Archive for April, 2008

Warner Brothers to release movies for VOD systems at the same time they release physical DVDs

warner brothers logoI missed seeing the movie “Juno” in theaters, so when it was released for sale through iTunes I figured I would rent it first, then if it was as good as everybody said it was maybe I’d buy it.

The wife and I settled in front of the TV, I fired up the Apple TV, navigated to movies and found “Juno.” What the ?!?! “Juno” was available only for purchase, not for rental.

I forgot: Many movies for video-on-demand systems like the Apple TV have to wait a month or so for rentals to become available, allowing first for the sale of DVDs and rentals of the “physical” disc through a Blockbuster or Netflix.

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive, said today that Warner Brothers studio will now release movies for video-on-demand systems on the same day as they are released on DVD.

“For consumers, this moves Hollywood closer to what most people want: The ability to get any movie, on any device, at any time,” notes Saul Hansell of The New York Times.

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Yay! Legal loophole allows Zattoo to expand UK channel lineup

Zattoo (see last100 review), which offers live streaming of existing ‘over-the-air’ and cable television channels, is deceptively disruptive.

Yay! Legal loophole allows Zattoo to expand UK channel lineupThe technology, peer-to-peer, significantly lowers the cost of delivering Internet TV, while a legal loophole has allowed the service to expand its UK offering, without formal licensing agreements. The company’s business model also occupies a somewhat grey area, whereby an advertisement is displayed for 5 seconds every time a user switches channel, meaning that, technically at least, Zattoo isn’t placing ads inside of third party content.

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Report: Blockbuster in talks to join Hollywood Video-On-Demand joint venture

“We’re exploring our options, so it’s not surprising there are rumors out there”, says a Blockbuster spokeswoman.

Report: Blockbuster in talks to join Viacom-led Video-On-Demand JVThe latest rumor, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, is that the company best known for its ‘bricks and mortar’ video rental business wants to join the recently announced Hollywood joint venture, led by Viacom, to create a new premium TV channel and Video-On-Demand (VOD) service. The other existing partners are Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate.

In return for investing, Blockbuster would get digital rights to the new channel’s programming, “people familiar with the situation” told the WSJ.

Blockbuster is an obvious possible partner. It used to be owned by Viacom, whose executives know its business well. Blockbuster also has been casting its net wide for new partners as it attempts to spruce up its video-rental business model with new digital ventures. Last year, it acquired Internet movie provider Movielink to offer video-download services to customers, and it has focused on forging exclusive content deals for its various services.

Ironically, the Viacom-led joint venture is already being compared negatively to the original Movielink service, which started life in 2002 as a joint venture between Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and MGM, but failed to resonate with users. Last August Movielink was acquired by Blockbuster.

The WB is reborn as an online video site offering original programming and "reruns"

wb returnsWow. A TV exec gets it.

“My 20-year-old daughter and her friends are watching ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Pushing Daisies,’ but not on television,” said the TV exec, Bruce Rosenblum. “They’re watching on laptops and cellphones. Here’s the interesting part — to them, that is television.” (via New York Times)

Rosenblum is the president of the Warner television group, which is bringing back The WB brand not as a television network but an online video site, sort of an Internet network. The new WB ( will feature original short-form content developed by talent like director/producer McG (“Terminator 4” and the “Charlie’s Angels” movies) and writer/producer Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl”).

Additionally, the new WB will provide “reruns” of shows which ran on the network from its birth in 1995 to 2006, when it merged with the UPN network to form The CW for the 2006-2007 TV season.

WB shows carried over to the Internet will include ad-supported episodes of the “Gilmore Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Smallville.” Episodes of other Warner-produced shows like “Friends” and “The O.C.” will also be streamed online. It’s not known if shows produced by outside studios, like “Felicity” and “Dawson’s Creek,” will be featured.

“We do not view this as development for a platform other than the new media space,” Rosenblum told paidContent. “We view the new media space as a business within itself. If one of these series do happen to take off in a wildly successful fashion and if we really believe it can be compelling in another platform, of course we’ll try to take advantage of that.

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"31 Days of the Dragon", a super duper HP notebook giveaway

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been selected to be one of thirty one blogs taking part in a super duper giveaway courtesy of HP. Dubbed “The 31 Days of the Dragon“, beginning this week 31 blogs that cover gadgets and the digital lifestyle will start giving away a HP HDX Dragon 20inch notebook each, loaded with “stuff”, every day for 31 days. The HP HDX dragon is a seriously high-end entertainment machine, and not for the feint hearted, sporting a 20.1″ display, Intel Core 2 Extreme x9000, 4GB of Ram, Blu-Ray drive and lots more including a good few games and Blu-Ray movies to get you started (total retail price approx $5,000).

Please note: the competition is now closed.

The winner has been announced.

Each participating blog will be running its own contest (with total freedom to set to the rules) that will be open for seven days with the first contest kicking off this Friday (May 2nd).

More importantly, last100 will open its giveaway on the 16th of May (a Friday), with the winner announced one week later. You’ll have to wait till then to find out how you can enter, but rest assured it should be fun and relatively painless 🙂

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Five companies that sold customers down the DRM-filled river

Five companies that sold customers down the DRM-filled riverThe news last week that Microsoft plans to turn off its verification servers for its now-defunct MSN Music store, is a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls customers face whenever they purchase content crippled by Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Any digital store that sells or loans you content in a copy-protected format makes you a hostage to that store or format’s commercial success. The Microsoft example, however, is just one of many. Here are five cases where companies have sold their customers down the DRM-filled river.

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Weekly wrapup, 21-25 April 2008

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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Internet TV news

First off, Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate announced a joint venture to create a new premium TV channel and VOD service, to be rolled out in the fall of 2009. The project will include a strong online component, according to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman: “It will also meet the needs of varying distributors and take advantage of online distribution…innovative both in presenting the content and in distributing it.”

Netflix’s ambitious Internet TV plans are forging ahead, with three new set-top box partners to integrate the company’s ‘Watch Now’ video streaming service into their products by the end of the year. Who those partners are, Neflix won’t say, while speculation builds that Microsoft (XBox 360) could be one. However, we think it’s more likely that we’ll see Netflix compatibility added to a number of media streamers, such as those produced by D-Link and KISS (Linksys). The company has previously announced a partnership with Korean manufacturer LG Electronics to stream movies, TV shows, and other content to LG high-definition televisions or set-top boxes by the second half of 2008.

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Through its own mobile client, Skype is now available on about 50 cellphones

For the first time Skype is offering its own mobile client to make phone calls over its popular VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service.

The Skype client is an open beta (available here) and is expected to work with about 50 handsets from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. Other phones may work if they support Java, the language the client is based on.

It will not work on the iPhone.

“This product is part of our goal to be on as many platforms as possible,” said Wilhelm Lundborg, product manager for Skype Business (via InfoWorld).

All features — chat, group chat, presence, SkypeIn, Skype-to-Skype and SkypeOut calls — work in the U.K., Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, and Estonia. Elsewhere, the data features and incoming Skype calls work, but the client does not allow outbound calls.

The client allows you to connect a cellphone to your Skype account. It uses cellphone minutes, but adds all your Skype contacts and gives you a mobile presence.

A “Skypephone” has been available by the U.K. carrier 3 since November.

Huh? Motorola rumored to be planning movie download service for its mobile devices

Note to Motorola: Forget about the movies. Concentrate on getting cool new phones on the market. Otherwise, the movies won’t matter.

According to UK magazine New Media Age (via MocoNews and Ars Technica), troubled Motorola is rumored to be planning a movie service for its mobile devices. So far, only Paramount has licensed content to Motorola, but the phone maker is supposedly working out deals with other studios.

There are few details: no name for the service, no pricing, no idea if movies are for rent or purchase or both, if there is any DRM in place (we suspect so), or an official release date. The service may be available by the end of May.

Users will not be able to download movies directly to their phones. They’ll have to download flicks first to their PCs and then sync, or “sideload”, the content to their mobile devices. This doesn’t sound very inventive to us.

In fact, it sounds downright weird, all things considered. Does Motorola really think that offering a movie service that’s a semi-hassle to manage will entice more people to buy their phones? Is this the way Motorola plans to erase that $1.2 billion operating loss last year, or get investors excited when the company splits its mobile division from the rest of the company?

Our advice: Worry about getting cool new phones on the market to compete with Nokia, Apple, Samsung, LG, and the highly-anticipated Google-powered Android phones. Otherwise, Motorola has bigger problems than the latest Hollywood releases.

Analysts: 3G iPhone to be announced June 9. Why should we care?

att 3gIn a completely shocking bit of news, Citi analysts Richard Gardner and Yeechang Lee wrote today that the 3G iPhone will be announced most likely on June 9, the first day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Isn’t that pretty much what every analyst and Apple fanboy blogger has been predicting, give or take a week?

And for the record, announced is different than available. Will the 3G iPhone be available for purchase in June?

Should we care?

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