Archive for October, 2008

NBC should give "Saturday Night Live" its own dedicated Web site

No matter what you think of “Saturday Night Live,” NBC’s late-night comedy program deserves its own dedicated Web site.

Comedy Central has given Web sites to “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “South Park,” so why shouldn’t one of the longest-running, seminal TV shows have its own dedicated site?

“Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers said in a podcast with ESPN’s Bill Simmons late last week that NBC was working on an “SNL” site. Meyers said plans for the site have gained momentum with the recent success of the hilarious Tina Fey-Sarah Palin clips on Hulu and [See Broadcasting & Cable report.]

Among ideas being discussed, Meyers said the site would include a mix of sketches from the “SNL” library and dress rehearsals that never aired. The site might also feature original comedy, cast member Web pages, their “Top 10” sketches of all time, as well as the favorite moments from that week’s guest host.

During a hotly contested political race, like the one Barack Obama and John McCain are currently embroiled in, it makes sense for “SNL” to have its own Web site. But what about non-political seasons? As Rafat Ali notes at, “My two cents: SNL beyond the election skits still sucks, so stick to the knitting, don’t get into the rights-clearing quagmire, and keep pushing on Hulu and”

I agree that “SNL” has sucked for many, many years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t have its own dedicated site — especially in light of the success of “The Daily Show” and “South Park.”

Continue reading »

Hands-on: BBC iPlayer for Nokia N96

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the BBC’s TV catch-up service iPlayer (UK-only), which I regularly access on my laptop, cable television set-top box, and of course my trusty iPod touch. The problem with the latter version, however, is that it offers streaming only not downloads, which doesn’t sit well for a mobile device as it prohibits off-line access such as when traveling on a plane or train or anywhere without WiFi access. It isn’t the BBC’s fault but the fact that Apple doesn’t license the iPod and iPhone’s proprietary DRM solution – so-called FairPlay – to third-parties. DRM is a necessary evil, says the public broadcaster, in order to meet its obligations to copyright holders who require that programs only be made available for up to seven days after broadcast.

In contrast, the newly released version of iPlayer for Nokia’s latest flagship handset, the N96, doesn’t suffer the same problem, offering both streaming and downloads. Earlier this afternoon I got some hands-on time with iPlayer on the Nokia N96.

Continue reading »

YouTube adds select TV shows from CBS; takes aim at Hulu for long-form video content

We wouldn’t call YouTube a sleeping giant necessarily, but when it comes to long-form video the world’s dominant video-sharing site certainly seems to be cat-napping.

Other sites such as Hulu, the joint venture between Fox and NBC, have been getting much of the long-form video attention and name recognition, whereas YouTube remains known for short-form content that lasts 10 minutes or less.

Google, YouTube’s parent, is seeking to change this as it has added select full-length content from CBS in an attempt to take on Hulu and attract other network content to YouTube. [YouTube blog]

Available full-length shows include 20- to 48-minute episodes from CBS’s past and present lineup, including “Star Trek,” “MacGyver,” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” The season premiers of “Dexter” and “Californication” and current episodes of “Young and Restless” will also be shown on YouTube.

Continue reading »

First look: YouTube's e-commerce leaves lots of room for improvement

In an effort to make money from YouTube, Google introduced this week an e-commerce component to the popular video-sharing site that allows users to click buttons to buy music, video, and games from iTunes or Amazon.

The idea has merit, but its execution — at least in this early stage — is in need of improvement. It’s not unlike other Google initial-release products.

Here’s how it works: The Good

Say you’re messing around on YouTube and you watch a video from an artist you like — Katy Perry or Raphael Saadiq. Just underneath the video, below the ratings and the sharing and social network links, there are two buttons to download the song or video from Amazon’s MP3 store or iTunes.

Clicking on either one takes  you directly to the song at either store. The purchase process is exactly what you’re used to at AmazonMP3 or iTunes.

“If you like the song,  you don’t need to leave Google or leave the site to buy it,” Bakari Brock, business affairs counsel at  YouTube, told The New York Times. [See also Advertising Age]

That’s not exactly true. Clicking on Amazon, of course, takes you to AmazonMP3, while clicking on iTunes takes you to, naturally, iTunes. But you still leave YouTube, although the page you were viewing remains intact.

Continue reading »

Pay-as-you-go Internet TV service Jalipo sent to the deadpool

Jalipo, the Internet TV service that charged on a minute by minute pay-as-you-go basis, has entered the deadpool. The browser-based offering, which delivered both on-demand and live streaming, was purchased by the ROK Entertainment Group earlier this year at a valuation of $16.8 million. But after just five months, its new owners appear to have had a change of heart. Blaming the current economic climate, ROK has decided to shut down the service and reportedly lay off its 30 London-based employees.

“We had high hopes for Jalipo when we acquired the business earlier this year, but it did not gain the traction we were expecting,” ROK marketing director Bruce Renny told Broadband TV News.

“Without significant and unplanned additional investment, we believe it would not grow significantly and, given the current economic climate, we have taken the decision to concentrate our resources and efforts on promoting our core revenue-generating mobile entertainment businesses whilst saving the costs associated with Jalipo.”

While the current economic downturn will likely make all companies re-evaluate their future spending plans, ROK’s decision to shutdown Jalipo probably has more to do with the service’s broken business model.

Continue reading »

RWW Live: Mobile App Development – phones getting smarter, pipes getting dumber

After a month-long hiatus, I made a return appearance on ReadWriteTalk’s fortnightly podcast RWW Live hosted by Sean Ammirati. In this latest episode we focused on mobile app development and platforms, and joining regular contributors Richard MacManus and Marshall Kirkpatrick (ReadWriteWeb), along with Sean and myself, were special guests Loke Uei Tan, Tech Product Manager from Windows Mobile, Tom Conrad, CTO of Pandora, and Ben Strackany from mobile development company DevelopmentNow.

What ensued was a lively conversation about the challenge of building mobile apps based on the number of  different devices and platforms, and that’s before you factor in the carriers. From a technical point of view, a lack of a standard platform poses a real challenge, not dissimilar to the early days of developing for the web, or as one of our guests suggested, writing software for the Mac back in 1984!

Continue reading »

UK pop/rock stars join Featured Artists Coalition to put pressure for change on music industry

It’s certainly a noble notion — and here’s to the success of the Featured Artists’ Coalition, even if it does appear to be a longshot.

Dozens of UK pop and rock stars, including Radiohead, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Kate Nash, Gang of Four, and The Verve, are among the acts who have signed on to a new music-industry pressure group, the Featured Artists’ Coalition [via the BBC and others].

As the music industry continues to shuffle, kicking and screaming, into the digital age, the FAC seeks to protect the artists’ rights over their own music, in addition to having a greater say in how their songs are sold and getting a bigger slice of the profits.

Continue reading »

Sony continues to plug along, introducing promising third-generation eBook reader

Sony announced its third-generation electronic book reader this week at the same time it appears that the iPhone has overtaken the Kindle as the industry’s No. 1 reader.

Stanza, a book-reading application available through Apple’s App Store, has been downloaded more than 395,000 times and continues to be installed at an average rate of 5,000 copies a day, according its developer Lexcycle [via Forbes].

Forbes notes than Citigroup has estimated that Amazon will sell around 380,000 Kindles in 2008, making the iPhone — at least in loosely-defined terms — the No. 1 eBook device. Titles available for Stanza are mostly public domain, not best-sellers.

Sony, which entered the eBook market long before Amazon or Apple (through third-party developers), isn’t expected to sell nearly as many Readers as Kindles or approach as many users as Stanza on the iPhone. Even so, with its third-generation Reader Sony continues to plug along and, in nearly every respect, has the best eBook device.

Without actually seeing and using the device, it’s hard to say if the new Sony Reader will live up to its specs and is worth $400, but the improvements seem substantial with a few exceptions.

Continue reading »

Nokia launches 5800 XpressMusic touchscreen phone (formally known as the "Tube")

At long last, Nokia has taken the wraps off its much anticipated entrance into the touchscreen smartphone space, post-iPhone of course.

The new device – dubbed 5800 XpressMusic – is, as the name suggests, being pitched as a music (and video) centric phone, and is to be the second handset to support the company’s all-you-can-eat music subscription service, Comes With Music, which also officially launched today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nokia is also emphasizing the 5800’s media production and sharing capabilities, two areas where the company feels it competes strongly against Apple, especially since the iPhone lacks video recording functionality. On that note, the 5800 features a 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and is capable of 30 frames-per-second video playback and recording.

There’s also the now standard support for Nokia’s ‘Share on Ovi’ web service, which along with the ability to upload to Nokia’s own media sharing site, also supports uploading to Flickr and Facebook. Additionally, music play-lists can be shared via Bluetooth, although this feature will likely only be of real use to Comes With Music subscribers.

Continue reading »

Taking aim at Apple and Sony, Nintendo announces new DSi portable media device

Meet the Nintendo DSi.

As expected, Nintendo announced its latest portable gaming device, dubbed the DSi, at its fall press conference. The DSi is not a game-only device, however, as it includes browsing capabilities, Wi-Fi, a 3-megapixel camera, and other enhancements that bring it more in line with Apple’s iPod Touch and iPhone and Sony’s PlayStation Portable products. In fact, the DSi is not considered a replacement for the current DS Lite line but a complement, or “third platform.”

The juicy DSi details, brought to us by the folks at Kotaku, include:

Continue reading »