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ENGLEWOOD CLIFF, NJ – CNBC has launched its live, linear programming for the desktop. It can be watched by subscribers to several of the largest cable and satellite operators in the United States including Cablevision, Comcast, DISH and Verizon. This “first phase” of the service launched last month.
Viewing via the desktop, notably in the workplace, will greatly expand the footprint of the business television network. It will provide a new source of advertising as entirely different ad inventory can be served into the live stream, explains Kevin Krim, SVP and GM of CNBC Digital, in this interview with Beet.TV
Krim, the former global digital head of Bloomberg, also speaks about the emerging of opportunity for news producers and advertisers in the emerging, real-time, socially charged media landscape.
LAS VEGAS – Now that TV Everywhere has been established, the next step is customizing the TV watching experience for the individual user – what Rovi is calling ‘Entertainment Unbound’, says Andy Townsend, senior product manager at Rovi, in an interview with Beet.TV at NAB.
Entertainment Unbound aims to evolve the TV Everywhere initiative by working with the content as soon as it leaves the Hollywood studio. Via encoding for specific devices, adding metadata, generating personalized recommendations and user guides and presenting targeted advertising, Rovi seeks to present the user with a more optimized and relevant TV watching experience.
Rovi announced the initiative earlier this year at CES.
The best stories across the web on media and technology, curated by Courtney Cowgill
1. Amazon sells out of Kindle Fire, stops selling for one week (AllThingsD)
2. 3 states reach $69M settlement with publishers over alleged e-book price fixing (Businessweek)
3. Obama does first presidential 'ask me anything' chat on Reddit (Today)
4. Merrill Brown named as first director of comm school at Montclair State University (Baristanet)
5. Adobe: 'TV Everywhere' revolution is just beginning (CNET)
6. TV audiences go social as Republican convention coverage wanes (Reuters)
7. Twitter gives some developers literal stamp of approval (CNET)
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Ah, the joys of print — and real world — serendipity.
Arriving in Berlin to speak at the annual Medienwoche, part of the IFA 2011 content-meets-tech conference, I took a post-flight stroll around my hotel. I picked up a Wired U.K. at a local newsstand (newsstands chock-full of magazines and newspapers seem ubiquitous in Germany, their big-city absence in America made more noticeable). It’s a good issue, exploring the top digital entrepreneurial hotspots across Europe, from a U.K. perspective.
Across from p. 82, my eye caught a house ad. It was selling all things Wired U.K., but selling them in a customer-centric way I hadn’t before seen. Reproduced below, you see how it focused on how customers may variously access Wired. It speaks “multi-platform,” “multimedia” and “news anywhere” much better than those compounded nouns (which, when you think of it, are starting to sound like multisyllabic German constructions).
It’s masterful in telling the reader simply, and with a bit of fun, what the Wired U.K. brand stands for, how you can pick your timeliness (now to annual), mode of ingestion (reading, listening, or attending conferences) and more.
In a second bit of terrestrial serendipity, it turned out that Wired U.K. Editor David Rowan was speaking at IFA two hours after my talk. He and his art director, Andrew Diprose, had already supplied a digital copy of the house ad. I told him how well I thought the ad captured a business model in the making, with a clear customer-centric approach. He thanked me for the comment, and added, “It’s just something we tossed together when we had an extra page.” Well, it may have been, but it shows how this Wired crew is thinking of their business, eating some of the digital dog food it dishes out in each issue.
The ad had particular resonance this week as I’ve been thinking about the question on everyone’s minds in the newspaper and magazine businesses: What’s the new business model — that hybrid print/digital or digital/print — going to look like? It’s clear to everyone at this point that while print has a significant role for as far forward as we can see, it’s receding in importance, and revenue, and that digital is the growth engine on which to focus.
It’s one thing to say that and quite another to say what the new business model will look like. How much revenue will come from what, when, and who?
Now approaching 2012, we see that 2011 has provided a few clues to that new business model. No one, though, even the world’s digital revenue news leader, Oslo-based Schibsted (with 30 percent of overall revenues driven by digital) will tell you that even the industry’s leader has not yet found a big, sustainable model able to support a large newsroom.
Let me propose a model I’m testing out, as we watch the rollicking developments in the industry. As paid digital-access plans roll out weekly, as Digital First becomes not just a catchphrase but a company, as tablet development moves to the front burner and as the TV business continues to outpace both newspapers and magazines, what are the common threads we can see?
It’s purposely a simplified, bare-bones structure. I call it the newsonomics of 1, 2, 3, 4 and welcome flesh to be added to the skeleton — and/or chiropractic adjustment as well.
It’s 1, 2, 3, 4, as in:
Let’s look at each one, briefly:
The first decade-plus of the web was all about collecting, bringing things together. That meant major wins (63 percent of U.S. digital ad revenue in 2011 is going to Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft — and Facebook) for those who aggregated. The act of collecting (curating if you prefer) was rewarded at the expense of those being aggregated. Now, as we approach 2012, we’re seeing a major re-assertion of brand, and its primacy.
Steve Jobs’ tablet-launching assertion that search is so yesterday was part sales pitch, part prophecy. The app is nothing if not the re-ascendance of brand, encapsulated in a few pixels. These tiny apps — from ESPN, The Atlantic, Time, the Guardian, and Berliner Morgenpost to The Boston Globe, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — all convey new promise. That promise has found a business model — all-access — to accompany. After years of wandering in the wilderness of customer confusion and self-doubt, news companies are saying: “You know us, you know our brand; you value us. Pay us once and we’ll get you our stuff wherever, whenever, however you want it”. Call it “entertainment everywhere” or “news anywhere,” or “TV Everywhere,” major media are now re-training their core audiences to expect — and pay for — ubiquity.
News companies are following the lead of Netflix, HBO, and Comcast (Xfinity), all now basing their hybrid old world (TV/cable/post office) and new world (smartphone, tablet, computer, and connected TV) on the same simple idea. In the first digital decade, news and entertainment was atomized by aggregators, dis-branded, as readers and viewers often flipped through Google, YouTube, or Yahoo without knowing who actually produced news or entertainment.
Now, we see brand re-emerging to signal top-of-mind awareness — and to earn those one-click credit card payments. These are friendlier brands, attempting to leverage and master the new social curation of news and entertainment.
For that first decade plus of the web, news publishers relied on one revenue source — digital advertising. That’s been like wheeling into the future on a unicycle, lots of careening and too little forward progress. As publishers have taken a long-term view of the business, the conclusion from Arthur Sulzberger and Rupert Murdoch to Dallas’ Jim Moroney and Morris’ Michael Romaner has been the same: We have little hope of creating a successful digital business without robust digital reader revenue. Reader revenue doesn’t have to be mean only digital subscriptions. Schibsted and Australia’s Fairfax are pioneering “services,” with Schibsted’s story-aided weight-loss programs prototypical. Newbies Texas Tribune and MinnPost are showing how reader-attended events are moneymakers. The tablet will spawn lots of new one-off paid reader products.
And advertising doesn’t mean just selling space. Most major news chains, from Advance to Gannett to Hearst, are becoming regional ad agencies, selling and re-selling everything from deals to Yahoo (or in Advance’s case, Microsoft) to search engine marketing to Facebook and Google to local merchants large and small. The New York Times pulled Lincoln “ad” money into digital circulation push. Sponsorships are coming back in a big way for mobile.
So, two revenues, tried, true, but twisting new. Will they be 50/50 supports of new models? Too early to say, but they provide us the rivers and tributaries to build new revenue stream models.
“Online,” of course, was first re-purposed print. Too much of mobile is, again, re-purposed online. Yet, the smarter all-access players, mostly national, are looking at their audience data and seeing how different usage is by device or platform. There are new products — MediaNews’ TapIn is emblematic — that are made for the tablet, with even smartphone utility in question and desktop a distant third. We’ll see three distinct ways of thinking about product: print, lean-forward desktop/laptop and lean-back tablet/on-the-move smartphone. Newspaper print becomes just another platform. This triad becomes more than a smart way to think about product development — it becomes a way of measuring costs, revenues, and metrics like ARPU.
Only in the last couple of years have we passed 50 percent broadband access in the U.S., which currently ranks ninth worldwide at 63 percent of households. We’ve forgotten the days when pressing on the play button on a website’s video player was a crapshoot. Between buffering and bumbling of all sorts, video only sometimes worked. Now, take a look at the just-launched WSJ Live on the iPad, and you see how far we’ve come. 4G is now on the mainstream horizon, and with it comes the higher valuing of news video. That’s a challenge for text-based newspaper companies, most of whom have taken only first steps to becoming truly multimedia companies. You can see the 4G glow in the eyes of John Paton’s new Digital First Media company. I’m told his New Haven Register now outproduces the local TV stations in digital video news creation; few newspaper peers can yet say the same. With ad rates for news video are still markedly higher than for text stories, any successful model must put video at the center of new products.
So, it’s 1, 2, 3 and 4, good tests of evaluating new company strategies — from the inside or out.
GigaOM :: Starz dropped a bomb on Netflix Thursday, announcing to the world that it was ending negotiations for a renewal of their deal and pulling its content from the streaming service next March. That’s led many to speculate about who might pick up those rights when they lapse. The most likely outcome isn’t that Starz’s streaming content goes to one of Netflix’s competitors, but that the network keeps the digital rights to itself and makes them part of its TV Everywhere services
Continue to read Ryan Lawler, gigaom.com
Facebook isn’t trying to replace Gmail or Yahoo Mail — it’s just trying to bring a little order to our world, right? This week’s Facebook Messages announcement is stunningly simple, and in line with the next phase of the web, both overall and for news.
Take MSNBC’s description of Facebook Messages:
Instead of dealing with the dilemma of reaching people via e-mail or direct message or SMS, all of these will be combined, so that you’ll be able to reach someone the way they prefer to be reached, without you having to think about it. ‘All you need is a person and a message,’ said Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering for Facebook.
That’s the next web (r)evolution in a nutshell. It’s a unified theory of messaging. And it can be easily extended into the unified theories of TV, movies, shopping — and news.
Make a few substitutions, and you’ve got “All you need is a person and a movie,” or “All you need is a person and a shopping list” or “All you need is a person and the news.” For news creators, and aggregators, it’s a big thought that will be play out more dramatically in the tablet-inflected world of 2011. Only those who grok its meaning and execute properly may make digital reader revenue a reality.
In short, it’s about simplification, about interconnection, about consolidation, and it’s a principle that is beginning to — and should — form the foundation of the much of the next-generation thinking about the news business.
Though we’ll continue to see a panorama of new digital services and products, much of the early digital vision has been built out. We may live in a find-anything-anytime-anywhere world, but it’s also a digital fumbleathon, as we bounce from mobile apps of three distinct platforms, mail and preference settings, interminable demands for passwords, multiple hard-to-combine “friend” and contact lists, Twitter decks, Facebook walls, RSS feeds, preference popups, security hiccups — not to mention TV remotes and cable guides that seem like visitors from a distant analog planet.
Facebook Messages says: We get it. We’ll make it easier for you to keep in touch with those you want to stay in touch with. We’ll see how well Facebook delivers on that promise, but it’s the right one for our age. We can see its echoes multiplying.
On Wednesday, HBO announced that its HBO Go initiative will make HBO available through digital devices for its cable channels subscribers by year’s end. That initiative is part of parent Time Warner’s TV Everywhere push, which likewise says: You paid us once. Now get what you paid for wherever you want it. It’s the unification of the premium TV business, as cable companies are starting to see unprecedented churn, given piecemeal availability of programming through the Internet, legally or illegally.
Comcast is making a similar promise, as it newly announced app promises to connect up its customers’ experience. The app’s functionality is rolling out over time, but will ultimately allow viewing of all Comcast’s Xfinity content via devices, plus provide programming services, such as remote DVR taping, and let an iPhone replace that dreaded remote — borrowing a little bit from Tivo, a little bit from Sonos.
Netflix, of course, grasped the concept earlier, as CEO Reed Hastings has noted (“Six Lessons for the News Industry from Reed Hastings“): “We knew that the DVD business was temporary when we founded the company. That’s why we named it Netflix and not DVD by mail. We wanted to become Netflix.” Netflix’s current promise: “Unlimited TV.” You guessed it: one relationship with the brand, and you get what you paid for however you want it.
Where are the news promises? Well, the first generation has been Yahoo News. Remember your first time seeing all those wondrous headline links from the BBC, the Post, the Hindu, and CNET all in one place? First-generation aggregation was cool, but we haven’t really progressed much beyond it, though we’ve seen nuances, with personality added to aggregation (HuffPo) and some regional aggregation (Seattle Times, TBD.com). We’ve seen some good smartphone apps and a few new iPad apps. Come 2011, we’ll begin to see more News Everywhere experiences.
The first big one in the U.S. should be The New York Times. The Times will launch its metered pay system early in the year. If tech issues can be solved, expect paying customers to get access — aiming toward seamless, but likely with a few wrinkles — across devices, an intending-to-be-unified reader experience. The Times’ Martin Nisenholtz explained recently: “It’s not just about the website anymore. It’s about all of the brands where you can read the Times…it’s about the website, smartphones, the slates, iPad…it’s a hugely different world than it was five years ago.” So, the Times will say give us a single price, and we’ll let you read about you want of the Times where you want, recognizing you across digital experiences and — nirvana — allowing you to keep track of what you’ve shared and read, and with whom, without you having to recall whether you sent that story to your best buddy on your iPhone.
I’ve called that approach All-Access, and I think it’s the news industry version of TV Everywhere. So far, the best example of all-access pricing is the Financial Times, upon whose experience the Times’ model is built. Its “newspaper + online” top-of-the-line subscription allows full digital access plus the paper for one price.
The Everywhere notions seem friendly — and they have to be consumer friendly to be successful — but they’re actually quite darwinian. How many entertainment and news brands will we pay for? Only a handful, probably, especially at premium rates. So in the news business, that battle means only a few brands win the reader revenue sweepstakes, unless a Hulu-for-news proposition (AP’s digital rights clearinghouse expanded; a second life for Rupert Murdoch’s Alesia?) succeeds big-time.
To win, news companies will have work on the principle of the Field Theory. No, not the unified field theory, though unification of message and of service is fundamental. It’s the Sally Field Theory, which you remember the 1984 Oscars speech: “I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect…I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Well who wants renewed respect than newsies? Who keeps talking about the trusted brand relationship that newspapers have long had with readers?
If news companies want to “own” the news customer (and be able to mine his data deeply), then they, large or small, newly minted or history-encrusted, have to bring their games to a new level. For the Times (or the Journal), the current breadth of content may be sufficient, if the execution manages to bring a little delight of ubiquity to paying subscribers.
For local news companies, the bar is probably a different one. Yes, they’ll have to put their tech development in high gear (many are woefully behind on tablet apps, just as the devices explode under this year’s Christmas trees), but they’ll also have to up their local value proposition. That means not just repurposing their own staff’s local news output, but really reaching out to community blog aggregation, broadcast partnership, working Yelp-like guide magic (probably through partnership) and/or creating a new level of digitally enhanced local shopping experiences. It’s unclear how much limited local news across devices is worth to news consumers.
News Anywhere, or unified news, or All-Access, whatever we want to call it, demands the singular focus, product development and messaging that Netflix, HBO, Comcast, and Facebook are bringing to it. Those are all skills that have been problematic in the news industry. Yet, here we are, in a new age, in a mobile news age about to unfold, giving the journalism, and journalists, another chance to get it right.
Consumers will tolerate more ads and stay tuned into online TV when networks up the ad load, according to data I came across during my reporting on Comcast's TV Everywhere initiative.
Executives at sister networks History Channel and A&E tell me that when they increased the number of ads in full-length episodes of their shows by 20% in the early TV Everywhere roll-outs, viewers still watched the episodes to completion by the same amount.
That means the increased ad load isn't turning viewers off. This data is particularly noteworthy given a recent research report from comScore found that consumers won't mind a doubling of ads in online TV.
Also, Anthony Soohoo at CBS told us at the Beet.TV roundtable in February that CBS is considering increasing the number of ads.
For more details, here is my New Media Minute this week.
Editor's Note: Daisy's New Media Minute is produced and sponsored separately from Beet.TV. We are pleased to publish her segment regularly here. AP
A few years ago, while TV networks were happily setting up Hulu as a place for people to watch shows online for free, the cable companies were fretting. If cable customers could watch shows online for free on Hulu, or through cheap subscription services such as Netflix, who was going to pay for cable service? Sure, the cable companies would still get you for Internet access, but they'd lose one part of their "triple play" package -- usually the most expensive and lucrative part.
So they dreamed up the idea of "TV Everywhere." It came mainly from the minds of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, who didn't like the notion of their cable content getting out into the wilds of the digital world. As a recent cover story on BusinessWeek magazine points out, TV Everywhere is the "Revenge of the Cable Guys" who didn't want to see their industry downsized in the same way the music industry was hit with file-sharing.
But who are the cable companies getting their revenge on? Is it the array of tech startups that want to help people cut the cord? No, the real revenge is on cable customers who were considering cutting the cord. Rather than allow them to go online to customize their TV viewing and pay only for the content and channels they want, Big Cable wanted to lock them into the old routine of paying for 500 channels while watching about eight of them. TV Everywhere is a solution for Big Cable -- not for its customers. Just look at the image that BusinessWeek chose to show cable's revenge: A customer wrapped up in a cable like a prisoner (see image at left).
While cable companies say they are not seeing widespread reductions in customer subscriptions as a result of people cutting the cord, my Guide to Cutting the Cable TV Cord story at MediaShift has been the 3rd most popular story on the site over the past 12 months (even though it was only published two months ago). I've heard from scores of people who have happily cut the cord or are considering doing so.
The cable companies believe that their method of paying for all those channels of content and then collecting huge (and rising) premiums from customers is the only way studios and content creators can be paid to produce high-quality shows. But how long will the old way be the only way? Aren't those content creation costs a bit inflated when you consider that the tools and distribution are being democratized online? Yes, online video sites have not become huge money makers for independent web productions yet. But that doesn't mean a shift isn't coming down the line.
Here's a rundown of why I think the TV Everywhere concept -- and Comcast's beta of Fancast Xfinity TV -- are doomed to failure over the long term.
I am convinced that this early trial for Xfinity and TV Everywhere is doomed to failure because they are a way to prop up a legacy media in transition. But there are ways that the cable companies could change course. They could come up with a fair payment for online access for people who don't want to pay for cable. They could offer more customization for cable, allowing people to buy just the channels they watch.
But, at the moment, the cable companies are content to sit high on the hog, charging huge sums for cable TV services that continue to defy gravity, and the recession, by going up, up, up.
What do you think about Xfinity and TV Everywhere? Will they keep you happy paying for cable TV? Or have you quit cable and cut the cord? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in our poll about your satisfaction with your cable or satellite service:
Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.
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Keep an eye on how the growth in online video will shift this year into the mobile world via smartphones like Google's Android and Apple's iPhone, said Will Richmond, the publisher of daily news site VideoNuze.
Will and I host the podcast The VideoNuze Report each week, and I sat down with him at the recent NATPE conference in Las Vegas to get his take on key trends in 2010 in online video.
Other trends to watch this year include TV Everywhere rollouts and the consumer adoption of convergence devices such as Roku, Boxee and Xbox, he said. Richmond also gives his take on the challenges Hulu faces giving the rollouts of TV Everywhere and the Comcast acquisition of Hulu parent NBC Universal
Daisy Whitney, Senior Producer
SAN JOSE, CA -- Adding another notch to its cable customer belt, online video technology firm thePlatform inked a deal to power broadband video for Rogers Cable.
The company's VP of marketing Marty Roberts told us thePlatform now delivers online video for five of the seven largest cable operators including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Cablevision. thePlatform is owned by Comcast.
That type of exposure with North America's biggest cable companies may help thePlatform extend its reach as a TV Everywhere technology partner. It's already powering Comcast's launch of TV Everywhere, which kicks off next month, Amy Banse told us.
In fact, the company also said it's added new capabilities to its TV Everywhere toolset. The new features are designed to streamline the process of authentication and authorization. Those issues in particular -- verifying who can watch which programs when -- have been cited as some of the biggest hurdles TV Everywhere faces. The company's new "authentication adapter" should help simplify the authentication process, Roberts said.
In addition, thePlatform landed 20 new cable programmers as customers. Several Comcast-owned networks are in that crop including E!, G4 and Style, but the tech firm also nabbed deals with Fox Sports Network.
What's most interesting about that partnership is Fox Sports will use thePlatform's Web tools to deliver clips and highlights from high school games and other sporting events that don't make it to the linear channel but do hold great interest for many fans, Roberts said.
We caught up with him at the Streaming Media West conference in San Jose last week.
Daisy Whitney, Senior Producer
Earlier this month, Peter Kafka at MediaMemo reported that Apple has a new initiative to sell broadcast and cable programming via iTunes for a monthly fee of $30.
Peter wrote that Apple is in the early stages of conversation with programmers but noted there are a number of hurdles.
Last week, I spoke with Forrester senior analyst Bobby Tulsiani who explained the challenges in getting this done. It's not nearly as easy as lining up the record labels, he tells Beet.TV.
Earlier in this interview, Bobby provides an explanation of TV Everywhere, the cable initiative. He wonders how and when this will roll out. Later today in San Francisco, at the NewTeeVee Live event, we expect to interview a senior Comcast executive on this topic.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)