Stage6.com shuts down its high-quality video site due to the costs in providing bandwidth
DivX, Inc. has shut down this week its Stage6.com video site, eleven months after being launched. “The continued operation of Stage6 is a very expensive enterprise that requires an enormous amount of attention and resources that we are not in a position to provide,” they explain.
“In many ways, the service did succeed, beyond even our own initial expectations. Stage6 became very popular very quickly. We helped gain exposure for some talented filmmakers who brought great videos to the attention of an engaged community. We helped prove that it’s possible to distribute true high definition video on the Internet. And we helped broaden the Internet video experience by offering content that is compatible with DVD player, mobile devices and other products beyond the PC.”
Last summer DivX announced it was trying to market and sell a set-top box that would connect to your TV and tie into Stage6 content, but that effort didn’t take off. Another extra box in the living room had limited appeal.
DivX, Inc. will continue to offer services that will make it easy to find videos online in the DivX format.
Brand-experience environment in a Flash-driven site
Supersonics.com is the first Flash-driven site in major professional team sports. It took 2,000 hours and over $100k to build. Cypress Consulting, the Seattle based company that helped Sonics building the site, said that this is a much more immersive and high fidelity experience. The Sonics say the site is a whole new paradigm in how sport teams present their brands.
Is this site really useful? Some people consider that once viewed, there is no reason to return. This is not the best way to present score, schedules and news, and to give it interactivity. And what about counting page views?
Local TV stations demand more flexible content managements tools
Local TV stations are demanding more flexibility and faster product development online than Internet Broadcasting, WorldNow and other web service providers are offering. Analysts say that the days of having a one-size-fits-all business partner for the web are over. TV stations want more individual applications for the expected $12.6 billion local Web ad market.
The NBC station group and Cox Television have notified IB (Internet Broadcasting), which sells some of their ad space, that they need more flexibility than the IB platform currently affords and are exploring alternatives for content management and national ad sales.
CBS, Fox, Nexstar and Clear Channel (via directly owned subsidiary Inergize Digital Media ) have already built their own content management systems that are easy to use and that integrate into the station workflow.
WorldNow, whose client base went from 150 stations and newspapers to 320 after it unbundled its services, is now adopting an open source platform that will speed the integration of adding third-party applications such as the white label KickApps application used to power user-generated media sites.
Online TV contents drive viewers back to television
The content TV networks put online actually drive viewers back to television. And the viewers who watch TV programming via the Internet and are then driven into or back into TV are younger that the average TV network viewer and pay more attention to advertising. This is what Disney-ABC co-chair Ann Sweeney says .
In addition, she says that its streaming video users remember ads 87 % of the time. “Great content draws great audiences, and when we pair that content with digital technology, we can create a more direct connection to the consumer,” she said, “and deliver more targeted messages, and collect better information about who our consumers are and what they want.” “We will continue to take strong positions to shape the digital world, with a clear focus on promoting and protecting our brands; creating and delivering great view experiences; and being extremely strategic about where to put our content.”
Silverlight gains momentum inking a deal with Move Networks
Microsoft’s Silverlight, which is cross-browser, cross-platform Flash-like software plug-in, is gaining momentum with a new deal with Move Networks, which helps power video on ESPN360.com, Discovery, Fox, and ABC.com’s high-definition video.
Move Networks CEO says: “Our main focus with media companies is really taking quality to the next level. We think that really stimulates viewing and, thus, stimulates better metrics, and better metrics stimulate more relevant advertising and better, more intelligent programming.”
American Fork, Utah-based Move developed an innovative encoding scheme called “simulcoding” that creates multiple profiles of a program at different compression rates.
So far, there are about 30 million unique Move plug-ins deployed in the marketplace today.
Every time a user downloads Silverlight, they will also download the Move plug-in.
Silverlight is already being used by the National Basketball Association and CBS to improve the look of their Web sites and offer new advertising opportunities through graphical overlays.
It seems that the era of static Web pages is getting behind.
Integrating syndicated content into its content management system
Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM), one of the leading providers of locally-focused Web solutions for television and radio broadcasters, will integrate Mochila’s syndicated content into its content management system.
Using Mochila’s open-standard RSS Atom API, BIM will fully integrate with the Mochila platform, automatically connecting BIM’s content management and Web publishing systems to access Mochila’s content.
By connecting with Mochila’s API interface, BIM will provide its stations with direct access to relevant news from the Mochila content repository. BIM will also customize real-time feeds through this open standards XML-based API using keyword, category, byline, source and many other parameters.
YouTube’s earnings for 2008
YouTube earned around $31 million in revenue during 2007 and will reach $90 million in revenue for 2008. That number will grow to $227 million by 2012. The entire online video market is expected to bring in $1.35 billion this year and reach $4.3 billion by 2011.
This is according a Bear Stearns issued 70-page study of the online video market.
Oprah’s super live broadcasting experiment failed
Oprah Winfrey opened on March 5 the first episode of an experimental live weekly web show saying it was “the most exciting thing” she has ever done. 500.000 viewers tuned in to share the excitement, only to have the site crash within minutes. Viewers were left with frozen screens.
Officials at Harpo, Winfrey’s production company, issued an apology. “Harpo recognizes that interactive Internet broadcasting to a mass audience is still an emerging medium, and we’re proud to have been pioneers in pushing the industry forward”.
Experts say that the demand that an Oprah-sized audience put on the Internet and the related infrastructure was just too great and the system crashed. Does it mean that the Internet is not suited for live streaming at scale?
An executive tied to the project disclosed that they were up to about 800,000 users when a logical error in the caching servers caused the system to crash. (Only way to ever find a coding error like this is to put a system truly under stress. You cannot simulate it in the lab).
Therefore the crash was not caused by a lack of bandwidth, and overwhelming number of users of any infrastructure issues at all. It was a simple coding error. The error is now fixed.
They used Move Networks as online distribution platform, and Limelight as CDN. And serve it up on Oprah.com. The webcast was available in 149 countries. The current limit on a Move Networks/Limelight CDN system is about 2 million simultaneous users.
A great cultural shift on how people watch television
Watching television episodes on a computer screen is now a common activity for millions of consumers, says this week The New York Times . ”It has become a mainstream behavior in an extraordinary quick time. It isn’t just the generation Y-ers. It spans all ages,” NBC’s head of research explains.
One in four Internet users had streamed full-length television episodes online in the last three months, including 39 percent of people ages 18 to 34 and, more surprisingly, 23 percent of those 35 to 54, according by Nielsen Media Research. How many shows are being streamed is unclear because there is no widely recognized version of the Nielsen TV ratings for the Internet yet.
One piece of good news for the networks and advertisers is that viewers are more likely to remember ads on the Internet versions of TV shows, partly because the commercials are less numerous and more demographically aimed online.
Testing is over, Hulu.com starts its streaming-video venture
Hulu.com, the long-gestation joint venture between NBC and Fox, intended to beat YouTube, emerged on Wednesday. This streaming-video site displays free, ad-supported shows and feature films from NBC, Fox and more than 50 media companies, including Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (but not ABC and CBS). Their videos also appear on AOL, MSN, Comcast, MySpace and Yahoo, and all of them are able to be embedded.
Hulu’s mission is to have everything in terms of premium content. Two years ago there wasn’t any full TV episode or films legally.
Hulu was at first skeptically by many in the industry, but now it has received high marks from media and Web executives for creating an easy to use site with high-quality video and professional content attractive to advertisers.
Now Hulu is experimenting with giving viewers a choice in advertising, allowing select which commercial they want to watch. Some viewers will also be given the opportunity to watch a two-minute film preview before a TV show, and then skip all the other advertising breaks.
Pepsi starts the buzz online to promote a new fruit drink
Pepsi will take an unconventional approach and will rely entirely on new media to promote a new no-calorie fruit drink called Tava. The soft-drink maker will turn to banner ads, a new web site and other online promotions to generate buzz for the product.
Ads will be placed on Oprah.com, AOL, dailycandy.com, Evite and other popular destinations to reach men and women ages 35 to 49. There will be sampling at events and at popular shops, and the delivery of free samples to the employees of companies like Google, Apple and MTV. The experiment is meant to generate word-of-mouth buzz.
As The New York Times points out , the decision is another sign of the growing use of new media to introduce brands in mainstream categories, and are the reason that spending for ads online is increasing far faster than for any other medium.
YouTube opens its platform for outside developers
YouTube announced to open its platform for outside developers in order to make its name more ubiquitous. The new set of developer APIs will allow more direct access to the service. Developers will access into YouTube for video uploading and will allow for players without its traditional interface and branding. Also, they will be able to manage, search, and video playback on any number of devices for any number of purposes.
It means that YouTube will become not just a destination for videos, but a system that serve videos into other apps. YouTube will turn into an infrastructure play which, once adopted by a developer on a site, would be difficult to remove. It will also give YouTube an even more impressive library of videos, which can be used to serve up advertising.
Some early samples of usage: TiVo will use that API to integrate the video-sharing site into its set-top boxes. Electronic Arts will use it to to allow gamer to upload videos of personalized Spore creatures. UC Berkeley has created a system that will automatically post university lectures to YouTube.
YouTube experiments with different quality streams, depending on the user’s bandwidth
YouTube.com has begun experimenting with serving higher-quality video. For certain videos, the site will now detect your Internet speed and serve the video that your connection can handle.
A major flaw in YouTube until now has been low video quality. Video, Dailymotion and MySpace took the opportunity to add higher-quality and HD streams.
YouTube is now offering many videos in a higher quality format, and letting users decide if they want the higher quality versions. The offering is dependent on the source material uploaded to YouTube, and is not restricted to partner content. “We are especially excited about offering this upgrade in video quality to our community of filmmakers and animators, who have been requesting this feature for some time”. To help support the initiative, uploads of up to 1 GB are now supported.
Higher quality videos also have a link right below the video player which will allow you to select between the normal or higher quality settings.
Also, on your Account page you’re now able to choose “always show me higher quality when available”.
Facebook application to allow send footage from Hollywood movies
A new application called VooZoo, created by Paramount Pictures/Viacom and the Los Angeles-based developer FanRocket, will allow Facebook users access to footage from thousands of Hollywood movies to send to others.
Paramount Pictures is the first major studio to make clips from thousands of its movies available for use on the Internet. The studio will market DVDs of the movies through a button that appears after each clip is played. It eventually wants to use the application to virally market upcoming releases.
PS3 will be the first Blue-ray player with Internet access
This month Sony will release a free update to the PlayStation 3 console that adds the ability to download video, games and ring tones. The update will also install Blu-ray’s BD-Live capability and wireless communication with PSP Portables. This handheld device will be a remote control for playing music on the PS3 and stream linked video files from the Web.
This PS3 will become the first Blue-ray player on the market with Internet access, offering a wide variety of downloadable movie trailers, bonus material and more.
With the updates, Sony wants to build the gaming console’s status as entertainment hub.
Adobe extends Flash DRM to downloads
Adobe has launched new software that offers DRM protection for downloaded Flash. Instead of an ordinary web download, these programs can use a proprietary, secret Adobe protocol to talk to each other, encrypting the communication and locking out non-Adobe software players and video tools.
Its new Flash Media Rights Management Server enables big media companies to put tighter restrictions on their content. Content owners can set customized restrictions including how long the content can be viewed, whether an ad needs to b watched first, and who can view it.
”Whether a media publisher wants to limit access to a live Webcast or enable on-demand viewing of advertising-supported, free or paid-for programming, protecting media content is key to developing next-generation television business models,” Adobe says.
Price of this Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server is $40,000 per CPU.