Archive for July, 2008

Roundup: The most digital of all Olympic games is well underway

The 2008 Olympics are due to start in Beijing in seven days, five hours, and change, but the reporting and blogging surrounding the most digital of all Olympics is well underway.

Read on to learn more about youth and the digital Olympics and the possibility the Internet will break when billions of people worldwide access the Web to stream video and static content.

In just the past few days there have been announcements regarding schedules, video players, compatibility issues, even behind-the-scene looks at what it will take to produce 2,000 hours of live content for television consumption and 5,000 hours of streaming content for the Web.

If you start now, you just might finish in time for the start of the games on 08-08-08.

Using digital to appeal to youth

Reuters detailed the impact of the digital revolution on the 2008 Olympics, drawing the conclusion that streaming events and highlights over the Internet will attract younger viewers, who are not expected to watch the events live. The average age of people watching the 2004 Games in Athens was more than 40 years old, a statistic that’s not expected to change for the Beijing Games.

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LG's Netflix streaming Blu-ray player announced. What, no Wi-Fi?

We already knew that Netflix was working with LG Electronics to integrate its Watch Now video streaming service into some juicy new hardware. And today the two companies announced what that hardware will be.

Available this fall, the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, in addition to being able to play high definition Blu-ray discs and upscale standard DVDs, will give Netflix subscribers the option of streaming any of the 12,000 movies and TV episodes available on Watch Now to their TVs at no additional cost.

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Report: Dell to introduce (new and improved!) MP3 player

The ingredients for Dell’s forthcoming MP3 player look yummy. A sub-$100 price point. Wi-Fi. Access to various online music stores. Maybe even DRM-free.

But will anybody care? Seriously. Haven’t people who want a portable digital music player settled on an iPod or one of its competitors from SanDisk or Microsoft?

With Apple owning more than 70 percent of the MP3 player market in North America, is the remaining 20-something percent incentive enough for Dell to want to re-enter the fray after failing with its first line of digital music players?

May the Dell DJs (2003-2006) rest in peace.

Apparently Dell thinks so. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported today that computer maker Dell will re-enter the market with a new player as early as September. Dell thinks it has a chance this time because, aside from a sub-$100 price point and Wi-Fi access to content, it has a new and improved strategy!

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"Just like your local record store", Universal launches Lost Tunes

“Think of us as your small local record store, run by a team dedicated to helping you find the very best music”, reads the welcome page of Universal Music’s new music download store.

Launched first in the UK, with international versions of the site expected in the coming months, Lost Tunes is attempting to tap into a bygone era where music fans regularly scoped out local record stores looking for rare gems. “Lost Tunes comes with a secret stash of records you can’t find anywhere else online” the welcome blurb boasts. “Anywhere else online” being an indirect reference to Apple’s iTunes, hence Universal’s choice of name.

To that end, tracks are offered as mp3s, encoded at the higher bitrate of 320kpbs, and compatible with almost any digital music player, including iPods.

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Blinkx launches universal Remote for Internet TV catch-up services in the UK

As broadcasters continue to roll out their own Internet TV catch-up services, what’s required is an easy way for viewers to find and be alerted to the availability of their favourite TV shows wherever they may be offered online. Enter blinkx “Remote”, a new service from the company behind the video search engine of the same name, which offers UK viewers a single destination to browse, search and access online video content offered by all of the major TV channels including those from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Five.

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ESPN to launch Action Sports Network online in fall

Fans of action sports such as surfing, skateboarding, motocross, and snowboarding, your time has come. ESPN will unveil a new digital strategy today that’s aimed at you, not the middle-age male sports fan.

ESPN will launch in the fall the ESPN Action Sports Network, which will encompass a bunch of Internet sites dedicated to a specific “action sport.” The action sports network will offer coverage of events that are not carried on mainstream television, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“We felt like we were under-delivering on a year-round basis,” Dave Finger, director of action sports for ESPN Digital Media, told the LAT. “We felt like we were missing out on covering action sports with the same voice and authority that we bring to stick and ball.”

ESPN was the first mainstream media outlet to embrace “anti-establishment” athletes and their fans with the creation of the Extreme Games in 1995, which later became the X Games. The X Games, however, are held only twice-yearly, while the non-team, non-traditional sports included in the X Games are often “played” year-round.

ESPN’s extreme sports Web site,, will now become a part of the ESPN Action Sports Network.

It’s a great move by ESPN. Television will continue to be dominated by the big four sports — football, baseball, basketball, and hockey — and time slots are limited for other sports like skateboarding, snowboarding, and motocross.

Online, however, ESPN can cater to every sport with exclusive video and in-depth content with no time or space limitations. ESPN will expand original digital programming like “Guerilla Cam”, which takes fans behind the scenes at events, and the also will invite fans to upload and share their own videos in an attempt to build community around each sport.

Study: For first time, a significant number of people watch prime-time shows online, not on TV

Now these are some sexy — and significant — numbers:

According to a survey released today by Integrated Media Measurement Inc., more than 20 percent of people studied watch some amount of prime-time, episodic programming online.

Within that group of online viewers, 50 percent are watching programs as they become available and are starting to use the computer as a substitute for a television.

The other 50 percent use the Web to watch programming they’ve missed or to re-watch episodes they have already seen.

All of which means . . .

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In a smart move Netflix rules out pay-per-view video service

While Netflix’s video streaming service only offers 10,000 movies and TV episodes compared to the 100,000 titles available via DVD, the company’s all-you-can-eat subscription strategy is the right one, and differentiates it from an increasingly crowded market of pay-per-view offerings. A market which, CEO Reed Hastings says, the company has no plans to get into.

“We don’t plan to enter the pay-per-view segment, where Apple, Amazon, Sony and others focus”, Reed told shareholders and analysts during Friday’s second-quarter earnings call. He also ruled out an ad-supported offering too, where, for example, Hulu and YouTube compete.

“Both of those segments will likely be substantial, but our subscription segment will also be large and will provide Netflix plenty of room for growth”, says Reed.

See also: Netflix is finally coming to Xbox 360, which is getting a dashboard makeover and Mii-like avatars

The problem with the majority of pay-per-view online video services, both rental and to-own, is that they remain prohibitively expensive, often costing equal to a physical DVD, and in some cases more. In comparison, Netflix is offering streaming at no extra charge to members who are already on a high enough DVD tariff, and in the longer term is protecting the subscription model which it helped pioneer.

NFL will stream select live games over Web for first time

Good news for football fans. The NFL is loosing up, but just a bit.

The National Football Leauge — notoriously protective of its game action — will stream 17 prime-time, regular-season games this year on and, SportsBusiness Journal reported today. It will be the first time that live action NFL games will be broadly streamed in the U.S.

The streaming begins Sept. 4 in a Thursday game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants, with the online video consisting of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast feed. Announcers Al Michaels and John Madden will make the call. Viewers will be able to choose from four live camera angles and review updated stats in real time.

It is expected that NBC’s ads will be stripped out of the stream and replaced with new online ads sold by the NFL and NBC,who will share in the new revenue.

The announcement was not openly cheered by the NFL’s other television partners, who, combined, provide $3.7 billion a year in broadcast rights revenue — making the NFL America’s most valuable television property.

Over-the-air networks Fox and CBS and the cable network ESPN also broadcast several games a week, but NBC airs only one on Sunday nights (totaling 17). Because NBC broadcasts only one game, NFL executives told SportsBusiness Journal that it was the best fit for a single-year experiment.

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Weekly wrapup, 21-25 July 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

How big of an impact is Internet-delivered video making in consumer living rooms?

Dan Rayburn, the EVP of, crunched the numbers this week and decided that the impact is not nearly as large as we think. “While it is good to see more content options coming to consumers, adding up all of the install numbers for these devices gives a stark picture of just how small the install base really is,” Rayburn wrote. “The market is still too fragmented, with too many different devices, all limited by a lack of premium content.”

Verizon bringing Internet TV to its set-top boxes

Another major player enters the PC to TV space. Verizon is currently beta testing web video on their set-top boxes. Unsurprisingly, the content looks like it will be mostly user-generated or that which has been created specifically for the web, and therefore won’t compete directly with the telco’s own video-on-demand offering. Initial “marketing partners” to include Veoh,,, and YouTube.

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