FOX on demand (beta) is fantastic

January 15, 2008

Review: I’ve just looked at FOX’s new “on demand” website. Go here.  I really wonder how this beta FOX site will exist alongside FOX’s joint video project with NBC, www.hulu.com.   That part is not yet clear. To access FOX’s new beta site, you may have to download a plug-in to start watching. But once you do, it’s well worth it. The menu starts out with this cool spin wheel, like on the Price is Right.

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And then once you watch a show, the picture is in high def (at least for The Sarah Connor Chronicles). It’s breathtaking.

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I only hope that FOX puts American Idol on the Internet.


20% increase in viewers to YouTube + video sites after TV writers’ strike

January 12, 2008

News:  Nielson Online reports that YouTube and other video sharing sites have seen a spike of 20% in their viewers since the TV writers’ strike has started.  The article speculates whether the spike can be attributed to the writers’ strike or not, as opposed to a more general growth in broadband Internet use.  (More)


Video of the week: Simon Cowell, on being stoned

March 16, 2007

CBS exec Les Moonves is transforming TV, and YouTube

January 13, 2007

News: The most significant development at this past week’s Consumer Electronics Show — and perhaps the most significant development in broadcast TV for the past 25 years — was the keynote address by CBS CEO Les Moonves. Why?

Moonves this week announced deals: (1) allowing users of SlingBox to “mashup”– meaning cut and splice–CBS shows at their own pleasure, and (2) airing the best 15-second YouTube videos on CBS, the first to air before this year’s Super Bowl. Moonves has clearly embraced the Web 2.0 technologies, and intends to allow users to use CBS content in their own creations. Said Moonves, “There’s no such thing as old or new media anymore. We’re just media.” (YouTube is now even thinking of having its own TV shows and channel.)  This is on top of CBS’s current deal to run parts of shows, like Letterman and NCIS, on a channel on YouTube.

And perhaps his most important admisssion: “We learned a lot watching what happened to the music industry with Napster, and we’d like to avoid those mistakes.” (More)

Analysis: I don’t like making predictions, but a decade from now we may look back at this decision by CBS as the defining moment for a huge transformation in broadcast TV, which propelled it into a completely different model of providing content to users–from a couch potato model to the mashup model. Web 3.0, here we come.  If you want to create a video for the CBS promotion on Super Bowl Sunday, go here.

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Adults still prefer TV news to YouTube news – go figure?

December 20, 2006

News:  Zogby International took a survey of 1,203 adults.  By a 2-1 margin, adults said they still preferred the news on TV over a “citizen” video of an event.  But 83% said they believed 12 year olds know more about the Internet than members of Congress.   66% said the printing press was a more important invention than the Internet. (More here)

Analysis: Fascinating numbers.  But Zogby apparently failed to ask the $64,000 question:  how many adults prefer YouTube over TV for entertainment.  That’s a more important question, in my view, than the news-related question Zogby asked.  (Who in their right mind would think that YouTube today is an adequate substitute for news media?)


Should TV networks create their own YouTube to beat Google’s YouTube?

December 14, 2006

News: The major TV networks or their parent companies reportedly (according to WSJ) are considering developing their own joint video site to compete with YouTube. Nothing’s definite yet, but at least there have been discussions.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz has doubts about such a venture’s likelihood of success, if attempted, in a wonderfully written article in the Motley Fool. One of the main criticisms is that the TV networks will have a hard time competing with truly user-created content or user-generated buzz for viral videos. The TV networks will be more of a top-down-approach, transplanting parts of their TV shows online, probably with ads that annoy users. But YouTube is more about mash-up, letting users do pretty much what their little hearts desire.

Analysis: Although I share the Motley Fool’s skepticism, I have to say that, in principle, I support the general idea of competition and letting the TV networks put out their own video website. They may be slow to the game, but they have a right to play. Let’s hope they give the fans (meaning users) something they really want.


Will YouTube replace TV?

November 27, 2006

News:  BBC has a survey of people in Britain who watch online videos.  46% of online viewers say they watch less TV (including 20% who say they watch a lot less TV).  However, online viewers only make up 9% of the British population (although it’s 28% among 16 to 24 year olds), and 54% of online viewers say they still watch the same amount of TV.

Analysis:  The key stat to me is the number of 16 to 24 year olds who watch online videos, 28%.  Advertisers covet the attention of that segment of the population, so one should hardly doubt that there’s a business to be made in online videos.


LA Times op-ed comparing YouTube + MySpace to Napster

November 27, 2006

News:  LA Times editorial writer Jon Haley has an op-ed piece on Sunday, comparing and contrasting YouTube and MySpace to Napster.  Although Haley suggests that YouTube and MySpace are different from Napster because they are websites and have deeper pockets, they could end up like Napster:  “The best result would be for Universal and its entertainment brethren to work out a way with MySpace and YouTube to turn people’s enthusiasm for posting songs and clips into a robust revenue stream — assuming that the sites can gin up enough money to make everybody happy. In another parallel with the original Napster, MySpace and YouTube haven’t found a way yet to generate much revenue from advertisers or users. And the longer that remains true, the greater the chance that the companies will meet the same fate.”

Analysis:  It’s now banal to compare YouTube to Napster.  Mark Cuban did it last month, and I’ve offered all my reasons why I believe he was wrong in all these posts here.  So far, I have to say that my position has proven more accurate, given YouTube’s continued, growing business. 

I think LA Times writer Jon Haley is barking up the wrong tree when he says that YouTube and MySpace may be different from Napster because they are websites (as if Napster wasn’t) and they have deep pockets.  Napster was a website, too; it invoked the DMCA safe harbor as well but was shut down before it even had a chance to take that defense to trial (although it’s not clear it had a DMCA policy in place, anyways).  Also, the fact that YouTube and MySpace have deep (parent) pockets could make it more attractive, not less so, for copyright lawsuits. 

What Haley is missing (and Cuban as well) is that a growing segment of big corporate America — Cingular, CBS, NBC, Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG — sees YouTube as a legitimate business, and a business that can also serve their interests.  That’s a key difference betwen Napster and YouTube.  YouTube is changing the way corporate copyright holders think about enforcing their copyrights.  Here’s what CBS exec David Poltrack stated last week, “When you have something the public really wants, the economic value in that is to come up with a way to satisfy the rights holders and serve the consumers. . .  If they’re [consumers] going to steal it, give it to them anyway.” 

Of course, I don’t want to overstate the change in the view of copyright holders, or understate the risk of copyright liability that YouTube or MySpace faces.  Copyrights still exist, and sometimes (but not always) they give rise to lawsuits.  Universal Music is suing MySpace, but not YouTube.  The DMCA provides a potential safe harbor for YouTube and MySpace, but, if litigated, the issue will be contested.  By the same token, businesses and corporate copyright holders probably understand, more today than they did before, that shutting down Napster was a Pyrrhic victory, that propagated infringement across decentralized, harder-to-detect sites.  In the end, the music, movie, and television industries may need a central site like YouTube to prosper just as much as YouTube needs them. 

UPDATE:  Here’s more evidence to support my theory.  Major media corporations are all searching for the “next YouTube.”  No one said that about Napster, at least not in a good way.


YouTube on demand + on cellphones

November 7, 2006

News:  WSJ reports that YouTube is nearing a deal with Verizon to offer YouTube videos on Verizon’s cellphones and also on demand on its cable service.  (More from Reuters)

Analysis:  This would be a great deal for YouTube, but just how many silly videos can a person watch in one day?


Flash: TV shows go Internet

October 31, 2006

News:  USA Today has an excellent article, Networks work with Net, which discusses how the major networks are putting up more and more videos of at least some of their shows:  “In most cases, episodes are streamed starting the day after broadcast to give fans a chance to catch up on missed episodes and to attract new viewers. In a reverse twist, CBS’ Innertube site will air all seven episodes of canceled serial Smith and have the producers explain where the story was headed.”

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NBC 24/7 video

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The CW

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Analysis:  I just did a quick run through of each of the above sites.  They are getting slicker and slicker.  This is one of those watershed moments that we’ll look back on as being the start of something good.  Bye, bye, TV.