of scrubs, grab some plastic gloves, get a little volumizing conditioner for the hair, snag yourself a surgical cap and you’re almost there.

The final item in the Dr. McDreamy costume?

Sex appeal. Yes, that’s a critical component of the outfit.

If you want more tips on how to dress up like your favorite characters from ABC shows for Halloween, ABC.com has video tips on how to get the looks from “Desperate Housewives,” “Life on Mars,” “Lost,” “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Kaelin Pays Visit to ‘Abigail’

October 28, 2008 10:28 AM

Yes, that’s really Kato Kaelin in “Abigail’s Teen Diary.”

Hayden Black, who apparently is one of the few Web video stars who’s doing well right now, landed the infamous Kato Kaelin for a guest spot in his popular Web series “Abigail’s Teen Diary.”

In the ongoing fictional show, Black plays a seventh-grade girl. In the episode posted this week, Abigail chit-chats with his/her “uncle” Kato Kaelin.

Black said he met Kaelin working on a pilot, told him about the Web show and asked him for an interview.

“Next time I see a judge I hope it’s at a bikini contest,” Kaelin quips in the episode.

Making Liberal Use of Online Video

October 27, 2008 10:03 AM

Liberal Democrats have watched nearly twice as much video related to the presidential campaign as conservative Republicans have, according to a Pew study released last week.

The study found that 6 in 10 liberal Democrats had watched online video related to the election, compared with 33% of conservative Republicans.

Overall, about 39% of voters have watched some form of online video related to the election. That includes debates, interviews, speeches and commercials, Pew said.

What do you think of Pew’s findings? Do they stack up with your experience? What videos are you watching?

‘Model’ Ballplayers Demonstrate Potential

October 24, 2008 7:00 AM

The Web show “Model Ball” calls itself a “screwball comedy.” The show is created by Iron Sink Media’s Scott Zakarin, who produced the MySpace series “Roommates.”

The story follows the misadventures of Jake McBride, “a loser in life but an All-Star prodigy on his beer league softball team the Hornets,” the show’s YouTube page says. So Jake makes a bet with a friend that he can win the softball league with a team of gorgeous models, hence the name “Model Ball.”

From watching this episode, I feel confident saying this show has potential. The show doesn’t knock the ball out of the park, but the creators have a good sense of storytelling, casting, production values and romantic tension. There’s enough here in this episode that I’d want to check out more.

Where this show really excels is in picking music. This is the first time I’ve stumbled across a Web show and asked the creators for the name of the song playing in the final scene. The music supervisor might want to send his or her resume to “Grey’s Anatomy.”

And there you go! This entry concludes this week’s slate of five Twitter-Facebook submitted Web shows for review.

When Robots Rule the World

October 23, 2008 9:44 PM

“Go Moonbase” is the fourth Web series in my slate of five Web series to review this week. It’s a Web show set 500 years in the future that takes place on the moon.

In this episode a robot informs—everyone, I think—that robots have taken over the world because they will do a better job than we ever have. In this new robot-led universe, all organized religion is eliminated and if you want to yap about how you perceive reality, do so at a cocktail party or in therapy, the robot says.

I only watched one episode of the show because those are the rules of my Twitter-Facebook Web review contests. So what I can tell you from this episode is that it took a minute for me to get into the show, but the ending made me smile. If this show keeps up a tongue-in-cheek conceit of a spoofy robot-led world, it has potential.

‘Wheel’ Offers a Different Take on America

October 22, 2008 10:27 AM

Do you live in Real America or Fake America? It’s a question that Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart asked this week on his cable parody news program.

But you can also get answers to a similar question in the Web show “A Year at the Wheel,” which I’ll be reviewing today as part of my current slate of Twitter-Facebook Web show reviews.

The premise of the show, according to the Web site, is this: "A married couple sets out on the road for an entire year with their dog and turtle to cover the election from the underside of America—the underground, the underpaid and the under-reported on ZIP codes. The filmmaking duo put humanity to the test, starting out with less than $200 in their pockets, no credit cards, no bank account or safety net. They make their way from town to town, working odd jobs, depending on the kindness of strangers, and looking for a reason to cast a vote come Election Day."

It’s kind of similar in ethos to “Amtrekker,” but the biggest difference is the specific focus on the election in “A Year at the Wheel.”

In a recent episode of “A Year at the Wheel,” the filmmakers posed this question to men and women on the street: “What do you think is the best and the worst thing about America?” The answers ranged from drugs to the free market of ideas to ignorance to the land to the people.

When I think about the range of sources we can and should get our election news from, it occurs to me that it can’t hurt to have “A Year at the Wheel” in the mix, alongside The New York Times, CNN, ABCNews.com, Politico, etc.

Why? Because the show delivers on its promise—it gives a real sense of what real people are thinking. And not the two-second sound bites from “real people” that get dropped into network news.

The Truth About Cheaters and Vikings

October 21, 2008 10:54 AM

Why do people cheat on their honeys?

Evolution? Genes? Perhaps. At least that’s what science expert Dr. Kiki posits in this episode of her Web series “The Science Word.”

But wait! That doesn’t mean polygamy is good for modern society, she adds.

In any case, if you want to understand the science behind why we do some of the things we do, “The Science Word” is worth bookmarking. The show is Dr. Kiki’s latest effort to make science fun, understandable and interesting for viewers. After her stint helming the now defunct “Rad Science” segment of Revision3’s “PopSiren,” Dr. Kiki launched “The Science Word” as an independent Web show that focuses on what the latest science headlines mean to you. Her show is the second of the five Web series I’ll be reviewing this week from Twitter-Facebook Web show review contest submissions last week.

I know Dr. Kiki personally—she’s Kirsten Sanford, a Ph.D, and she often co-hosts the audio podcast “This Week in Media” with me. As I’ve said to her, I think the show’s production values could be improved. However, I do think she has breakout potential to become the face of science for new media and maybe even old media. She has a knack for distilling complicated ideas into little nuggets that have meaning in our lives. Like, why people are more willing to lie in e-mail than in other communication forms.

What’s Eating Mark Wahlberg?

October 21, 2008 10:45 AM

So if you were scratching your head Saturday night (or Sunday or Monday or whenever you watched the Mark Wahlberg-Andy Samberg backstage confrontation from this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live”) here is the original sketch that ticked off Mr. Wahlberg enough to come back on. It’s a sketch of Mr. Samberg impersonating Mr. Wahlberg talking to animals and it’s fabulous.

Web ‘Casanovas’ Ready for Prime Time

October 20, 2008 1:39 PM

I’ve got my critic’s hat back on today!

I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve done a Twitter/Facebook-hosted Web show review contest. But I’m back in the game. Last week I requested submissions and this week I’ll be checking out “GO Moonbase,” “Casanovas,” “Model Ball,” “The Science Word” and “A Year at the Wheel.”

Let’s start with “Casanovas”, a comedy Web series about a pair of eligible bachelors and their misadventures with women. This is a familiar terrain, but the show feels fresh. It feels like something you might actually see on traditional TV and I mean that as a compliment. Episode four opens on a shot of one of the guys waking up on a couch, with a sleeping woman strewn across his chest. He doesn’t remember who she is, so his buddies try to help him unravel the mystery, prying through her purse for ID and sketching her face on a pad of paper to jog his memory. I’ve always liked what I affectionately call “stupid guy humor” and this show fits the bill. But the show is more than just an homage to Dane Cook; it’s several notches above. The show is well-acted, well-written and has a keen sense of comic timing that you don’t often find in Web series. This is definitely a show I’ll be watching for fun and keeping my eye on for business.

No Religion, Politics, or Sex on Twitter!

October 17, 2008 7:00 AM

Anyone who has an online presence these days knows that managing your personal and professional personas on the Web can be tricky. Should you twitter your bad date? (No!). Should you friend up an ex on Facebook? (Um, be careful there). Should you blast your boss? (Only if you want to get fired).

Susan Bratton

Susan Bratton, Personal Life Media

But what should you do online? How should you balance your personal and corporate identities? Susan Bratton, the CEO of podcast network Personal Life Media, wrote an excellent blog post on this topic recently and here are some of her tips.

  • “When developing an online persona, it’s important to initially strike the appropriate balance between your personal and business lives for both you and your business and be consistent moving forward.”

  • “Consider always being you everywhere (use your real name) and never leaving anything online that can hurt your reputation or your company’s standing.”

  • “Consider cultural differences in this new, global medium.”

  • “Choose relationships wisely. Have clear criteria for who you ‘friend.’”

  • “Regarding religion, politics, sex, drugs/alcohol and racial conversations—if in doubt, leave it out.”

  • “Remember that the Net never forgets’—what you put online may be read by clients, your children, friends and enemies forever.”

  • User Videos Sought for Voting Transparency Effort

    October 16, 2008 2:53 PM

    YouTube and PBS are planning to gather and stream user-generated video from polling places around the country on Election Day, Nov. 4, Beet.TV reports. “The effort is aimed to ‘increase the transparency’ of the voting process, including potential problems. Voters will be encouraged to bring video cameras or video-enabled camera phones to the polling place,” Beet.tv said. Details in this video.

    Joe the Plumber Viral Mashups?

    October 16, 2008 9:35 AM

    Where are they? First person to link up some Joe the Plumber viral videos wins!

    Wins what? Glory, people, glory!

    Seriously, send me Joe the Plumber viral videos as soon as you see ‘em!

    Link Journalism

    October 15, 2008 2:08 PM

    If NBC TV stations can link to other sites, if the Washington Post can connect you to competitors, and if the New York Times can write about “link journalism,” then by golly, gosh darn, I can do it too!

    TubeFilter website

    Link journalism is the practice of linking to other news sites and services. It’s something that used to be frowned on in journalism because it drives your readers or viewers to a competitor, but is now being embraced by news outlets that recognize they need to be both content producers and content aggregators.

    To that end, I want to tell you about TubeFilter. Technically, one could call TubeFilter a competitor to TVWeek.com, and to this blog and my New Media Minute in particular. That’s because TubeFilter covers the business of online video, such as the recent launch of “High Drama” on TheWb.com, the premiere of Web series “Sanctuary” on the Sci-Fi Channel, and the latest Web project from the “Break a Leg” creators.

    TubeFilter is on top of the news in this area and is an easy-to-read site, so check it out.

    I guess that makes me a link journalist now!

    Another Experiment in Quitting TV

    October 14, 2008 2:22 PM

    If you really want to know what it’s like to go without cable, satellite or over-the-air and rely on Internet TV, let’s hear from The Diffusion Group. The research firm conducted an experiment with staffers on quitting old TV via legal alternatives.

    'The Shield'

    NO COP-OUT Catching up on past seasons of shows like FX's 'The Shield' is one option for viewers seeking to live a TV-free existence.

    Here are some of The Diffusion Group’s findings from its experiment on life with broadband-powered video only. This information comes from Andy Tarczon, general manager for the research firm.

  • Content Discovery: “While able to catch the latest episode of my favorite show (let’s say ‘Grey’s Anatomy’), it was difficult to learn about other shows that may be of similar interest. You can easily FIND, but have difficulty when it comes to DISCOVER.”

  • What’s the score? “Live events are still quite the exception (look at how Hulu garnered attention for simply streaming the presidential debates). Take a sports fan and tell them they can’t watch games live unless via a low-quality connection and you have a recipe for disaster. (Like, why did they buy that shiny big screen every sports fan MUST have!)

  • Serial Monogamy: “In the process of losing weekly TV, new shows to watch, or live programming, our household began to watch a series at a time. ‘The Shield’ is a great example. Coming across the show in its fourth season, we set out to catch up from Season One. We were devoted (monogamous) to one show (our serial) during the old season that we might be watching. So instead of four different shows in one week, we’ll watch four episodes of the same show. We quickly run through that series, then on to the next one.”

  • Contemplating a Life Without Cable

    October 14, 2008 10:50 AM

    Online television technology provider Move Networks said it will deliver more than 400 live Internet television events this month. Wouldn’t it be great if that included live streams of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “iCarly,” “The Office,” “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” “The Daily Show,” “Entourage” and “Californication”?

    Wait, sorry, that was the lack of cable talking.

    As many of you know, the polls are showing that readers who favor me ditching cable, satellite and over-the-air programming for one month in favor of broadband-only delivery of TV are way ahead. So I’m mentally prepping to live a cable programming-free life.

    In the meantime, though, Move Networks said it delivered more than 105 live events to Internet TV viewers for the weekend of Oct. 3, comprising 3 million hours with an average of 81 minutes per viewer. That’s an all-time high for Move Networks. I guess that should be a small comfort to cord-cutters like me, knowing we can get more programming on the Web.

    Many of those events include live college and professional sporting events, which should make “Diggnation” star and sports viewer Kevin Rose happy since he ditched cable yesterday.

    Cutting the TV Umbilical Cord

    October 13, 2008 9:21 AM

    Should I cut the cable and broadcast cord? Cast your vote here.

    There has been a lot of chatter lately on the Web about cutting the cable cord and watching TV programming solely online. Here at TVWeek we like to walk the walk and talk the talk, so I’m willing to fly for a month without cable, satellite or broadcast TV to see if broadband-only delivery of network and other shows is doable. But it’s up to you. Cast your vote here on whether you want me to give it a whirl.

    Check out Atlas Digital’s Business Model

    October 13, 2008 9:17 AM

    I’ve been keeping my eye on new media production shops in general for the last few years. Just recently Atlas Digital + Emerging Media caught my eye. The company was formed a year ago to develop and produce original content for mobile and online platforms, and it’s a division of Atlas Media Corp, which has been producing cable programming for 19 years such as “Behind the Bash with Giada De Laurentis.”

    Atlas Digital + Emerging Media started with a YouTube channel, then produced Webisodes for Fearnet.com, then for History.com and others.

    Why am I bringing this up? Look, it doesn’t take a genius to know a production house should start a digital operation! But, here we have a company that in about a year is now producing content for Discovery.com, Lifetime, Comcast/Fearnet, History.com, Travel Channel and others. That kind of diversity—the ability to produce both digital and traditional content—is going to serve companies well during the economic downturn. Atlas works both on an in-house and a work-for-hire basis, and those are models that can serve a company well in tough times.

    So what are the things you’re doing to ensure you have multiple revenue streams during a down cycle?

    Monkeys Serving Sake

    October 9, 2008 3:33 PM

    Anyone who runs a business knows how hard it is to find good help.

    But the proprietor of a Japanese tavern appears to have found both good and cheap help. Because a pair of monkeys, dressed in Japanese robes, serve hot towels to the customers there.

    As for pay? Oh, these monkeys don’t demand much. They get paid in soybeans.

    Online Video Poised to Weather Hard Times

    October 8, 2008 11:54 AM

    In the midst of the economic crisis, we might cut back on dinners out, see fewer movies or buy generic brands at the grocery store. But we’re not likely to cut the cord on our high-speed Internet.

    So the online video business may be able to take some comfort that it can weather the downturn. That’s the conclusion of Will Richmond, industry analyst at VideoNuze.com.

    He pointed out that a Jupiter study reported that only 2% of consumers would cut off their Internet service to reduce expenses during tough times. As consumers do rein in spending in other areas, the ad-supported model for online video becomes more attractive, he said. “Some will counter that advertising spending always contracts in tough times, so relying on ads is no sanctuary. True enough, but my sense is that in this downturn, with the cost of so many essential goods (food, gas, health care, etc.) going up, any ad spending downturn may seem modest compared to the downturn in consumer discretionary spending,” he wrote this week.

    What do you think? Will ads stay steady in online video?

    ‘Nite Fite’ Claims Key YouTube Real Estate

    October 7, 2008 12:01 AM

    Next New Networks Web series “Nite Fite” took over the home page of YouTube Monday, Oct. 6. The show was featured in the upper-right slot of the home page, a spot usually reserved for advertiser videos, as part of a promotional commitment from the show’s sponsor Starburst.

    This is an important “milestone” if you will in YouTube’s history because “Nite Fite” is not an ad, nor is it a branded series. It’s an independent show that has a sponsor integrated into each episode, Next New Networks pointed out on its own blog. The company is betting the YouTube home page placement can drive subscribers and audience for the show going forward.

    Channel Frederator, the Next New Networks channel that carries “Nite Fite,” already counts more than 20,000 subscribers.

    I’ll be curious to check back to see whether the sub count rises significantly in the next few days as a result of this promotion. For now, weigh in on whether you’d be apt to subscribe to the channel after watching this video.

    Porn Industry Roiled by Free Web Sites

    October 6, 2008 9:34 AM

    Thought the porn business was safe from the online video revolution? Think again.

    The upheavals that free video-sharing sites have wrought on mainstream Hollywood are impacting pornographic filmmakers too, writes the Financial Times.

    The profusion of sites such as YouPorn, RedTube and PornoTube, awash with free clips of blue material, is hurting DVD sales. As an example, DVD sales at porn producer Vivid Entertainment are now less than 30% of the company’s revenues, down from 80% just two years ago, Financial Times says.

    But Vivid is betting that consumers will still pay for the type of high-quality porn it produces. Many of these porn producers are also borrowing a page from Viacom’s playbook and suing the Web sites that carry their clips. (Viacom is currently suing Google-owned YouTube in a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit.)

    Microsoft Ads: Seinfeld vs. 'I'm a PC'

    October 3, 2008 12:30 PM

    Remember those Microsoft ads from the company’s most recent ad campaign? You know, the ones with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates? The same campaign the computer giant allegedly put the kibosh on after the ads took a drubbing in the media? (Some say the Seinfeld sponsorship was always supposed to be a quickie; others say the comedian got the heave-ho.)

    Well, online video measurement firm Visible Measures says the first two ads that featured the titans of their respective industries chit-chatting in a shoe store drew more than 6 million views, crushing the performance of the “I’m a PC ad,” which was 60 seconds of people from different walks of life uttering that phrase. That video drew about 2 million views.

    “Yes, the Seinfeld/Gates clips have been available for two weeks longer than the ‘I’m a PC’ ads, but normalizing their performance only serves to underscore the broader trend. Looking at each campaign’s first week and a half in market, the Seinfeld/Gates ads drove more than 3.2 million viral video views, whereas ‘I’m a PC’ saw barely half of that. After two weeks, Seinfeld/Gates was still collecting more than 700,000 views per day, while the ‘I’m a PC’ clips had tapered off to less than 50,000 views per day,” Visible Measures wrote on its blog.

    Should Microsoft bring Jerry back?

    Video Views Growing at MyLifetime.com

    October 2, 2008 11:51 AM

    Online video is doing its part to drive digital growth for the Lifetime cable network.

    On MyLifetime.com, the number of video streams delivered in September grew 155% compared with January, driven in part by full episodes of popular shows like “Army Wives.”

    In addition, the network said that in September, page views for MyLifetime.com had grown by 227%, visits by 72% and unique visitors by 37% from the same month a year ago.

    Taking Tips From Amtrekker

    October 1, 2008 11:09 AM

    In today’s New Media Minute, I share with you how Web creator Brett Rounsaville pulls off shooting and editing his Amtrekker videos from a backpack.

    What I didn’t do was share some of his show in my report. So I’d like to do that now!

    Here’s when Brett rode an ostrich.

    And when he participated in a Civil War re-enactment.