Filed under: Feature | Tags: 49ers, Blablablalab, Downton Abbey, Fred Wilson, Giants, HBO, iTunes, Jeff Zucker, Joe Paterno, Napster, New England Patriots, PIPA, Rhode Ilsnad, Ross Katz, SOPA, Star Wars, Superbowl, Taking Chance, The Bark Side, VW
THIS WEEK: COUNTDOWN TO THE SUPERBOWL & SOPA
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
It looks like you Giants fans have something to celebrate this morning with the Giants win last night over the San Francisco 49ers. This will bring the NY Giants to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Being that I’m from Rhode Island, I just might care about this one. Usually, apart from the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m content to ignore the blatant football around me, instead busying myself with perfecting my latte art skills or hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. This time, with Facebook before me, it was a bit difficult to ignore the game and the overtime field goal which caused celebrations in the east.
Speaking of the Superbowl, last week Volkswagen promoted their Superbowl with what else, an ad. This one featured adorable pooches howling out the Star Wars theme song in an ad dubbed “The Bark Side.” The ad already has over 7MM views on YouTube which is fairly incredible if you consider that this is simply a teaser for…a Superbowl ad. For an explanation of how it was produced, click here. If you remember from last year’s Superbowl, the VW spot featured a young Darth Vader practicing his force and won big as one of the top-rated ads from the game.
In other news, last week saw the internet retaliate at the legislation on the docket dubbed SOPA or PIPA. Rather than an homage to British royalty, these two insidious pieces of legislation threaten to change the infrastructure of the internet and threaten freedom of speech globally under the auspices of copyright law. As someone who worked for an entertainment company (HBO) for 4 years, I am well aware of the value of content. I have been on multiple sets, I am friends with executive producers, I have welled up while listening to Ross Katz discuss his creative process while filming Taking Chance; I am someone who understands the cost and undertaking devoted to creating quality content. That said, the idea that control will fix the problems ailing the content industry is misguided and frankly a sign that consumers’ needs have lapped Hollywood’s delivery of content. I recently read VC Fred Wilson’s plea to Hollywood entitled ‘Scarcity is a Shitty Business Model.’ This has been shown time and time again to be undoubtedly true.
Consider Napster. When Napster was shut down in 2001 and iTunes came raging onto the scene in 2003, many argued that consumers would not buy music for $.99. However, the slick user interface and sheer online availability of music settled that debate quickly proving that consumers would in fact pay if given an easy process for transacting and lots of content. Back to Hollywood. The window structure is simply killing the industry. The window models were created based on an infrastructure that not only no longer exists but will trend farther from its origins over the next few years.
I’ve been recently watching the British series Downton Abbey. In one episode, the wealthy Crowley family updates their lavish home with innovative light bulbs replacing their dimmer cousins, the candles. The grandmother, Dowager Countess of Grantham, expertly acted by Maggie Smith, expresses her discord that the new bulbs are burning her eyes and far too bright. Change is always uncomfortable but inevitable nonetheless. To ignore it and try to squeeze and manipulate the inevitability will always fail. In other words, SOPA/PIPA won’t do justice to their objective, protecting the content and its creators. Furthermore, by censoring the internet under the guidelines that it poses, the legislature threatens to impede innovation across the internet simply because the entertainment industry refuses to innovate.
So here’s my plea to the studios. Innovate the business models, with a considerable shift in availability to speak to consumers’ needs. Eradicate the window structure. Yes, I know the drill. So many companies are involved here that eradication is made difficult. The solution to the problem is never easy but it stands just the same. Allow viewers to watch content on any platform they wish all at the same time, but create a revenue model for each. Think long. Don’t think short. The iPod was a gateway drug for Apple to the success they thrive on today. Consider that the revenues won’t immediately signal success when considered back-to-back (I’m looking at you Jeff Zucker and your digital dimes analogy). Become a misfit and make a revolutionary change. Make some waves, shock the other studios, and consumers will follow you to the bank.
Finally, the Super Bowl gets a social media command center and former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno dies at 85 re-igniting the debate of his misconduct in ignoring the abuse of his subordinates.
Some more Cool Sh-t:
Be Your Own Souvenir: The Ultimate in Memorabilia
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE | Tags: Business, Chief executive officer, Ellen DeGeneres, Financial services, General Electric, Hollywood Reporter, Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal
With the star power of Ellen DeGeneres, Kobe Bryant and Carlos Santana, George Lopez pulled in 3.2 million viewers with the premiere of his talk show. The debut of “Lopez Tonight” was presented across Turner nets TBS, TNT and truTV, with TBS accounting for 1.7 million viewers. The Hollywood Reporter(11/10)
NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Jeff Zucker will lead the joint venture currently being negotiated that would control the media conglomerate, according to unnamed sources cited in this report. Comcast is in talks with current NBCU owner General Electric about taking a majority stake in the company. Reuters (11/10
It may not be long before the troubled MGM studio is forced by its creditors to seek a buyer. That’s the word coming out of a Nov. 4 meeting between MGM CEO Stephen Cooper and the debt-hobbled film company’s 140-member creditor committee. According to one source with knowledge of the meeting, the creditor group turned thumbs down on a proposal by Cooper to convert the studio’s $3.7 billion debt into equity as part of a restructuring plan to keep the studio out of bankruptcy. (BusinessWeek11/11)
Filed under: ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: Facebook, Google, Hulu, Jeff Zucker, Joost, Morgan Spurlock, NBC Universal, Time Warner
Hulu is unlikely to ever replace the lost advertising revenue from traditional television as more viewers watch shows online, says NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker. The challenge of replacing the lost analog dollars of traditional TV with digital pennies is “at digital dimes now.” (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c2e87eb0-13f0-11de-9e32-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1 3/18)
To clarify: He didn’t actually point to Hulu alone in his comment. His point was that the digital revenues from Hulu, NBC.com, electronic sell thru, etc aren’t making up what is being lost through the traditional revenue generators such as DVD sales.
In more Hulu news, the site has launched a dedicated documentaries section for all you doc buffs out there filled with over 100 films. Selections include Confessions of a Superhero, Before the Music Dies and Kicking It, just to name a few. To kick things off, Hulu has invited Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock from Super Size Me to share his thoughts on the film and his experiences as a filmmaker. You can find Morgan’s Q&A within the discussion boards
A Facebook application is polling users on the the new site layout . So far, just over 5% of the nearly 800,000 respondents give it a thumbs up. The rest go the other way. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/19/facebook-polls-users-on-redesign-94-hate-it/ 3/19)
Facebook could displace Google in number of unique users by late 2011, given a annual growth rate of 85% for the social network and just 20% for the Internet search giant, says RBC Capital analyst Ross Sandler. Facebook is becoming a “starting point” for Internet users. (http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2009/03/18/rbc-facebook-users-could-eclipse-google-in-2011/ 3/18)
Joost, the Internet television site that shows TV programs made by Time Warner and Viacom, aims to have 10 million visitors per month by the end of 2009, says CEO Mike Volpi. “Our profitability depends on how aggressively we pursue growth, and right now our priority is growth.” (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aflSZHCRo55c 3/18)
Buying a media company such as NBC or the New York Times wouldn’t make sense for Google, says Kevin Yen, an exec with the Internet giant’s YouTube. “Those are very different businesses from what Google is. We’re not good at content. … We create platforms.” (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/finance/news/e3ie7894883273eb628e9a309c2f4fb58ba 3/18)
Web series Hometown Baghdad, which chronicles the daily experiences and testimonies of three Baghdad university students, is premiering on Sundance Channel at 11:30p. It’s part of a trio of programs to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the war. (Cynopsis 3/19)
Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s president and chief executive officer, said that his company remained committed to developing a model to charge consumers for the online viewing of cable TV content but that, at this point, it would be difficult to authenticate whether viewers already were pay-TV subscribers. “It wouldn’t be very effective if you have to type a pin number in, it has to be seamless to the consumer,” he said. Broadcasting & Cable (3/18) , Multichannel News (3/18)
MySpace is launching an application on the test version of Yahoo’s new home page, which lets users access the social networking site through the Internet portal. MySpace is also unveiling new features for MySpace ID, a service that lets users link personal profiles to any Web site. (http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/090318/myspace_yahoo.html 3/18)
TMZ, the celebrity gossip site and television show, now sees politicians as targets for its roving videographers, who usually chase the likes of Jessica Simpson. Politics is fertile ground, says founder Harvey Levin. “How many stories can you do about Lindsay Lohan?” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/18/AR2009031803001.html 3/19)
NBC Universal will once again partner with Microsoft to support its online delivery of the upcoming Winter Olympics in 2010. As it did during NBCU’s much-ballyhooed Web coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Microsoft will provide the video-streaming technology for the games. (http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/content_display/news/digital-downloads/broadband/e3i43b2ec4937929a5032717ae032b4b494 3/18)
History.com experienced the luck of the Irish yesterday, attracting the second-highest number of visits ever to its St. Patrick’s Day minisite – up 25% year-on-year, (second only to last year’s Valentine’s Day site.) (Cynopsis 3/19)
Time Inc.‘s stable of sites including Time.com, SI.com, CNN Money.com and EW.com will begin adopting the Wall Street Journal strategy of mixing free and paid content, per Alley Insider. Time has had its share of hits online – the SoBe-sponsored SI Swimsuit video montage generated more than 22 million views this year – but depressed banner ad sales across the industry is putting pressure on large publishers to makeup for the shortfall in revenue. (Cynopsis 3/19)
Self-publishing site Bookrix introduced a new Print-On-Demand program allowing top users to have their works published for free. From now until May 17, Bookrix.com will provide free printing to any user who collects 75 user reviews. The Bookrix Print-On-Demand winners will have their work published, be given an official ISBN number and will receive 5 personal copies of their printed book for free. Bookrix has partnered with the Worldwide Alliance of Writers to publish all books for the program. (Cynopsis 3/19)
You’ll be able to download Microsoft’s newest web browser, Internet Explorer 8, today (link here). Microsoft promises that IE8 “is one of the fastest browsers on the market today” (uh-huh) and features new goodies like Web Slices, Instant search, and Accelerators – basically right-clicking on highlighted text to bring up a list of routine tasks like mapping, e-mailing, definitions, translation, and more. (http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/03/19/internet-explorer-8-available-today/ 3/19)
Microsoft unveiled the beta version of its Silverlight 3.0. The update, a final version of which will be available later this year, enables users to work offline outside the browser and contains several videos, graphics and data-related enhancements … all in a smaller download package than previous versions. InformationWeek (3/18)
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE, Feature, ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: Apple, Austin, Austin Texas, Digital Hollywood, iPhone, Jeff Zucker, Laughing Squid, NBC, Philippe Dauman, South by Southwest, SXSW, Twitter, Viacom
SXSW VS. DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD NYC
Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
Being that I’ve just come from SXSW in Austin, it’s a bit of a culture shock arriving at Digital Hollywood this morning in NYC. Before I give you the highlights from today, how about I start with a top ten list on the major differences between SXSW and Digi Hollywood? I tried to make it a mix of pros and cons for both but by and large, my mission here is simple humor. I’m good for that.
The Top Ten List: SXSW vs. Digital Hollywood
1) Digital Hollywood attendees think ‘monetization’ whereas SXSW attendees think ‘audience size’…by and large.
2) DH peeps rock a suit. SXSW…more like whatever they rolled out of bed in after a night of binge drinking at Pure Volume.
3) DH: Wine. SXSW: Beer and the more the better.
4) DH: Dell SXSW: Apple
5) DH: More coat check. Less filler. SXSW: More stickers. More graffiti. More idea generation. Less shampoo.
6) DH: No Wi-Fi (except in the conference center using some convoluted means to log on) SXSW: Wi-Fi convention-wide (with small exceptions) AT&T…not so much.
7) DH: Overheard in the bathroom: Nothing. SXSW: Overheard in the bathroom… Friend1: I just joined twitter this morning. Friend 2: JUST this morning?!? Friend1: Yah. (obvious embarrassment)
8) DH: What’s twitter? SXSW: Holy sh#t! Did you see that last guy’s tweet?! Someone just won SXSW Bingo.
9) DH: Keynote: Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC) SXSW: Keynote: James Powderly (Co-founder Graffiti Research Lab)
10) DH: The entire traditional media universe peppered with some digi distribution folks. SXSW: The entire web development community with little to no content creators.
In case you need another visual to drive this one home, have at it…
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE | Tags: Bravo, Harvey Weinstein, Jeff Zucker, Lifetime, NBC Universal, Project Runway, The Weinstein Company, Weinstein Co
NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Co., squared off in court Thursday in the first hearing of their case over Bravo‘s “Project Runway.” The two media titans are clashing because Weinstein has made a deal with Lifetime to move the show away from Bravo for its sixth season, scheduled to begin in November. Mediaweek/AdWeek (7/17)
Showtime is expected to announce today a series pickup for a dark comedy starring Edie Falco of “The Sopranos” fame, according to this report. Showtime, which is scheduled to present its latest programming choices at the Television Critics Association press tour today, has had the as-yet-untitled show on the fast track since February. The Hollywood Reporter (7/18)
E! renewed the 30m reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians for a third season. The series is produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions and Bunim-Murray Productions and the new season will premiere in first quarter 2009. (Cynopsis 7/18)
I will still be continued to be shocked that people watch this show.
A quarter of all TV homes in the U.S. now have digital video recorders, according to the latest data from Nielsen. The study also reports that 30% of DVR users have the device hooked up to more than one set in the house and that 53% have cable service. MediaPost Communications (7/17)
Dish Network managed to successfully launch the EchoStar 11 satellite into orbit this week, giving the service much needed capacity for additional HD channels. (Cynopsis 7/18)
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE | Tags: 20th Century Fox, Animation, Arts, Entertainment, General Electric, Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal, Simpsons
Production has resumed for the 20th season of FOX’s The Simpsons as the starring voice talent signed a new four-year agreement with 20th Century Fox TV this weekend. Salary negotiations between the cast and studio have delayed production on the show and as a result only 20 episodes will be completed instead of the usual 22. The agreement increases each voice actor’s salary to around $400K per episode and adds new duties for some. (Cynopsis 6/3)
Fans of FX series “Rescue Me” will get a little something extra beginning June 24. That’s when the channel will begin running five-minute “minisodes” of the Denis Leary-starring comedy as a way to bridge the nearly two-year gap between the fourth and fifth seasons of the show. (Variety 6/2)
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker is being forced to find creative ways to finance deals after getting the financial equivalent of the cold shoulder by parent General Electric. Slowing growth prospects and investor pressure are making GE’s financial pockets “much shallower.” (Iwantmedia 6/3, http://www.nypost.com/seven/06032008/business/nbc_goes_it_alone_113758.htm 6/3)
A new study from IAG Research showed that viewers of advertising that appears within the video-on-demand format as opposed to linear TV are far more likely to remember the spots. The study found that viewers who saw a series of Lexus commercials within VOD shows were 68% more likely to recall the ad messages and 83% more apt to remember the brand itself. (Mediaweek 6/2)
In today’s changing environment, media moguls are said to struggling to understand whether they should buy or sell assets. “Old-media guys are trying to transform into new-media ‘it’ girls,” says one observer, “while upstarts are thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I can take down a dinosaur.’ ” (Iwantmedia 6/3, http://www.thedeal.com/servlet/ContentServer?cid=1211840632968&pagename=TheDeal%2FNWStArticle&c=TDDArticle 5/30)
Rainbow Media’s Voom, a 15-channel suite of high-definition channels, has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Dish Network, charging that the satellite service unfairly dropped Voom channels in mid-May. The suit, filed with the New York Supreme Court, says the Dish move has cost Voom more than $1 billion in damages. (Multichannel News 6/2)
Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield upgraded small-market provider Mediacom Communications from “neutral” to “buy,” noting the company’s recent success at signing customers up for its triple play of services. The move boosted the company’s stock price as much as 24% on Monday. (Multichannel News 6/2)
Filed under: MISC | Tags: Andrew Cuomo, Dan Glickman, Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal, New York, New York City, New York State Attorney General, Tina Fey
The summer is looking super for Viacom following a $100 million opening weekend at the U.S. box office for “Iron Man,” from its Paramount Pictures unit. Up next is “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which could be among the biggest hits of the summer. (Iwantmedia 5/6, http://www.nypost.com/seven/05062008/business/viacom_is_marveling_at_summer_prospects_109638.htm 5/6)
Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general for the state of New York, is proposing a Piracy Protection Act, which would slap first-time piracy offenders with fines of as much as $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Some 50% of all illegally recorded movies are pirated in New York, he says. (Iwantmedia 5/6, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-piracy6-2008may06,0,6609844.story 5/6)