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

December 2008 Archives

Twitter Qua Marketing Tool, Part Deux

December 31, 2008 9:32 AM

Earlier this week I wrote about how companies such as Hulu and Veoh are leaning on Twitter to track user feedback and what’s being said about them over the microblogging service. Since then I’ve heard from a number of other companies also using Twitter in smart ways and I wanted to draw attention to the PBS Twitter account. Check it out at www.Twitter.com/PBSEngage. This is one of the better examples by a broadcaster and media company of using Twitter interactively. Being interactive on Twitter—that means actually talking, responding and replying–to Twitter comments and posts about your service is what engenders viewer loyalty.

So take a look at the PBS account, which is used to provide links to PBS blog entries and also to chat with users and followers. The broadcaster’s recent Twitter feed includes friendly replies to users (a good idea as this involves users in the conversation), posts about whether the site is working, and tweets about other PBSers to follow, such as www.Twitter.com/NewsHour, which includes newsy tips from that show and interactions with followers too.

Does Viacom-TWC Fight Help Broadband?

December 31, 2008 9:05 AM

Consumers might have a new incentive to defect from cable to broadband-only video. That’s because Viacom and Time Warner are engaged in a battle that could result in Viacom channels like Comedy Central being pulled from Time Warner systems when the contract between the two companies expires tonight at midnight.

Viacom is asking for an increase of about 25 cents per month for the package of channels or about $3 a year per customer. That kind of increase could potentially raise cable bills even higher.

Could these high-stakes poker games with the consumers as the chips breathe fresh interest in ditching cable entirely? Will more cable viewers opt out, opting instead to get their shows via broadband? Let me know what you think!

You Won't Regret Watching This Video

December 30, 2008 11:03 AM

At first blush, watching a viral about one’s biggest regrets in life might seem like a bit of a downer.

But this video is actually pretty uplifting in my book. It also happens to be one of my favorite viral videos this year. It’s called “Googling Biggest Regrets” and it’s a funny, clever, often poignant look back at life’s “what ifs.” And hey, it’s only three minutes!

So I share it with you as this year draws to a close. (Thanks, Riptide, for sending this to me, whoever you are!)

Can Starburst Help Make You a Rhythmic Gymnast?

December 29, 2008 7:58 AM

How is Starburst related to rhythmic gymnastics?

I’m still not sure, but this video on how to be juicy from the Starburst videoblogger series might help explain it.

The video comes from popular video blogger David Jr., who displays his ribbon-shaking abilities in this video he created as part of a campaign commissioned by Starburst.

It’s worth checking out because Starburst has been one of the most innovative marketers in the last year when it comes to harnessing Web video by working with stars who are known for creating cool stuff online.

Holiday Greetings From Obama Girl

December 24, 2008 10:24 AM

Obama Girl wished me a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Check out my personalized holiday card from the coolest and hottest Web star out there!

For more Funny Tech Videos BarelyPolitical.com

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day!

December 24, 2008 7:00 AM

Merry Christmas from some of my favorite online video creators—Rhett and Link.

Here’s a little rendition of “Silver Bells” performed by the comedy duo along with fellow musician Wade Johnston. May it make your holidays bright.

That’s One Slippery Kitty

December 23, 2008 10:23 AM

What I’m wondering is did they have to lubricate the cat to get him to slide so fast across the floor? Or just the bottom of the cardboard box?

Viewser Awards Anoint Top Web Video Sites

December 22, 2008 11:09 AM

The online video site OVGuide.com recently crowned several winners in its second annual Viewser Choice Awards for online video sites.

Top honors went to anime site Naruto Wire, which won the popular vote (we all know how important that one is!). Anime has long been one of the most popular video categories on the Internet and is typically one of the top-visited genres in OVGuide.com's database, OVGuide said.

OVGuide also selected winners in various categories with input from a range of judges, including yours truly. Here are some of them.

Education: WonderHowTo

Food / Wine: Bitchin' Kitchen

Music / Entertainment: PluggedIn

News / Business: CNN Video

Political: Politico

Radio: Pandora

Science / Technology: National Geographic

Sports: ESPN

Trailers: Yahoo! Movies

Travel: Raw Vegas

Video blogs: Justin.tv

What do you think of OVGuide’s picks? What are your top online video sites from 2008? Let me know by posting a comment!

‘Twilight’ Takes Over Your Fun Friday Video

December 19, 2008 7:00 AM

Now that I’m an unabashed Twi-Fan (What, you don’t know what that means? Shame on you!), here are some fun “Twilight” spoof videos.

I especially love the Santa spoof—the actress does a dead-on Bella, while Santa sounds just like Edward when he says, “Ask me the most basic question. What do I eat?”



This Game Is a Shoe-In to Be a Hit

December 18, 2008 8:04 AM

Why let an Iraqi reporter be the only one who gets to throw shoes at President Bush?

Now you can, too, if you play the new online game “Ninja Bush” at www.tabloidgames.com

The online game was created by John P. Roberts, the former interactive gaming expert from GSN. In “Ninja Bush” you can throw shoes at the president, but he’ll toss baseballs back at you, so watch out. If he hits you with three baseballs, it’s game over for you.

Roberts recently created the online game “Palinisms," about the Alaska governor, as well as “The Prison Life: Paris," which received more than 1.5 million game plays.

Online Video a Safe Harbor in ‘09

December 17, 2008 9:52 AM

Research firm eMarketer has already gone on record saying online video is a smart marketing strategy during these lean economic times. Now a report from online video technology firm Permission TV surveying 400 senior-level advertising, marketing and media executives reveals that they expect to increase their budgets for Web video in 2009.

The survey found that one-quarter of digital marketing executives are currently discussing their video strategies and by the second quarter of 2009 more than half expect to be implementing or extending an online video project.

Why the interest? Because more than two-thirds said online video will be a key marketing strategy for the year ahead, beating social media at 41 percent, search at 34 percent and podcasts at 32 percent. But here’s the brightest spot of all if you’re a digital programmer—advertising executives surveyed said their 2009 digital marketing budgets would be the ones least affected by budget cuts.

Is Obama Losing His Social Media Mojo?

December 16, 2008 10:35 AM

Sure, the election’s over and it’s only natural that online buzz around the new president would fade a little now that the contest is behind us.

But who would have predicted that President-elect Barack Obama would see this big a drop in the number of videos tagged with his name on YouTube? Online trend tracker Trendrr reports that while the number of videos on YouTube tagged with “Obama” rose from 82,200 on April 18 to 396,000 on Nov. 16, the amount of videos since then has fallen dramatically. As of Dec. 7, there were 138,000 videos tagged with “Obama” on the video site, a decrease of 256,000 videos in less than a month.

So who’s taking the videos down?

Obama’s seeing a big dip in blog interest, too. By Nov. 7, the president-elect had been mentioned in 1.7 billion blog posts, a number that had fallen to about 18 million by Dec. 9, Trendrr says.

I guess it’s better to be a candidate than the incoming president when it comes to online love!

He is even competing with Santa for attention on Twitter!

How Will the Sexiest Man Alive Look as Oscar Host?

December 15, 2008 10:49 AM

I get that it makes more sense to have a movie star host the Oscars than it does a television star. But let’s be honest, it sure doesn’t hurt that Hugh Jackman is People’s current Sexiest Man Alive? And the Oscars telecast, after all, is referred to as the Super Bowl for women in terms of its ability to draw a female audience.

I haven’t tuned in for the last few years, but I’m thinking I just might this year, even if Heath Ledger isn’t nominated for his acting performance in “The Dark Knight.” Which he really should be, but if he’s not, then perhaps Christian Bale for best smolder?

I digress. For a taste of the new Oscar frontman, here is a clip of Hugh hosting the 59th annual Tony Awards in Radio City Music Hall.

Online Video Viewership Continues to Climb

December 11, 2008 7:00 AM

In the U.S., we watched 13.5 billion online videos in October, up 45% from last year, according to online measurement service comScore. We’re also watching for longer, spending 3 minutes per video, up slightly from 2.7 minutes.

YouTube still dominates, with almost 5.4 billion videos viewed in October, representing about 40% of all videos watched on the Internet. But Hulu is rising in popularity and had 235 million videos viewed in October, with the average viewer watching nearly 12 minutes at a time.

So what are you watching these days? Tell me which videos are catching your eye and why.

Brightcove Adds to Industry Layoffs

December 10, 2008 10:16 AM

I keep hoping we can make it through the end of the year without seeing any more online video or television industry, or, frankly, ANY layoffs.

But online video technology provider Brightcove let go 25 of its 171 employees recently.

The company said in a statement: “Over this last year, we’ve focused and invested in our platform business. We’ve seen tremendous growth in that business, and we continue to build on the solid lead we have in the category. We’re committed to putting more energy into developing our online video platform, serving our customers and solidifying our technology and innovation advantage. As we move into 2009, we have reconfigured the Brightcove team around our key strategic priorities, and this has involved some staffing adjustments.”

Let’s hope this is the last of it.

Web Show Host Lands Gig With Tea Company

December 9, 2008 9:24 AM

Once upon a time a tea-obsessed video producer decided to make a Web show. Like thousands of others before him, he grabbed a camera and started shooting in his kitchen.

Unlike others, he kept making the show and he kept sending it out to experts and he kept asking for advice and he kept fixing his show and he kept making it better.

He submitted the show to Web network Revision3 as an applicant for its beta program, a farm league for emerging Web shows. The show was rejected, so he refined it and struck relationships with video-sharing sites. He submitted it again to Revision3 and it was accepted.

That was two months ago. And the show, “Bottles, Blends and Brews,” became part of the freshman class of the Revision3 beta.

Fast-forward a mere six weeks later because that same Web host—Zack Luye—landed a gig as the host of a new weekly Web show created by Adagio Teas, one of the biggest tea makers and distributors.

The show is slated to launch online in January and will revolve around the company’s “signature blend line.” The podcast will highlight some of the more interesting and successful custom blends that customers can create on the site.

Why am I telling you this story?

1. Persistence can pay off.

2. Not everyone gets hurt in a recession.

3. There are paths to making money if you launch a quality Web show.

4. Brands increasingly will produce online video content for their sites.

5. If you have an expertise, reach out to like-minded brands, companies or marketers. They’ll be leaning on Web video more in these lean times.

Mr. Luye will continue to host and produce “Bottles, Blends and Brews.”

Automakers Slow to Catch Up in Digital, Too

December 8, 2008 8:13 AM

Maybe if the Big Three automakers developed new cars as quickly as they got themselves on YouTube, they wouldn’t be begging Congress for money.

Wait, getting on YouTube three years after the site’s launch doesn’t really equal innovation.

Anyway, better to be on YouTube than not.

NewTeeVee ran a terrific piece detailing the efforts by the automakers to take their case to the people via blogs, Twittering, social networks and YouTube. General Motors even posted this seven-minute video explaining its viability plan on Dec. 3 on the video-sharing site. (Um, just over 1,000 views? Maybe that should tell the company something.)

Ford CEO Alan Mulally did better in views, racking up more than 37,000 in his video posted Dec. 1. But as NewTeeVee’s Liz Shannon Miller so ably pointed out, “I’d be a lot more convinced by what he’s saying if he could look me—or the camera—in the eye.”

Pay a Visit to the Mapple Store With the Simpsons

December 4, 2008 8:38 AM

In Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons," the show parodied Apple stores as Lisa, Homer and family shop for MyPhonies and other gadgets in the “Mapple store.”

The YouTube clip has generated more than 270,000 views in a few days and Hulu is featuring the video, too.

“We are all Mapple people now.”

Here’s the Dude With Great Hair Thanks to Milk, on Hulu

December 3, 2008 12:29 PM

We recently reported that when given the choice of ad to watch before an online program, about 88% of Hulu viewers are opting to view a two-minute advertisement in exchange for no ads during the rest of the show.

I haven’t come across one of these long-form ads, but Web personality and science journalist Kirsten Sanford has. During this week’s audio podcast “This Week in Media,” she recalled seeing a “hair ad” on Hulu that she thought was about milk.

Well, “This Week in Media” listener Richard Walker sent me a link to the ad, since he saw it on Hulu too. It’s a pretty clever ad from the California Milk Processor Board in which a deep-voiced white-haired rock star croons, “Is it me, or do you love my hair?”

The video has generated more than 575,000 views on YouTube. I guess the question now is: Are you drinking more milk because of this ad?

Road to CES: G4 Offers Multiplatform Coverage

December 2, 2008 11:52 AM

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off early next month in Las Vegas and many television networks have big plans to cover the event. I told you about the live broadcast strategies for networks like NBC and Discovery in a Nov. 23 story, but I left out the one network that may well have the most extensive coverage plans for the show. That’s G4.

Let me tell you what the tech-centric network has going on for CES across on-air, online, mobile phones and gaming consoles.

For starters, G4 will broadcast three hours of live coverage from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 hosted by the “Attack of the Show” team, up from two hours per night last year. The network also will air 60-second CES updates throughout the day. All the live show coverage will be presented by Acura, said G4 President Neal Tiles.

What’s really cool about G4’s plans is its nonlinear coverage. The network intends to live-blog and to shoot video from 20 of the biggest press conferences at the show, such as those presented by Sony, Panasonic and Microsoft. The videos will be posted on www.G4tv.com shortly after each press conference ends.

Also on the Web, G4 hosts and experts will provide hands-on demos of some of the most popular gadgets from the show, with the more mainstream gadgets landing on-air. The network also will live-stream coverage of its own “Best of the Best” awards on Jan. 8.

Then there’s the video-on-demand option: G4 is slated to produce CES reports to run on VOD in 40 million cable and satellite homes.

In addition, the network will distribute video to iPhones, Google Android phones and Verizon’s VCast mobile video service. Finally, look for G4 programming from CES on the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3.

“We are endeavoring to be a multiplatform media destination because that’s how our audience is consuming content,” Tiles said. “We want to be the premier resource for CES because that has emerged as the premier media conference.”

TV Guide Reaches Out Online

December 1, 2008 7:48 AM

Whenever I think of TV Guide, the first thing that comes to mind is Frank Costanza, George’s father on “Seinfield,” who collected the weekly magazines of television listings.

Well, those days of TV Guide really are our father’s generation, so now TV Guide is focusing heavily on its Web presence. The site TVGuide.com is drawing nearly 15 million visitors per month, Paul Greenberg, executive VP and general manager for TV Guide Online, told me in a recent interview.

What’s drawing people to the site?

Besides TV listings, celebrity videos and an online video guide, he has encouraged TVGuide.com editors to become experts in online communities, such as Facebook and TV show fan sites. When editors join and moderate such groups, they often can provide exclusive content like video interviews with TV stars. TVGuide also is reaching out to fan sites, such as those for “One Tree Hill,” “Gossip Girl” and “Heroes,” which will embed TVGuide videos.

That helps TVGuide’s Web traffic, because the site returns higher in searches via its community outreach to other sites, Mr. Greenberg said. Original video streams on TVGuide.com have grown more than 400% year-over-year because of this strategy.

Here’s an example of a TVGuide.com video embedded in a “Heroes” fan site. About 10% of the total plays for this video came from the “Heroes” fan site, which helps drive attention and traffic back to the TVGuide.com site.