"I believe that I will never shoot

another film... on film."
George Lucas

 

 

Family Movies - 235x100

HIGH TECH NEWS

Have no doubt that we are seeing a great Paradigm Shift...in fact the past few years the pace

of the evolution of the new technologies and how they are going to change the entertainment
business as we know it make the invent of the wireless (radio), the flickers (movies), TV and

black and white TV to color and MTV look like snail pace evolution...to see some of the present

and future of the Internet...visit our 2006 coverage of CES...the Consumer Electronic Show

 

CLICK TO THE FUTURE AT CES

past and present....see our video coverage of CES 07

Marshall McLuhan said,
 "By the time one notices a cultural phenomenon, it has already happened."

 

Verizon Wireless to Launch Live TV

Verizon Wireless will announce its long-awaited live TV service for mobile phones Jan. 7, although it will launch with fewer than one-dozen channels, according to executives at companies involved in the launch.

The announcement is expected at a press conference Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Executives scheduled to speak are Denny Stringl, president and chief operating officer of Verizon Communications; John Stratton, Verizon's executive vice president and chief marketing officer; and Bob Ingalls, executive VP and CMO of the Verizon Telecom business unit.

The live-TV service, provided through Qualcomm’s MediaFLO USA subsidiary, will have channels provided by at least three broadcast networks, according to an executive familiar with the announcement. Until now, Verizon Wireless’ V CAST video service has consisted of only on-demand clips.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc. (NYSE:VIAB - news) on Friday demanded that Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq:GOOG - news) online video service YouTube remove more than 100,000 video clips after they failed to reach a distribution agreement.

Viacom said it sent a notice to YouTube on Friday morning asking the popular video-sharing site to remove clips from Viacom-owned properties including MTV Networks and BET.

The media company controlled by Sumner Redstone said its pirated programs on YouTube have generated about 1.2 billion video streams, based on a study by an outside consultant.

A YouTube spokeswoman said it would comply with the request and added, "It's unfortunate that Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube's passionate audience, which has helped to promote many of Viacom's shows."

-----------------------------------------------------------Western Union
Digital Sales Hit New All-Time Highs
U.S. digital track sales hit a new all-time high in the week after Christmas with 30.1 million sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The flurry of downloading in the final week of the year marks a 51% jump from the 19.9 million digital tracks sold during the same seven-day span a year ago. Additionally, sales of digital albums were up, with volume of just over 1 million bundles - the first time digital album volume has crossed the million plateau for a single week.

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  More Ways to Save on Travel!

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IPTV
If you can't stand to miss one night of Randy and Frances on Channel 7, Internet Protocol Television (or IPTV) may be able to deliver the news anchors to your hotel room. A number of devices use compression technology to relay whatever your set receives at home (via cable or over the air) to other PCs in your home or over the Internet.

Honest Technology Co. ( honestech.com) recently released the My-IPTV & Cam Anywhere Deluxe, a small box that doubles as a security camera and a home TV tuner for playback on PCs.

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FIRMS NOW LOOKING AT MP3 FORMAT, ONCE ANATHEMA, FOR DISTRIBUTION
  Mercury News

For years, the recording industry has fought the popular MP3 music format.

Because consumers can potentially make unlimited copies of MP3 songs, the major record labels have seen the format as a threat to their business. But instead of continuing a battle that many think the industry is losing, some analysts believe the labels are about to embrace the technology and figure out how to make money off of it.

``The record labels recognize that it's tremendously important to protect content from unauthorized distribution,'' said Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, a market research firm focusing on digital media. ``The one goal . . . that trumps that is to sell the legitimate consumer popular music in the form he wants it.''

Some in the music industry have already embraced the popularity of MP3. EMusic, for instance, which focuses on the independent labels that typically handle less popular artists and albums, offers some 1.5 million songs, all in MP3.

And there are indications that the Big Four record labels are starting to come around. This year, Yahoo's music store ran four promotions offering MP3-encoded songs from major artists including Jessica Simpson and Norah Jones.

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Toshiba, HD-DVD's biggest supporter, has been preparing to aggressively push the format at the International CES 2007. In addition, HD-DVD backers will hold a news conference the night before the exhibition, Toshiba executive Yoshihide Fujii said.  

A group of companies supporting the HD DVD format will hold a news conference on January 7 on the eve of the massive consumer electronics exhibition to announce their plans for 2007, Yoshihide Fujii, president and chief executive officer of Toshiba's digital media network company, said Thursday.

Toshiba, which is the biggest backer of the format, will join the news conference and plans an announcement, but Fujii wouldn't disclose what it will be.

----------------------------------------------------------Western Union

Amazon breaks one-day holiday sales record
Amazon.com logged more than 4 million orders on Dec. 11, which bested the online retailer's previous one-day holiday record of 3.6 million a year ago. Online orders ranged from Xbox 360 consoles and iPods to cold-fighting supplements and DVDs.    12/06

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DVD SALES ON THE DECLINE

Persistent year-over-year declining sales of DVDs at Best Buy and Circuit City stores might portend trouble for the movie industry, according to a Wall Street analyst report released Wednesday.

Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield, who raised concerns about the home video industry in October with a report titled "DVD Party is Over" and again last week, said Wednesday that "2007 appears even more ominous for film studios."

His latest beef comes courtesy of Circuit City Stores Inc., which reported a $16 million quarterly loss Tuesday, sending its shares tumbling 17.5% that day.

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PBS EXECUTIVES HAVE humbly figured out they don't know what you want to watch. They have an easier way: You decide.

It's hard enough to figure out what TV viewers want and then gain buzz for new shows. That's especially true for new programs that seemingly fly under the radar on PBS.

So, PBS has decided to premiere three science series pilots on New Year's Day via streaming video on pbs.org. Then PBS television stations will run those pilots starting on Jan. 3. Viewers will then vote for their favorite, which will move on to become a new 10-week series projected to debut in fall 2007.

It's kind of smart for PBS, forming its own public focus group online while shows are more or less in their development stage.  This is the kind of TV interactivity the industry has always talked about.

Commercial broadcast networks currently don't let viewers have this kind of public input. That's what high-paying TV executives get paid for--those who make big, tough, and potential career-winning moves on a "Kidnapped" on NBC or a "3 Lbs" on CBS.

------------------------------------------------------------Western Union

Back Talk From YouTubers

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS is quite happy with its director's channel on YouTube. So happy that it sent out a press release touting its 29.2 million views for its more than 300-plus video clips it has uploaded to the video-sharing site and the viewers its brought to its late night shows.

FROM THE department of I-didn’t-see-it-coming: CBS is getting back into the record business and Oprah Winfrey will start up two prime-time reality series.

CBS had been in the record business for decades until it sold the Columbia Records name to Sony in the late ‘80s. Now the music business is very different, with low start-up fees for developing artists, thanks to the low start-up fees in the digital music space.

CBS feels it can make some money. It certainly has the platform as a marketing tool for those musicians--via television, radio, or on CBS’s broadband channel. CBS doesn’t even need to make a complete CD or albums. It can just release a couple of songs on iTunes, for example. It won’t need the massive overhead of other established record companies

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Internet Leads Advertising Growth In 2007
The New York Times


The ad forecast season is well underway. Yesterday, a flood of forecasts came across our desks from industry analysts and research and consulting firms. Their numbers and prognostications vary, but all point to one glaring fact: 2007 should be a poor year for traditional media.

We don't worry about that here, because the online forecast continues to be rosy. Indeed, in a big way, the Internet will help carry the ad industry's overall growth next year to be between 2% and 5%, according to an average compiled by the New York Times. While this is a lower number than the projected 3% to 6% this year, 2006 was a World Cup, Olympics and election year--all bumped up advertising.

The forecasters peg the percentage gain in Web growth in the high-double digits for next year, while TV, radio and newspapers will either see slowing growth or flat year-to-year ad revenue and, most likely, on-going audience declines. Zenith Optimedia expects Internet ad spending to grow 29% from 2006.

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InDplay: eBay For User-Generated Video
Business Week
The user-generated content movement (or at least the ethics of it) is making its way to the silver screen. A startup called InDplay, which is backed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, seeks to be the middle ground between sites like YouTube and the select world of theater distribution.

For the little-guy filmmakers, the traditional methods of licensing films are too expensive, exclusive and inefficient for almost everyone but major players. InDplay aims to solve that problem by being part eBay, part IMDb (the online movie database). It allows anyone who owns rights to video to register as a seller and upload their content to a database where buyers, representing theaters, DVD, TV, cable Internet sites and wireless channels, bid against one another for the right to distribute their film. They bid via email and purchases are made via PayPal or wire transfer. InDplay makes money by taking an 8% commission.

When you think about the licensing mess that is Hollywood, it seems inevitable that the Web, through digital brokers, should help simplify the process of connecting buyers and sellers of film. In other areas of content distribution, startups like Pump Audio, Zattoo and Lulu are jumping into the digital brokerage market to help niche providers of music, video and book content with audiences online.

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MySpace's Biggest China Problem Isn't Censorship
Marketwatch.com


For News Corp., success in China for MySpace will have a lot less to do with the fact that the Chinese government censors content than the reality that the social network doesn't come from there. None of the major U.S. Internet companies dominate their respective sectors in the Chinese market. Even after Google officially set up shop in the country, censoring its content at the behest of Beijing, Baidu.com lengthened its lead as China's top search engine.

Moreover, online advertising isn't the big business in China that it's become in the U.S. and the EU. The investment bank UBS estimates that the country's online ad sales will reach about $3.6 billion in 2010, up from just $538 million last year. UBS also expects search advertising to be the key driver of online sales during that time, growing at a compounded annual rate of 60% in the next three years.

While Google, Yahoo, and eBay have all stumbled in China, the other difficulty facing MySpace is that other social networks already exist. MySpace may be a powerful brand in the U.S. and certain EU countries, but in China, MSN Spaces does very well, as do video-sharing and social networking startups Tudou, Rox, Wangyou, Uume and Mop.

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Yahoo and Reuters: Now Accepting Citizen Journalist Submissions
The New York Times


A new demand for citizen journalism has come right on the heels of the user-generated video boom. Just yesterday, Reuters and Yahoo announced that anyone with a digital camera or a camera phone could submit pictures and video of news events, to be placed throughout Reuters.com and Yahoo News.

Reuters said it would also start to distribute some of the submissions to the thousands of print, online and broadcast media outlets that subscribe to its news service. It also hopes to develop a site comprised completely of user-submitted photographs and video.

"There is an ongoing demand for interesting and iconic images," said Chris Ahearn, president of the Reuters media group. Reuters and many other news organizations have always bought newsworthy pictures from "stringers," individuals and part-time contributors, but as Ahearn said,this is like seeing the whole world as potential stringers. The Yahoo-Reuters program is called "You Witness News."

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Clear Channel Sold for $26.7 Billion

Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital Win Auction for Radio Stations, Outdoor
November 16, 2006

 

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Clear Channel Radio's days of trying to get Wall Street's respect are over. The radio giant announced today its sale to a group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners, in a deal worth approximately $26.7 billion, which includes the company's $8 billion of net debt repayments.

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 Anheuser-Busch Cos.' 2007 media plans call for significant increases in marketing spending, but network TV shouldn't expect to see any of the No. 1 brewer's expanding largesse.

"We will be significantly increasing our total spent, with revisions in our media mix to reflect the viewing habits of our consumers," Chief Financial Officer Randy Baker told investors in New York this morning. Those revisions, Mr. Baker went on to explain, include a "significant shift into cable," and a doubling of digital spending.   CHICAGO (Adage.com) --

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Clear Channel, Google Join Web Forces
By Ken Tucker, Nashville
 
Two media giants are teaming up to capture bigger shares of the online space.
As expected, Clear Channel Radio’s online unit will exclusively use the search engine Google to provide search and advertising services on its network of more than 1,100 station Web sites.
The advantage to users, according to a Clear Channel release, is that they will be able to run Google searches without leaving station sites.
The bonus for Clear Channel’s local advertisers is that they will be able to have their ads appear first, ahead of ads generated by Google and before users' search results.

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MySpace Enters Japan

MySpace.com and Tokyo-based Internet service provider SoftBank confirmed widespread speculation Tuesday (Nov. 7) by announcing the launch of MySpace Japan.

As previously reported, Tokyo-based MySpace Japan is owned 50-50 by the two companies and is MySpace's first joint venture, as well as its first entry into Asia.

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New Comedy Central Tool Lets Users Syndicate Content
The Hollywood Reporter via Reuters
Viacom on Wednesday announced that its Comedy Central network is refining its broadband strategy, in light of the uncertainty over the presence of its material on video sites like YouTube.

Motherload, Comedy Central's Web site, is now adding a video player that allows users to grab and embed their favorite clips from its shows on their own Web pages. The new video player is part of a broader effort to make over the channel's Web site. The player uses Macromedia Flash, the same format as YouTube, and the clips will be ad-supported. This, by the way, could become a trend for media companies wanting to circumvent the problem of online video copyright infringement: Let users control where your clips end up, as long as you can sell an ad on it.

At present, Viacom's policy with respect to YouTube is unclear. A month ago, the media giant asked YouTube to remove all its Comedy Central clips from the site; later, it mysteriously relented. Sources say a deal between YouTube and Viacom is imminent.

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THE LATEST NEW TECHNOLOGY COMING down the path of change is called switched broadcast. This new bandwidth-expanding technology, hotly pursued by MSOs and telecos, makes it unnecessary to deliver hundreds of channels simultaneously to a subscriber's home. Instead, switched broadcast uses the two-way digital plant to deliver digital content toward addressable nodes. The effect is that only one channel at a time is delivered to a digital set-top box (and TV), not the hundreds of channels we receive today.

This dramatic change in distribution technology, which is largely invisible to the consumer, allows operators to free up valuable bandwidth behind the scenes for (what else) additional digital services.

Switched broadcast is presently being deployed by a number of MSOs--and yes, the telecos have likewise been very keen on this from day one. The benefits to bandwidth are obvious when calculated in the "bits moved" savings realized by the operators, but consumers will also benefit by virtue of faster broadband delivery, more telephony services, improvements in on-demand services, etc. So what's the big deal? All this accomplishes is to bring more profitability to the MSOs and telecos, right? Not exactly.

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Free AOL Smells Like Bubble 2.0
The New York Times
Yes, it's 1999 all over again. Web start-ups are cropping up with names like Bebo, Squidoo and Moblabber. Start-ups like YouTube, less than 1 year old and unprofitable, are being sold for $1.65 billion. And the business plan known as Free has returned.

But the difference these days is established companies like News Corp., Google and Yahoo are taking the gamble on startups that don't make any money--not investors--although they will lose if the gambles turn out to be ill-advised. The most surprising participant in "Web Bubble 2.0," is Time Warner's AOL. Still, shareholders have applauded the company's decision to phase out of the ISP market to offer content for free.

For a small number of Web newbies, the model of trying to be all things to all people is great, but if you know how to find your IP address, subscribe to RSS feeds, or know what "FWIW" stands for, AOL, Yahoo et. al., are too mass-market for your tastes

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Social networking goes mobile
In a new twist on social networking, the startup known as loopt will team with Boost Mobile to offer the company's 3.8 million users, mostly aged under 25, the ability to track their friends through text, photos and GPS technology. "Historically, that MySpace generation has been connected to the personal computer and the personal computer only," said James Brehm, wireless analyst with Frost & Sullivan. "This is the next step and it's a giant leap -- it allows you to do it on the move."   The Mercury News (11/14
Cingular to offer wireless banking service
Cingular Wireless plans to launch a mobile-phone banking service early next year in a deal with Firethorn Holdings LLC. Cingular said the wireless banking service will work on most handsets and will allow users to check account balances, transfer funds and pay bills.   Reuters (11/15),   The Wall Street Journal (11/15)

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Six airlines, including Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, will offer passengers iPod seat connections by the middle of next year. The connections will power and charge iPods during flight and allow travelers to view the video content on seat-back displays.

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The growth potential of Internet advertising has been underestimated because the predictions did not include advertising on video, social media or mobiles, Terry Semel, CEO of Yahoo, said Tuesday.

In a speech in London, Semel said predictions for online advertising had covered only graphical and search advertising.

"Video, as you all know, will become a major factor on the Internet," he told the Internet Advertising Bureau Engage 2006 conference.

"It will be ever present throughout the Internet, and it will find its proper way to advertise," he said. "So whether it's mobile or whether it's video or whether it's more and more community (social-networking sites), these factors have not gone into those numbers, so we think the actual growth potential of advertising online is really being understated."

Semel said sponsorship, different forms of advertising, and more innovative and clever ways to integrate advertising with video online would all develop quickly.

Media-buying and -planning firm ZenithOptimedia has said the Internet will receive a greater share of global advertising spending this year than outdoor outlets such as billboards, and it is set to overtake radio soon.  Reuters Nov/06

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TV Execs View YouTube as Friend, Not Foe

At the 'Future of Television Forum'

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Here's one group of people you wouldn't expect to be big fans of YouTube: network TV executives. In a panel discussion at the Future of Television Forum at New York University's Stern School of Business, David Poltrack, CBS's chief research officer, said YouTube has yet to do anything to adversely affect his network's programming.
No one wants to take [their content] off YouTube,' said CBS chief research officer David Poltrack.


What consumers want
"We're in a position right now where no one wants to take [content off YouTube]," he said. "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."

While iTunes put a legal spin on music piracy, Mr. Poltrack said TV thrives better online if users can still stream content for free from the networks' ad-supported models.

"If they're [consumers] going to steal it, give it to them anyway," he said. "But also make it easier to access and present it better than YouTube or BitTorrent or anywhere else."

With TV moving into iPods and cellphones with varying levels of features, the mobility vs. quality debate is one that is increasingly shaking up the TV business, said David Del Beccaro, president-CEO and founder of Music Choice.

High-def and high-tech
"When we survey consumers, the No. 1 technology they want is high-definition TV," he said. "So there's two things going on simultaneously -- the experience is getting more and more interactive while it expands in its distribution on small screens. But what's ideal for consumers right now is surround sound with a high-definition TV set."

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Experts predict boom in USB drives for data storage
USB drives, capable of backing up data from virtually any kind of operating system, are proving to be "one of the most useful and affordable tools anyone can have," one user says. Although the drives have been around for a while, big jumps in storage capacities and sharp drops in prices could lead to widespread adoption

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A new study from Kagan Research predicts that the video on demand business is still a "major" potential revenue stream, predicting that VOD will become a $1 billion-plus business by the end of the year.

That comes despite acknowledgment of various potential hurdles, including bandwidth constraints--cable is pushing hard to convert bandwdith-hungry analog customers to digital--competition from DVRs, and digital rights management issues.

But Kagan says that the growth will come primarily from sub growth in existing VOD operations, rather than systems adding VOD.

Kagan estimates there were 26.2 million VOD homes through the first six months of 2006, or about 86% of all digital cable homes, with that VOD component growing to as much as 65 million homes within 10 years, it predicts.

The study says subscription VOD accounted for about 10.5 million homes in 2005, projected to grow to 16.3 million by the end of 2006.

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As video sites like YouTube and Revver continue to surge with Web users, traditional media outlets are struggling to transform their Web sites into video platforms.

This morning, Jonathan Klein, president of CNN in the United States, told an audience at the Ad:Tech conference in New York that CNN streams 50 million short videos a month. YouTube, by contrast, streams more than 100 million videos a day.

"There are tricks to converting users into viewers," Klein said, implying that traditional media hasn't quite figured those tricks out. But, realistically, it's hard to imagine any tricks that will work to increase TV viewer ship online during the day. The most obvious reason: It's a lot easier for people to quietly read text at a cubicle than try to watch--and listen to--TV-like clips on CNN.com. If publishers like CNN are counting on people accessing the content from home, they're going to have to give the audience something beyond typical TV content. After all, when people want to watch Anderson Cooper, they can do so at home on a big screen, without the bandwidth-related glitches that still occur online.

Netflix, Inc.

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Can Daily Motion Challenge YouTube?

The French video-sharing site already has 16 million page-views a day. Can it resist its giant U.S. rival by going international?

As the video-sharing phenomenon spreads worldwide, one of the few local sites to tackle the YouTube behemoth has emerged in the heart of Old Europe. With 9,000 new videos pouring in each day and daily page views surpassing the 16 million mark, Paris-based site Daily Motion looks poised to grab a piece of Europe's fastest-growing online audience.

It's not surprising that France, with its strong cultural and linguistic identity, should give rise to a non-English video-sharing site. In fact, Daily Motion (www.dailymotion.com) actually was online before YouTube, which formally became a part of Google on Nov. 14. "Any country that has its own language is absolutely ripe for specialized content," says Mark Mulligan, an analyst with Jupiter Research in London. "There's a clear opportunity for the competition to steal a chunk of the French market."

The question is, how much? Despite its late entry into France, YouTube already has managed to grab 9.1% reach there, compared with 10.3% for Daily Motion, according to figures from market tracker comScore. Across Europe, YouTube has around 10% to 12% reach, vs. 2% for Daily Motion. About half the video clips on Daily Motion are in French, with many of the rest in English.

Outflanking Google

Of course, Daily Motion dreams of big growth. But in recognition of YouTube's clout, it is also adjusting its strategy to exploit other opportunities. That includes enabling uploads to the site directly from Webcams (something YouTube hasn't done yet), and drawing heavily on local content—say, highlights of the latest Perpignan-Béziers rugby match, or presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal's most recent TV interview.

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Online Video Poised For Big Growth
eMarketer
In a recent poll, the American Association of Advertising Agencies said overwhelmingly that online video would show the greatest growth among new media in 2006. Some 50% of the group's ad agency reps said online video would show the most growth--followed by podcasting, with 30%, and blogs, the remaining 20%.

Stats from eMarketer back those claims: According to the research aggregator, spending on online video will reach $410 million this year--an 82% gain over last year's $225 million. In two years, eMarketer says spending should top $1 billion--and by 2010, as bandwidth becomes cheaper and content delivery speeds are even faster, Internet video advertising will be a nearly $3 billion business.

In a new eMarketer report, analyst David Hallerman points out that this still represents a small percentage of overall online spending. This year's $410 million contributes just 2.6 percent to the $16 billion total. Although the vast majority of dollars go to the biggest players, YouTube and other viral providers should increase their share of online spending 10%.

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Adinterax is bought by Yahoo.com

Amid criticism that is has missed out on some of the larger recent deals in the online media space due to its slow moving nature, Yahoo has announced a pair of smaller investments in companies that should help bolster its own advertising offerings.

First, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has acquired a 20 percent investment in Right Media, a company that operates an automated Web-based exchange for the buying and selling on online advertising through an open auction. According to the company, more than two billion impressions are traded each day on the exchange, with more than 11,000 buyers and seller participating.

As part of the deal, Yahoo says it will begin selling some of its own remnant ad inventory within the Right Media Exchange, which mostly features inventory from second tier publishers, such as Looksmart. Yahoo said it does not plan to sell its premium ad units through the exchange.

"Yahoo believes an open and transparent ad exchange is an innovative new distribution channel for non-premium inventory and encourages competition in the market," said Greg Coleman, Yahoo's executive vp, global media sales. "Participating in Right Media's leading exchange is consistent with our strategy to extend Yahoo's audience to additional marketers, and to help them deliver the right ad to the right person at the right time."

Secondly, Yahoo said it has struck a deal to acquire AdInterax, a company that produces rich media advertising technology and tools, in its entirety for an undisclosed amount. Going forward, Yahoo said it plans to offer its graphical advertisers access to set of AdInterax tools which will enable them to produce more dynamic creative executions that boast of more sight sound and motion - free of charge.

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Netflix, Inc.

October 23, 2006
AOL To Offer Movie, TV Show Downloads
 

 
Movies and television shows from Paramount Pictures will be available for sale through AOL's new video portal under a deal announced Monday.

Classics such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Chinatown" and newer releases like "Mission: Impossible III" will be sold for US$9.99 to $19.99 each, comparable to fees at online services CinemaNow, MovieLink and Guba as well as sites operated by MySpace owner News Corp.

Consumers will own the movies and can transfer them to as many as three other computers or portable devices that support Microsoft's Windows Media Player technology.

As more Americans get high-speed broadband connections at home, studios and television networks have been experimenting with ways to distribute their programs over the Internet. Some show programs for free on their Web sites or at AOL with ads, while others sell them outright through Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, Amazon.com's Unbox and others.

The Paramount offerings, which include television specials, are for sale only.

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GOOGLE BUYS YOUTUBE.COM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Web search leader Google Inc. on Monday said it agreed to acquire top video entertainment site YouTube Inc. for $1.65 billion in stock, putting a lofty new value on consumer-generated media sites.

The deal, the first to value one of the new crop of user-participation Web sites at more than $1 billion, combines two of the most popular Internet brands: Google, synonymous with Web search and rapid innovation, and YouTube, a Silicon Valley upstart that has spearheaded the video-sharing craze.

In anticipation of the acquisition, investors pushed shares of Google up $8.50, or 2 percent, on Nasdaq on Monday to a closing price of $429.00 -- a level not seen since late April. In extended-hours trade following the announcement of the deal, Google stock dipped to $427.63.

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AOL Needs To Narrow Focus
BusinessWeek.com
As AOL's identity crisis persists, what can Time Warner do to bring its limping Internet division back to prominence? The move to gradually dump its dinosaur Internet service was a good one, but now the company needs a content strategy to keep customers. Video, of course, has to somehow figure into that mix, and while AOL has forged some nice content deals with TV studios, music labels and parent Time Warner, its myriad competitors have done the same thing. Why should users go to AOL to see video content when you can find the highlights (however illegally) on YouTube?

Besides, content deals just aren't that big a deal anymore. Yesterday, the Time Warner company announced it would offer Paramount Studios' movies and television shows on its site, but you can already do that at Movielink. And many Web users will just continue to download content illegally, anyway.

So how does Time Warner right the ship? Some experts think the future of Web content is about specialization. For example, YouTube is the destination for user-generated video. Yahoo! Finance and MarketWatch are places you go for stock quotes and company news. Facebook is the social destination for college kids. You gotta be "relevant to me," says David Martin of Interbrand. In other words, pick a career path, and stick to it. Then fight to get to the top. - Read the whole story...

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Netflix, Inc.

Yahoo Sees Social-Networking Sites Competing For Ads
Reuters
There is big-time pressure now on Yahoo to make a purchase after Google's assumption of YouTube and poor third-quarter earnings. Its Web audience--Yahoo's core currency--is moving away from its portal service and spending more time on social media sites like MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook. In fact, it blames its weak fourth-quarter outlook on a glut of competing social networking sites.

Speculation is rife that Yahoo might still be trying to buy Facebook--as MySpace and YouTube are no longer for sale--but both parties appear to be deadlocked over price. "Facebook is only of value if Yahoo pays the right price," says Jim Friedland, analyst with Cowen & Co., referring to the $1 billion price tag that's been floated.

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New Tool Broadens Google's Reach, Adds Customization For Publishers
The New York Times
Google copies Yahoo? How's that for a change? On Monday, the world's No. 1 search engine rolled out a new tool that lets Web sites and blogs offer visitors a customized version of Google Web search. The new product lets Web site owners control search results, choosing which pages they want to include in their index and ranking them accordingly. It's also free.

To build a custom index, users fill out a Web-based form, and are then given a code for a search box that they cut and paste into their own Web pages. The ease is astounding, and should help drive Google's reach and usage.

Andrew Frank, a research director with market research group Gartner, also likes the move. "This definitely helps improve the relevance and skip the noise."

 

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Pictures, With Map and Pushpin Included

KATHLEEN BENNETT recently bought a device that keeps track of her location with help from the satellites of the Global Positioning System. But unlike many other people in Seattle, Ms. Bennett is not, by her own description, “an outdoor person” and will not be using it to find her way through the wilderness.

Instead, the new gadget is an accessory for Ms. Bennett’s personal passion, photography. She is one of many people who have taken up geotagging, which, broadly speaking, is the practice of posting photos online that are linked to Web-based maps, showing just where in the world the shutter was pressed.

“It’s kind of a geek obsession,” said Ms. Bennett, who is a software engineer. “But it’s also a combination of the geek aspect, the community aspect and the love of good old-fashioned travel photography.”

Somewhat like geocaching, the G.P.S.-based twist on treasure hunts, geotagging could be viewed as something that was invented so people would have some use for their hand-held satellite-based location finders.

But advocates of geotagging, like Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of the photo-sharing Web site Flickr, contend that linking pictures to maps can lend a new dimension to photography. For one thing, it can help people make some sense of the mounds of photos accumulating on their hard drives.

“The value may not be immediately apparent. But 10 years from now, nobody who’s geotagging their photos is going to regret it,” Mr. Butterfield said. “Most people have just one or two or three iconic photos of their grandparents. Now people are going to have tens of thousands of photos, and when that happens, every little bit of context helps.”

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GoogTube Deal to Change Media Economics
The Hollywood Reporter
Together, Google and YouTube present the first viable new-media successor to broadcast and cable television, which has "squandered the ad-supported critical mass they have enjoyed" for decades, says the trade press. There is no going back from a Web-based, on-demand media future, and the Google-YouTube infrastructure will offer the tools needed to manage and monetize that future.

The implications are twofold: One, the cost of content creation will fall rapidly; two, the best content from consumers and professional producers alike will rise to the top, lessening the studios' influence over media consumption.

YouTube is a brilliant buy for Google, because viral video sites reflect the demands of a younger, first-mover consumer base that, like MySpace, will broaden in age as it matures. Once you combine Google's unmatched searching technology with YouTube's 100 million-plus videos, and add the ability to charge consumers a fee to access or charge advertisers for accessing quantifiable targeted consumers, you get an efficient, lucrative new-media model.

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NBC Restructuring, Looking For Fewer And Better Light Bulbs

 AS IT DOES WITH ITS light bulbs, General Electric wants better brightness and efficiency from NBC. The network is now focusing first on effectiveness, hoping illumination comes soon afterward.

Thus GE's NBC Universal Television Group has finally gotten around to focusing on layoffs--of perhaps as many as 700 NBC employees. In 2001, with NBC still No. 1, the network cut almost 600 jobs. Now that it's in fourth place--though some programming conditions are improving--sizable layoffs will be a lot easier to understand, like throwing a light switch.

An obvious problem area is NBC's news operations-- targeting its still-in-last-place cable network MSNBC. But that's not all. Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal Television Group, has said that scripted programming is too expensive, and not enough advertisers are interested. So for scripted shows, expect cheaper deals--or no deals.

NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright said the company instead would move increasingly toward digital media as a way to restore the company to double-digit growth next year. GE's earnings showed NBC profitability sinking 10% in the last couple of quarters--though the company promised better profits in the fourth quarter.

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  More Ways to Save on Travel!

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Bertelsmann Establishes Venture Capital Fund for Digital Media

Bertelsmann has established a venture capital fund for digital media investments and created a company to execute these investments. With an initial funding of Euros 50 million ($62.8 million), the mission of the new Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) is to tap into new technologies and digital media innovations to support Bertelsmann's divisions across the media landscape.

Richard Sarnoff, president of Random House's corporate development group and its venture arm, Random House Ventures, will also serve as president of BDMI. He will report to Bertelsmann's CFO Thomas Rabe in this capacity and will continue to be based in New York.

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UMG Enters The Media Biz
The New York Post
Universal Music Group, which just filed a copyright-infringement suit against video-sharing sites Grouper and Bolt, is launching a new Internet service that will give consumers legal access to the record label's catalog of artists. The move may be an assault on YouTube, since UMG just signed a deal last week. Rob Wells, the senior vice president of UMG International, described the subscription-based service, which launches in the UK today, as "a direct-to-consumer broadcast network which is completely under Universal Music's control."

Wells might want to note that "control" isn't the future of media, which is precisely why YouTube and MySpace are dominating media headlines while pundits continue to forecast the death of "old" media companies that are unwilling or unable to adapt to a Web-based, consumer-controlled future.

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Video-sharing Web site YouTube Inc. struck content deals Monday (Oct. 9) with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and CBS Corp.
Vivendi's Universal Music Group said Monday it agreed to give YouTube viewers access to thousands of music videos. The company said it and its artists will be compensated not just for the official videos, but also for user-generated content that incorporates Universal's music.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Universal Music Group said it will also use technology to filter out copyrighted content not authorized to appear on the YouTube site.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, also said Monday it will make video content available on YouTube -- and will also let YouTube users include some catalog songs in their own amateur video uploads.

Sony BMG said it will share advertising revenue with YouTube for all music videos that incorporate audio or video works from the Sony BMG library.

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CBS and yahoo cut a deal

It's clear that TV networks are still experimenting to come up with the best way to place programs on the Web.

This morning, CBS and Yahoo unveiled yet another variation. A new deal between the companies calls for Yahoo to start offering news clips from 16 local CBS affiliates. Each will offer between 10 and 20 news video clips per day, while Yahoo will sell ads and share the revenue with CBS.

This deal marks the latest in a myriad of different strategies TV companies employ to distribute content on the Web. Consider, TV networks now sell entire shows on iTunes, stream programs from their own Web sites, distribute series on social networking sites, debut programs on portals, place short clips on YouTube and cut deals with Google.

 

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McCollum: TV industry latching on to evolving technologies

Mercury News  October 2006

Just about this time last year, Apple and the Walt Disney Co. dropped a bomb on the television industry: the announcement that series episodes from Disney-owned ABC and the Disney Channel would be available to download on Apple's new video iPod.

At the time, television executives were more than a bit skittish about new technology and delivery systems for their products. That was particularly true regarding Web-based formats, which generated fears of piracy and of diluting the viewership numbers that networks and non-premium cable channels use to sell advertising.

But the Apple-Disney deal jump-started a rush to alternative ways of bringing TV shows into American homes. Just 12 months later, the major networks and cable channels are making a growing amount of their product available for free or for nominal charges on a wide range of platforms: iTunes, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, AOL, their own Web sites and cable's video on demand (VOD).

You even can get video clips -- although rarely full episodes of shows -- via still-nascent cell-phone technology being used by Cingular, Sprint Nextel and Verizon.

The changes are taking place so rapidly that Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, has said, ``We are changing our tires on a car going 80 miles an hour.''

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Interview: Eric Schmidt, Google CEO
Financial Times Oct 2006
In an interview with Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, post-YouTube, the British paper wanted to know how the company justified paying $1.65 billion for a company that had yet to earn a dime. Schmidt's answer: We have the best advertising system in the world--and soon, we'll be able to apply it to video, too. "The real reason," he added, "was not the money, and not even the advertising--it was because we believe that video is going to be, and is sort of already, one of the most important new media types on the Internet."

But isn't everyone trying to move into online video? Media companies are clamoring to find an online business model, and most would prefer to drive consumers to their Web sites rather than license it to other sites and settle for a smaller cut of the revenue. Schmidt stressed: "We see ourselves as a technology provider and a distribution network. We're not in the content business... We want those media partners to put their media content ... into this emergent new and much larger system as a result of the YouTube acquisition." In other words, Google wants to force everyone to make friends so everyone benefits, but Google most of all.

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iTunes Offers PBS Shows

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2006  PBS IS MAKING ITS POPULAR shows, including "Nova," available on Apple's iTunes download store. New additions to iTunes include "Antiques Roadshow," "Now," and "Scientific American Frontiers," plus kids' shows "Arthur," "Cyberchase," and "Fetch!"

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The Emmy’s Come to CES
The Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards
Cocktails: 6 p.m.
Dinner: 7 p.m. after Opening Ceremonies
Monday, January 8, 2007, The Venetian

The prestigious Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards will for the first time be presented at CES. The Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards honor achievements in two areas: Science & Technology for Television, which includes broadcast, cable and satellite distribution, and secondly, Advanced Media Technology encompassing interactive television, gaming technology, and for the first time, the Internet, cellphones, private networks and personal media players. In addition, for the first time, Emmy Awards will be presented for the best use of Advanced Media Technology by commercials as well as programmers.

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Tower Records, the music industry's most famous retail brand, will be liquidated

After a 30-hour auction, the process was won by the lead-bidder, Great American, who put together a consortium of other suitors who were bidding on different components of the retailer. The winning bid was $134.3 million.

“It's a sad day for the music business and I feel badly for all Tower employees," says Jim Urie, president of Universal Music Group Distribution. "Tower was probably the greatest brand that will ever exist in music retail.”

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Fox Streams Prime-time Shows On MySpace.com
by Wendy Davis
Aiming to build momentum for its Fall TV programs, News Corp. Tuesday expanded the roster of Fox shows available online for free. Fox has placed episodes from the current season of "Bones," "Prison Break," "Standoff," "Vanished," "Justice," "Talk Show With Spike Feresten," "'Til Death," and "The Loop" on MySpace.com and Web sites of 24 local affiliates

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When MySpace first launched, it had a strong following among youngsters, especially young musicians and their friends. But now, the over-35s have joined the bandwagon.

New data released this week by comScore shows the majority of MySpace visitors now are over 35. As the presence of boomers and Gen-Xers has grown, the share of visits from younger users has decreased. The proportion of MySpace's audience between the ages of 12 and 24 dropped to 30 percent from 44.3 percent over the last year, per comScore.

These numbers don't signify that teens are abandoning MySpace, but do show the site is skewing older than in the past. And for MySpace, this shift likely is welcome news, as it gives the company an opportunity to broaden its marketing efforts. After all, how many 15-year-olds are going to look at ads about mortgages?

In fact, Fox itself seems to be encouraging this demographic shift, with moves such as placing a "Simpsons" clip on the site. Considering the show is in its 18th season, Fox has reason to think a good number of fans are older than 35.

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MySpace Founder Seeks Buyout Probe by Wendy Davis, Friday, Oct 6, 2006 8:45 AM ET BRAD GREENSPAN, FOUNDER OF FORMER MySpace parent company Intermix Media Inc., Thursday asked the federal authorities to investigate the company's $580 million acquisition by News Corp.

In a report posted at the site www.freemyspace.com, he claims that MySpace is actually worth somewhere around $20 billion--or around 35 times what News Corp. paid for the company. "News Corp.'s market valuation has increased by approximately $12 billion dollars since the transaction occurred less than a year ago," states the report. "As a publicly traded company, Myspace would likely command an even greater valuation which was the path Myspace was going down for the benefit of Intermix shareholders and Myspace users in the early summer of 2005."

Greenspan is asking that News Corp.'s purchase of MySpace be undone and MySpace restored as "an independent online network owned by the public." In addition, he's asking that Intermix shareholders be compensated.

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Apple Computer Inc. has partnered with Starbucks Entertainment and launched today (Oct. 5) a Starbucks-branded area in the iTunes Music Store.

The area features the coffee retailer's entire Hear Music catalog, which includes albums by new and classic artists, plus compilations and playlists chosen by the Starbucks music staff. Customers can purchase either an entire playlist or individual tracks from the Starbucks Hear Music playlists.

No specific marketing plans or cross promotions were revealed, but Starbucks president Ken Lombard tells Billboard.biz the retailer's stores will carry "significant signage" marketing the partnership. Apple's vice president of iTunes, Eddy Cue, offered no forthcoming marketing plans exploiting the reach of the two brands.

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MERGER AND ACQUISITION ACTIVITY IN online media grew dramatically in the first three quarters of this year, compared to 2005, according to media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc.

The online media industry saw 131 deals in the first nine months of this year--up from 72 in the same time frame of 2005, according to Jordan, Edmiston. But without any blockbuster deals this year, the total value of online media mergers and acquisitions came to only $5.17 billion--down from $8.14 billion last year.

"In 2005 we had a wave of large acquisitions, from MySpace to AskJeeves to MarketWatch, and now there's a lot more middle-market deals," said Adam Gross, vice president of marketing and communications for Jordan, Edmiston. "But these are very, very dynamic businesses, in the forefront of where online businesses are going."

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Starbucks Harnesses Social Networking For Book Club
by Wendy Davis
Starbucks this week started running a promotion for its nascent book club at the social networking site Gather.com. The site Tuesday debuted a Starbucks-sponsored page on Gather.com touting Mitch Albom's "For One More Day," which Starbucks is promoting as part of its foray into entertainment sales.

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Will Murdoch Swap MySpace For DirecTV?
Financial Times
DirecTV, once the cornerstone of News Corporation's media strategy, no longer means what it once did to chairman Rupert Murdoch. Now, he's considering swapping his $9 billion stake in the satellite operator with rival John Malone. Liberty Media Chairman Malone actually owns a 19 percent voting stake in News Corp., 11 percent less than the Murdoch family. In 2004, Murdoch introduced a poison pill to curtail Malone from acquiring more shares. The result was that the Murdoch family could not increase their stake, either. Since then, the media moguls have gone back and forth as allies and enemies, but the most recent round of negotiations would swap Malone's stake in News Corp. for Murdoch's stake in Liberty Media Group, the owner of DirecTV. People close to the talks say a deal looked likely, although nothing is expected for several weeks. "News Corp., and Rupert Murdoch in particular, would prefer that Liberty and John Malone not control 19 percent of News Corp

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Nathan Weinberg at Inside Google is claiming that YouTube has moved ahead of Google Video in terms of popularity. I totally agree. But it’s not just Google - these guys have moved ahead of everybody! This week, I caught a roundup of the “Flickrs of video” - here’s the list:

-Clipshack
-VSocial
-Grouper
-GoogleVideo
-Metacafe
-Castpost
-Vimeo
-Revver
-OurMedia

YouTube is way ahead of many of these services - YouTube videos are appearing on blogs and websites all over the place. OurMedia is also excellent, but it’s a non-profit and I’m more interested in startups right now. I’m also a fan of Grouper - it’s definitely one to watch.

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UNLAWFUL INTERNET GAMBLING ENFORCEMENT ACT

In an unexpected turn of events, Congress early Saturday morning passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which bars banks and credit-card companies from processing payments for Internet gambling.

There had been rumblings about shutting down the $12 billion online gambling industry for months, but it didn't seem likely that the House and Senate would agree on wording. Until last weekend, that is, when last-minute maneuvers resulted in the bill's passage in both chambers of Congress. The act hasn't been signed into law yet, but that's expected within the next two weeks.

The law's effects are already being felt. Stock of the major Web gambling companies traded in London plummeted yesterday. Additionally, three companies--Gibraltar-based PartyGaming PLC (which runs PartyPoker.com) and 888 Holdings PLC and London-based Sportingbet--said they would stop doing business with U.S. gamblers.

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Napster too had copyright issues. Mark Cuban warns that YouTube is going to have its own copyright issues--ones that have kept big media buyers at bay--or perhaps have angered them. (NBC did have an early tussle with YouTube because of a "Saturday Night Live" clip, but are now good friends and marketing partners with them.)

Cuban was speaking during last week's Advertising Week festivities, as was NBC Universal chairman Bob Wright. Wright talked about YouTube but didn't focus on its copyright issues. He was more concerned about the type of success YouTube had.

Wright called YouTube and MySpace "hits"--akin to what comes, and, unfortunately, goes, in the prime-time TV business. More stable players seem to be those like Google and Yahoo--companies more akin to what a "network" is.

For his own company, NBC Universal takes a wait-and-prove approach when it comes to Internet properties--thus the purchase of the long-time stable Web area, iVillage. Of course, that's what ex-Viacom chairman Tom Freston was trying to do--go after a proven, longtime performer--all because he had a looming boss ready to pounce on any over-priced Internet deal. MySpace, was the company, and he let it go to News Corp. Freston's boss pounced anyway--on him.

That said, even News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has been shocked at the success of MySpace. News Corp. paid $580 million for MySpace. Analysts say in a few years it could be worth $15 billion to $20 billion. Yeah, that's right. Someone made a mistake at News Corp.; MySpace was supposed to be a more modest player.

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MSN To Stream Live Concerts

by Shankar Gupta, Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 6:00 AM ET NETWORK LIVE, THE COMPANY THAT produced Live 8, has discontinued its relationships with AOL and signed a new distribution deal with MSN to produce live concerts for Webcast. Network Live also has rebranded under the new name Control Room.

For the deal, Control Room will provide 36 concerts in the next year, starting with a Webcast of pianist John Legend's upcoming concert in London on Oct. 2.

AOL, XM Satellite and live event presenting company AEG previously worked with Network Live to produce Webcasts. That deal was entered into after last year's successful Live 8 Webcast. A spokeswoman for Network Live said that the new partnership with MSN provided global reach in its distribution network, greater than what AOL could offer.

Christine Andrews, lead product manager for MSN, said that the deal was part of the portal's push toward offering more original content. "They have the relationships with the labels and the people in the music industry to bring concerts online," she said. "We will be the distribution partners for them, offering the concerts live and on demand."

Andrews added that MSN would be responsible for monetizing the live video content with ads, and the company will sell the space through its newly formed Digital Advertising Solutions team.

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The U.S. government is loosening its grip on the domain name system and the Internet

ICANN -- the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -- a greater measure of autonomy in making decisions about the future of the Internet.

ICANN described the organization's new pact with the U.S. Department of Commerce as "a dramatic step forward."

ICANN, a private, nonprofit international organization, currently oversees the domain name system under a contract that was to expire on September 30. The organization has been the target of much criticism in the U.S. and abroad for conducting its business in private and for keeping the domain name system within U.S. control.

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Microsoft Consolidates Ad Sales

by Shankar Gupta, Monday, Sep 25, 2006 6:00 AM ET AIMING TO STREAMLINE ITS AD sales, Microsoft Corp. is launching a new division, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, that will allow marketers to purchase ad inventory across all of the company's various properties--including MSN, the adCenter paid search platform, PCs, Xbox Live, and Web-enabled mobile phones--from one sales rep.

The company is aiming to help advertisers save time and effort when buying across multiple media in an increasingly fragmented marketplace, according to Joanne Bradford, corporate vice president of global sales and marketing. "We're addressing the reality of media fragmentation and enabling advertisers to get back to what they do best: creating engaging and creative ads," she said in a statement.

The group also will handle sales into Windows Live, Office Online, and Windows Mobile, as well as through Massive Incorporated, a video game ad network that Microsoft purchased in April. Microsoft says its MSN properties garner 465 million visitors worldwide.

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 Netflix, Inc.

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Yahoo Buys Online Video-Editing Company

by Wendy Davis, Thursday, Sep 28, 2006 6:00 AM ET ONLINE PORTAL YAHOO HAS ACQUIRED Jumpcut, a San Francisco video-sharing start-up that offers consumers the ability to not only upload clips, but also to edit them online. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Jumpcut, which launched in April, has done promotional deals with several entertainment companies, including Warner Bros., Starz Entertainment, Fox Atomic and New Line Cinema. For the initiatives, studios have made their own videos available and then invited consumers to use Jumpcut's editor to re-mix the clips by incorporating their own videos.

For instance, New Line Cinema is sponsoring a contest inviting users to create videos of their own worst nightmare using footage from "Friday the 13th." Because Jumpcut has a flash-based editor, users don't have to leave their browsers to create the mash-ups.

Earlier this summer, Jumpcut posted a trailer for the Warner Bros. film "A Scanner Darkly," and then offered users the chance to compete to make the best re-mix.

Jumpcut will continue to reside on its own site, Jumpcut.com, but Yahoo also intends to integrate the feature into its other verticals, said Jason Zajac, vice president, general manager of Yahoo's Social Media Group.

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Yahoo Music's digital subscription service is now offering a complete album in unprotected MP3 format—Jesse McCartney's "Right Where You Want Me." The service's customers can choose to buy the full album in either unprotected MP3 or in the traditional Windows Media DRM format, both for the same price of $9.99.

This is a much bigger step in the unprotected sales experiment from Yahoo's original foray—a personalized single from Jessica Simpson. Both Yahoo Music and Sony BMG downplayed the DRM-free track, saying it was a result of the track's customization feature that adds buyer's names into the lyrics of the song.

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Microsoft Corp. will start testing on Tuesday (Sept. 19) an Internet video-sharing service called Soapbox, the software company's answer to Web sensation YouTube.

Soapbox (http://soapbox.msn.com) is one facet of Microsoft's strategy to create attractive Internet content to lure away billions of Web advertising dollars from market leaders Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

Offering everything from funny home videos made by users to clips from old TV shows, YouTube sprung out of nowhere late last year as an entertainment break for millions of broadband Web surfers. In August, the site had 34 million visitors, according to Nielsen NetRatings.

Soapbox will be offered to a limited number of users during an invitation-only test phase, but Microsoft said on Monday it will go fully live as a part of MSN Video within six months.

"We're definitely not blind to the fact that YouTube has a big lead right now," said Rob Bennett, general manager of MSN's entertainment and video services. "It's really early days in online video. This is still act one."

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AT&T Moves Into Web TV
Reuters  Sept  06
It was expected that AT&T would take a stab at Web TV, following in the footsteps of competitors like Sprint Nextel and Comcast. Today, the telecom giant is unveiling AT&T Broadband TV, which will be available to high-speed Web users for $20 per month. Subscribers get access to 20 channels, which they can watch on a computer, laptop or mobile device, provided that their Web connection is at least 500 kilobits per second. The idea is that AT&T will eventually be able to offer Web and TV service from the same place for one combined price, but their big problem is competition from all sides of the media and technology sector. The Web enables content providers to circumvent the need for distributors, allowing them to publish their content on the Web themselves. ABC is the best early example of this, showing hits like "Desperate Housewives" on its site, along with long-form ads. Then there are movie download and online video services, which are popping up all over the Web at a dime a dozen. But the biggest potential Web TV killer is Sling Media's Sling Box, which at $200 lets viewers watch their cable channels on Web-connected devices with no monthly fee. AT&T is teaming with streaming services provider MobiTV to offer the service, which supplies programming from the Food Network, the History Channel and Bloomberg TV, among others.

============================================Netflix, Inc.

YOUTUBE MAKES DEAL WITH WARNER MUSIC

YouTube might be facing the threat of litigation from Universal, but another record label, Warner Music, has forged an agreement with the video sharing site.

The deal calls for YouTube to deploy a new technology to flag videos running on the site that are owned by Warner Music, and then pay Warner a cut of any ad revenue for ads displayed in conjunction with those videos.

With the agreement, the companies appear to have forestalled a thorny copyright battle; the deal allows both YouTube and Warner to profit from the videos, while not depriving fans of access.

Of course, so far Warner has been a major brand supporter of YouTube, so it makes sense that Warner's invested in seeing the video sharing site succeed. Warner earlier this summer promoted "Pirates of the Caribbean" on YouTube, becoming the first major brand advertiser to run display ads on the site. Additionally, last month Warner became one of the first record companies to use a new YouTube ad platform to promote an upcoming album--"Paris," the debut effort from the socialite-singer Paris Hilton.            Sept 06

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Just as MySpace prepares to start selling music downloads, Universal Music Group is hinting that it will sue the social networking site for copyright infringement.

Speaking at a Merrill Lynch conference Tuesday, Universal Music CEO Doug Morris complained that YouTube and MySpace owed Universal "tens of millions of dollars" for copyright infringement.

Universal is in negotiations with the sites, but indicated yesterday that it will sue should talks fall through. "This could be the first salvo from a content player against business models based on user-generated content, much of which relies on copyrighted material," wrote Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen in a report about the conference. Morris's remarks, she wrote, "strongly suggested the company was planning to take legal action in the near-term to either prevent the illegal use of their content on these Web sites or to ensure the company is compensated for the use of its content."    MediaPost.com   Sept 06

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iTunes to Sell Movies

Apple Computer Inc. said on Tuesday (Sept. 12) its iTunes online music store would begin selling movies from Disney, Pixar, and Touchstone as the company makes its most aggressive move yet into the digital home.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs said newly released movies would initially cost $12.99 if pre-ordered or bought during the first week available. Library titles would cost $9.99, Jobs said at an event in San Francisco where the company also introduced new versions of its iPod digital music devices.

He said there are about 75 films now available for purchase on iTunes and that they would take about 30 minutes to download for those using a high-speed Internet connection.

The new iPods include one with the most capacity to date and sport video games such as Pac-Man and Tetris.

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Album sales -- including those sold via digital download -- amounted to 8.91 million copies for the week ended July 23.

That's the first time Nielsen SoundScan has tallied fewer than 9 million units since 1996, when the week that closed February 4 marked 8.94 million.

The numbers in The Billboard 200's top 10 echo this weak week. Were it not for the chart-leading "Now 22," no title on the list would surpass 70,000 copies.         August 06

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NBC Chief: The Future Is iVillage
Financial Times
Despite a spate of new online initiatives--including online video deals with AOL and Apple's iTunes--NBC Universal plans to center its online activities around iVillage, the women's portal the GE-controlled group bought for $600 million in March. This comes straight from Bob Wright, NBC Universal's chief executive. Wright's assertion comes in anticipation of the relaunch of iVillage's Web site, which attracts about 15 million users a month, mostly women between the ages of 30 and 50. Wright says the redesigned site will feature video and community tools, highlighting the opportunity for cross-branding with NBC programs, like the "Today" show. "You're going to see a lot more editorial combinations. It may be as common to see iVillage bringing material to the "Today" show as the "Today" show bringing material to iVillage," he says. The new iVillage will also feature original programming, like iVillage Live, a television show that will be available both on the site and on the NBC TV network

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Tower Records files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

MTS Inc. and all of its subsidiaries, including Tower Records and Bayside Entertainment Distribution, filed a Chapter 11 petition in federal bankruptcy court yesterday (Aug. 20) in Delaware. The owners want the court to facilitate a prompt sale of their business "as a going concern" so that a buyer could take control prior to the 2006 holiday season.

According to the filing, eight entities own and operate the 89-store chain of music and entertainment retail stores plus a direct sales network and warehouse distribution facility under the Tower Records name. They are Three A's Holdings, Jeremy's Holdings, Tower Direct, 33rd Street Records, Pipernick, MTS, Columbus Bay and R.T. Records.

Tower Records intends to conduct an asset sale under Section 363 of the Bankrupcty Code, according to a company statement. “The process, which is subject to court approval, sets in motion a timeline of events that will ultimately insure a sale of the company within 60 days of the filing date,” the company said.

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AOL Premieres 'Studio 60,' 'Twenty Good Years'

by Shankar Gupta, Monday, Sep 11, 2006 6:00 AM ET TWO NEW NBC FALL SHOWS, the sitcom "Twenty Good Years" and Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," will debut on AOL one week before their first air dates.

Both shows will run online without ads. 'Studio 60' will go live on AOL on today, while 'Twenty Good Years' debuts online on Oct. 4.

With AOL's entry, all three major portals are now streaming episodes of this fall's new TV shows before their broadcast debuts. Yahoo will offer streams of the new CBS show "Jericho" and NBC's "Heroes" before their air dates, while MSN will debut three shows from The CW Network--"Runaway," "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Veronica Mars"--one week before their air dates.

Along with the online premieres, AOL's television section will feature information on all 82 prime-time shows in the fall season, including video previews, spoilers, cast info, galleries, quizzes, articles and a sortable schedule for the fall lineup.

Separately, Fox also added another TV show to its online roster Friday, the network began streaming the first seven minutes of the season premiere of the 18th season of "The Simpsons" on several of Web sites, including MySpace.com, Fox.com, and IGN TV.

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This online TV clip brought to you by: Google teams with MTV

In an effort to reduce unauthorized use of its TV properties, MTV Networks has cut a deal with online giant Google to distribute ad-supported TV clips to bloggers and website publishers.

The deal, the first of its kind, sets up a syndication network to put four- or five-minute clips of shows like Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and MTV's Laguna Beach across the Web. Revenue will be split between MTV, Google and the website or blog publisher.

Google now places ads on websites and blogs as part of its AdSense network, sharing revenue with anyone from small companies to big ones like About.com.

The alliance is billed as a test open only to preselected Google clients. The clips will begin appearing in late August.

Sites that cater to, say, music fans or children's programming have been selected to start. "These are niche sites we think are compatible with our content," says Tom Freston, CEO of Viacom, which owns MTV Networks, operator of MTV, Nickelodeon and other cable channels.         USA Today Sept 06

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ONLINE CLASSIFIEDS RATE AS ONE of the Internet's fastest-growing categories, as traffic to classified ad sites increased 47 percent for the year ending July 31, according to comScore Media Metrix. The comScore study found that 37.4 million people, or about 22 percent of U.S. Web users, now visit online classified sites, with Craigslist the category king at 13.8 million visitors a month. Craigslist's traffic has doubled in the last year as the site has expanded to 300 cities nationwide.

Rounding out the top three were Trader Publishing Company at 10 million visitors, and AutoTrader, at 6.4 million.

By far, the fastest-growing classified site was newcomer Oodle.com, which collects summaries of ads from newspapers and other sources, which shot up to 909,000 visitors from 162,000 a year ago. LiveDeal, an online marketplace emphasizing big-ticket items, meanwhile, more than doubled traffic to 1.1 million users.

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Vivendi To Buy BMG Music Publishing
September 05, 2006 -
 
  • Vivendi will close a deal to buy BMG Music Publishing from German publishing company Bertelsmann tomorrow afternoon (Sept. 6) in Paris, Billboard.biz has learned.
  • Sources close to the deal say that BMG Music Publishing will be folded into Universal Music Publishing, but only after the purchase receives regulatory approval in the EU, a process that could take months.
  • The combined market share of Universal Music Publishing and Bertelsmann Music Publishing would make the new Universal the world's largest publishing company, with roughly a quarter share of the publishing market.

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- More than most industries, pharmaceutical companies have wised up to the web's ability to target unique audiences with specific needs. As a result, the industry will increase online spending by about 25% this year, to $780 million, according to an eMarketer report released this week. And web publishers are already lining up to take their money.

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CBS to Stream Prime-time Shows Through Innertube

Move Follows ABC's Online Broadcast of First-Run Programs

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Just weeks after ABC touted the success of its online rebroadcasts of first-run shows, CBS has followed suit and will offer several of its top prime-time shows online, through the network's broadband channel, Innertube.

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YouTube Inc. said on Tuesday (Aug. 15) it is talking with record labels to post thousands of music videos online, aiming to move beyond being a site for sharing home videos to a provider of mainstream entertainment like Yahoo and others.

YouTube, which sprung out of nowhere a year ago to now claim over 100 millions views a day, is negotiating for rights to post current and archive music videos on its site, and said any commercial model it decides on will offer the videos free.

"What we really want to do is in six to 12 months, maybe 18 months, to have every music video ever created up on YouTube," co-founder Steve Chen told Reuters. "We're trying to bring in as much of this content as we can on to the site."   postmedia

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MTV Ready To Take Its Crown Back
Ad Age
It will come as little surprise that MTV wants its crown back. For years, Viacom--with brands like MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon--completely ruled cool, yet suddenly it has been forced to take a back seat to sites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. The media conglomerate fought back this past week with two potentially key new deals: a video distribution partnership with Google in which the companies share ad revenue in exchange for use of Google's publisher network, and then the acquisition of Atom Entertainment, a company that runs an online gaming portal. MTV Networks COO Michael Wolf says that to help ring in the digital revolution, the company wants to become the on-ramp for consumer marketers to the Internet--a relatively foreign place still for many consumer brands, which MTV will work with to help them get online. He says there will be no restrictions on the Web syndication deal with Google: it was rumored that sites with less than 100,000 users would not be able to participate. "We want our content to create a network effect," he says, adding that the deal "promises to be a groundbreaking way for content to be distributed and monetized on the Internet."

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Movie Studios To Allow DVD Copying
CNET News.com
How about that movie industry? Often accused of being anti-consumer when it comes to digital media, the movie biz is actually planning to relax the rules on copying DVDs. Legally downloaded digital movies, which are offered by companies like CinemaNow and Movielink, have completely failed to catch on with the general public. The biggest complaint, perhaps, is that downloaded movies are prevented from being copied to disc to be watched on TV sets. Consumers like their big TVs and massive sound systems; they don't want to have to watch movies on their laptops. Hollywood never allowed the copying of DVDs because they felt movies could be too easily pirated. They were right. But offering a legal alternative is one way to goad consumers into doing the right thing. The idea is to give people what they want, and maybe they won't feel the need to steal from you. That said, there will be encryption technology, of course. The movie biz is calling its digital rights management the Content Scramble System, which is licensed out by the DVD Copy Control Association to help those in the industry protect content

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Tower On Shaky Ground, Again

By Ed Christman, N.Y.
 
Tower Records is facing an imminent Chapter 11. That’s a certainty, according to top major-label distribution and financial executives, all speaking on condition of anonymity.

But what kind of filing will it be? A prepackaged Chapter 11 deal with an equity sponsor in tow to take over ownership of the company that also has the blessing of the creditors? A Chapter 11, 363 asset-purchase agreement, with the “stalking horse” bid setting the floor price for other suitors to bid against?

That kind of filing would leave the creditors to fight over the proceeds from the asset sale and wrangle with their emotions about whether they will support a new owner going forward. Or could the filing turn into an outright liquidation?

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MTV Wants to Be Marketers' On-Ramp to the Web

COO Michael Wolf Talks About Google and Atom Film Deals

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It might be Viacom's busiest week since it split off from CBS, but MTV Networks Chief Operating Officer Michael Wolf made time and talked to MediaWorks' Abbey Klaassen about its acquisition of AtomFilms.com, how MTVN sees its digital mission and the evolution of its deal with Google.

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Time Wasters Rejoice: More Broadband Options

What's New Online: TNT's DramaVision, Ripe's OctaneTV

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Looking for new ways to waste time on the web? You're in luck. TNT has launched DramaVision, a new broadband channel. Its first big feature is last year's Stephen Spielberg miniseries "Into the West," but other TNT original series will be uploaded as well.

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August 06, 2006,
Tower Wins At NARM Amidst Bankruptcy Fears
By Ed Christman, Kissimmee, Fla.
 

 
In one of the most ironic moments ever at a National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers annual convention, Tower Records was named the large retailer of the year on the meeting's closing night (Aug. 5), after the previous three days of the confab were dominated by fears that the 88-unit chain would be forced into bankruptcy.

The Chapter 11 fears were prompted by the news that a pending sale of the chain had unraveled. Additionally, Tower missed a payment to one of the majors and then told all four majors it wouldn't make August payments, which are due beginning Aug. 10. The major labels—EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Ent., Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group—have stopped shipping to the chain, and every independent supplier approached by Billboard at NARM confirmed they also placed the West Sacramento, Calif.-based merchant on "hold," once news of the majors had leaked out.

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Sirius Satellite Radio Tuesday (Aug. 1) raised its year-end subscriber forecast to 6.3 million, from 6.2 million. Early in the year, the radio service forecast it would have 6 million subscribers by the end of 2006, raising it to 6.2 million in May.

The guidance, made during the company’s second quarter earnings conference call, was in stark contrast to XM Satellite Radio, which cut its year-end subscriber forecast last week to between 8.2 and 7.7 million.

In second quarter, Sirius added 600,460 subscribers for a total of 4.6 million. Despite a larger loss of $237.8 million, compared to $177.5 million a year ago, revenue tripled to more than $150 million. The company also raised its year-end revenue guidance to $615 million, from $600 million.    BillboadBiz.com   August 2006

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$900 Million Search Deal Moves Google Onto MySpace

News Corp. Partnership Includes Most Fox Interactive Websites

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- News Corp. is partnering with Google in a $900 million interactive advertising and search deal that will make Google the search engine for most Fox Interactive websites -- including MySpace.com, the companies said yesterday. Under the deal, Google also becomes the prime seller for Fox web ads that Fox itself doesn't sell.

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Why Murdoch Won't Buy YouTube
GigaOM
Many felt that YouTube CEO Chad Hurley's stirring performance at Herb Allen's annual Sun Valley media conference signaled that his company would soon be acquired by the bigger fish circling the pond at the media mogul-fest. Of course, many believe it will be Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., thereby bringing together MySpace and its 80 percent share of the social networking with YouTube's 60 percent share of the online video market. But Robert Young of GigaOM says no way. At $1 billion, YouTube has priced itself out of Murdoch's bargain-hunting range. Young, speaking from his experience of selling Delphi to News Corp., says Murdoch prefers to use cash as his deal currency, not stock. That means the prospect of laying out $1 billion for a money-losing operation--particularly after shelling out $600 million for MySpace--is unlikely.

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GenY (people between the ages of 18 and 28) spends 12.2 hours online each week, or 28 percent longer than GenXers (27- to 40-year-olds), and almost twice as long as 51- to 61-year-old Baby Boomers. The finding comes from a new study by Forrester Research assessing consumer technology adoption.

The survey finds that GenY is also much more likely to engage in social activities while online--for example, GenYers are 50 percent more likely than GenXers to send instant messages, twice as likely to read blogs, and three times as likely to use social networking sites like MySpace.

"All generations adopt devices and Internet technologies, but younger consumers are Net natives who spend more time online than watching television," said Ted Schadler, Forrester Research vice president and co-author of the study, in a statement. "Younger generations live online, reading blogs, downloading podcasts, checking prices before buying, and trading recommendations."

Additional findings from the study: Forty-one percent of North American households now have broadband Internet access at home--up from 29 percent at the end of 2004.    Forester Research 8/06

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ZDNet Blog
Russell Shaw of ZDNet pegs
YouTube's market value at around $1 billion. Will the company stay private, go public, become acquired, or acquire another company? Shaw seems reasonably certain that YouTube will be scooped up by one of six Internet media majors. In order of their suitability from least to most suitable: First, Adobe systems. The biggest stretch on his list makes sense. YouTube uses its Flash format for most of its videos. This would be a huge promotional platform for Flash, which lacks the distribution of other major video formats. Time Warner-AOL is next. AOL would be a great distribution channel for YouTube. Its new services-based business model would benefit greatly from the added traffic and integration with its other video offerings. Third is Sony. It's perhaps the premiere company in content distribution and video hardware. Sony also owns a movie studio. Fourth, Google. It has plenty of cash, and needs to do something if it's serious about competing in online video. Search integration would be interesting, too. Fifth, News Corp.'s MySpace and YouTube are already natural allies, and to add a video dimension to the world's largest social network means that people could spend consecutive days at its sites. Finally, Shaw says Yahoo would be the most suitable for YouTube. It owns Flickr, the best photo-sharing site. Yahoo could also syndicate YouTube content; it needs something like a key acquisition to boost its share price

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Metallica, longtime foe of all digital downloading services, this week began offering its music--including some newly released live tracks--on iTunes. The heavy-metal band, which sued Napster in 2000 for encouraging piracy, posted a statement online explaining its change of heart: "We will begin offering our music on the iTunes Music Store, a Cupertino, CA-based upstart outfit, who we feel may very well have a bright future," the band wrote.

And today, The Rolling Stones, who surely remember when the music industry believed mixed tapes posed a piracy threat, is embracing a cutting-edge technology. Reuters reports the group will use a new service, "Listen Live Now," in which fans pay to hear telephone broadcasts of live concerts. The cost is $1.99 for seven minutes--and the first effort kicks off today at their concert in Paris.

Reuters says the broadcast will be interrupted at the six-minute mark with a voice warning--which theoretically hinders consumers from later selling the tape. As an anti-piracy device, this system sounds far from foolproof. Still, the Stones are willing to take the risk that new technologies will ultimately serve their fans, even if those technologies also increase the risk of copyright violations.   Wendy Davis  onlinemedia.com

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According to new consumer research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG), 69% of all US households now subscribe to an online service at home, and high-speed Internet services now account for about 60% of all online subscribers.

Overall, cable remains the most common source for residential broadband driven by its strength among higher income households. But DSL now has a greater market share than cable among middle income households. Based on a telephone survey of 1,600 randomly selected U.S. households:

  • Thirty-seven percent of all households with annual household incomes over $75,000 subscribe to cable broadband and 27% subscribe to DSL
  • Among all households earning $30,000-$75,000 per year, 21% subscribe to DSL and 18% to cable

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Sixty Percent of Wired Homes Now Use Broadband

First Quarter Saw Addition of 3 Million Cable and DSL Subscribers

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nearly 70% of all U.S. households now pay for an online connection, and 60% of those homes connect via broadband, according to new research from Leichtman Research Group. Leichtman also points to a market with plenty of room for growth, which should be welcome news for marketers betting on better web service to keep the online-ad market booming.   ADWIRE.com

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YouTube: More Than 100 Million Videos Served Daily
Reuters.com
YouTube has surpassed 100 million videos served per day, says Hitwise, the traffic-measurement firm that last week announced MySpace had the greatest share of Internet visits. The viral video site is the runaway leader in online video, which refers to "snack-sized video fare" lasting two to five minutes. YouTube commands 29 percent of that market, says Hitwise--and its videos account for 60 percent of all video watched online. Like MySpace, YouTube is the latest social sensation to grow, with little to no money to show for its efforts. Compared to the News Corp. site, the Web's other disproportionate underachiever, YouTube is in dire straits. It has yet to create a comprehensive ad model, and continues to subsist on venture capital funding. MySpace lies second behind YouTube in the online video market, with a 19 percent share. In June, 2.5 billion videos were watched on YouTube. More than 65,000 videos are uploaded to the site daily, says Hitwise, while about 20 million unique users visit the site each month, according to Nielsen//NetRatings    July 06

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MTV Wants Its Own YouTube
Ad Age
MTV President Judy McGrath said the company is going after YouTube, looking to either build or acquire a global service that would bring Viacom to the forefront of online video, says Ad Age. "Video is our expertise," McGrath says, alluding to the days when MTV programming was mostly a collection of music videos. YouTube is the undisputed leader in online video, which she says has marked the single biggest shift in the media landscape in the last six months. In the next few weeks, VH1, another MTV property, is set to launch a collection of broadband channels; other multi-platform deals are likely to follow. Affiliate sales associates worry that offering similar programming on the Web might cannibalize their revenues; McGrath offered little to assuage their fears, pointing out that several cable companies want to provide Internet service, which is the future of direct-to-consumer media.   7/06

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BIG ADVERTISERS ARE PAYING ATTENTION to podcasts. According to The Economics of Podcasting, a report released Thursday by Nielsen Analytics, the most successful podcasts get as many as 2 million downloads a month. Podcast advertisers include Sony Pictures, Shell Oil, EarthLink, Warner Bros., HP, HBO, and GoDaddy. More than 6 percent of U.S. adults--about 9 million Web users--have downloaded podcasts in the past 30 days, the report concluded, echoing estimates released last week by Nielsen//NetRatings. Most podcast users are male--more than 75 percent. To reach consumers, advertisers are putting their messages within the program or using endorsements from podcast hosts.      yahoo.com   July 24th

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MYSPACE LAST WEEK BECAME THE most popular site on the Web in the United States, commanding 4.46 percent of all visits, according to new research by Hitwise. That's a greater market share than Yahoo's email service (4.42 percent), Yahoo's home page (4.25 percent), and Google (3.89 percent). Within the social networking sphere, MySpace's dominance is uncontested with fully 79.9 percent of the total number of visits. The next biggest network is Facebook (7.5 percent share), followed by Xanga (3.8 percent).

But these kinds of rankings don't always tell the whole story, according to Jon Gibs, Nielsen//NetRatings director of media analytics. Nielsen//NetRatings figures for individuals' average monthly visits to various sites show a surprising range of repeat visits, from a high of 63.9 visits for del.icio.us, to 31.2 for Flickr, to a surprisingly low 19.1 for MySpace; those wide swings suggest varying degrees of engagement, Gibs said.   july 06

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BUSINESS AND IT EXECUTIVES INCREASINGLY turn to podcasts, according to a new joint study by Universal McCann and KnowledgeStorm. The study, based on a survey of more than 3,900 executives, found that 41 percent have listened to podcasts more than once and 13 percent frequently download or listen to them. Additionally, almost 60 percent of respondents said that white papers or analyst reports would be more interesting as podcasts. More than half of respondents--57 percent--said the biggest challenge facing podcasts is that they don't have enough interesting content.

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PQ Media: Online Ad Spend To Surpass $19B This Year
Spending on online advertising will climb to around $19.96 billion this year--marking a 26 percent increase from last year's $15.83 billion, according to new research by PQ Media. National ads will account for the largest single proportion of online ad dollars--$13.57 billion, up 24 percent from last year's $10.92 billion, according to the report.  July 06

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Digital Trends
As Microsoft prepares its second (or third?) entry into digital music, the trade journal Digital Trends asks, what would it take for Microsoft to kill the iPod? The answer? Three things: better design, better ease of use, and a better marketing plan. First, the specifics. Rumor has it that Microsoft's iPod killer will utilize Wi-Fi as the syncing link between its new iTunes-like service and the new device. Wi-Fi would enable Microsoft to provide streaming music--something the iPod can't do. It would also allow consumers to buy music directly from the device--as you could with a cell phone. It would be very tough to design something cooler looking than the iPod. Apple seems to nail this with each new installment. Microsoft does have a history of creating cool looking products--the XBOX 360, for example, comes to mind. It would be equally difficult to trump Apple on ease of use. All of its products just seem to work. There have been a number of quality issues, as in defective iPods, but all in all, it's an easy device to use. Again, the XBOX is another indicator that Microsoft can compete here, but the difference is that Apple is a market leader, so Microsoft has to be that much better to give people a reason to cross over. When it comes to marketing, Apple is both the market leader in spending and execution.     July  Mediapost.com

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MTV To Simulcast 'Whistler' On Web, TV by David Goetzl, Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006 CONTINUING THE TREND OF NETWORKS airing full episodes online as a promotional vehicle, MTV Networks' teen-targeted The N will look to broaden sampling of new drama "Whistler" with an online/on-air simulcast.  The online version of the drama about life in the eponymous upper-class Canadian ski resort will run on The N's broadband channel "The Click" as it debuts on the network. The simulcast takes place June 30 at 9:00 p.m.  Ads that appear on-air won't make it into the online version. The broadband episode will be available in two content blocks and will run commercial-free, unless MTVN opts to sell advertising in the "bridge" space.

Networks are increasingly dabbling in online distribution of on-air products: This spring, ABC placed multiple episodes of hit shows on ABC.com, while FX made the premiere of reality show "Black. White." available on MSN, and Fox offered the opening episode of short-lived comedy "Free Ride" on MySpace.com. This fall, NBC is launching what will arguably be the most ambitious initiative in the arena--Web site NBCFirstLook.com, which will offer premieres of up to four episodes of an NBC series each year.

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Web Video, Brought To You By Flash
The San Jose Mercury News
Adobe Systems' acquisition of Macromedia and Flash late last year could be one of the best tech deals since News Corp. and MySpace parent Intermix. Macromedia's Flash is poised to become the de facto Web site development software of the new entertainment industry. Adobe acquired Macromedia in December for $3.4 billion in stock; since then, consumer-generated media in the form of videos and mash-ups on sites like YouTube has exploded, as has interest in online video advertising. Online video looks set to be the next frontier in Internet entertainment, and many of the biggies--including YouTube and Google Video--use Flash as their technology. Microsoft's Windows Media is still the number 1 video format, handling 60 percent of streaming video, but Flash has soared from nowhere to number two (19 percent of the market) in two years. The San Jose Mercury News attributes the widespread Flash adoption to the proliferation of high-speed Web access and the rise of social networks. It's the easiest format to use--you can embed Flash inside Web sites very easily, and as a streaming technology, it involves no downloads, so its popularity has taken off. As such, it has quickly become the favored format of creative agencies

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The one-to-one relationship between the two parties has in the past few years been nonexistent, at best, and downright ugly at its worst, thanks to reams of file-sharing lawsuits and clumsy digital-rights-management technology.
Sony BMG is working with Brightcove to enable consumers to place music videos on their own Web spaces.

But this week Sony BMG is going directly to consumers with an internet TV play it has created through Brightcove. The service, called Musicbox Video, distributes music videos from Sony BMG artists -- from Shakira to the Dixie Chicks to Nick Lachey -- across its fan sites and even down to the MySpace pages of music-obsessed fans.

"They're using syndication services to make it possible for fans to take players and put them into blogs or MySpace pages," said Adam Berrey, VP-marketing and strategy at Brightcove, which creates, distributes and sells advertising in internet TV channels for media companies and marketers.

The flash-based video player features several "channels" -- top 20, rock, pop and R&B -- and can be found at the artists' websites. Fans can e-mail a video link to a friend or copy the HTML code to post the video in blogs or on their MySpace pages.
Mr. Berry said future advertising applications might include deeper sponsorships within the player, a sponsorship that takes over the player or some other kind of sponsorship integrated into the lineup of videos.

"It turns the video play into a revenue stream," he said.

Simon Renshaw, principal at Strategic Artist Management and manager of the Dixie Chicks, has been an outspoken advocate of a more direct-to-consumer approach in the music industry and said the increase in broadband penetration is driving the potential of such one-to-one relationships between artists and fans. The Dixie Chicks, for example, struck a deal with MSN to stream their first concert in two years -- a June 15 show at Shepherds Bush Empire in London. ================================================================================

Google is poised this week to launch an online electronic payment service similar to eBay's PayPal, according to a report in today's Wall Street Journal.   Rumors of the service, GBuy, have surfaced before, but today's report includes new details about pricing and integration with Google's core search business.

The product reportedly will work in conjunction with AdWords, so that consumers who visit a merchant's site after doing a Google search will have the option of going to a separate, GBuy checkout site. Google plans to charge merchants a 2.2 percent commission, in addition to a fee of 30 cents per transaction--but will also offer a discount to AdWords advertisers.

GBuy, an obvious challenge to eBay, is expected to come just several weeks after Google took on Microsoft in the software realm with a Web-based spreadsheet application.    June 06

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SONY BMG HAS UNVEILED A new ad-supported Internet broadband channel that will host a library of music videos from artists including Shakira, Franz Ferdinand, and Bon Jovi.

Broadband video firm Brightcove will provide the technology platform for the channel and also will be responsible for ad sales, said Adam Berry, Brightcove's vice president for marketing and strategy. He added that Sony BMG is the first "major" publisher that Brightcove will handle ad sales for.   The advertisers at launch are Dreamworks and Hewlett-Packard, which are jointly promoting the animated film "Over the Hedge."

The channel, dubbed Musicbox Video, will include videos from multiple labels, including Sony BMG, Columbia Records, Epic Records, and RCA Recordings. The players will reside on the Sony BMG main site, as well as the sites of individual labels and artists. All the players are powered by flash, and all the videos are streaming.

The new site will be in direct competition with other online music destinations--including those of Viacom Online, which includes MTV Networks and drew 29.5 million unique users last month, according to comScore; Yahoo Music, with 24.3 million unique users; and AOL Music, which claimed 19.4 million uniques.     June 06

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Leading marketers believe in the benefits of digital marketing--but are having trouble keeping up with the escalating pace of online advances, according to a survey released last week by the American Advertising Federation. In fact, 63 percent of those surveyed said that Fortune 500 companies are "generally behind the curve when it comes to online ad strategy." And 58 percent said that they personally are "struggling simply to manage existing online efforts, let alone stay ahead of the curve."

The study also found that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed recognize the effectiveness of digital marketing, with 91 percent citing the online media environment as "empowering to advertisers, allowing the ad industry to shape its own development." And 42 percent cited online media as offering the highest return on investment of any form of media.          mediapost.com    June 06

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is leaving his day-to-day post at Microsoft in two years to work

full-time for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he announced this evening from the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

 

Bill Gates at a press conference today announced he is relinquishing day-to-day operations, calling it a 'reordering of my priorities.'

The news follows a gradual passing of the torch at Microsoft that began in January 2000, when Mr. Gates relinquished the role of

CEO to Steve Ballmer, although Microsoft insiders say he continues to have a consistent presence at the company.

Mr. Gates told a press conference that the day's news was not so much a retirement as a "reordering of my priorities."

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently issued its Home Broadband Adoption 2006 report, which rightly devoted significant attention to consumer-generated media (CGM). Based on two U.S. telephone tracking surveys, the report estimated that:

  • At the end of March 2006, 42 percent of Americans had high-speed connections at home, up from 30 percent in March 2005, or a 40 percent increase.
  • Overall, 35 percent of all Internet users--or 48 million--have posted content to the internet (CGM), and this included having one's own blog; having one's own Web page; working on a blog or Web page for work or a group; or sharing self-created content such as a story, artwork, or video.
  • An even higher percentage of home broadband users--42 percent or about 31 million people--have posted content to the Internet. This group accounts for 73 percent of all home Internet users who were the source of online content.
  •  

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    Yahoo Bolsters Photo Service by Wendy Davis, Thursday, Jun 8  YAHOO TODAY WILL BEGIN ROLLING out an upgrade of its Internet-based photo service by making it easier for users to organize their photo collections and share digital pictures with other Web users.

    The enhancements, set to launch in a closed beta test, are the first major upgrade to Yahoo Photos since the company launched the service six years ago.

    With the upgrade, Yahoo Photos will include some of the most popular features of Flickr, the photo-sharing site Yahoo purchased last year. New functions include the ability to tag photos, making them easier to view and search; "smart albums" that, like iTunes "playlists," automatically organize new photos based on their tags; and point-and-click caption editing.     june 2006

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    AOL Streams Springsteen Tour by Wendy Davis, Friday, Jun 2, 2006 6:00 AM ET

    AOL MUSIC HAS STRUCK A deal with Bruce Springsteen to stream live video footage from the rock star's tour this summer. AOL is offering one song per concert, selected by the musician, with new tracks going live the morning after each of the 18 stops on Springsteen's tour.

    AOL has previously Webcast entire concerts live, but hasn't yet followed an act throughout a tour. Erik Flannigan, vice president and general manager of AOL Music, said the deal's format is particularly well-suited to Springsteen--now on tour with the Seeger Sessions Ban--because the musician is known for surprising audiences by varying his set lists as well as inviting unexpected guest artists on stage.

    "If you're a fan, especially a fan of someone like Springsteen--where the show changes every single night--this is something you'd dream about," Flannigan said.

    The first track went live on AOL Sunday, following Springsteen's concert the night before in Boston. Footage will be available until at least 30 days after the tour ends on June 25.

     

     
    Yahoo Takes On YouTube by Shankar Gupta, Friday, Jun 2, 2006 6:00 AM ET YAHOO HAS UPGRADED ITS VIDEO offerings with a new uploading and sharing offering designed to rival market leader YouTube. Yahoo's product--unlike YouTube--offers video clips from established publishers, and can search the Web for content.

    "We're truly crawling the Web, and receiving feeds from tens or hundreds of thousands of sites that allow us to index their content," said Jason Zajac, Yahoo's general manager of social media. "Whether you're looking for content that's looking for premium news sources, or you're looking for music content that may be on Yahoo Music, or AOL Music, or content that users upload to us directly as well--it's all under one umbrella, in a consistent user experience that allows you to watch it, rate it, and share it."

    YouTube's momentum comes from a 42.94 percent share of all video search engine visits--compared to Yahoo's 9.58 percent, MSN's 9.21 percent, and Google's 6.48 percent, according to a Hitwise report released in May. The site's market share increased 160 percent between February and May, while Yahoo's search site remained relatively stagnant.

    "No one is denying that YouTube has created momentum for themselves in a unique way," said Zajac. "What we're trying to do is put together all the assets that Yahoo has in video, including core search."   5/06

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    Get this: More than one billion people globally now have access to the Internet, and a quarter of them have broadband access, according to a new report from eMarketer.

    The U.S. continues to lead the world in terms of sheer numbers of Internet users and broadband households, with 175 million Web users and 43.7 million broadband households. The eMarketer report, "Worldwide Online Access 2004-2010," projects that there will be 78.3 million online households in the U.S. this year, and 66.7 percent of them will have broadband service. By 2010, nearly 90 percent (88.3 percent of online households) will be broadband-enabled, according to the eMarketer report.

    The report estimates that 845 million of the 1 billion Internet users are active users (accessing the Internet more than once a month), and 195 million households worldwide have a broadband connection.   MediaPost.com   May 06

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    694 Million People Used the Internet in March

    In the recent announcement of the launch of comScore World Metrix, by comScore, they included data representing 694 million people, age 15+, from countries that comprise 99 percent of the global Internet population. This 14 percent of the world's total population in this age group used the Internet worldwide from all locations in March 2006.

    The comScore World Metrix includes measurement of the major Asian countries, including China, Japan, India and Korea, which represent nearly 25 percent of the total worldwide online population (or 168.1 million users), and which, in the aggregate, are 11 percent larger than the U.S. (152 million users).

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    AT&T Sets Target For Web-based TV Service
    WSJ.com  2006
    By year's end, telecom giant AT&T expects to be offering Web TV service in 15-20 US markets, but the decision to aggressively move into TV leaves skeptics wondering whether the Internet technology AT&T will use can work on a massive scale. By deploying Web-based technology, the company formerly known as SBC is trying to bypass the enormous expense of wiring fiber-optic cables to homes so it can compete with cable operators providing TV, phone and high-speed Internet service. AT&T is spending $4.6 billion to make TV available to 19 million homes in 41 markets by 2008, but analysts say the telecom giant won't reach its goal. Verizon, which has already entered the triple play market, has spent the extra billions upgrading its network with a different technology because it didn't feel a Web-based back-end would be sufficient. Its TV service reaches 50 communities in 7 states.

    ================================================

    Google Beware of MySpace
    Motley Fool
    Google should be wary of MySpace, says Motley Fool columnist Stephen Ellis. Since the next generation of pay-per click-advertising is going to come from content (as Google knows with AdSense) the search giant should consider that News Corp. "has both the content and the online properties to build an online powerhouse." This makes the "stodgy company" one to watch, he says. To be sure, MySpace is still a tiny part of News Corp, though it represents most of the company's opportunity for growth: it's already generated $2 billion in cash this financial year, about four times what News Corp paid for it nearly a year ago; it also averaged 30 billion page views in April, placing it second among all Web sites, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Ellis says recent moves like making Fox content available on its network are smart, and while the sex offender stuff may leave some advertisers cringing, they will be sure to keep one eye firmly affixed on the company for the right opportunity, nevertheless.
      Mediapost.com  May 06

    =====================

    Friday, May 26, 2006
    Trading Banners For Sight, Sound And Motion
    By Dave Morgan

    Please click here. Online advertising is hot. So hot in fact, that pundits lately have increased projections for the potential size of the online ad market, some now predicting that U.S. online ad expenditures could hit $35-50 billion by the end of this decade, up from $12.5 billion last year, according to IAB/PWC.

    How could that be? Is it even possible? Even if advertisers wanted to spend that much money online, where could they put it? Is there likely to be enough quality inventory for all of those ads? This has been a topic of debate ever since the online ad market began its resurgence two year ago.

    While the demand for online advertising is growing fast, the supply of quality online ad inventory has been lagging. The key word here is "quality." Online ad spend is growing at more than 30 percent per year, but most Web sites have audience and page view growth rates that are closer to 10 percent to 20 percent per year. The latter is not keeping pace with the former. Since much of the online ad growth is from traditional brand advertisers, the explosion of new inventory from social networks, where the content is riskier, has not helped much. The shortage of enough high quality and easily accessible inventory is already starting to drive up pricing, which undercuts some of the economic advantages of online versus offline mass media. Tight inventory and higher prices are forcing advertisers to make buys on more sites and on smaller sites, which makes both their buys and their lives much more complex and much less satisfying.

    =============================================

    TV Viewing Fourth Most-Popular Activity, Behind Web, Friends, Movies

    NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- For the week of the broadcast network upfront presentations, Bolt Media hopes this stat delivers a bullet to TV: Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.


    The most popular activity? That would be surfing the Internet, which 84% said they did during their idle periods. Hanging out with friends came in second at 76%, watching movies third at 71% and TV viewing fourth at 69%. The five most-watched TV networks were Fox, Comedy Central, ABC, MTV and Cartoon Network.

    "There's a massive movement going on in people under 30 and how they spend their media time," said Bolt President Lou Kerner, who once upon a time was a cable analyst on Wall Street before leaving to run TV.com and then Bolt. "Our audience spends lots of time on net, creating their own media."

    ==================================================

    AOL Bows YouTube Competitor
    TechWeb News
    When AOL comes late to the party, it often brings along some solid products, but they don't tend to add anything new. Most recently, the Time Warner company has launched AIM Pages, which expands on AOL Instant Messenger, its 43 million-strong instant messaging network. This will directly compete with MySpace and its mammoth 70 million user base. Today the company is quietly unveiling a user-generated video service called UnCut, which takes a stab at YouTube and its 13 million user base. UnCut users will need an AOL or AIM screen name, but kids under 18 will not be invited to use the service. Looks like AOL is looking to create an online video personals section for AIM Pages. That said, the site will be monitored for piracy and "illegal and offensive postings" by LiveWorld, a company that builds and operates online communities. UnCut, which already has thousands of beta users, will launch as part of AOL's larger video service offering, In2TV, a joint streaming TV venture with Warner Bros. introduced in March. UnCut will integrate with both AIM and AOL Journals, its blogging service. Videos will be rated, searchable, and shareable. -

    =====================================================

    CBS Launches Broadband Entertainment Channel

    CBS Launches Broadband Entertainment Channel by Gavin O'Malley, Friday, May 5, 2006 6:00 AM EST CBS THURSDAY LAUNCHED THE THIRD and final part of its sweeping broadband initiative, adding to its news and sports properties a page for streaming entertainment.

    As an extension of CBS.com, the new section, "innertube," is home to original short-form programs aimed at younger audiences, as well as extensions of CBS shows like "Survivor." In time, it will also house entire prime-time episodes after they have aired on TV--and, in all likelihood, CBS classics like "I Love Lucy"--currently available on a pay-per-download basis on Google Video.

    "CBS is literally bursting with entertainment content," boasted Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, adding that viewers "can expect archive classics at some point."

    Innertube will initially stream three shows daily, a new program being posted each day, Monday through Friday. Programming will then be archived for on-demand viewing.

    ===========================================

    NEW YORK - Newspaper circulation fell 2.5 percent in the six-month period ending in March, according to data released Monday, as more people turned to the Internet and other media outlets for news and information.

    The decline in average paid weekday circulation was about the same as the previous six-month reporting cycle for the period ending last September, according to the Newspaper Association of America, a trade group.

    Average paid circulation at Sunday newspapers fell 3.1 percent versus the same period a year ago, also a comparable decline with the last time circulation tallies were reported, the NAA said.

    ====================================================

    Warner and MTV Differ In Timing Of Online Offerings

    THE WORLD OF THE YOUNG TV viewer is immediate, while that of the older TV viewer is about a week late.

    MTV is making a couple of shows available simultaneously online and on TV. "MTV Video Music Awards," and "Total Request Live" will run on the broadband channel MTV Overdrive as a test this summer, with traditional TV airings on MTV.

    At the same time, Warner Bros is starting a new way of selling off-network syndication shows to stations. Its plans for "Two and a Half Men" will sell stations not just the rights to air on shows on traditional TV airwaves---but also, in a syndication-industry first--on the Internet.   yahoo.com news

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    Real-Life Search Study

    ACCORDING TO A PEW INTERNET & American Life Project survey, 45 percent of Internet users--about 60 million Americans--say that the Web helped them make big decisions or deal with major episodes in their lives in the previous two years. The survey also found that only 5 percent said the information they found was misleading.

    The obvious implication here is that people are searching to find critical information. And remarkably, their satisfaction is very high. Recently I conducted a highly informal study, tracking a colleague's search habits for one week, to confirm or refute what the survey is telling us. To protect his privacy and pride, I'll refer to him as "Subject 20-Something." It's important to note that he does not work in the search industry, and would be considered a moderate search user who owns a connected PDA.   May 2006

    Movie Makers Show Marketers How to Use YouTube
    The Hollywood Reporter  April 26, 06
    YouTube is like one big marketing experiment: the site attracts massive numbers and is run by a couple of starry-eyed kids looking for all kinds of ways to rake in the marketing dollars--so long as they don't piss off their young user base. In its latest marketing venture, Weinstein Co. is paying the short-form viral video site to put the first eight minutes of its new thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" on the site. The collaboration marks the first time a studio has put sequential film content on YouTube, and it may not be the last, should the experiment prove to be a success. One exec noted that putting film content on YouTube is the best possible way to create buzz for a film, calling it "the No. 1 word of mouth Web site out there today." To date, several movie trailers have successfully made their way to YouTube: "Scary Movie 4," for example, was viewed 1.5 million times. At a huge site like YouTube, which delivers more than 40 million video views a day, with 35,000 new videos uploaded daily, it makes sense to go the extra mile and pay for some front page face time, cause it's easy for your content to get lost in there.

    ==================================================

    Hollywood studios will start selling digital versions of films such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "King Kong" on the Internet this week, the first time major movies have been available online to own.

    The films can't be burned onto a disc for viewing on a DVD player. Still, the move is seen as a step toward full digital distribution of movies over the Internet.

    Six studios said they would announce Monday that sales will begin through the download Web site Movielink. The site is jointly owned by five of the seven major studios.

    Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM will offer some first-run and older titles on Movielink. New films will be priced similar to DVDs — between $20 and $30 — while older titles will sell for $10 to $20.

    In a separate announcement, Sony and Lionsgate said they will sell films through the CinemaNow site.   BILLBOARDBIZ.COM

    ============================================================

    YouTube Attracts Marketers
    USA Today
    YouTube has finally found a way to make money. Surprise! It's advertising. Nike, Warner Bros., MTV2 and Dimension Films are among the first set of marketers littering the site with commercial clips. Again, this is no surprise given the site's almost unbelievable growth. In December 3 million videos streamed daily. Today: 40 million. For those unfamiliar with YouTube, it's a huge destination for any kind of video content. Users can stream any video uploaded to the site and made available to the public. The most popular clips get shared virally and the number of plays can increase exponentially in a short period of time, which makes it particularly compelling for advertisers. USA Today spoke with a number of marketers, agencies and media buying firms, who highlighted the viral nature of the site and the low cost of entry: it's, um, free. For example, Nike recently uploaded a gritty clip of Brazil's FIFA World Football (soccer) Player of the Year Ronaldinho performing various moves with the ball. Since then, the clip has been watched 3 million times, as consumers e-mailed it to each other and posted it on their social networking profiles. YouTube won't disclose the financial details of this and other formal arrangements the site has with marketers, but those companies generally get preferential treatment on the home page, next to their brand image.

    ============================================================

    Recent Activity Shows Social Networks Still Red-Hot
    Business Week  04/06
    Social networks just a fad, eh? Well, not if you ask the venture capital firms that just pumped $25 million more into college-level social networking phenomenon Facebook.com. While critics still wonder when young consumers will get bored with the likes of MySpace and Facebook, moving on to the next coolest thing, investors, media companies and advertisers are left to mull over the opportunities--and the potential pitfalls--of this red-hot sector of the Internet. Can they have a viable long-term business model? Maybe so, maybe not, but the fact is, these sites are getting tremendous usage that should be taken advantage of now. Facebook just got more funding, News Corp. just scooped up a job hunting/social network site called SimplyHired, and Visible Path, the new kid on the sector block, just received $17 million in funding itself. Facebook will settle for the new infusion of cash, although the company had been looking into a possible sale for around $2 billion.

    =====================================================

    Eisner Invests In Online Video Firm
    Forbes.com
    Michael Eisner is joining forces with the venture capital arm of Time Warner, his former media nemesis when he was head of The Mouse House. Together, he and Time Warner Investments have contributed to a $12.5 million round of funding for Web TV startup Veoh Networks. Veoh calls itself "the first Internet television peer casting network." It creates peer to peer software that helps content publishers and consumers share published content that has been approved by a team of editors, in an attempt to sidestep piracy. Veoh is differentiating itself from the likes of YouTube by not limiting the length of videos, letting content providers choose whether to charge or integrate ads, and allowing viewers to create their own virtual channels. T he company was founded in 2004 by Dmitry Shapiro, a renowned security software developer. Eisner will be joining the company's board of directors.

    ===================================================

    April 29, 2006
    WEB RADIO STARTS TO CAST A WIDE NET
     
    BY ANTONY BRUNO  billboard.com
     
    Web radio may not be heard nearly as much as its terrestrial counterpart. But it is becoming a bigger player, for music fans and labels alike.

    In the last year, the use of Internet radio has spiked noticeably. According to data unveiled by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, the monthly audience for Internet radio among listeners 12 or older jumped 71% last year, from 37 million to 52 million. The weekly Internet radio audience jumped 50% to 30 million, after growing only 8% a year for the preceding three years.

    "This is one of the biggest year-over-year increases ever," says Bill Rose, Arbitron senior VP of marketing and business development. "At this stage of the game, to see that kind of growth is noteworthy."

    According to Arbitron's most recent figures as of press time, Yahoo remains the largest Internet radio destination with 2.6 million weekly listeners. America Online Radio places second at 1.9 million, with Clear Channel's collective stations trailing with 880,000 listeners—just edging out MSN, but growing more rapidly than its competitors.

    =================================================================

    During the past four months, Apple iPods, Macs and other products have been featured 250 times on

    38 different network primetime shows, including such hits as "CSI: NY" and "The O.C."

    That adds up to 26 minutes of free exposure for one of Hollywood's biggest brand stars, according to Nielsen's Place Views tracking service.

    With its cultural cachet and storied history of giving away tens of thousands of Apple computers to the Hollywood creative community, Apple has had perhaps the greatest success of any brand in embedding its products into film and TV without paying for the integrations, even amid Hollywood's rush to cash in on branded entertainment deals over the past several years.

    ============================================================

    Bertelsmann Targets Older Demos With Social Network
    Reuters.com
    The array of social networking choices on the Web for kids these days is exhausting: MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Connexion, MSN Spaces, etc. etc, but what about social networking for older folks? According to a Reuters report, German media group Bertelsmann is planning to transform its Direct Group of book, CD, and DVD clubs into an Internet networking destination for older people. The media conglomerate aims to unify Direct Group's aging customer base of around 35 million users in 22 countries by changing its traditional clubs into little Internet communities organized by cultural interests. The initiative would have to be supported by advertising, but analysts warn that it could be difficult to persuade the older set to use these kinds of social networking tools. As Jupiter analyst David Card said, "It may not be a natural thing, but it could work if they do a good job data mining and finding people with like passions." If they can find the audience, and that's a big if, then advertisers will surely follow.


    =================================================================

    The number of U.S. subscribers to broadband high-speed Internet service jumped 32.3 percent to 42.9 million lines for the year ended June 2005, according to the Federal Communications Commission. This was an increase of 10.4 million lines over the 12-month period, with 5 million added during the second half of that period.

    The United States ranks 12th in the world for broadband subscribers, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Part of the reason for the low ranking of the U.S. is that other countries have subsidized broadband service, and their populations live in areas that are easier to serve.

    The FCC found that the majority of broadband connections in the U.S., 61 percent, were via cable modem service offered by companies like Comcast Corp. More than 37 percent of the connections were digital subscriber lines (DSL) offered by telephone companies like AT&T.

    =====================================

    MTV President Discusses Viacom's Mobile Push
    RCR Wireless News
    Viacom's MTV Networks unit is zeroing in on the wireless content market in a big way, according to Van Toffler, the company's president, who said its customers "love, praise and worship at the altar of their wireless device at the expense of all others, frankly." This, of course, includes mobile phones, Blackberrys, iPods, and portable gaming devices. As a result, MTV continues its march into mobile content, recently unveiling a video content deal with mobile virtual network operator Amp'd Mobile for its gay and lesbian channel, Logo. VH-1, Viacom's older-skewing music brand, is now producing a mobile reality series called "Dingo Ate My Video," and Comedy Central, one of its most successful brands, is teaming with mobile software developer Nellymoser, Inc. to deliver streaming video of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Other deals are in the pipe for SpikeTV, which produces content specifically for 18-34 males. The company is backing the effort with a $50 million investment in Amp'd Mobile; the deal sees the companies combining to create both original and repurposed mobile clips as well as ringtones, ringbacks and wallpapers for its 10 different brands. Recently, MTV and Amp'd teamed up to deliver a live streaming concert from punk rockers Fall Out Boy, and the companies are also planning to break new music via ringtones before the release of certain singles. Despite its heavy interest in the mobile market, MTV will not be moving into the MVNO business, Toffler said, preferring instead to partner with networks in delivering content. -

    ======================================================================

    MySpace Spawns its Own Virtual Economy
    Forbes.com
    Unless you're in the cold like Ted Williams, you know about MySpace, but did you know about the MySpace economy? As tens of millions show up regularly at News Corp.'s virtual hangout, ambitious entrepreneurs have figured out how to make some money off the site's considerable clout among younger consumers. Forbes points out that MySpace, like other mega-sites Google, eBay and Craigslist, is becoming its own economic ecosystem. Some youngsters are propping up Web sites that offer MySpace users free tools to upgrade and spruce up their profiles with colors and images, others will do whole personal page redesigns for a fee. Within the network, some are creating and selling software designed to automate tasks within the MySpace network, like friend confirmations and message postings. Entrepreneurs who spoke with Forbes said some of the most successful initiatives have attracted interest from bigger companies looking to take them over. Other successful MySpace spinoff businesses are being auctioned off for thousands of dollars.

    =====================================================================

    YouTube: The Next Napster?
    Associated Press
    YouTube is definitely the Internet's flavor of the month, but some critics wonder if the video sharing site is walking the same thin line Napster, the first peer-to-peer file sharing service, once walked and fell off. Just as Napster made it easy for users to download free music, YouTube makes it easy to download free video, and often, that video belongs to copyright holders. So far, YouTube doesn't police the site for copyrighted content, but it has adhered to requests from media companies to remove clips belonging to them. The company also hasn't been sued yet; in fact, many Hollywood studios have described YouTube as a "good corporate citizen." For the time being, advertisers might want to steer clear of the video sharing service, as there is an abundance of pornographic material on the site, despite that being a violation of the site's policy. At the beginning of this month, the company's founders, a pair of 20-somethings, said users were posting 35,000 new videos daily at the site and watching more than 35 million videos per day. Thus far, the young site's growth is due to two phenomena: the proliferation of high speed Web access and word of mouth.

    ======================================================

    YouTube: The Next Napster?
    Associated Press
    YouTube is definitely the Internet's flavor of the month, but some critics wonder if the video sharing site is walking the same thin line Napster, the first peer-to-peer file sharing service, once walked and fell off. Just as Napster made it easy for users to download free music, YouTube makes it easy to download free video, and often, that video belongs to copyright holders. So far, YouTube doesn't police the site for copyrighted content, but it has adhered to requests from media companies to remove clips belonging to them. The company also hasn't been sued yet; in fact, many Hollywood studios have described YouTube as a "good corporate citizen." For the time being, advertisers might want to steer clear of the video sharing service, as there is an abundance of pornographic material on the site, despite that being a violation of the site's policy. At the beginning of this month, the company's founders, a pair of 20-somethings, said users were posting 35,000 new videos daily at the site and watching more than 35 million videos per day. Thus far, the young site's growth is due to two phenomena: the proliferation of high speed Web access and word of mouth.

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    Media Deals Gain Steam
    by Wendy Davis, Friday, Apr 7, 2006 6:00 AM EST
    CONSOLIDATIONS AMONG ONLINE MEDIA COMPANIES accelerated in the first quarter, according to a new report by the Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.

    Led by NBC Universal's purchase last month of women's network iVillage for $550 million, the first quarter saw 37 online media mergers and acquisitions, which totaled $2.36 billion. In the first three months of last year, by contrast, 24 deals transpired in the online media space; the total value of the deals last year came to $2.7 billion, but that figure included IAC/InterActive's $1.9 billion acquisition of Ask Jeeves.

    Excluding the Ask Jeeves purchase, the merger and acquisition market looks more robust than in 2005, said Adam Gross, vice president-marketing at Jordan, Edmiston. The activity so far this year shows "a very, very strong return trend for the online media industry, in terms of value and number of deals," Gross said.

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    Online Music, Music, Music

    Stephanie Guza, Industry Analyst, summarizing In-Stat's most recent online music report, says that the Internet is now a key distribution channel for legitimate digital music sales, and the mobile phone is also evolving into an important channel for digital music.

    Other conclusions, excerpted from her report, include such things as:

    • Online sales of digital music represented almost 6% of the total worldwide music market in 2005. This figure is up from virtually zero in 2003.
    • According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), paid-for digital single downloads reached 420 million in 2005, which is more than double the number of digital singles downloaded in 2004.
    • Another method is subscription-based services, with the overall subscriber base reaching 2.8 million, up from 1.5 million in 2004.
    • Online song catalogues doubled to nearly 2 million songs on all major online music services. In addition, the number of legitimate music sites reached 335 worldwide, up from 50 in 2003.
    • Mobile phones have evolved from basic voice-based handsets to multimedia handsets used for different functions such as voice, data, music, music distribution and video.

    Broadband Video Forces Marketers, Agencies To Rename TV Divisions
    Ad Age
    It's like the advertising equivalent to the Berlin Wall coming down: major marketers like American Express are dismantling their TV silos, replacing them with the more flexible notion of "video." The shift is forcing them to rethink and reshuffle the way they organize their various TV and Internet buying, planning and selling units. Agencies like Publicis Groupe's MediaVest are right in-step with AmEx, announcing that they've renamed their TV-buying teams as "video investment and activation units." The reorganization is not just in name: MediaVest is also placing digital experts alongside broadcast buyers. AmEx calls its new video marketing department "rolling stock video," which may sound lame but is broad-sounding enough to include cinema, pre-roll online video and podcasts. AmEx and MediaVest may be leading the way, but every marketer and agency out there is now buffing up its digital strategy, which is particularly interesting as the upfront season for TV approaches.

    ===========================

    Google and Clear Channel make deal

    Making a further shift towards control over “old media” outlets, Google has partnered with Clear Channel to implement its AdSense network in over 1,100 radio station websites. Clear Channel announced Wednesday that Google will exclusively power search engines in all of its local radio sites and give local advertisers top billing in the search results pages. The sites combine to give advertisers the ability to reach over 7 million online radio listeners a month.

    Clear Channel plans to immediately launch AdSense for Search, Google’s pay-per-search term service, and Websearch, its search tool, on all of the partner sites. AdSense for Content, a program which offers sponsored links targeted to the contents of news articles, will be employed in coming weeks.

    “As our on-air audience continues to turn to our station sites for broadcast streams and on-demand programming, we will continue to build mutually beneficial partnerships with those who are best in breed,” said Evan Harrison, Executive Vice President of Clear Channel Radio and head of the company’s Online Music & Radio unit.  

    ===========================

    Bill Gates is recorded saying...

    "TV historically has been a broadcast medium in which everybody's picking from a finite number of channels," Gates told an audience of several dozen people in New York, at the annual meeting of Corbis--which he founded.

    But in the future, watching TV will be a matter of "seeing what you're interested in, having ads targeted to you," Gates said. "That's becoming the standard way video will be delivered," he added.

    Speaking from the 30th floor of the Reuters building in Times Square, he also forecast other changes to the media world. Print will be consumed on foldable electronic tablets; textbooks not only will be digitized and interactive, but also will include video. As for mobile, agencies will need to quickly create "new types of advertising that can fit into that experience in the small screen."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right now, nearly half of all Internet homes, about 34 million, have watched streaming video online. The ease of posting video content on the Web and the possibility of 15 seconds of fame has given rise to a new generation of wannabe stars, but now that interest in video clips has exploded, Hollywood and media companies are starting to notice: MTV is starting to make videos available on YouTube, and NBC, after yanking several clips from the video site, is now reusing them on NBC.com. CBS and Yahoo have teamed up to stream the NCAA tournament live for free but ad-supported. As Internet TV marches on, it is expected to hit 29 billion streams by 2007, according to AccuStream iMedia Research.

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    Online Ad Spending Soars 66% In U.K.
    by Wendy Davis
    Online ad spending in the United Kingdom climbed to £1.36 billion, or about $2.4 billion, last year--marking a 65.5 percent increase from 2004. according to a new report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau U.K. and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The proportion of online ad dollars last year soared to around 8 percent--almost double the 5 percent spent online in 2004.

    ================================
    AS PART OF A REDESIGN that went live Wednesday, Atom Films' video directory site, AddictingClips.com, began accepting user-created clips. If those clips gain in popularity, Atom Films will move them to the main site, AtomFilms.com, where they can be monetized through pre-roll ads.

    "There's a ton of content that we get submitted to AtomFilms that, for whatever reason, doesn't end up on the site." said Dave Williams, chief marketing officer at Atom Entertainment. "AtomFilms is much more tightly controlled editorially. We want to use AddictingClips as a place to get a lot of other filmmakers up online."

    A program, dubbed "Cash For Clips," will pay content creators if their content gains an audience and gets moved to the AtomFilms Web site. "If they get some attention, we'll take note and start to promote that pretty heavily on AtomFilms.com," said Williams. "The plan right now is to take the content that is really good enough to develop an audience, put it up on AtomFilms.com, and get it promoted and put a preroll ahead of it, and pay the content creator."         AtomFilms.com   March 2006

    ===============================Western Union

    Viacom to Monetize User-Generated Video Clips

    In yet another example of media companies experimenting with user-generated content, Viacom is allowing users to play with its content on The N, a new teen channel Web site, to create video montages they can send to their friends. They've hired an unnamed technology company to develop a video mixer that lets users create so-called video mashups of clips from different shows, according to an entry on the Business 2.0 blog. The blogger reports that it's simple, but provides enough functionality to be fun. Users can pick music tracks, put in transitions between scenes and add graphics. They even sell ads; once an e-mail is sent with your clip, an ad appears before the mashup plays.

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    INTERNET COMPANIES WILL INCREASINGLY RELY on TV networks to provide online content, Yahoo Executive Vice President Greg Coleman predicted Monday at a panel in New York hosted by the Advertising Research Foundation.

    "They do have the content," Coleman said of the major TV industry players, adding: "the answer is going to be partnerships of all different kinds."

    Michael Barrett, executive vice president of AOL Media, agreed that TV and Web companies need to work together. He said that online journalism had flourished, but added: "the stuff that's really early on still is the entertainment offerings." Seeking an explanation, Barrett pointed to TV executives' fear of losing control over their content: "There are a lot of rates issues--a lot of protection issues." Nonetheless, he too predicted much greater cooperation in the near future.

    =================================

    Yahoo, CBS To Launch '60 Minutes' Site

    Yahoo News and CBS Corp. will produce a co-branded Web site dedicated to "60 Minutes," the companies said Thursday. The full-blown offering is not expected until September, but Yahoo this Sunday intends to launch a preview site, sponsored by Buick, which will feature 23 short clips of footage from Ed Bradley's interviews with Tiger Woods.        Yahoo.com   March 06

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    Traditional Media, Feeling the Squeeze, Is Forced to Experiment
    The Economist...3/06
    As the Economist notes, media firms are in a mode where they must experiment with new media revenue streams, or they run of risk of remaining on the sidelines to watch the changing of the guard in their industry from afar. Because their old businesses no longer generate the kind of revenue they used to, experimentation has become a necessity for these big media firms, who are now under pressure from shareholders demanding to see evidence of such forward thinking. All this means traditional media firms have become some of the world's busiest companies, shedding weighty assets and corporate legacy structures in favor of new-media investments, often through acquisition. NBC and News Corp. come to mind for their respective purchases of iVillage, the women's Web portal, and MySpace, the popular social networking site. Still other media companies are investing in developing and distributing their own content, such as CBS Corp., which this week has made the NCAA basketball tournament available free via live stream on its Web site, accompanied, of course, by advertising. In fact, some analysts say that in a few years almost all media firms will have their full body of content accessible online--and for people in offices, who in theory will be able to access that content via the Web, "daytime will become the new prime time." CBS, understanding that most of its NCAA tourney watchers will be at work, has conveniently provided them with a "Boss Button," which calls up a fake spreadsheet at a moments notice.

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    Internet Radio Reaches Critical Mass, Ratings Still a Mess
    Thirty million Americans listen to Internet radio stations each week, according to estimates by radio measurement firms Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research. This represents a critical mass, and advertisers have started to take notice, but--as in other emerging marketing mediums--efforts to attract advertising have been hampered by a lack of audience measurement standards. "If we all settled on using [one set of numbers] it would be better," one Internet radio executive told The Wall Street Journal. As in the offline radio world, Arbitron is supposed to provide neutral audience ratings for the industry, but a growing number of Internet radio stations, including such heavyweights as CBS Corp. and Cox Radio Inc., endorse ratings from an upstart called Ando Media LLC. Why are there two different ratings systems?

    ======================================

    FIRST IT KILLED THE RADIO star (think MTV and look at the radio industry today). Now it's doing a number on the Web. The rush is on to "videoize" everything on the Web. Of course, like any fad, it's pretty mindless at first, with people emptying out their video libraries and putting any video anywhere. The truth is, what the world doesn't need is more video junk. What we all yearn for is video that is relevant to us and engaging (a hip Internet word for entertaining).

    =====================================

    Cohen added that sites like MySpace held some promise for advertisers, especially corporate-created pages. "There are areas where the content is generated by MySpace, and is totally sanitized and quite safe," he said, adding that he might consider recommending the site if marketers had the ability to pull ads when the surrounding content became too dicey.

    And at a time when advertisers and media companies are looking for ways to fill the demand for content in myriad micro-niches, the panelists agreed that sites like MySpace have an indisputable advantage in attracting user-generated content. On this topic, after noting that "marketers are not investing time and money to build custom content for a video-on-demand platform, for example," Cohen observed there is nonetheless "very high-quality content submitted by consumers."

    USAToday
    You might have guessed that the number of affluent Americans shopping online was high, but probably not this high: 95 percent of affluent Americans have made an online purchase in the last year, according to a Time online poll, featured in the most recent Time Style and Design issue. Clothing, accessories and books were the most popular items purchased; 68 percent of respondents made such purchases in the last year. Schulman Ronca & Bucuvalas conducted the Internet poll, interviewing 603 respondents aged18 and over with a household income of at least $150,000

    =======================================Western Union

    ALMOST 96 MILLION U.S. WEB users--68 percent--now access the Internet on high-speed lines, up from 74 million one year ago, Nielsen//NetRatings reported Tuesday.

    Broadband's rapid proliferation is fueling the popularity of video sharing sites. MSN Video, in particular, garnered 9.3 million unique visitors in Feb. 2006--growing 44 percent over the previous year to makeup 9.3 million uniques, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

    YouTube, the hugely popular video sharing upstart, trailed MSN just slightly in Feb. with a unique audience of 9 million. Google Video, which launched last year, drew 6.2 million unique visitors.

    While both Yahoo's video search site and Viacom's IFilm saw triple-digit yearly growth--148 percent and 102 percent, respectively--each drew about half of MSN's audience last month. Specifically, iFilm saw 4.3 million uniques in February, and Yahoo saw 3.8 million.

    The rate of broadband adoption among consumers appears to be increasing incrementally, Nielsen//NetRatings reports. Consumption grew 13 percentage point from Feb. 2005 to last month; 10 percentage points from February 2004 to February 2005; and 12 percentage points--from 33 percent to 45 percent--from February 2003 to February 2004.

    Overall Internet penetration in the United States has stabilized over the past few years, reaching 74 percent at home last month, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

    ======================================

    Content Spend Climbs To $2 Billion
    by Wendy Davis, Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 
    PROPELLED BY A BURGEONING MARKET in downloadable music and videos, U.S. consumer spending on content surged to $2 billion last year--marking a 15 percent increase from 2004, according to new research by the Online Publishers Association.

    In the fourth quarter alone, spending on paid content reached a record $534 million, up 13 percent from the $472 million spent in the last three months of 2004.

    For the first time, consumer spending in the entertainment and lifestyle category surpassed spending in all other categories--including dating sites, the former leader. Entertainment and lifestyle spending surged to $574 million--up from $413 in 2004--while spending for online personals and dating reached $503 million, compared to 2004's $469.5 million.

    ===============================================================================

    News Ad Revenue Moves To Web
    by Erik Sass, Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 OnlinemediaDaily.com
    REVENUE FOR ONLINE NEWS PORTALS is soaring, while print, TV, and radio ad revenue drops, according to a new report from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. The report, "State of the News Media 2006," records a steady shift of advertising revenue from "old" outlets to online portals--with the exception of cable news, where revenues are still growing.

    Echoing gloomy analyses from Merrill Lynch and Blackfriars' Communications on the state of the newspaper industry, the Columbia University report notes that newspaper revenue rose by 1 to 2 percent, but largely because of a 30 percent increase in revenue from ads on newspapers' online portals. Without this income, newspaper revenue would have been flat. And the future will likely be gloomier, according to "State of the News," as online sites like Craigslist--and the newspapers' own online portals--eat into revenue from print newspapers' classified ad sections.

    Indeed, the cost disparity between free online editions and paid print subscriptions will likely drive more and more readers to online portals, followed by ad revenue. Although online advertising is growing rapidly, this development still spells bad news for newspapers' bottom line according to Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine, who notes that newspapers only earn 20 to 30 cents in ad revenue for each online reader, versus a dollar for print.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    'Adapt to new technology or die,' Murdoch tells newspapers

    The newspaper industry needs to embrace the technological revolution of the Internet, MP3 players, laptops and mobile phones or face extinction, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch said.  "Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall," he said in a speech to the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers.

    "That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business on the planet. Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry -- the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors.  "A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it."

    The greatest challenge for the traditional media now is to engage with more demanding, questioning and better educated consumers, adapting their products for new technology, the Australian-born media mogul said.

    "There is only one way. That is by using our skills to create and distribute dynamic, exciting content," he said.   yahoo.com news

    ==============================================================================

    The New TV Phenomenon: Niche Content on the Web
    NY Times  March 06
    The New York Times today has a lengthy article about production companies developing niche content for broadband TV.   There are thousands of producers focused in very specific areas whose content would never make it to prime time, but they have very dedicated small audiences. The Times, in trying to coin a new buzz word, calls the phenomenon of producing TV content for small dedicated audiences on the Web, "slivercasting." Fine. But more importantly, this phenomenon underscores the Internet's ability to offer an infinite selection of content that would never sell in a store or on TV. As Discovery Communications' Chief Executive John Hendricks says, "The next wave of media is to unleash the power of serving people's special interests." And Discovery is taking some big steps in that direction. With a massive archive of content on a broad range of topics, Discovery, which already has 15 different cable channels, is now delving even deeper into the world of specialized content: tomorrow it will announce a service that makes 30,000 video clips excerpted from its full library of documentaries and other materials to help high school and grade school students with homework. In the future, it plans to offer content focused on narrow content, such as programming related to cancer, earthquakes, weather, geology, etc. With a steady influx of specialized programmers--and the Times talks to several of them--the time will soon come for someone to seize the opportunity to match video commercials to specialized audiences, like Google does with search and Web pages.

    =============================================================================================

    Execs Ponder Cinema's Digital Future
    Information Week
    Hollywood big-wigs agree: digital cinema is the future of their medium, but it's just not ready for widespread deployment. With digital technology taking over media, we ask: what's the point of going to the cinema when the home theater experience is comparable in quality and much better in terms of comfort? Not only that, but producers make most of their money from DVD sales anyway, so really, what's the point? Well, executives from industry organizations, movie studios and technology companies met last week at the University of Southern California to discuss cinema's digital future, looking for answers as to how digital technology can help cinema survive. Frankly, their answers were pretty lame. One suggestion was interactive stuff, like little on-screen question and answer quiz games, that lets audience members send in answers via text. Presumably they will get a chance to win something for doing this, otherwise there's absolutely no point in playing along. A better suggestion was making a 3-D experience out of action movies and content beyond movies like sporting events and concerts. Advertisers, who have only recently been invited to the cinema, will be keen to know how exactly movie theater companies plan to leverage the digital future, as their customers start to consume more and more content away from movie screens.

     

    This Isn’t A Bubble, It’s A Tidal Wave!

     

    "So I return to Geoff Ramsay and his prediction that we’ve only so far seen 10 percent of the potential of search. Absolutely! It’s like standing with your feet in a puddle while you watch a tsunami coming your way. It’s not a question of if you’re going to get wet, but rather, when."

    I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it again. Search is the key to online interaction. It is the connector between intent and content online. And online will soon become the only line. It will be the umbilical cord through which we interact with everything beyond our immediate physical world.

    We have no idea how much our lives will change in the next two decades. It will be the most rapid assimilation of sociological change in history. Everything that forms our current reality will be reengineered and reinvented from the ground up. This includes our definitions of community, social relationships, family, communication, our work, our leisure and our very concept of self. The physical and the virtual will merge, and the simple act of searching will become the synapse that connects us to the World 2.0.

    That’s a big concept, one that’s hard to constrain with talk of quarterly earnings, bid prices remaining flat and the potential danger of click fraud. These are all valid concerns, but to me, it’s a bit like forecasting the demise of the automobile in 1902 because poor roads caused frequent flat tires and there were no gas stations. Perhaps that dampened sales of automobiles in the short term, but the fact remained that a fundamental wave of change was underway, and any restricting obstacles were eventually swept away by the sheer force of that change. The same is true of search.

    ===========================================================================

    The price of broadband Internet service is going down, thanks to price wars between telco and cable TV providers. According to Leichtman Research Group, 2005 was the first year that telephone companies added more broadband Internet subscribers than cable TV providers did.

    Leichtman's research found that DSL providers, which are offering broadband service for as little as $13 a month, added 5.2 million subscribers in 2005. Cable companies added 4.4 million high-speed Internet subscribers last year, for a total of 24.3 million. Cable still held the lead over telco providers' DSL service, which registered 18.5 million customers.

    The research represents the 20 largest broadband companies in the United States, with 42.8 million total subscribers and about 94 percent of the market. Yet Leichtman estimates that nearly 35 million people still use dial-up access--much to the chagrin of AOL and other providers that are trying hard to get these slowpokes to upgrade.    mediapost.com   March 2006

    ===========================================================================

    Online Video Comes Of Age

     I RECENTLY PROMISED MYSELF THAT I would never again say "tipping point" or "perfect storm." Enough already. Yet, just as I've slipped on that daily gym workout resolution, I just can't think of another term to describe what is happening with online video than to call it a perfect storm.

    Nearly every major player, from YAHOO to Google to Microsoft, is preparing a new platform that will make it easier for users to find and view online video. Companies like Scripps and Viacom have launched broadband "channels" where nearly all the content is video clips. And suddenly all of the major traditional offline content companies (OK, let's call them broadcast networks) have discovered there is a market for paid downloads of their shows. A perfect storm, indeed.

    ===================================================================

    Information Week
    Mobile phone content is poised for big-time growth in the next four years, says research firm iSuppli Corp. The global market for games, music, and video on phones is expected to reach $43 billion by 2010, up from $5.2 billion in 2004, according to a report released by the firm this week. The combination of ringtones and ringtunes (actual music files stored on cell phones) is projected to lead the way as the fastest-growing wireless segment; last year, mobile music revenue was nearly $4 billion worldwide.  March 2006

    ===========================================================================

    Google, Yahoo Show Double-Digit Paid Search Growth

    Google served more than 41 billion sponsored links on its search results pages and publisher network, marking a 14 percent increase from last August. Yahoo served about half as many sponsored search links--23.2 billion--last month, but that figure represents a 21 percent increase from August, when it served 19.2 billion search ads.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AOL Chief Discusses Pending Upgrades
    USA Today Feb 2006
    AOL is undergoing some major changes, readying a host of new products to help it keep pace with Internet leaders Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. In an interview with USA Today, Jonathan Miller, the Time Warner Company's chief executive, outlined AOL's strategy, beginning with a big push in video. This week, he said, the company begins integrating video search from Truveo, which AOL bought late last year. As part of its In2TV service, AOL will be offering 14,000 free, Warner Bros.-owned classic TV shows on its site. AOL is also in the process of updating its industry-leading instant messaging service, AIM. The company will be offering its 43 million AIM users the chance to create a personal Web page in the same vein as MySpace and MSN Spaces. For instance, clicking on a buddy's name would call up his personal Web page. Miller said the new AIM will also be a "full voice platform," offering voice over Internet calls. In short, AOL is trying to turn AIM into an entertainment/communication hub--something it has talked about doing for a long time, and something analysts agree that it must attempt to do to compete with the likes of Yahoo and MySpace.

     

    ONLINE AD REVENUES IN THE fourth quarter surged to a record $3.6 billion--up 35 percent from the last three months of 2004, according to a report released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    The IAB also estimates that Internet ad spending totaled $12.5 billion for the year, representing a 30 percent increase from 2004. While that growth rate is impressive, it's slightly lower than the 32 percent growth between 2003 and 2004.

    This year, growth is likely to decelerate again, although it will probably be at least 20 percent, predicted Greg Stuart, CEO of the IAB. "There comes a point where you wouldn't continue to see the same acceleration year after year after year," Stuart said. In the last five years, the second quarter of 2004 showed the highest growth, with online ad spending increasing by 43 percent over the second quarter of 2003.

    189 million people online in the United States...

    3 million subscriptions to Sirus Radio...now equals ipods in sales...

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Broadband Penetration More Than Doubles Among Rural Households
    Associated Press
    Broadband penetration has increased considerably from 2003, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, having more than doubled in rural households. Rural households reported a 24 percent rate of broadband penetration last fall, compared with 9 percent in 2003. Urban households, by comparison, reported a 39 percent rate of high-speed penetration, versus 22 percent in 2003. In part, lower rural penetration is due to limited availability, but the survey also cites a higher proportion of older, less educated, and poorer consumers as reasons for lower levels of Internet use. However, rural Americans with broadband are almost as likely as urban consumers to use it on a given day; overall, 62 percent of country dwellers use the Internet, compared with 70 percent elsewhere.  Feb 2006

    iTunes sales it 1 billionth music download.  Another milestone as music goes from CDs to the Internet...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    onlinespin@mediapost.com Reports DOMAIN NAME SEARCH

    What's your take on the clutter of domain names? I just found a registrar called pcNames that had recently announced 3-character and dictionary search tools. According to a press release, the company said that there are 40,000 3-character and 5,000 dictionary domains listed in the search tool. These lists are made up of all available domains including .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, and .us. Since manual searching through every word in the dictionary or every possible 3-character combination to find an available one is a tedious endeavor, pcNames.com has developed and released the complete list of all available 3-character and dictionary domains.

    This intrigued me. When I looked around to see just how many active domains there are out there I found, to no surprise, that the U.S. has the most--38,709,506. Germany (3,312,772), The U.K. (2,651,810) and Canada (2,497,141) are behind. (Source: http://www.webhosting.info/domains/country_stats/US).

     

    Video, Video Everywhere...

    Please click here. CONSIDER THIS:

  • A mere 12 months ago, few people anticipated the viability of mobile TV and user-generated video content channels like MTV's Uber. Video iPods weren't here yet, video search was truly in beta, and MySpace Music was so underground, it wasn't on most planners' radar screens.
  • According to a study by eMarketer, the broadband video marketplace is expected to top $1 billion in sales by 2009.
  • Every day brings additional news developments--from Yahoo!'s latest video endeavor; to extensions like the online spin-off of "Family Guy"; to TV networks like CBS making their video programming available everywhere, whether on broadband, Google, iTunes, VOD or VCast, whether paid or ad-supported.
  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HIGH DEF SUPER BOWL

    On February 5, 2006 the ABC Television Network will broadcast its seventh Super Bowl live from Detroit's Ford Field. Since the 10 most-watched television broadcasts in history have all been Super Bowls, one can assume that this year ABC will also enjoy a very large live audience. Last year's game was viewed by 133.7 million viewers.

    ABC will shoot the event in HDTV (High Definition Television in 720p format--a screen resolution of 1280x720 pixels) and for the first time, more than 50 percent of the ads will be presented in HD as well. According to a recent study done by SA and Leichtman, over 56 percent of the people who bought HDTV sets (close to 9 million people) have not acquired the equipment needed to actually watch anything in HD. But that's not the point! For the people who can view the content in HD, the experience will be breathtaking.

    To be as untechnical as possible, using compression, a 720p HD signal can be reasonably streamed using IP (Internet Protocol) at about 8 mbps (million bits per second). The average broadband connection is 1.5 mbps down, so HD using an IP provisioned system is not possible in an average broadband household. In fact, watching HDTV using an IP system is only practical in a household with a broadband connection in excess of 10 mbps--know anybody who has one?

     

    ONLINE NEWSPAPERS DREW AN AVERAGE 53.6 million visitors a month during the fourth quarter--up 30 percent from the previous year's 41.1 million, according to a new report released Thursday by the Newspaper Association of America.

    Visitors to newspapers' Web sites also remain longer now than in the past. In the fourth quarter, users visited an average of 42 minutes a month--up 16 percent from 37 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2004. Nielsen//NetRatings compiled the data for the NAA.

     

    20 Million ITunes Users Have Distinct Brand Preferences

    Nielsen//NetRatings recently announced that traffic to Apple's iTunes Web site and use of the iTunes application has skyrocketed 241 percent over the past year, from 6.1 million unique visitors in December 2004 to 20.7 million in December 2005, reaching nearly14 percent of the active Internet population.

    17 year olds  are nearly twice as likely to visit the iTunes Web site and use the application as the average Internet user. The site's traffic is 54 percent male and 46 percent female.

    Jon Gibs, director of media analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings, said "The rapid growth of iTunes is an important phenomenon in the online media marketplace. Consumers have  clearly indicated that they are eager to control their own music libraries, one song at a time."

     

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