Digital

Aereo CEO Explains Why the Service Should Not Be Considered a Threat to Broadcasters

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia has been interviewed by SNL Kagan, and explains how he came up with the idea for the service, and why broadcasters should not consider Aereo a threat.

Deborah Yao of SNL Kagan introduces the interview by writing, "Aereo is shaking up the broadcast TV industry with a service that streams live television through the Internet to smartphones, tablets and other devices for consumers.

"Broadcasters were so upset that the four largest networks sued Aereo for copyright infringement weeks before its service even launched. But on Aereo's side are some big guns as well, notably Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

"Aereo is a disruptor on several fronts. Since it does not pay fees to broadcasters to reroute over-the-air TV signals to consumers, networks are concerned that it could interrupt the retransmission fee system. Aereo also appeals to cord-cutters by giving consumers one more tool to assemble their own customized à la carte offerings."

Some excerpts from the interview with Kanojia:

SNL Kagan: The main thing is broadcasters are afraid of a disruption in the retransmission fee system or worse.

Chet Kanojia: We're not an MVPD, we're not subject to retrans and also we don't have the benefits of program access. … For them to sit there and say Aereo can cause mass cord-cutting when Aereo cannot get programming like HBO, like ESPN, like Turner [Broadcasting System Inc.] … where are the antennas for that segment of population that has already concluded they don't want the cable for it or they never took it?

This is the same argument they used for VCRs, [that it will cause] the death of the industry, etc., and of course they make billions of dollars on home video. So to sit there presumptively and say that a technology that is intended for a niche is going to somehow destroy this whole industry is absolute ludicrousness.

On the contrary, what Aereo is doing is giving new users access to live [TV, and] that's just more eyeballs. … There's more opportunity for everyone.

SNL Kagan: Do you think you will prevail all the way based on Cablevision's legal victory in the network DVR case?

Kanojia: It's not just Aereo that is [banking] on the strength of Cablevision [Systems Corp.] Pretty much every cloud technology that's coming out in the content realm is taking advantage of that precedent. Companies like ours, innovative new companies that come in, rely on those various strong precedents to say, "OK, courts said X, so now we can invest." We didn't go around and create something foolish. … We studied it carefully and created something that is highly compliant.

Can you say a DVR cannot play back a live program? That's really what they're asking [the court] to do. What's the logic in that?

SNL Kagan also asked Kanojia, "How did you get the idea for Aereo?"

Kanojia answered, "I started a company prior to this, and in 2008 I sold it to Microsoft Corp. That company had pioneered viewership measurement on cable TV. All the major cable companies were our clients. We pioneered how to collect viewership data second by second in real time from millions of homes. As we looked at the data, it was sort of obvious that 80% of the people only watched seven or eight channels, and 27% of multichannel homes only watched broadcast. The lightbulb sort of went on: 'Look, there's a population of people out there that is using Netflix and Google and iTunes, etc., for parts of different things. The only thing missing in the online experience is this element of live broadcast.' "

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NBC's Olympic Ad Sales Set Record

NBCUniversal reported today that it has reached a milestone in its efforts to sell advertising time for the upcoming London Olympics. Sales have topped $1 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter, already surpassing the network’s total sales for the 2008 Olympics.

“Sold across its six television networks (NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo and Bravo), its streaming website NBCOlympics.com, and mobile apps, it marks a record haul for Olympic broadcasts, and is $150 million more than NBCUniversal took in during the entirety of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing,” the story reports.

Seth Winter, executive VP of sales and sales marketing for NBC Sports Group, said in a statement: "This feat is a testimony to the quality of Olympic programming and the unparalleled way NBCU presents, produces and covers the Games. It also demonstrates the power of the Olympics. No other property has such as diverse group of sponsors, who can target the broadest range of demographic and psychographic audiences. We are not done yet and will continue to sell during the Games."

Despite the cheery announcement, insiders say NBCU will lose about $200 million on the 2012 Olympics. “It is, in large part, being used as a platform to relaunch its new ‘Today’ show team, with co-host Savannah Guthrie, as well as its new primetime lineup, which could use some major assistance in the wake of its cellar-dwelling 2011-2012 season,” THR reports.

NBC will present two pilots commercial-free during the Games, the story notes: the Matthew Perry vehicle “Go On,” and “Animal Hospital.” Additionally, J.J. Abrams’ futuristic drama “Revolution” will have a six-minute preview during the coverage, as previously reported.

The report adds: “Among the buyers is President Obama's re-election campaign, with $6.5 million in ads secured already. On the flip side, GOP rival Mitt Romney's campaign has yet to purchase an Olympic-set ad.”

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Newsweek Doing Spin Control After Barry Diller Comment Fuels Speculation the Publication Is Shutting Down Its Print Edition

Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown is busy putting out fires after a comment by IAC Chairman Barry Diller sparked rumors that Newsweek is on the verge of pulling the plug on its print edition.

The Huffington Post reports that the speculation stems from a reference by Diller during an earnings call today to a print-to-online transition.

“Diller was asked if he has considered making the publication online only,” the story reports. "’The transition to online from hard print will take place,’ he answered. ‘We’re examining all of our options. Our plan is that, by September, October and certainly, uh, firmly have a plan in place for next year. It’s going be different than it is this year.’"

The comment triggered online posts indicating that Diller planned to take the magazine digital by this fall.

“However, IAC spokesperson Justine Sacco later clarified the comments, telling multiple reporters that Web-only was merely a possibility that he was considering along with others, and that he had been referring to a general transition for the media industry,” the story reports.

“Later, Brown also issued a memo to staff clarifying the remarks. ‘Barry Diller would like to make it clear that he did not say on the earnings call as reported that Newsweek is going digital in September,’ she wrote. She added that his observation about the surge of digital was ‘industry-wide’ and ‘uncontroversial,” the report adds.

The report notes that Diller’s company took sole control of Newsweek this week after it was announced Monday that the Harman family, with which IAC previously shared 50-50 ownership of Newsweek and Daily Beast, announced that it is pulling much of its funding from the two publications.

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CW Rebrands, Rolls Out Sizzling New 'TV Now' Promo Spot -- Here It Is

The CW is freshening up its image, including rolling out a new “TV Now” tagline and unveiling a new promo clip, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The rebrand officially debuts in August, and will be featured on-air, online and on billboards.

The rebrand is tied to CW’s launch of new programming, including the fall shows “Arrow,” “Emily Owens, M.D.” and “Beauty and the Beast,” the story notes.

Said Rick Haskins, exec VP for marketing and digital programs for the youth-skewing network: "One of the things that we kept hearing was that this is a generation of people who say, 'I know what I want, when I want it, how I want it, and I want it now. We wanted this to be emblematic of who we are for them, and we are TV now."

The story adds: “The campaign, which plays on apt descriptors like ‘provocative’ and ‘seductive’ in association with CW series, will replace the net's years-old taglines: TV to ‘talk about,’ ‘blog about’ and ‘tweet about.’"

Here’s the clip:

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NBC Pulling Out All Stops to Get Futuristic New Drama Off the Ground

NBC is going all-out for the launch of a high-profile fall drama series, Deadline.com reports. In plans unveiled today at the Television Critics Association press tour, the network revealed it will leverage its Olympics coverage to boost the kickoff of the futuristic “Revolution.”

NBC will air a six-minute teaser for the series on Saturday, Aug. 4, following swimming competition that is expected to include U.S. superstar swimmer Michael Phelps, the story reports.

The network will also offer the pilots for “Revolution” and other new series for sampling on a variety of digital platforms for two weeks before the shows debut on the broadcast network, the piece notes. Programming will be presented online and on demand by cable, satellite and telco providers, via NBC.com, on the websites by NBC-owned and NBC-affiliated stations, and through Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Xbox, the story notes.

The piece adds: “Last month, NBC announced that two of its new fall comedies, ‘Go On’ and ‘Animal Practice,’ will get commercial-free previews during the Olympics -- the Matthew Perry-starrer ‘Go On’ on August 8 and the Justin Kirk-starring ‘Animal Practice’ on August 12, following the London Games’ closing ceremony.”

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Why the Muppets Severed Ties With Fast-Food Company

The Jim Henson Company, creator of the Muppets, has cut ties with a fast-food restaurant chain, The Huffington Post reports. The chain is Chick-fil-A, and the move comes in response to comments by Chick-fil-A’s CEO in which he publicly came out against gay marriage, the story reports.

The Jim Henson Company was in a partnership with Chick-fil-A to feature toys from the Jim Henson's Creature Shop in the food company's kid's meals from mid-July to Aug. 18.

On Friday, using its Facebook page, The Muppets organization issued a statement that said: "The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD."

Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy expressed opposition to gay marriage in a number of recent interviews, the publication notes. In one of those, he said: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

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Report: Twitter and NBC in Olympics Partnership

Twitter employees "will spend 20 hours a day to help corral millions of Twitter messages from Olympic athletes, their families, fans and NBC television personalities into a single page on Twitter.com," reports The Wall St. Journal, adding, "Twitter's Olympics hub, part of a partnership between the San Francisco company and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal that will be announced as early as Monday [July 24, 2012], is one of the first times Twitter will serve as an official narrator for a live event. NBC will tout the website with on-air promotions and links to athlete interviews or video clips."  [Note: the WSJ is behind a firewall and may ask you to pay to see its story.]

The story continues, "With the partnership, Twitter hopes to use the Olympics as a launch pad into a more sustainable business....[E]xecutives want the six-year-old service to find a larger audience, especially amid doubts about Twitter's ability to become a serious money maker."

The article adds, "NBC said no money is changing hands in its Twitter partnership and that it won't share in revenue from ads that Twitter is selling to Olympics sponsors for its Games website. Brands such as General Electric Co.and Procter & Gamble Co already have bought ads on Twitter to promote their association with the Olympics."

 

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Warner Bros. Pulls Trailer From 'Dark Knight Rises' Screenings -- Clip Includes Armed Assault on Movie Theater

Warner Bros. has confirmed that it has pulled the trailer for an upcoming action film from screenings of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in the wake of the shooting rampage today in Aurora, Colo., E! News reports.

The trailer for the movie “Gangster Squad” hits too close to home, depicting a scene in which a number of armed attackers open fire in a movie theater. As reported earlier, a heavily armed gunman opened fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” early today, killing at least 12 people.

Efforts to find the "Gangster Squad" trailer online gave the impression that the company has been removing it from the Web wherever possible.

“Gangster Squad,” starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone, focuses on LAPD efforts to keep the Mafia out of L.A. in the 1940s and 1950s.

“The clip shows those inside the theater panicking and screaming as machine guns are shot,” the story reports.

“Contrary to some reports, however, Warners tells E! News that the ‘Gangster Squad’ clip did not run before the packed midnight ‘Dark Knight Rises’ showing in Aurora before the massacre,” the report adds.

In another development, the report notes that Warner Bros. canceled today’s Paris premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The company also released a statement saying the studio and the filmmakers are "deeply saddened to learn about this shocking Incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time."

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Legendary 'Star Trek' Actor Sounds Off About Emmy Snub for Cult Show

An actor known for his iconic role on the original "Star Trek" series is upset at what he sees as a snub for a cult TV show in the Emmy nominations, TVLine.com reports.

The Emmy nominations came out yesterday, as we reported previously, and they didn’t show any love to “Fringe.” The Fox series received no nominations, and that didn’t sit well with Leonard Nimoy, who has appeared as William Bell, an associate of Dr. Walter Bishop's, on the series.

"No Emmy nomination for 'Fringe.' Ridiculous,” Nimoy wrote on Twitter. “So much talent. So much hard work. So much imagination.”

Nimoy, known for playing Spock on the original “Star Trek” series and in a number of “Star Trek” movies, added that fans of "Fringe" and other sci-fi shows shouldn't be surprised, noting, "Emmy has given short shrift to 'Star Trek,'” the story says.

Click here to see a full list of this year’s Emmy nominations.

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Viacom and DirecTV Resolve Dispute

DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers will again have access to Viacom’s 17 channels after the satellite company and the cable programmer settled their dispute, USA Today reports.

DirecTV said in a news release that Viacom “has returned all affected networks,” according to the story. Viacom reported today at 6 a.m. ET that its cable channels “will return to DirecTV’s channel lineup immediately.”

Terms of the agreement between the two companies were not revealed.

The report notes: “Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.

“A day later, Viacom also shut off access to full-length episodes on its own websites such as MTV.com and ComedyCentral.com to all visitors, even those who had no stake in the dispute. That was apparently in response to DirecTV telling its U.S. subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV.”

Viacom this week restored Web access to new episodes of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” apparently in response to viewer frustration.

“As part of the new long-term deal, DirecTV Group subscribers will also be able to see Viacom shows on tablets, laptops and other devices using DirecTV's Everywhere platform,” the story reports.

Even with the two companies coming to terms, DirecTV Executive VP of Content Strategy and Development Derek Chang let it be known that he wasn’t happy about what had taken place. In a statement, Chang said: "The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won't get them a better deal."

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