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Hulu to stream reality show internationally, incessantly — Engadget December 18, 2009

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See this forlorn-looking male model? He’s got a lot on his mind. Really, he’s just like the rest of us — a starry-eyed dreamer who’s headed to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune. To this end, he’s shacked up with four fellow photogenic wannabes in a Hollywood crash pad where they’ll be webcast 24-7 for Simon Fuller’s new Internet-only talent show, If I Can Dream. In addition to weekly episodes broadcast on Hulu, voyeurs viewers will be able to watch the action in the house live, as it goes down. You see, Hulu (who’s not had much luck getting a foothold outside of the states) will be streaming the thing to select international markets in an attempt to spread their brand and influence worldwide. Will it work? Who knows? Besides, Jersey Shore is more our speed. PR, video after the break.

via Hulu to stream reality show internationally, incessantly — Engadget.


Will YouTube Begin Charging for TV Shows? December 1, 2009

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YouTube is in talks with content providers to add a pay-per view element to its business, which would allow partners to charge end users to view some premium content on the online video site, according to MediaMemo’s “multiple sources.”

The talks center around YouTube creating a new micro-payment model for streaming videos that would rival similar offerings from Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s video-on-demand service. According to the report, YouTube would offer first-run shows a day after airing on broadcast and cable networks for about $1.99 each.

The news comes not long after earlier reports that YouTube was in talks with major film studios to introduce a movie rental service. In that report, YouTube was expected to charge about $3.99 for movie streams, putting it in general parity with movie rentals from iTunes and Amazon.

The key stumbling block seems to be whether consumers would pay for video streams at the same price that they pay for downloads from iTunes. But networks and studios don’t want to charge less for streaming service, fearing they might then have to renegotiate existing deals.

While Youtube already has some full-length programming from premium content partners, most notably CBS, most of that content is older, long-tail videos from shows long gone by, like Start Trek: The Original Series or Beverly Hills: 90210. But if it were able to launch a micropayments system, it could potentially open up a new realm of premium videos available to users.

YouTube isn’t the only ad-supported video site pondering a pay model; Hulu has long been rumored to be interested launching a subscription service that would add to its revenue stream, for instance. In both cases, the pay models aren’t meant to supplant the ad model, but to add additional revenue for value-added services on top of the existing business model.

via Will YouTube Begin Charging for TV Shows?.

The Problem With the Boxee Box – GigaOM November 25, 2009

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Boxee generated a lot of excitement on the part of online video fans when it said it would release a dedicated hardware device that will enable users to connect its open-source media center software directly to their TVs. But by becoming a hardware company, Boxee may have to choose between alienating its biggest fans and alienating potential content partners.

As Sam over at OStatic points out, much of Boxee’s success stems from a “very enthusiastic community of users” that has helped augment its media center platform by building out various content channels. But while some content owners have created their own channels, not all channels are built by the content owners themselves — or even sanctioned by them. As just one example, Boxee’s new chief creative officer, Zach Klein, told an audience at the Future of Television conference in New York last week that when he joined Boxee he was surprised to find that users had built channels for IAC’s Vimeo and College Humor, where he previously worked, without that company’s permission.

We saw the possible repercussions of such unsanctioned channel-building earlier this year, when Boxee got into a public cat-and-mouse game with Hulu over the online video site’s content being available through Boxee’s software. Since then, Hulu has gotten even more aggressive in trying to protect its content from being embedded on video aggregation sites without its permission.

Boxee has always defended its software by saying that it was just another browser, even if it was clearly meant to be used for navigating online video content when a user’s laptop is connected to a TV. But by becoming a hardware play, the company may have to rethink what content it makes available.

And therein lies the rub. If Boxee simply ports the software and all the channels that it and others have created into its Boxee Box without the permission of content owners — in other words, if it’s committed to remaining open and allowing anyone to build content channels for the device — then it risks alienating potential content partners. Or worse, it risks getting itself into legal trouble for distributing copyrighted content to the TV without getting the content owners’ permission.

For now the company says it’s committed to providing the same content on the Boxee Box that’s available through its desktop software — even if it doesn’t have rights to distribute that content. In an email to NewTeeVee, Andrew Kippen, Boxee’s vice president of marketing, writes, “It’s always been our goal to keep a consistent experience across all platforms — Windows, Mac, Linux, AppleTV, and now, the Boxee Box. We’ll do our best to make sure our users can access the same content across all the different platforms.”

The alternative would be for Boxee to provide content on the device only from companies with which it’s officially partnered, such as Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Current, Pandora, Digg and Tumblr. But there’s also a whole lot of content on Boxee from major broadcast video sites or cable networks that Boxee doesn’t have deals with, like Hulu, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central or MTV.

While Boxee is taking a chance by making unverified content available without a deal, others are playing it safe. Roku, which already sells a broadband-connected set-top device, only has content from partners available through its channel store. The company also issued an SDK earlier this year that will allow just about anyone to build their own content channels for Roku devices. But in that environment — on its platform and on its box — Roku will have the ultimate say when it comes to who is included.

If Boxee kowtows to content owners, the platform will not only become less open but it will also mean it will offer less content than what it currently makes available — which could make it less attractive to consumers.

via The Problem With the Boxee Box – GigaOM.

Hulu’s Free Glory Days Are Officially Numbered – Hulu subscription – Gizmodo October 24, 2009

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Hulu, at the behest of its co-parent News Corp, is going to start charging for content in 2010. This is not so good, this here news.

Here’s the money quote from NewsCorpian Chase Carey, so there’s no confusion:

It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online. I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value. Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business

An optimist might interpret this as a move toward tiered access, or even the decidedly good addition of paid premium content, like HBO and Showtime. But read carefully: It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online

It doesn’t get any less premium than broadcast content, which is exactly what Carey says we’ll soon be paying for—sometime in 2010, he supposes. (Though to be fair, there’s a scrap of reassurance later in the same article: “not all content on Hulu would be behind a pay wall.” Cool?) This is extra-extra-foreboding next to last week’s statements about a paid Hulu from Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, highlighted by TVBizwire: “That’s not an if,” he said “that’s a when.” It was fun while it lasted, I guess. […]

Via: http://gizmodo.com/5387909/hulus-free-glory-days-are-officially-numbered

// Another article at cnet has some interesting comparisons with Crackle, Sony’s ad-supported TV content service. Check it out as well at http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-10381622-261.html

TVB | MediaVest Moves Millions from Broadcast to Hulu.com October 7, 2009

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NEW YORK: MediaVest, the ad agency that handles clients like Coca Cola, Kraft, CapitalOne, Wendy’s and Walmart is taking money out of broadcast and into the Internet. MediaVest said this week it cut its first large-scale, upfront deal based on targeted demographic mixes, moving “millions of broadcast dollars into the digital space.”

The deal involves moving several unnamed clients over to Hulu.com, the Web site that streams TV shows from ABC, NBC, Fox, PBS, as well as several cable networks and syndicators. Hulu is a joint venture of Disney, NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners.

Hulu.com was the fourth most visited site for online video during August, according to ComScore. The Web site had 488,255 video views during the month. Google, which owns YouTube, was No. 1 with more than 10 million.

The arrangement with Hulu allows MediaVest to get a better handle on the efficacy of Web advertising.

via TVB | MediaVest Moves Millions from Broadcast to Hulu.com.

YouTube’s Pitch to Hollywood July 10, 2009

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YouTube came to Los Angeles this week to seek out content partners, pitching them its 3-month-old redesign for premium content. “This was a big strategy change for us, one of the most significant ones to date,” said Jordan Hoffner, the site’s director of content partnerships, noting the site’s new “clean, well-lit” shows page was “the first navigation change in about two and a half years.” Hoffner emphasized online distribution of long-form content as a companion to television, but with fewer ads and the opportunity to get audience feedback.

But television content has not yet been particularly successful on YouTube. According to recent stats from TubeMogul, full-length shows average only 7,407.9 views per episode. Perhaps the TV content the site has secured isn’t high value enough; perhaps it should do more to promote the stuff it can actually run pre-rolls on. For whatever reason, few people look to YouTube to watch TV shows online. […]

via YouTube’s Pitch to Hollywood

Why Hulu Succeeded as Other Video Sites Failed – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com July 8, 2009

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Why were so many people in the technology world wrong about Hulu? It was an idea that seemed like a relic of the worst excesses of the dot-com era: a portal for content run by a joint venture of media companies. Could any venture have more going against it?

Portals, of course, are passé in a world where search engines point people to content spread all over the Web. Who needs professional content when users make their own? And if there is anything more clueless than a big media company, the Silicon Valley wisdom goes, it is a joint venture of several media companies bound to undercut one another with crossed agendas.

Yet Hulu, founded in March 2007, is triumphant when most other video sites have languished.[…]

Putting Network TV on the Internet Is Not Disruptive

The business model of TV networks is free programs paid for by ads. There is nothing technically or financially revolutionary about putting shows on the Internet. And thus the networks didn’t have a weak spot that could be exploited by a newcomer, as Kazaa and Skype did in their industries. Joost hoped that a twist on Kazaa’s peer-to-peer technology would reduce the transmission costs of Internet video, but the price of bandwidth has fallen so much that this didn’t provide any edge. Ultimately, the networks had all the power to decide which sites could distribute their programs. While CBS chose to spread its content widely, there was nothing that forced NBC and Fox to license their content beyond Hulu, cutting out Joost and the others.[…]

So not only did Hulu have something people wanted, it had a brand promise that was clear and distinctive: Hulu is where you go for network TV. That’s different from YouTube, which is where you go to watch the biggest collection of video that isn’t on TV. Hulu, in effect, is Amazon.com to YouTube’s eBay.

via Why Hulu Succeeded as Other Video Sites Failed – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.

Is Veoh the Next Web Video Company to Tumble? | AllThingsD July 6, 2009

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Now that Joost has given up the ghost and bailed out of the Web video portal business, who’s next?A good bet: Veoh, one of the best-funded would-be YouTubes. Multiple sources tell me the company is aggressively marketing itself in hopes of finding a buyer. […]

What happened to Veoh? The same thing that happened to almost every other Web video portal that isn’t Google’s (GOOG) YouTube or Hulu: Not enough audience, not enough ad revenue, too many costs. […]

So who would buy Veoh? Theoretically, at the right price, the company could be attractive to a large Web player like a Yahoo (YHOO), which used to be a big player in video back when video was a small market. Or the company could try marketing its technical expertise to a cable/telco company like Time Warner Cable (TWC) that hasn’t done much with online video but says it will soon. […]

What Went Wrong With Joost? July 1, 2009

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Joost, a much-vaunted online video startup, today announced that it will offer a white-label video hosting platform, thus entering a crowded market littered with the carcasses of other failed video hosts. The company is also losing its famous chief executive, Mike Volpi, whom it’s replacing with Matt Zelesko, the current vice president of engineering. And it plans to cut a portion of its workforce – between 70 to 90 according to Advertising Age.It also shut down its office in the Netherlands. […]

It had everything going for it, including:

  • Successful, Celebrity Founders
  • Proven Technology
  • Substantial Funding
  • Incredible Buzz
  • Big, Famous Partners

So what went wrong?

  • Too Big, Too Fast
  • Too Geographically Spread Out
  • Not Enough Focus
  • Too Much Hype Too Soon
  • Slow to Fix Its Technology Problems
  • Client vs. Browser
  • Didn’t Press Its Early-Mover Advantage
  • Big Media Dis-Connect
  • Too Many Internal Problems
  • Hulu
  • Chasing Its Own Tail

Read the full article for details on the above and weep a bit 😉

via What Went Wrong With Joost?.

TV on the Web – Growing but Still Small, Relatively | AllThingsDigital June 30, 2009

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Here’s a quick way to describe the state of TV on the Web, via two graphs from a new research report from Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel.Graph one: Look how fast this business is growing! Broadcast and cable shows on the Web will generate less than $600 million in ad dollars in the U.S. this year, but four years from now that number will be close to $1.5 billion

Graph two: Look how tiny this business is! That $1.5 billion will be a drop in the bucket for TV advertising as a whole, which is a $70 billion business, give or take a billion. (It’s so small it’s literally almost impossible to find, but if you squint hard you can see a tiny sliver of dark green on the top part of the chart below.) And crucially, it will be smaller than the $2 billion that Amel predicts will flow out of conventional TV advertising.

[…] Main findings:

  • Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes dominates the market for paid TV shows delivered over the Web and controlled 60 percent of the market last year. Amel figures iTunes will hold on to 43 percent of the market by 2013. But he thinks that market will be significantly smaller than advertising on free TV shows delivered over the Web: $800 million vs. $1.5 billion in four years.
  • Web TV purveyors like Hulu and CBS (CBS) have been reluctant to run as many ads online as they do on conventional TV. But Amel says that will change. Web TV shows carry an average of five ads per hour, but he figures distributors can eventually boost that number to 12 ads an hour.

One big caveat here: Amel’s report only addresses TV shows on the Web, not video on the Web. Amel doesn’t spell this out, but I assume that’s because he’s most concerned here with the fate of existing players like NBC, ABC, et al. And, I’m guessing, because he doesn’t think that video on the Web that isn’t TV has much value.

There’s a whole ecosystem of players creating and distributing Web-native video who would argue with that. But they’ll have a stronger case when they can show significant revenue of their own.