A jumpstart Internet channel using low-cost but powerful technology
LX.TV, formerly Code.TV, is one of the jumpstarts in programming boom emerged over the last year. It is interesting to note that LX.TV has capitalized on several shifts taking place in the industry to quickly build and launch a relevant broadband channel.
For shooting, they are using DV cameras that made it inexpensive to shoot high quality video. Also, they are using low-cost but powerful non-linear editing systems such as Final Cut and Premiere. And for distribution, a broadband channel that removes the traditional barriers of the industry.
LX.TV produces original content exploring everything from the hottest nightlife and spas to swank stores in New York and Los Angeles. They have raised nearly $1 million in start up money, and expect to be profitable in 2008. They have gone from three full-time employees to 15, along with a passel of freelancers.
Brightcove releases new offerings to insert ads into the Internet videos
Brightcove, a well funded Internet video company, has unveiled a new suite of services, aimed at lowering the entry point for creating Internet channels. The company is now offering ad placement and video syndication to anyone who is willing to enter into a 50/50 ad revenue sharing agreement, and a 70/30 product sales revenue split.
According to Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, manager of Streaming Media.com, \"Brightcove has been growing quietly, working behind the scenes with right holders, in contrast to user-generated sites that exploded in popularity over the last year, and the company now seems well-positioned to take advantage of the content they\'ve secured from the likes of AMC, IFC, and Sony BMG.\"
The potential vulnerabilities of YouTube, facing the threat of copyright suits, give hope to companies like Brightcove, Revver, DaveTV, and Metacafe. Those companies are giving people a cut of the ad revenue (if you put a video on YouTube, they keep all the ad revenue the video might generate).
The anti-YouTube exec predicts that people will get video from producers
\"In the future, consumers will turn away from portals and begin to get their videos straight from the producers\", said Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire.
\"People don\'t go to Google to get content. They go there to find Web sites,\" he added. \"The vast majority of content is not consumed in the portals. It is consumed on the Web.\"
In some ways, Brightcove is viewed as the anti-YouTube. YouTube came to prominence by giving individuals a centralized place to publish their videos. While pirated material and professionally made content gets onto the network, most of YouTube\'s programming comes from average people armed with a video camera. YouTube makes money through selling ads.
Private label video portals
\"By contrast, Brightcove started by selling software tools to the likes of companies like Sony, Dow Jones, the Independent Film Channel and Newsweek. The videos and music delivered through its software are housed mostly on sites owned by the content providers themselves, not centralized portals,\" according to ZDNet\'s columnist Michael Kanellos.
Vidiac.com has been offering free private label video portals since 2005, and have signed up over 700 sites. They also allow site owner to syndicate content from their library of 100,000 videos and place their own ads on their site next to theirs. They are also beta testing 50/50 revenue share on video ads with a select lists of sites.
User-generated video clips can be monetized?
Can the user-generated video content model be monetized? This was one of the main issues addressed during the Streaming Media West Conference & Exhibition, celebrated this month in San Jose, California. YouTube\'s purchase by Google is making that doubt more intense.
Archived video from many of the sessions can now be viewed for free online
Metacafe pays $5 for every thousand views of user-generated video
Metacafe.com, one of the main rivals of YouTube.com, is taking a big step by paying video content creators $5 for every thousand views (with payments starting at $100 for twenty thousand views). Revver, Eefoof.com, and Panjea are also in the game of paying users, but they avoid cash offerings and promote a 50?50 split base on the revenue generated form post-roll ads.
Metacafe\'s Producer Rewards program is really significant. \"If your video has what is takes to entertain people, we want to license it and pay you for every view\", says Metacafe. In the ranking of top earners, we find a guy with $24,604 just promoting their acrobatic jumps, or a back massage tutorial, $16.370.
Is it time to pay for all the user-generated-content?
The majority of the American TV networks consider broadband video to be their network\'s number one new business priority, far outpacing all other advanced services, including video on-demand.
This is revealed in a survey of broadband video executives at 42 of the top 75 cable TV networks, conducted by Broadband Directions U.S. consulting firm.
Would you spend your ad bucks on your own broadband channel?
For a number of brands a way to continue to be relevant to teens and to young adults is creating their own video content and putting it online. Advertisers realize that Broadband TV is a cost effective way to get their messages out. Also are alarmed as consumers increasingly bypass commercials using digital video recorders like TiVo, and spend more time flipping among a wide array of television networks, Internet and video games.
Bud TV and Snickers\' Instant Def are two examples. Anheuser-Busch plans to start a seven-channel TV network online, called BudTV. So far, about one million people have visited InstantDef.com, where five episodes around four hip-hop performers are available.
Branded content, a nascent trend
Advertiser-produced content, or branded content, is a nascent trend. According to The New York Times. Companies commonly pay to place their products in TV shows and movies, but only a few dozen have created content from scratch. About 25 national companies produced online films this year, up from 5 last year, said Broadband Enterprises, a New York company that helps companies like Warner Brothers and AT&T circulate their videos on the Internet.
On TV, only a handful of such shows and movies have been shown. Advertisers say they are prepared to give the shows to networks free or in exchange for commercial air time; such offers could appeal to networks looking to control costs. But some network executives voiced skepticism that advertiser-created shows would draw much audience and said, for now, they do not expect to run many of the programs.
Procter & Gamble, Nike...
Most of them are put on cable networks, specially when shows are focused on niche topics, like Procter & Gamble\'s show, Home Made Simple, based on home-making tips, and available on the company’s online magazine, is on TLC, for example. Office Max produced a reality show about preteenagers getting ready for high school (\"Schooled\"), and featured it on ABC Family. On TV, about one million households watched the show, which featured several Office Max products. It was viewed more than six million times online.
Advertisers are also making movies. Nike has produced several, including a documentary on CBS about Lance Armstrong\'s training for the Tour de France, than ran on the Sundance Channel. And Mountain Dew, a PepsiCo brand, produced a movie about snowboarding that ran in theaters nationwide.
Instead of programming, assembling... A new trend on the soft industry
A number of start ups are building new ways to put the power of the programmer into the user hands. The main idea is less programming and more assembly, rolling your own applications without writing or knowing a single line of code. Some of them are Palo Alto-based Ning; Coghead, of Redwood City, California; and Teqlo, of Santa Clara, which lets people use a simple drag-and-drop interface to weave Web services together and build tiny apps.
It could be a solution for small workgroups that need custom apps but can\'t get the IT departments in their own corporations to devote the time. However, expert say the transition to this type of platform is going to be slow; it could take about three years to realize its potential.
MSNBC launches Flash video player. Is Windows losing the battle?
MSNBC.com has launched a new video player that detects user\'s system settings and play either a Windows Media or Flash file, which means it now works in Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Advertising functions identically in both players.
MSNBC.com is the one of the leader in online news video serving an average of 60 million videos per month, including on-demand and live video from NBC News and MSNBC.com.
Al-Jazeera English launches
Al-Jazeera started this week its English language news and current affairs channel to over 80 million cable and satellite households across the globe. Al-Jazeera is the first global news channel in English headquartered in the Middle East, in Doha, Qatar.
With anchor teams in broadcast centers in Doha, Kuala Lampur, London and Washington, Al-Jazeera features half of its programming with news bulletins, and the other half will be made up of news features and analysis, debates and documentaries.
They release also a new website in English, aljazeera.net/english.
Here is the first six minutes of the launch of Al-Jazeera English. This channel will not get carriage in America, since it is considered anti-American channel.
Search site Blinkx unleashes the video wall
The search site Blinkx has launched an original feature to watch in a video wall clips from a selected search term. Also, Blinkx allows bloggers to embed it. The displays is fed by RSS, so it updates automatically as new search results come in. You can select any size you want. Mouse over the clips is even more fun.
\"2006 was the year average people took TV broadcasting into their own hands\", says David Pogue New York Times columnist. Also, taking a look back YouTube.com took the headlines. First, when it became a social phenomenon, and second, when Google agreed to buy it for $1.65 billion in stock.
YouTube.com was Google\'s simpler and more consistent rival. Google\'s video clips were surprisingly inconsistent: some were copy protected, some not; some free, some not; some downloadable; others viewable only online. Now, everybody is waiting to know how or weather Google will merge YouTube\'s video outlet.
HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray: Stay out the battle one format wins
In 2006 we also saw the release of two high-definition DVD formats that promise better color, clarity and sound than regular DVDs: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, which are incompatible.
As David Pogue says, \"buy the wrong player, and you\'ll be locked out of movies that come in the other format\". VHS vs. Betamax? \"Stay out of the battle until one format wins\"
Verizon\'s fiber optic FiOS will offer soon its Hi-Def TV platform
FiOS, the Verizon video and Internet service which uses fiber optic technology, will reach close to two million homes in the U.S. by the end of the year. Verizon will offer digital quality with advanced services that, for example, let customer start watching a program in one room, move to another room and pick up where they left off.
Besides that, FiOS will have much greater channel capacity and picture quality will be as good as any from broadcast digital TV. It does not have to compress the signal and its program feed. Verizon\'s vice president for video solutions claims that \"our fiber-optic capacity gives us enough capacity to add as many HD channels as we can get our hands on.\"
Still many reasons to watch user-generated sites instead other sites
Why people watch copyrighted material on YouTube instead of the exact same clips on the original branded site? To name a few reasons, there are buffering issues, mandatory downloads, no direct URL o embed address to link on blogs.
Now Comedy Central plans to relaunch its player with embeddding functionality, and ABC is improving its player, too. Most of the networks are finding out what consumers want, conducting usability testing.
Early in the development
Definitely, the networks have some work to do if they want to lure viewers away from video-sharing sites like YouTube, where video content is far easier to find and watch. \"We\'re still very early in the development of the broadband-video market\", says the founder of Broadband Directions, a market-intelligence and consulting firm focusing of broadband video.
What works best is what\'s easiest to find and use. \"Anything that requires six clicks before you\'re actually watching a video is real turnoff,\" adds.
Flash is almost the standard format for the TV networks
Most networks have designed their players to operate with Flash. ABC and NBC use Flash, and 56 of the top 75 cable networks offer Flash-only video, according to a recent Broadband Directions report.
One notable exception is Fox, which developed its own downloadable Fox On Demand player, which features a technology that communicates with computers every two seconds to determine the optimum speed the computer can handle.
The Fox exception
He adopted this decision after finding that 25%-45% of viewers complained of buffering issues with standard players. Fox spent eight months developing the player.
The common goal is to try to make Internet television as easy as regular television. For that, the networks seems to be determined to bring the highest-quality video possible to the largest number of people and to offer a theatrical experience more akin to watching a movie.
YouTube could face the same fate as Napster
Google is engaged in a frantic round of negotiations with traditional media companies, even offering tens of millions of dollars in upfront payment to halt any potential copyright lawsuits, and for the right to broadcast their video content legally on YouTube. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has met with top execs from CBS, Viacom, Time Warner, NBC Universal, News Corp and others with proposals to combine their content with Google’s ad network, according to Financial Times.
Some media executives speculate that if Google fails in its effort YouTube could face the same fate as Napster, the file-sharing service that gained enormous popularity seven years ago before the music companies sued it for copyright infringement and put it out of business. Many are also wary of helping Google achieve the dominance in distributing video on the internet that it already enjoys in the search advertising market.