TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.


Trial and Error

November 2008 Archives

Thanksgiving Gift: Heidi Klum in Her Underwear

November 26, 2008 10:17 AM

Just in case you missed the director’s cut of Heidi Klum in her lingerie, channeling Tom Cruise from “Risky Business” while jamming on a Guitar Hero guitar in an ad for the game, here it is. Just a little Thanksgiving gift from me to you. The clip was released earlier this month.

Fast Pass-Around Rate Torpedoed Motrin Ad

November 25, 2008 9:50 AM

Don’t piss off moms.

Motrin learned that lesson last week when its controversial ad thumbing its nose at baby-wearing generated a firestorm of trouble over on Twitter, then around the blogosphere and in the mainstream media.

Online video measurement service Visible Measures tracked the video and the responses. It found that fewer than two dozen unique placements of the video generated about 400,000 views and about 600 comments.

That’s not a lot of views or comments. But volume didn’t matter in this case. It was the pass-around rate and how the negative reaction spread like a bad headache thanks to Twitter.

“The suspended Motrin campaign may very well be remembered as the first ad campaign to be felled by the Twitter-sphere,” Visible Measures said. “This serves as another reminder that today an adequately, ahem, motivated constituency can harness multiple social media to have a big impact without any central coordination, budget or ulterior motive.”

Bill O’Reilly Hearts Obama Girl

November 24, 2008 10:52 AM

Clearly, Bill O’Reilly wasn’t himself last week. Because he didn’t pounce at all when he interviewed Amber Lee Ettinger, better known as Obama Girl, on his show “The O’Reilly Factor.” Nothing, zero, and this is a woman who has OBAMA—the enemy, Bill!—in her stage name.

Yet he didn’t go all, well, all Bill O’Reilly on her. Instead he praised the model-turned-Web star for her entrepreneurial spirit and told her she is a “good-looking Jon Stewart.” Oh, Bill, you really are a softie, aren’t you!

'Californication's' Mia: Real or Just a Character?

November 21, 2008 7:00 AM

Networks are hungry for online extensions for their shows. Showtime is trying its hand at cross-platform content creation with original series “Californication” this season with the character of Mia.

She’s been video blogging in character on YouTube all season and also posts tweets from her Twitter account once a day about writer’s block, making out with a guy in the woods and where to go on vacation. She stays in character, of course, promoting her book (ahem, the book she STOLE from Hank, aka David Duchovny), and even sharing mock-ups of the book cover on Twitter and Facebook.

She has more than 1,000 followers on Twitter, but her blogs on YouTube haven’t really taken off. Only one has more than 6,000 views. Still, it’s an interesting effort from Showtime and one that I suspect will become de rigueur soon enough for most TV shows.

ABC News Reveals Auto CEOs Flew Private Jets to D.C.

November 20, 2008 10:46 AM

Tip of the hat to ABCNews.com for investigative reporter Brian Ross’ piece Wednesday revealing how the CEOs of Ford and General Motors traveled to their meeting with Congress to ask for $25 billion in aid: via private jet. The GM-chartered flight cost about $20,000, ABC News reported.

In the first few hours after the report was posted online, that section of the site had generated about 500,000 hits, ABCNews said.

ABC News followed up the report with another one this morning detailing the reach of private jet fleets.

'Gossip Girl' Told Through Finger Puppets

November 20, 2008 10:15 AM

Puppets make everything better.

SoapNet, which now bills itself as the home for all drama, is recapping episodes of The CW’s “Gossip Girls” using finger puppets. Watch it here:

Toilet Train Your Cat and Teach Him to Vacuum

November 19, 2008 10:34 AM

What’s that you say? You’ve been hankering for some cat videos?

I know the feeling, my friends, and I am here to satisfy that itch.

So if you want to know how to toilet train your cat—for starters, you go from litter box to litter bowl!—then I have a video for you.

It’s also one of the winners of the recent 2008 WonderHowTo Video Awards, which selected how-to videos in 12 categories from more than 230,000 how-to videos. For all the winners, click here and for the toilet-training cat, see below.

Here’s my favorite video of the week: a cat on a Roomba robotic vacuum.

This cat is fierce! And thanks to everyone who sent me the cat link above. I guess the cat is out of the bag about my predilection for cat videos.

Will the YouTube President Still Twitter?

November 18, 2008 10:23 AM

President-elect Barack Obama will broadcast his weekly presidential addresses on the first Presidential Channel on YouTube. Does this mean YouTube could make some serious change selling that space to advertisers? After all, the first video he posted this weekend has already earned more than 800,000 views.

If Obama plays his cards right, I dare say he might be able to pull out more views than, say, Fred or Michael Buckley. And then YouTube could line up Blackberry or, wait, how about Apple as the sponsor for the presidential channel?

I guess what I really want to know is will Obama still Twitter when he’s in the Oval Office? A tweet a day would be nice, stuff like: “Meeting with Putin this afternoon. Will let you know how it goes” or “Playing a game of pickup with Rahm. Wish me luck.”

MySpace Primetime Puts Premium Videos on Profile Pages

November 17, 2008 10:05 AM

Since its launch on Wednesday, MySpace’s prime-time application has 16,494 active users. At least that’s what the MySpace page for the application reported as of this morning.

MySpace Primetime lets any MySpace user embed premium videos from Hulu, Warner Bros. or Sony, as well as MySpaceTV originals like “Roommates,” on their own profile pages. The goal with the new application is to pepper the high-end content MySpace has deals to carry on MySpaceTV around the site and into the far corners of user profiles.

Now a part of me wonders if MySpace is getting much traction for the Hulu content it already carries on its site. After all, remember that when Hulu launched, one of the selling points was super distribution and this massive network of portal partners such as Comcast, MySpace and AOL that also would carry Hulu programming.

But now that Hulu has been up and running for eight-plus months, how many of you go to those other sites to watch TV shows and how many go to Hulu?

Sure, AOL and others do indeed carry Hulu shows like last week’s “The Office.” I’m just wondering if the super-syndication model is top of mind for consumers, or if when you’re about to watch a show online, is Hulu the first place you go?

Either way, it’s a smart move by MySpace to let users embed TV shows in their profiles, as the ads live along with the show. The MySpace application should bring greater reach for the premium content and generate more views.

Oh, and here’s last week’s episode of “The Office” in case you want to watch that here on TVWeek.com.

Friday Fun Video: Spoiler Alert!

November 14, 2008 7:00 AM

The chick is a dude, Bruce Willis is dead, ET goes home, Meg Ryan ends up with Billy Crystal, Dirk Digler has a 14-incher, the Bears win, Bonnie and Clyde get killed and so on and so on and so on.

You knew that already? Well, if you don’t mind 100 movies being spoiled in less than five minutes, check out this must-watch video from Web video creators the Fine Bros.

This video is why I like Web video. It’s simple, exceedingly clever, very funny, made me smile and made me laugh.

Cartoon Net Offers Integration Innovation

November 13, 2008 7:00 AM

What are kids doing online? Voting other kids off the island?

It’s wise to check in every now and then with what the kids networks are doing online because those programmers are often the most innovative. Cartoon Network fits that bill right now. It drove up its unique visitors to CartoonNetwork.com to 6.6 million in October, a 20% jump over September thanks in part to the online presence of “Total Drama Island.”

That show’s online microsite alone garnered 2.7 million of those unique visitors.

The show is kind of like an animated “Survivor” but for kids at camp. It premiered June 5 on the cable network and has been one of its top-performing shows since then. Immediately after each episode, viewers can go online to compete in activities that reflect the theme of each week’s episode.

To date, kids have created more than 2 million avatars on the microsite. One of the kid-created avatars will be integrated into the series finale in December.

The site's 27 "Total Drama Island" games have been played more than 95 million times on the microsite since its launch.

(3:10 p.m.: Updated final paragraph)

Who Says You Can’t Jump From the Web to TV?

November 12, 2008 10:59 AM

Chef and Web host Keith Snow launched the online food-centric series “Harvest Eating” in 2006 and steadily built up a stable of videos, adding about five to 10 new videos each month to HarvestEating.com, iTunes and other sites such as the Weather Channel, where “Harvest Eating” is a food programmer.

Snow has produced more than 350 episodes of the show since then, landed a cookbook deal with Running Press, and—get this—snagged a national TV gig on PBS stations starting next spring with Kellogg’s as the national sponsor. His show is slated to launch in May in more than 200 TV markets.

“We started with a $300 Canon handheld and now we shoot a two-cam hi-def production and we have a national PBS series,” he said.

I’m going to talk to Snow in the coming weeks and get more details on how he did it, along with tips for other producers. I’ll share them with you here.

Is ABC.com Easy to Use or Not?

November 11, 2008 10:54 AM

This weekend a local friend emailed me to say she had accidentally deleted “Grey’s Anatomy” from her TiVo and to ask if she could come watch it at my house if I had recorded it.

I reminded her that I don’t have a traditional DVR because I don’t have traditional cable service anymore, but that the Internet is now my DVR!

I suggested she go to ABC.com and watch the episode there as I had done. I’ve found the site quite easy to use, and ABC.com has also won awards for ease of use. But my friend wrote back and said she couldn’t find the episodes. I explained that you simply click on the link for “full episodes” and then “Grey’s Anatomy.” She tried that, but nothing worked. Her computer never gave her the option to watch in SD or HD in the full-episode player.

By and large I suspect ABC.com works just fine. But there are always glitches somewhere. So her experience led me to ask: What sites are you still having trouble seeing full episodes of TV shows on? What sort of problems do you run into on the sites? And have these challenges turned you off of online viewing?

Cable Isn't Afraid of Broadband Anymore

November 10, 2008 6:39 AM

And the early conclusion from cable operators, search engines and online services is—ding, ding, ding—the pie is expanding. During a VideoNuze.com breakfast panel at the CTAM Summit Monday in Boston, executives from Scripps Networks, Time Warner Cable, Google, Amazon and Next New Networks seemed to agree that broadband-delivered television shows don't shrink traditional cable network or cable operator businesses, but can, in fact, grow them.

“We think there is a solution that is sustainable,” said Peter Stern, executive VP and chief strategy officer at Time Warner Cable during the breakfast. “Deliver all your Web content to paying customers online and just a small amount to non-paying customers.”

That sounds like Time Warner plans to offer a replica on the Web to its subscribers of what it already offers on traditional TV to its subscribers. So if you have Time Warner service you could see the cable channels and programs you want on TV and also on the Web. And if you’re not a Time Warner customer you can’t.

OK, so this is a forward-thinking solution. I like that Time Warner is making its content available on the Web too.

But, I’m not so sure this solution, though well-thought, is going to stem the tide of cable defections in the coming years.

Are people dropping their cable service in droves today? No. It is very early days and traditional cable and satellite programming on a big-screen is still more convenient and more enjoyable for TV viewing.

However, as a recent cord-cutter (I’ve been without cable programming for four weeks now) I don’t see a reason to return to the cable fold now that I have seen that life without—life just online—works almost as well.

I recognize that traditional delivery is both more convenient and more enjoyable than watching shows online. But you know what? When you go without traditional delivery for a few weeks, you just get used to it (unless you are a sports fan). You stop missing the old way of doing this. And the new way of doing things—watching “The Office” on Hulu, checking out “The Daily Show” on Thedailyshow.com—becomes a reasonable facsimile for the old way.

My verdict is the pie shrinks some.

Ads Can Be Content Too, Google Exec Says

November 10, 2008 6:36 AM

There is a belief that consumers simply “put up” with ads because they have to. But David Eun, VP of content partnerships at Google-YouTube, doesn’t buy that. “I think of ads as content,” he said, during a VideoNuze.com breakfast session at the CTAM Summit in Boston. “When you do a search, the ideal situation is when the ads are as interesting and effective as the search results and the ads become content. If I search for golf clubs, whatever ads you put in front of me with that search should be compelling. If I watch a Next New Networks video on cars, no matter how much another advertiser offers you, I don’t want to see a Pampers ads. So this is an opportunity.”

Hitting the Ground in Boston at CTAM

November 10, 2008 6:31 AM

In the press office at the CTAM Summit in Boston, an 8x11 sheet of white paper hangs above the printer. It reads: “CTAM Summit Attendance: Nov. 8 2008: 2,127.”

That’s a drop from last year’s 2,700. CTAM expected a dip given the sliding economy.

Newspapers Advertising With the Competition?

November 7, 2008 7:00 AM

As I watched Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” online on Wednesday, Nov. 5, I noticed something interesting about the ads. All of the pre-roll ads between segments were for the NYTimes.com. Makes sense, right? The demographics of the two media properties surely line up. (After all, Jon Stewart said when he interviewed Sen. Barack Obama a week ago and his audience cheered, “We’re clearly not a swing show.”)

Nevertheless, it was the first time I had seen ads for a newspaper running in a TV show online. There must be other newspapers that have advertised their online versions in online video before.

Have you seen newspapers pitching themselves in Web video? And will it work? Can papers resurrect their flagging fortunes with a sturdy online advertising push?

The ads won’t show up in this embedded clip, but here is a funny segment from that episode of “The Daily Show” in which Stewart mocks some of the silly technological “enhancements” of network news election coverage.

Obama Girl Is Now President Girl

November 6, 2008 7:00 AM

It’s time for a name change for “Obama Girl,” the uber-popular online personality who busted onto the viral video stage with her “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama” video last summer when she declared her allegiance to the now president-elect.

So she might be calling herself “President Girl” now, she says. Either way, here’s her first video since her candidate was elected to lead the country.

And for old times sake, here’s the original video that’s now earned more than 11 million views on YouTube.

Best, Worst of Election Night on TV

November 5, 2008 11:21 AM

What were the best and worst and weirdest and funkiest television moments of Election Night 2008?

TVGuide.com has compiled them and gives NBC’s Rockefeller Center props for coolest set, while dissing Fox and NBC—with those Greek columns—for the worst sets. Then there’s the weirdest technological advance accolade, which goes to CNN for Anderson Cooper speaking to singer Will.i.am by hologram, and the biggest gaffe, when Brit Hume called Ohio for President-elect Barack Obama, then pulled it back, only to give it back to him 20 minutes later.

For the best moment of silence, the longest lag (ahem, CNN, you did dawdle quite a bit before calling Ohio) and other awards, check out TVGuide.com’s fun list of election moments.

A Fond Farewell to ‘Internet Superstar’

November 4, 2008 7:00 AM

I was pretty bummed last week when I heard that my favorite Web show, “Internet Superstar,” had been canceled. Anyone who’s read this blog or seen my New Media Minute knows I am an unrepentant Martin Sargent fangirl.

So screw the political videos today. On Election Day 2008, here is my tribute to a now-defunct Web show that was one of the best. Here are my three favorite episodes of “Internet Superstar.”

Equal-Opportunity Video Post

November 3, 2008 2:36 PM

Earlier today I posted a popular video in which Gov. Sarah Palin was booed at a hockey game. In the interest of fairness and nonpartisanship, I’m going to go ahead and post a video in which Sen. Joe Biden made a gaffe at a campaign rally.

Here’s a clip of Biden asking a rally attendee in a wheelchair to stand up.

Palin’s Bad Moment in Philly an Online Hit

November 3, 2008 7:00 AM

It’s only one more day till D-Day, so let’s talk politics for one more day!

According to the online buzz tracking service Trendrr, the video of Gov. Sarah Palin getting booed at the Philadelphia Flyers hockey game last month logged more views online than her 1984 swimsuit appearance.

I’m told the swimsuit video has been pulled from YouTube, but even if it were still up I wouldn’t link to it because I don’t want to participate in that sort of objectification.

Nevertheless, this blog is about what’s hot and what’s not online. So it’s worth noting more people viewed the video from the Flyers game (more than 1.5 million), than the pageant appearance with more than 1.4 million views.