Archive for September, 2007

Another reason to hate DRM: Virgin Digital to close

virgin digital closingIt’s a gamble we all take when we sign up for a digital music service: Will it still be around in a year or two?

The latest digital music store to go belly up is Virgin Digital, which its owner, Virgin, is in the process of shutting down in the US and UK. Once the store goes dark Oct. 19, customers will not be able to play their songs due to digital rights management (DRM) limitations.

Continue reading » lands Rocketboom – video overlay ads are in lands Rocketboom — video overlay ads are inVideo platform announced today that the company will now host and serve past and future episodes of the long-running video podcast Rocketboom, as well as sell advertising on the show.

Talking up the partnership on the company’s official blog, CEO Mike Hudack, not only claimed that watching an early episode of Rocketboom was, in part, the inspiration behind starting — but also that, following specific demands from the show’s co-creator and producer, Andrew Baron, the company has pioneered Flash-like overlay ads that run in QuickTime. “We believe it’s the first of its kind”, writes Hudack. The result is that versions of the show that are created for desktop video players — including, and most importantly, iTunes, as well as the excellent Miro — will be able to feature the same interactive overlay ads found on their Flash equivalents. The first of the new overlays is for Comedy Central’s Sarah Silverman show.

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Ad-funded mobile network goes live in the UK

Ad-funded mobile network goes live in the UKWould you welcome spam onto your mobile phone in return for free text messages and voice minutes? Blyk, a new mobile network for 16 to 24 year olds which launched in the UK today, believes that the answer is yes.

The idea behind the virtual network operator (infrastructure is provided by France Telecom’s Orange) is to match brands to users, through targeted advertising in the form of multimedia messages (MMS). Up to six messages will be sent per-day, with users rewarded with 43 minutes of voice calls and 217 text messages per-month, after which they can pay to “top up” their SIM card for more minutes and texts. Stay within the “free” limits, and thanks to advertising, you’ll never have to pay a mobile phone bill again.

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Weekly wrapup, 17 – 21 September 2007

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Top digital lifestyle news

This week’s news was dominated by announcements from the major U.S. televisions networks, relating to their developing Internet TV strategies. CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves talked up the company’s relationship with Apple’s iTunes Store; NBC announced that they will be launching a new TV catchup service called “NBC Direct” which will enable users to download and view some of the network’s more popular shows, free of charge, for up to one week after broadcast; ABC has begun streaming some of its most popular shows on Time Warner-owned AOL; and Fox are offering free downloads of season premieres of seven of its shows through iTunes.

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Fox to offer free show premieres on iTunes

Fox to offer free show premieres on iTunesMore Internet TV action this week from one of the major networks. The LA Times reports that, as of today, Fox Broadcasting is giving away free downloads of season premiere episodes of seven its shows on the U.S. version of the iTunes Store.

Only recently, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves said that he viewed iTunes “as much as a promotional vehicle… as a financial vehicle”. It seems that Fox may have a similar opinion.

From the LA Times:

The Fox-Apple deal is designed to expose iPod users to the upcoming season of new and returning prime-time shows. Executives with the News Corp.-owned network hope that free downloads of such shows as “Prison Break,” “Bones,” “American Dad” and “K-Ville” will entice viewers to watch later installments on TV or pay to download them from the iTunes store.

I recently wrote that such moves by the major networks provided evidence of a new strategy in which syndication and getting content onto as many different online platforms as possible was replacing central distribution.

However, Tim Hanlon, a consultant quoted in the Times piece, puts it even better:

“What we are seeing is a rather messy and inelegant fumbling into the future of video distribution.”

Messy, inelegant and fumbling. Perfect.

Burns to release new movie exclusively on iTunes

purple violetsEd Burns, the actor, writer, director, and now comic book author, considers his best film to be a small, talky, comedy/drama that has “absolutely no audience” theatrically but just might find its home elsewhere — on iTunes.

“We got a couple of half-assed theatrical offers,” said Burns, who was interviewed by Premium Hollywood about the film “Purple Violets.” With his last few movies Burns took the theatrical route and was disappointed that they were shown in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco but not elsewhere.

With “Purple Violets”, Burns is showing the movie at film festivals but releasing it “theatrically” through iTunes.

“So, we’re gambling,” Burns said, who is best known as an actor in “Saving Private Ryan”, “Confidence”, and “Life or Something Like It” and as a writer-director in “The Brothers McMullen.”

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ABC streaming shows on AOL

ABC streaming shows on AOLIt’s fascinating watching the major U.S. television networks fine-tune their Internet TV strategies, in an ongoing attempt to find their place in the digital world. The latest announcement comes from Disney-owned ABC, who, as of today, will be syndicating a number of their prime time shows on Time Warner’s AOL Video property (WSJ).

ABC shows, such as Lost and Ugly Betty, will be made available for streaming — fee of charge — the day after broadcast, with up to four episodes from a series on offer at any one time. Ad-revenue will be split between ABC and Time Warner, in addition to a share going to ABC’s local television affiliates, with the amount determined through the use of geo-targeted advertising.

In keeping with traditional territorial distribution, AOL’s ABC offering will be available to U.S. Internet users only.

We’re clearing moving into a phase where the television networks are beginning to embrace a strategy in which they’re abandoning central online distribution and embracing syndication, and as a result are willing to experiment with getting their content onto as many platforms as possible, both ad-supported (Joost, AOL etc) and paid-for offerings (e.g. iTunes, UnBox, XBox Live).

Also see: 11 video download stores and Internet streaming: five U.S. television networks compared

NBC to launch TV catchup service

NBCNBC have announced that they will be launching a new TV catchup service called “NBC Direct” which will enable users to download and view some of the network’s more popular shows — free of charge — for up to one week after broadcast (after which downloads will expire, similar to catchup services offered by the main UK television networks).

“NBC Direct” will begin by offering episodes of “Heroes,” “The Office,” “Life,” “Bionic Woman,” “30 Rock,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Users will be given the option to subscribe to a show, so that the latest episode is automatically downloaded.

The U.S.-only service is planned to roll out as a Beta in October and will require a PC running Windows, with future versions adding support for Macs and various portable devices. Other features in the pipeline include p2p-based distribution and  purchase-to-own and rental options which will offer higher quality downloads.

As NewTeeVee notes, where does “NBC Direct” leave Hulu, NBC and News Corp.’s joint Internet TV venture?

Assemble your highlight reel on Veoh's NCAA Football channel

veohHighlights of hard hits, game-winning plays, and bloopers are always popular on the evening’s sports cast, but they’re assembled by production crews at TV stations and networks. You’re left sitting on the couch, remote control in hand.

Now thanks to a partnership between Veoh, the NCAA, and Collegiate Images LLC, you can assemble your own highlight reels of the week’s football games and share them with friends and fans across the US. You can even embed highlights in MySpace and Facebook profiles and on your Website or blog.

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CBS: "We like our relationship with iTunes"

CBS: “We like our relationship with iTunes”NBC Universal cancels its contract to sell television shows through iTunes, claiming a dispute over flexible pricing. News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin echoes those sentiments and goes on record to predict “prickly” negotiations with Apple in the future. And yesterday, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves told attendees gathered at the Merrill Lynch investor conference: “We like our relationship with iTunes… we’re sort of staying out of the battle.”

So what gives? One word. Hulu.

That’s Hulu, the soon-be-launched joint online video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.

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