NBC allows free copies of its shows online

January 16, 2008

News: You know that the (copyright) times are changing when NBC is now allowing download copies of some of its most popular shows (instead of just watching them online). It’s part of “NBC Direct” (beta) and it’s all free. I’m assuming the free video downloads contain no DRM, but I haven’t verified that yet.

If you go to this menu, you’ll see that over 20 NBC shows are downloadable, including 30 Rock, Law & Order SVU, The Office, ER, and Heroes.

Analysis: The speed with which the video market is evolving is dizzying. Last year, I never would have expected NBC to allow free downloads of its shows. Presumably, by allowing the free downloads NBC has licensed at least a user to collect the episodes for personal use on her computer, if not also some other noncommercial re-uses. I don’t see a specific statement by NBC on terms of use, though.

The free downloading of NBC shows is also a little surprising, given the rather hard-line copyright position expressed by Rick Cotton in this NYT debate.  I wonder what the difference, as a practical matter, between NBC allowing copying of its free broadcast shows and third parties doing it on their own with their own devices for those very same shows.  If the market for free TV shows eventually adopts a free download practice, then the “piracy” rhetoric seems hollow.  (Movies are different since they are not usually free, either online or offline.)


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.


YouTube’s “Little Loca,” aka Stevie Ryan, premieres tonight on CW network

September 23, 2007

News: Little Loca, aka Stevie Ryan (who in real life is white, even though she plays a Latina on YouTube), gets her own TV show tonight on the CW network, 7:30 p.m. It’s called “Online Nation” and it will be all about amateur user-generated videos. The LA Times has a feature on Stevie in its Sunday edition. Below is a promo:

Analysis: This is ironic. Just as ABC, NBC, and CBS announced this week free videos of their shows online, online amateur videos will be migrating to TV, albeit on the unknown CW network. One day soon, the Internet + TV will be the same thing–or at least delivered on the same device.


User-created content infiltrates TV

March 6, 2007

News:  Jake Coyle has a provocative piece about “TV Networks Embrace YouTube Model,” which discusses how more TV networks are trying to incorporate videos created by their fans. According to Coyle, “VH1, currently airing the third season of ‘Web Junk 20,’ will next month premiere the Jack Black-produced ‘Acceptable TV,’ which attempts to fuse TV with the Web. In February, Nickelodeon debuted a two-hour programming block called ‘ME:TV,’ featuring contributions from 10-year-olds. TLC last week began a six-part documentary series, ‘My Life as a Child,’ where children were given cameras to videotape their lives.”

Current TV, which is shown by cable and satellite carriers in some 40 millions homes, utilized user-created content in “pods” even before YouTube.  On the Current TV site, you can upload your own videos and ads for the network.

Analysis: One day, we should expect to hear that one of the big networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox — has gone with some user-created content.  It’s a natural progression from reality TV, and, since the networks seem to be running out of original ideas, I think users can fill the creativity vaccuum facing the networks.


BBC joins YouTube bandwagon

March 5, 2007

News: Last Friday, the UK-based television network BBC announced a major deal with YouTube to post videos of BBC content. The BBC now has 3 channels on YouTube: (1) BBC, (2) BBC Worldwide, and BBC News (not yet up). BBC will get a cut of the advertising revenue generated by traffic brought to YouTube’s site. (More here)

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Web TV:YouTube in revenue sharing deal to show old TV shows

February 13, 2007

News:  YouTube agreed to revenue sharing deal with Digital Music Group to show 4,000 hours of old TV shows like “I Spy” from the Group’s library.  DMG will get a percentage of revenue from ads appearing alongside its shows.  (More here)

Analysis:  This is genius.  Not to toot my own horn, but I basically came up with the same idea last year when I was talking to a friend about all the many old TV shows that could be revived to generate more income.  This deal is just a scratch of the surface. There are so many old shows that are just collecting dust somewhere in warehouses.  Why aren’t more copyright holders trying to give these old shows a Second Life on the web?


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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