Around 250,000 unique users have visited during its first two months of operations GlobalPost.com, a Boston-based for-profit online news venture. Since its debut on Jan. 12, GlobalPost.com got 1.1 million page views.
With 65 correspondents worldwide, its economy is based on advertising and on access to paid sections ($199 a year), which include exclusive reports on business topics, conference calls and meetings with reporters, and breaking news e-mail messages from those journalists. GlobalPost wants to create a feeling of community for subscribers, and for that, it allows them to suggest article ideas, avoiding seeing newsrooms as impenetrable and fortresslike.
So far less than 30 people have signed up for subscriptions. The site is depending on marketing partnership to generate subscriptions, some discounted, and hopes to have more than 2,000 by year’s end. In the meantime, advertising remains slow.
A third revenue stream based on selling their reports to other news outlets has been growing
GlobalPost correspondents are paid a basic compensation of $1,000 a month for four articles, plus shares in the venture. The site had 500 applicants for the jobs. When in the field, correspondents carry inexpensive Flip digital video cameras.
The site was started with $8.5 million from private investors.
Babelgum going Flash-only
Babelgum.com has redesigned its site again, finally going Flash-only, allowing viewers to watch videos from within the browser with no plug-in required. Also, this European company has unveiled its mobile app for the U.S. market (next month it will unveil an app for the G1 phone).
In a crowded online market, Babelgum, headquartered in London, has been searching for what it should be. In 2007 and 2008 lost several senior execs. Now it is targeting the indie film and documentary segment.
Ustream Signs Sun & Oracle for Paid Webcasts
Ustream has managed to infiltrate the corporate webcast market with its new Watershed white-label live video service, launched a month ago. The Mountain View based startup has signed Oracle, Duke, Sun, UC Berkeley and Sling as customers.
Sun is already using Watershed for earning calls and internal webcasts and Oracle plans to live broadcasting from all its some 8,000 worldwide events this year. Meanwhile, university professors are able to stream live and chat with students with just a laptop and webcam.
Watershed is a pay-as-you-go service, roughly costing $1 per hour (and further saving if you commit to more hours.)
Ustream is also adding mobile broadcasting capabilities, limited for now to high-end Nokia handsets. Competitors in the consumer space like Qik have moved onto other platforms, such as BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.
Video mash-ups – An engaging broadband video experience… and a compelling tactic to drive viewers and monetization
Video mash-up or also called re-mix apps are user-edited applications, and they can be a clever way to engage users with brands, create new video ad views, and become a cheap source of viral marketing. A great example is Wwe.com. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has launched an innovative user-video application called “Smash-Ups” (with a $5,000 prize to the user who creates the best clip).
Long-form video can be segmented and made available to users. These passionate fans can edit the segment provided, and insert audio tracks and title cards. The maximum clip length is 2 minutes. Users can share their creations with embed code or vide email.
WWE is monetizing the clips through both sponsorships and ads. A pre-roll or mid-roll is inserted up to a maximum frequency of 1 ad per 2 minutes of content. WWE promotes the Smash-Ups enlisting its superstars to make their own videos which are posted on YouTube.
The Smash-Ups are powered by Gotuit, a company also powering Major League Soccer’s “QuickKics” video portal and remix and Lifertime’s “Movie Mash-up” feature.
Also recently, NFL has had success with its NFL “Replay Re-Cutter” launched last fall.
Internet video business models are in their infancy, but one thing is becoming clear. Consumers get to watch content whenever they want and increasingly on whatever device they want. It is an evolution of the time-shifting that TiVo and DVR’s introduced, into a fully on-demand world. Consumers are choosing to consume video in this way, despite the experience is not yet on par with traditional delivery models, and despite of a smaller screen experience. Consumer behavior, technology, distribution and business model are changing.
Experts say the trend today is back to professional content, toward dual offerings of both ad-supported and pay media business model. Initially it was about user-generated content and small content creator going to consumers. But that business model hasn’t paid off, and the dollars just aren’t there.
Some say that Comcast’s On-Demand Online and Time Warner’s TV Anywhere initiatives are good examples of service providers with chances of succeeding. They will build more value into the subscription by offering online access to cable programming. That’s a natural extension to their business. (And for nov, “cord-cutting” or dropping your cable/satellite/telco service in favor of only-only viewing is not happening.)
In the broadband industry, there is a strong consensus that online-only aggregators will struggle in 09, because they are not getting a big enough share of the ad pie, and they don’t have an existing business to grow from, not being able to differentiate. This was a very hot space for investors just a year ago, now it looks like it’s going cold. The realities are that it’s difficult to build audience and generate ad dollars.
The Internet will overtake broadcast TV in Europe
European watch less TV than Americans do; they prefer the Internet. A Microsoft reports finds than European Internet consumption in 2010 will average 14.2 per week compared to 11.5 hours a week spent watching TV.
The report notes how the TV experience is changing. It is becoming a two-way experience via PC, mobile, and set-top boxes. Soon TV won’t refer to the big screen in the home but to audio and visual content that will be watched everywhere.
Internet is becoming the most popular media, while TV content is turning into a two-way experience. The three screens –TV, mobile and PC- will remain the most important media.
Apple App Store hit a billion downloads
Nearly one billion mobile apps for iPhone and iPod Touch have been downloaded in the Apple store. That is a rate of 900 apps downloaded per second. To celebrate it, Apple has installed a counter here, and drawing to win $10K in commemoration of the milestone.
Just four months ago, in January, Apple announced it had surpassed 500,000 downloads.
KIT digital acquires Narrowstep
Narrowstep London-based Internet TV platform won’t be longer part of Onstream Media. This Florida-based company has terminated Narrowstep’s acquisition. Onstream does not see much value on keeping Narrowstep.
This British company now goes into the hands of KIT digital, who is getting the company in exchange for 25,000 shares of restricted KIT stock, according to its press release.
Narrowstep’s proprietary telvOS Internet TV platform specializes in long-form video-on-demand and live streaming for enterprise customers, using Silverlight and its own content delivery network (which is really un-standard in an industry dominated by Adobe Flash-technology and open CDN as distribution servers). Founded in 2002, Narrowstep, Inc. was a pioneer in delivering Internet TV. Still now, they continue to say that “its telvOS suite is the only IPTV platform that can deliver to viewers long-form, full screen programming of true TV-like viewing experience over the Internet.”
KIT digital management estimates Narrowstep’s current, recurring revenues to be approximately $110,000 per month.
“The transaction includes a transition of Narrowstep’s client relationships to KIT digital, including the Outdoor Channel, The Paralympics, BBVA, and the Red Cross. As part of the transaction, KIT digital will also acquire and integrate Narrowstep's reseller relationships which include Can Communicate, a UK-based digital agency specializing in creating brand generated content, and Vivocom, a provider of IPTV technology and production services based in Spain.”
One of the main conclusions of the NAB Show this week in Las Vegas –which we attended representing IBLNews- is that broadcasters are still in transition from an economic model built over a 60 year period to an unknown digital HD/internet & mobile/on-demand/anywhere-anytime-any device territory. Advertising budgets fed by insatiable consumption habits are gone and the great consumptive bubble has burst, as broadband consultant Will Richmond said during a conference at NAB.
Among the key announcements during the show we knew that Adobe is extending Flash in HD quality into Internet-connected televisions, set-top-boxes, Blue-ray players TV sets and other digital home devices. Comcast, Disney, Intel, Netflix, The New York Times and others have announced support for this technology (to be shipped in the second half of 2009.)
CNN acquires popular CNN Twitter account with nearly 1 million followers
CNN has acquired for an undisclosed sum CNNbrk’ Twitter account, which became one of the Twitter’s most popular account, with 944,000 followers. The owner, a British web developer called James Cox, handled the account for three years, feeding it with CNN’s breaking news alerts and links. He said he did so as a way to get CNN news alerts on his mobile phone.
Experts suspect that CNN could have paid a lot of money for the account, since it generates hundreds of thousands of extra page views per day.
Celebrities Asthon Kutcher and Britney Spears have each over one million followers. No other single Twitter account has attracted 1 million followers, according to TwitterCounter and Twitterholic, two sites tracking the most popular Twitter users.
CNN maintains 45 official Twitter accounts with a total of more than 1.3 million followers.
Community video content –low cost programming, high customer value and local advertising revenue
In these challenging economic times, community content internet television can be a good business opportunity.
Examples of community content systems include universities, residential neighborhoods, hospitals, hospitality resorts, senior living communities, and other community areas which provide access to television systems.
The key difference between existing traditional TV systems and community internet television (or TV 2.0) is the content upload capability and the ability for station managers to receive, manage, approve and schedule content remotely.
In community tv viewers both consume and provide content. Therefore, community content is low cost, high value for viewers. Also, program creation and management cost may be low as people from communities may volunteer their time to create the programming.
Since community content is provided to a highly targeted audience, this is an ideal opportunity for local advertisers such as restaurants, contractors, professional services, and other types of businesses that serve the community.
Advertising revenues can be kept by the service provider, who, in addition may charge fees for providing services like operating community programming, hosting fees, video cameras, studios and equipment rentals, support services.
YouTube said this week it might implement micropayments or paid subscriptions for some premium content, basically Hollywood studios episodes and movies.
YouTube is struggling to profit from its digital popularity. (Now two-thirds of all video views in the United States occur on YouTube; it has monthly 90 million visitors, 10 times as many as the next biggest site).
Credit Suisse has estimated that the video site will lose $470 million in 2009, due to the hight cost of bandwidth and storage to stream more than 5 billion clips a month.
Also, with more professionally produced video, YouTube expects to attract more advertising. Doing so, the company will be competing directly with Hulu –which features NBC and Fox TV shows- and other Websites that server up full-length TV shows and movies free (with advertisement), like ABC.com, TV.com, and Fancast.
For now, YouTube’s new Premium show site is free.
Creating a music star in real time
The phenomenon of the 47-year-old karaoke enthusiast Susan Boyle, 23 million video views on YouTube, who performed I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent last weekend, has shown the power of the global community created by online video. A star was born in real time.