Daily Marauder



MySpace and Citysearch are jointly announcing a new MySpace property this morning called MySpace Local. The site combines Citysearch business listings (including address, photos, menus, videos, maps and hours of location) from a thousand cities with the MySpace community. The site is launching into private beta this week, with a general U.S. launch next month. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/31/myspace-citysearch-partner-to-create-myspace-local/ 3/31)

Click the image below for a demo of the site.  I dig the marriage of Citysearch rating’s style and social networking partner.  My ideal scenario (if I could configure my own universe) would be Yelp and Facebook in the study with the candlestick.


Disney, looking to extend its presence in the online video space, has announced a deal with YouTube that will put a wide range of its content on the popular Web site best known for user-generated videos. The deal includes ESPN sports highlights, ABC News updates and snippets from the company’s cable and broadcast shows. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (3/31) , The New York Times (3/30)

Netflix says it will raise the rental price of its Blu-ray discs about 20%, effective April 27, but that customers who rent standard-format DVDs will not be affected by the change. The company said the higher fee on Blu-ray movies would enable it to offer a wider variety of the high-definition discs. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (3/31) , The Wall Street Journal (3/31)

Facebook will soon have its third chief financial officer in less than two years, the company announced today via a leak to the Wall Street Journal. Gideon Yu, the man who came back from Dubai empty handed, is out. The hunt for his successor is starting now. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/31/facebook-sure-does-have-trouble-keeping-execs/ 3/31)


Techcrunch has confirmed that hi5, the third largest social network in the world, is laying off employees today. hi5’s VP of Marketing, Mike Trigg, wouldn’t say how many employees were being let go but Techcrunch received multiple independent tips that the social network laid off 50% of its staff. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/31/more-layoffs-hit-hi5/ 3/31)


U.S. teenagers, a bellwether customer for the record industry, bought 19% less music last year and instead turned to free alternatives like Pandora and MySpace, according to NPD Group. The music industry is “being challenged anew by slowing digital sales among teens.” (Iwantmedia 3/31, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=acDHi80XI3nQ 3/31)

Newspapers should be using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to engage their readers and boost online revenue, says a survey by Gartner. Readers must become “brand stewards.” Few newspapers allow users to “tweet” stories directly from their Web sites.

(Iwantmedia 3/31, http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/03/31/newspapers-not-effectively-using-social-media 3/31)

Completely agree on this one.  Had this discussion on Twitter no less just last week.  Twitter’s news-breaking abilities out-pace any newspaper sponsored community.  The newspaper’s concern: fact vs. fiction.  Unfortunately, it seems like that distinction would be difficult to control on Twitter unless you allow the audience to self-regulate and call posers out.  Still, the line has blurred and there is no going back.

Paramount Digital Entertainment and French producer-distributor Gaumont are teaming up to produce a 12-episode online series in the vein of LG15 that will premiere exclusively on MySpace in the fall. Another elimination whodunit, “Section 8,” is a supernatural thriller whose characters are knocked off one by one as viewers try to guess who is trying to kill them and why. MySpace will also serve as the social hub of the series, offering users the chance to interact with characters and participate in the storyline. (Cynopsis 3/31)

Wikia is closing down its Wikia Search product. The service was intended to be a user-generated search engine, through which users could influence the rankings of results. Founder Jimmy Wales says Wikia needs to “do what we need to do to get to profitability.” (Iwantmedia 3/31, http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10207896-2.html 3/31)


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Digital-music retailers such as Amazon MP3 are selling full albums — even popular downloads — for as little as 99 cents. “It is the schoolyard crack-dealer approach,” a metrics expert said. “We will essentially give it away in order to get you to try it because we think you’re going to get hooked, and we think you’re going to come back.” The Boston Globe (3/18)

Some new releases, including ”No Line on the Horizon” by U2 (above), are being priced for a limited time on Amazon MP3 for $3.99. (CBS, Jeffrey R. Staab via Associated Press)


The Counting Crows have ended their eighteen-year label relationship with Geffen Records (now part of Universal Music Group), lead singer Adam Duritz says on the band’s website.  Duritz says the band will go it alone, saying “the internet opens a world of limitless possibility, where the only boundaries are the boundaries of your own imagination.” (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/18/counting-crows-goes-label-free/ 3/18)


Prince is launching a fan subscription service called Lotusflow3r. For $77 a year, subscribers will get exclusive music, video, lyrics, artwork and photos of the musician himself. The site also might offer streaming live performances of Prince — complete with song requests. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://www.reuters.com/article/musicNews/idUSTRE52H00K20090318 3/17)


More Americans bought digital music last year while the number purchasing CDs declined sharply, says market researcher NPD Group. In addition, nearly half of U.S. teens listen to music on social networks such as MySpace, the study says, up from 37% in 2007. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090317/tc_afp/entertainmentusmusicinternetnpd 3/17)

After being ridiculed by Democrats on the campaign trail for his lack of digital savvy, John McCain participated in a “ Twitterview” yesterday conducted by ABC News This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos, a first for the hill. The 72-year old Senator has been relying on the microblogging platform to bend his more than 200,000 followers’ ears this month about the excesses of the recently-passed $410 billion federal spending bill. (Cynopsis 3/18)


MTV new-media executive David Gale told the crowd at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, that the network has deals with MSN, Fancast, AOL, Joost and Imeem to distribute programming and video clips online. According to this report, the network also is in talks with online sites such as MySpace.com about possible collaborations. TVWeek.com (3/17)

Chappelle Show veteran Charlie Murphy (Eddie’s brother) will star in a new series on Sony’s Crackle.com portal beginning Friday March 20, one of four shows debuting on the site this week.  Crackle shows are also distributed on YouTube, Hulu, MySpace, AOL, Sling Media, Veoh, VCast, Sprint TV and direct to broadband-enabled Bravia TVs. (Cynopsis 3/18)

CBS’ TV.com is making several content deals, bringing its video library to more than 2,000 hours of content. The new content deals with NCAA and Starz Media are in addition to existing agreements with companies including MGM Studios, PBS, Showtime and Sony Pictures Television. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/03/tvcom_signs_content_deals_with.php 3/17)

News Corp.’s MySpace is set for some big changes, according to Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield. Unit parent Fox Interactive Media is seeing costs increase as revenues shrink. The company will have “little choice” but to make significant job cuts. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2009/03/17/myspace-pali-sees-big-rev-drop-expects-layoffs/ 3/17)

WPP and Google are teaming up to fund a three-year research program on how advertising in traditional and digital media work together to influence consumer choices. Digital “is young and hasn’t had the same amount of rigorous study applied to it” as print and TV advertising. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123733535930164021.html 3/18)

Comcast’s plan to make cable programming available online to subscribers, an initiative that will be called On-Demand Online, will reinforce cable TV’s economic model because it will require viewers to pay for top-quality content, according to Karin Gilford, Comcast Interactive Media’s senior vice president of Fancast and online entertainment. “We want to bring a lot of content that is not online right now, while still preserving the economic model for the industry,” she said. Multichannel News (3/17)

AOL is moving aggressively toward becoming a producer of traditional news, hiring journalists and launching content sites, such as the forthcoming Politics Daily. The company says it aims to create “blue chip editorial brands rising out of the ashes” of newspapers and magazines. (Iwantmedia 3/18, http://www.thewrap.com/article/1921 3/16)

The Diffusion Group has announced new statistics showing that 76% would categorize a widget toolbar on a primary TV set as “valuable.” Yahoo!, Intel and Verizon Communications are among the companies making inroads in the TV-widget space. The New York Times/GigaOM (3/17)

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WIRELESS by Marauder


The Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN and Verizon announced a deal to offer a broader selection of programming to Verizon Wireless VCast and mobile web customers. The agreement covers mobile distribution of on-demand, full-length episodes to VCast Video, complementing existing short-form content already available from ABC and ESPN. Full-length programs now available include Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Ugly Betty from ABC; Nightline, This Week with George Stephanopoulos and 20/20 from ABC News; and Hannah Montana, The Suite Life on Deck and Phineas and Ferb from Disney Channel. (Cynopsis 1/27)

After losing some 1.3 million subscribers during Q3 Sprint Nextel announced it is preparing to eliminate some 8,000 workers or 14.3% of its workforce by the end of March (the same month that Palm is rumored to introduce its new Pre smartphone on the Sprint network.) (Cynopsis 1/27)

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“Indecision 2008: America’s Choice,” Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s cluster coverage of the presidential election, attracted 3.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched election special in Comedy Central history. The show earned a 1.9 rating among 18- to 49-year-olds, 47% higher than the 2004 “Indecision.” TVWeek.com (11/5)


A combined total of 70.6 million viewers tuned in to watch extended election night coverage across 14 network last night, according to Nielsen Research.  Leading the broadcast and cable networks in total viewers for the 8-1230am time frame was CNN with 13.2 million viewers, immediately followed by ABC News with 12.5 million.  A full list of the 14 networks and their total viewers for the evening are listed below in the Ratings section. (Cynopsis 11/6)

SCI FI Channel approved nine new episodes of Scare Tactics for next spring. Hosted by Tracy Morgan, this hidden-camera series using elaborate sets and scenarios to scare the bee-geebies out of unsuspecting people has averaged 1.54 million total viewers through its third season (July-November 2008). (Cynopsis 11/6)


Adult Swim, the grown-up version of Cartoon Network, in January will begin programming at 10 p.m., seven days a week, adding an extra hour on Mondays through Saturdays. The Turner network also announced that it would fill that extra hour by becoming the exclusive cable TV home of reruns of the venerable Fox hit “King of the Hill.” The Hollywood Reporter (11/5)

(Below) Can the change in political leadership also signal a change in reality television?  This sounds insanely awful.

In its new reality beauty competition series True Beauty, ABC explores what really makes a person attractive. From executive producers Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher, True Beauty debuts January 5 at 10p. Over the course of eight episodes, six beautiful females and four handsome guys will live together in a Los Angeles mansion while they participate in various inner and outer beauty challenges eliciting their true temperament. (Cynopsis 11/6)

ABC canceled the midseason series Single With Parents, the comedy produced by ABC Studios and DreamWorks and starring Alyssa Milano, according to THR. Production on the show had been interrupted due to disagreements over creative direction and with no resolution, ABC decided to nix it altogether. (Cynopsis 11/6)

With advertising revenue from the presidential election picking up steam during the third quarter, Time Warner’s cable TV channels, led by CNN, reported a 21% increase in operating income during the period. Overall, Time Warner, which recently spun off its Time Warner Cable unit, posted profit of $1.07 billion on revenue of $11.71 billion. The Wall Street Journal (11/6) , Reuters (11/5) , Mediaweek (11/5)


The cable TV channels of News Corp. were one of the few silver linings in an otherwise bleak fiscal first-quarter earnings report issued by the company. While the cable channels saw operating income rise 31%, primarily because of higher carriage fees, News Corp. as a whole reported a 30% drop in profit during the period, which ended Sept. 30. The Wall Street Journal (11/6) , Multichannel News (11/5)

During its busy session on Tuesday the FCC also launched an investigation into the pricing policies of America’s major cable operators and Verizon Communications, reports the AP. The agency sent a letter to a multiple MSOs and Verizon, asking them if they’re using the nation’s digital transition to trick customers into paying higher fees by moving analog channels to costlier digital tiers to make room for more HD or broadband offerings. (Cynopsis 11/6)

The billions of dollars spent during the 2008 election cycle gave media companies a sorely needed boost. But the world financial crisis that exploded this autumn will keep rattling them well into 2009, analysts say. “The worst case is nothing happens until 2010.” (Iwantmedia 11/6, http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSTRE4A4AN520081105 11/5)

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Season premiere of Saturday Night Live this past weekend, featuring Olympian Michael Phelps as host and a cameo by Tina Fey as VP Candidate Sarah Palin, drew in 7.4/18 in metered markets, reports Nielsen. That number marks the highest rated episode since September 29, 2001 with Reese Witherspoon hosting, which was also the first SNL episode following the 9/11 attacks.  National numbers for the SNL season debut will be out on Thursday. (Cynopsis 9/15)

ABC News’ Charles Gibson’s interview with Palin on 20/20 last Friday night pulled in 7.9 million viewers, the highest number for that news program in more than six months. In the key Adult demo, the program averaged a 2.1/6 A18-49, per fast affiliate ratings from Nielsen. (Cynopsis 9/15)

HBO has an untitled pilot project in the works about a professional golfer from Florida who is forced to enter the witness protection program, reports Variety. Writers Carl Hiaasen, columnist/author with the Miami Herald and Mike Lupica, sports columnist/author of the Daily News will collaborate on the script. (Cynopsis 9/15)

FOX signed an expanded renewal agreement with Chef Gordon Ramsay which keeps him as host of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares for at least two additional seasons, as well as an option for a third series. (Cynopsis 9/15)

The Sundance Channel on Jan. 1 will debut Sundance Select, a video-on-demand channel for independent films, the lion’s share of which will not hit the theaters first. Sundance Select will offer about 50 movies a year, which, Sundance executives say, will cost between $7 and $8 per movie. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (9/15)

HBO’s “John Adams” won eight Creative Emmy awards and AMC’s “Mad Men” won four to lead the pack at the Primetime Creative Emmy Arts Awards over the weekend. HBO was the top winner by network with 16 awards followed by Showtime with five, Bravo with three and Cartoon Network and Sci Fi with two apiece. Reuters (9/14) , The Hollywood Reporter (9/13)

Versus on Oct. 14 will debut “Sports Soup,” a twice-weekly sports/comedy hybrid in the vein of E!’s “The Soup” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” According to host Matt Iseman, “Sports Soup” will be “a little obnoxious, usually hilarious and so fascinating that you just won’t be able to take your eyes off it because you have to see what happens next.” TVWeek.com (9/14)

Time Warner Cable in late September or early October will begin offering video on demand via the Web with a service called the Road Runner Video Store, according to Peter Stern, the company’s chief strategy officer. The site will include about 1,600 movies and 1,500 TV episodes. Multichannel News (9/12)

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