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

March 2009 Archives

Streamy Awards Have Strong Debut

March 31, 2009 7:00 AM

The first annual Streamy Awards drew about 1,200 attendees to its red-carpet awards show in Los Angeles this weekend. I’d say that’s a pretty impressive turnout for a Web awards show.

The Streamy Awards honor the best in Web programming, and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and “The Guild” won a lot of Streamy gold.

What I like about the Streamys is that they awards are voted on by members of the recently formed International Academy of Web Television, and I think that gives some credibility to the awards. They’re not just a popularity contest or an exercise in how many votes you can drive via Twitter. Here’s a video that the Fine Bros. made about how to win a Streamy Award.

HealthGuru Has Healthy Viewership Stats

March 25, 2009 11:24 AM

Online video health network HealthGuru.com is the fastest-growing health site on the Web for the last three months, according to comScore data shared with TelevisionWeek by HealthGuru.

The site also delivered more video views than unique visitors over the same time period, a healthy—ha ha, pun—stat for a site focusing on health videos. In February, HealthGuru.com drew more than 1.3 million unique visitors who watched more than 2 million videos on its site.

Online Chaos Is Creating Opportunity

March 23, 2009 10:46 AM

Here’s the problem with the online business: “Time has been diverted to social media pursuits that aren’t very monetizable,” said Ken Fadner, the publisher of MediaPost, during today’s OMMA Hollywood conference.

It’s one of the most insightful things I’ve heard at a conference recently.

Mr. Fadner added, “The Internet is chewing up everything in its path and not necessarily benefiting all sectors of the online world.”

Indeed, chaos is upon us.

But with chaos comes opportunity, said Cory Treffiletti, president and managing partner for media advisory firm Catalyst:SF, also at the conference. “We do our best work when the economy sucks,” he said. “The fact is we are in the biggest economic crisis and it is the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity to reinvent ourselves as we come out of the recession and are poised for growth.”

Exclusive Online Content Makes Sense for Creators

March 17, 2009 2:21 PM

In the age of digital distribution of media, content creators might want to consider offering some exclusive content online. That was the advice shared by musician Jonathan Coulton, who has become something of a Web star for releasing his music online without copyright protection on his own site, during a panel at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

 South by Southwest Festival in Austin

NETWORKING Where business gets done at South by Southwest—in the halls.

“The idea of exclusive content is not crazy,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense where if you are a member of the fan club, you get the CD. But be prepared for a lot of leakage and don’t worry about it, because there’s not a lot you can do about it.”

(Leakage doesn’t sound so pretty!)

But seriously, while Mr. Coulton’s advice was largely for musicians, I want to know if you think there is applicability to video content. What can video producers offer on an exclusive basis? Can anything even be exclusive anymore?

Music, Film Fans Invade SXSW

March 17, 2009 1:29 PM

The changing of the guard: it's the final day of the SXSW interactive festival, which means the music and film fans are showing up for their portion of the festival....

'Changing of the Guard'

The Tough Get Going at SXSW

March 17, 2009 1:28 PM

This year at SXSW, the Lego Lounge attracted actual kids, not just adults playing with kids' toys. The economy is forcing the real adults to conduct real business at the festival this time around.

Lego Lounge

Where the SXSW Action Is: Blogger Lounge

March 17, 2009 1:19 PM

Forget the press room. The real epicenter of information and the dispersal of it occurs in the packed Blogger Lounge at South by Southwest. Plus, the food's better there! Delicious pizza for lunch....

Blogger Lounge

SRO for Anderson at SXSW

March 17, 2009 1:19 PM

SXSW Lobby Outside Chris Anderson Panel

Is the long tail still relevant? Evidently it is at SXSW, where author Chris Anderson can still fill a room, and an overflow simulcast one too. Here's the shut door I didn't make it through.

How to Lure Speakers to a 10 a.m. SXSW Panel

March 17, 2009 11:49 AM

Girl Scout Cookies

South by Southwest is known for its parties, more than for its panels. So
hats off to Sarah Szalavitz, CEO of social design firm 7-Robot, for
bringing Girl Scout cookies for the audience at our 10 a.m. panel this
morning at South by Southwest Interactive.

SXSW: Assessing Attendance in Austin

March 16, 2009 3:08 PM

Before the South by Southwest festival kicked off late last week, conference organizers had predicted a 20% increase in attendance at the interactive portion of the festival. That’s the part of South by Southwest that attracts businesses, television networks, Web studios, Internet stars, agents and venture capitalists.

While the final attendance figures have not been released, and while I’m not convinced the show feels as big as it felt last year, I will say this: Everyone is here. Companies like Blip.tv, Boxee, Google, Microsoft, Next New Networks, Revision3, Digitas, PBS, CAA, ICM and all the successful (translation: money-making) Web stars are here.

Given all the slashed budgets, cutbacks and reports of lower attendance at industry events so far this year, my early report on SXSW is you can still find the people you need to talk to, interview and do business with here in Austin.

I’m betting that whether the show has a 0% or 20% increase in attendance, most attendees will walk away from this city with potential new deals in hand.

SXSW 2009: Brian Brushwood’s Trick

March 16, 2009 1:47 PM

Want to know how to get out of a speeding ticket? Carry a “get out of jail free” card in your wallet. That’s the advice of Brian Brushwood, Web star and host of the popular Internet show “Scam School.”

Monopoly Get Out Of Jail Free Card

I had the chance to interview him on behalf of PBS for the public broadcaster’s live streaming coverage of the South by Southwest Festival here in Austin. We discussed his panel, held earlier in the conference, on “how to scam your way out of anything.”

His advice to getting out of a speeding ticket is to somehow bring humor into the situation with the police officer. That can work because it can break the monotony of their day. That’s why Brian carries the orange “get out of jail free” card from the Monopoly game in his wallet.

At Google, ‘Failure’ Equals Learning

March 16, 2009 10:24 AM

You’ve probably heard about Google’s 80/20 rule. That’s the rule that says Google employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time each day creating and innovating. That mentality at the search giant has led to new product launches, Google has said. It’s also critical to the maintaining a spirit of innovation, something that’s kind of essential at any Internet company.

It’s also led to amusing decoration at Google campus, noted Irene Au, the company’s director of user experience during a panel session at South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin.

“You end up seeing crazy things on campus, whether it’s plastic flamingos wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo or wacky ideas for products,” she said. “Google is inherently chaotic by design and that is how we innovate. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”

At the end of the day though, do any of these new ideas become real and viable products? Not many. In fact, earlier this year Google shut down its businesses that sold radio space and print ad space. And its famous Google Video service never quite took off on its own, though some of that technology has been folded into YouTube.

But failures are good, Ms. Au emphasized on her panel.

“Everything is an act of learning for us. We don’t see failures as failures. We see them as learning experiences. If you are a toddler learning to walk and you stumble and fall, that’s not a failure–it’s a learning experience.”

Jimmy Fallon = 4,000 New Twitter Followers

March 16, 2009 10:22 AM

When Jimmy Fallon premiered his late night talk show earlier this month, some of his first guests included Web superstars Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht of “Diggnation” fame. Here at TVWeek, we always like to explore the crossover potential between Web and TV, so when I caught up with Mr. Albrecht at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, I asked him if his appearance with the late-night comedian had opened up any new opportunities for him.

Not yet, he said. “It’s not like ABC is calling and saying we need to get you on right now!” However, he did see a bump in Twitter followers–about 4,000 new ones. That brings him to about 57,000 now. Jimmy Fallon recently joined Twitter and he’s already amassed 330,000 followers.

I also asked Mr. Albrecht if TV still remains the big brass ring for him. Like most Web stars, he doesn’t plan to abandon the Web especially because of the fan interaction that’s possible online, but he continues to audition weekly for TV pilots on broadcast networks.

‘Dorm Life’ Builds Viewership via Social Media

March 12, 2009 7:00 AM

The second season of hit Web series “Dorm Life” is picking up a good head of steam so far. It has earned more than 600,000 views in just the first week, suggesting the second season could well outpace the first. The new season launched March 2.

Last year’s debut season amassed more than 5 million views last year for its mockumentary about life on a fictional college campus.

Carl’s Jr. is on board as the sponsor for the second season, which is carried on Hulu, Facebook and MySpace.

The creators are hoping to drive views in part by harnessing social media. The Twitter accounts for the characters have been extremely effective in generating an audience: When the characters Tweeted the new season to Twitter followers, 94% of followers linked to watch the show, said a spokesman for the show.

‘Co-Op’ Finds New Home on Revision3

March 11, 2009 3:02 PM

Online television studio Revision3 brought a new show into the fold, this time through the acquisition of video game and gaming culture show “Co-Op.” The show premiered on the Revision3 network this week and features hosts Ryan O’Donnell and Matt Chandronait, who had previously produced the show on their own from their living room.

This is good news for “Co-Op,” but I do wonder if there is room on the Internet for all these gaming shows? There are a lot of them, for sure.

But then again, one of the more popular gaming shows was on ManiaTV and that company shut down last week, so maybe there is room!

The creators seem to be, well, creative. To raise money for the show at one point, they set up a fan donation page, garnering about $1,7000 and three computers in one month, Revision3 said. The show attracts about 60,000 viewers each week.

Conehead Cat Feels Better After Game of Risk

March 10, 2009 10:28 AM

Admit it. When you’re feeling under the weather, the one thing that makes you feel better is a game of Risk. No? Well, maybe you’ve never played with a feline wearing an Elizabethan collar who moves the game pieces with her mouth.

That’s right – it’s time for another fabulous cat video!

‘Two and a Half Watchmen’

March 6, 2009 12:16 PM

What would happen if Dr. Manhattan and company met Charlie and Alan Harper and the rest of the crew? You’d have “Two and a Half Watchmen” then! Here’s your Friday fun video—a movie and TV mashup spoof from Take180.com.

'Epic Fu' Creators 'Hacking' Way Back to Next New

March 5, 2009 7:53 AM

Everything eventually comes full circle, at least in Web video, it seems. The “Epic Fu” team and Next New Networks are back together again.

Here’s how it all played out. Smashface Productions, creator of the Web series “Epic Fu,” started that show in 2006, partnered with online TV studio Next New Networks on it in 2007, then left Next New Networks for Revision3 last summer. Then Revision3 jettisoned “Epic Fu” from its lineup during a round of layoffs and show cancellations last fall. Now Smashface has paired up with Next New Networks again, this time for a new show.

Created by Smashface, “Hacking Hollywood” launched this week on Next New Networks' computer-themed network WePCtv, with sponsors ASUS and Intel on board. The weekly show looks at how the futuristic computer technologies seen on TV and in movies translate to the real world. The series will feature commentary from several popular Web hosts, including those behind shows like “Tiki Bar TV” and “Galacticast.”

Hearst-Argyle Taps KickApps to Localize Web Sites

March 4, 2009 7:00 AM

Local television stations are realizing their greatest success likely will lie in being, well, local. Duh.

But seriously, we have seen local broadcasters retrench and aim to turn their Web sites into more hyper-local beasts.

Along those lines, Hearst-Argyle TV partnered with social media platform provider KickApps to offer citizen journalism and social media tools on the 25 Hearst-Argyle TV owned Web sites, the companies announced today. The goal is to engage viewers more, which is always a good idea.

The new initiative, called “u local,” lets residents participate in discussions about the news topics most important to their community, comment and rate editorial content and upload their own photos.

Take a Look at StudioNow

March 3, 2009 11:56 AM

I’m keeping my eye on online video studio StudioNow, and you should, too, because this platform-creator-producer-distributor-network of videographers (c’mon people, can we come up with ONE word?) has landed some cool deals with brands to produce Web video for them.

StudioNow tells me it has signed deals to create videos for FordModels.tv, Simon & Schuster, Chronicle Books and Citysearch.

That follows the news today that StudioNow struck a partnership with The NewsMarket (www.thenewsmarket.com), a site and service that distributes video for corporate marketers. Under that agreement, the two companies will create a customized service to deliver video to the media and consumers.

The slew of deals StudioNow is landing is more evidence that brands are betting big on creating their own online video content this year.

The Next Twitter?

March 2, 2009 10:00 AM

A host of Web-sharing and social networking services are vying to be the next Twitter. That doesn’t mean they’re trying to supplant the online microblogging service; rather, they’re trying to capitalize on the interest Twitter has created in sharing information with others via the Web.

Storyz is the latest entrant. Launched last week, it’s a viral entertainment and marketing service for multimedia storytelling.

What does that mean? That means the service is trying to tap into our universal urge to tell stories and share them with others—sort of a more technological take on the time-honored traditions of the campfire and passing stories along.

The Australian company, which is backed by Motorola, lets users post text, photos and video for stories and then invite their friends to participate and add to the storytelling across the Web, social network or mobile phones. The service integrates with iPhones, mobile Web sites and the Google Android phone as well.

The company is talking to sponsors right now about developing branded entertainment contests to reward so-called “Storyzteller” for creativity and distribution in stories, for instance.

I’m not sure if this company is the one that’s going to take off and capture consumer interest. There are a lot of hurdles for any Web 2.0 company to be heard above the noise in this environment. But the site is worth checking out.