Gamification: Max Wants to be Your Personal Netflix Host

Netflix has launched a new recommendation service called “Max” that chats with users and plays amusing games to help viewers discover new TV shows and movies. The games center on genres and actors to help gauge user preferences. Available only on the PlayStation 3 for now, the Netflix blog reports that Max will be available for other devices in the future, with the iPad version expected next. According to Netflix, Max is “rumored to be the child of Siri and HAL 9000.” Continue reading Gamification: Max Wants to be Your Personal Netflix Host

Social TV: Viacom Releases Results of Multi-Country Study

Viacom announced the results of a new study last week that examines the relationship between television and related social media habits. The study surveyed 5,000 viewers, ages 13-49 (in the U.S., U.K. Brazil, Germany and Russia) who weekly use at least two or more social media platforms. “When Networks Network: TV Gets Social” uncovered three key areas that lead viewers to engage in TV-related social media: Functional, Communal and Playful. Continue reading Social TV: Viacom Releases Results of Multi-Country Study

Advertising: Twitter Amplify Will Target Social TV Viewers

Twitter is capitalizing on the growing trend of television viewers using social media while watching TV. Its new product called Twitter Amplify will allow marketers to match TV advertisements with Twitter commentary by viewers who are watching specific programming. Brands can then forward messages to selected Twitter users who have already watched the TV ads. The company offered a presentation on Twitter Amplify in New York yesterday. Continue reading Advertising: Twitter Amplify Will Target Social TV Viewers

Discovery Launches Online Science and Adventure Network

Discovery is launching its first online video network today in an attempt to attract largely young, male viewers who are becoming more challenging to reach through traditional TV. Called TestTube, the new online network will initially offer 15 original short-form shows that focus on science and adventure, available for free via YouTube, Xbox and TestTube’s website. The network was developed with online video producer Revision3, which Discovery acquired last year. Continue reading Discovery Launches Online Science and Adventure Network

Making a Music Video from the International Space Station

Occasionally we like to share information that is not necessarily about breaking news related to new products, services or industry trends — but more about innovation and inspiration. This is one of those stories. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recently made history when he performed a song co-written with Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson in the first Earth-to-Orbit musical performance. Now he’s released a music video of his version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” recorded from the International Space Station. Continue reading Making a Music Video from the International Space Station

Pilot: Nielsen Digital Program Ratings to Measure Online TV

Nielsen has scheduled a pilot program for its previously announced Digital Program Ratings, intended to measure online TV audiences. Broadcast and cable entities including ABC, AOL, A+E, CBS, Discovery, Fox, NBC and Univision are scheduled to participate in the ratings system testing May through July. The pilot program is the next step toward a broader commercial rollout, anticipated to launch later this year. Continue reading Pilot: Nielsen Digital Program Ratings to Measure Online TV

Twitter Signs Deals with Broadcasters and Ad-Buying Firm

Twitter signed deals over the weekend with BBC America and Comedy Central that will bring video clips inside users’ real-time streams (last week we reported that Twitter was in discussions with Viacom, Comcast and NBC). While there have been video content deals before, such as featuring Weather Channel updates in expanded tweets, the new deals could serve as prototypes for future video sharing. Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Twitter also announced a new deal with a major ad-buying firm. Continue reading Twitter Signs Deals with Broadcasters and Ad-Buying Firm

Comcast Deal Delivers 3D Content from 3net to Xfinity TV

Through an agreement with Comcast, 3net will begin offering its 3D programming to Xfinity TV customers starting on January 28. 3net is a joint venture 3D network from Sony, Discovery and IMAX. “3net also has carriage through DirecTV, Google Fiber and Service Electric as well as Netflix,” notes Carolyn Giardina for The Hollywood Reporter. Continue reading Comcast Deal Delivers 3D Content from 3net to Xfinity TV

Revamped Myspace Hits Snag with Independent Record Labels

Justin Timberlake released his latest song, “Suit & Tie,” on Myspace last week in order to promote both his new album and the revamped version of Myspace (Timberlake is a minority partner in the group that purchased the social network in 2011). The new Myspace, which lets users listen to music for free in order to help promote artists, has drawn early praise for its functionality and sleek design, but it may have hit a bump in the road as a coalition of indie record labels claims the network is using music from member labels without permission. Continue reading Revamped Myspace Hits Snag with Independent Record Labels

Justin Timberlake Unveils New Myspace: Is it Worth the Time?

  • Fifteen months ago, Specific Media purchased MySpace, with Justin Timberlake taking an ownership stake in the flailing social network.
  • Following months of relative quiet — with the only major news being a new Panasonic partnership announced at CES 2012 — the new Myspace (now fashioned with lower case ‘s’) has finally been revealed in a Vimeo post.
  • Timberlake tweeted a link to a video that gives a sneak preview at the new service. Included in the Mashable post, the video makes the new Myspace look “clean and attractive.”
  • It shows a new login using Facebook or Twitter that allows users to bring photos or other information from the other networks. Status updates feature large photos with comments showing up below.
  • “There is a large music component to the service, which includes a way to browse albums, find popular songs and artists and more,” the post explains, noting that it is still uncertain whether Myspace is “building its own music service or if it has partnered with a provider such as Spotify, Rdio or Rhapsody.”
  • “The biggest question I have about the new Myspace is whether or not the brand is worth anything,” writes Christina Warren for Mashable. “I’ve argued in the past that the biggest asset of Myspace is also its biggest liability. What the new owners will have to do — celebrity investor or not — is prove to users why this Myspace is worth a user’s time.”

Competition: Is Google Considering Plan to Enter the Pay TV Business?

  • Google previously announced a high-speed Internet service project in Missouri and Kansas. The Wall Street Journal now reports that insiders indicate Google may expand the project to include a phone and video service, with channels from Disney, Time Warner and Discovery.
  • Google has other ventures in the television business including its new Google TV software update and announced deals to produce around 100 free, ad-supported online YouTube channels.
  • A former Google product director said, “Internet companies like Google will be able to give you [the] same high-quality content” as cable and satellite prices and possibly at lower prices as more TVs connect to the Web.
  • Nothing has been confirmed about Google’s plans to expand the project to wider areas. But if the company follows through, it “could unleash a new wave of competition within the traditional TV business,” suggests WSJ.

Is Skype Co-Founder Gunning for Netflix with Subscription Vdio?

  • Janus Friis, co-founder of KaZaA, Skype, Joost and Rdio (with partner Niklas Zennstrom) is working on a new online video subscription service that will be available soon in the UK.
  • According to GigaOM, Friis has been “assembling an A-team of media and Web technology experts to launch a site that seems destined to replicate the model behind their music subscription site Rdio in the video space.” Offices have been set up in Santa Monica and Europe.
  • From the follow-up Q&A: Vdio (Vee-dee-o) is in closed beta for the UK and is privately funded, while the assembled team’s experience comes from companies such as Netflix, Microsoft, TV Guide and Napster.
  • A spokesperson for Zennstrom’s VC company Atomico confirmed that Zennstrom is not involved in the project.

YouTube Merch Store to Put a New Spin on Music Discovery

  • Google has announced that through the new Merch Store feature, YouTube partners “will be able to sell artist merchandise, digital downloads, concert tickets and other experiences to fans and visitors.”
  • The Merch Store evolved from multiple partnerships: Marketing enabler Topspin will handle merchandise sales, while concert organizer SongKick will handle ticket sales. Amazon and iTunes will power transactions for music download transactions.
  • “The ability to add merchandise sales, ticket sales, digital downloads and more to an artist’s YouTube site definitely gives these sites more of an engaging presence for artists with their fans,” reports TechCrunch. “These destinations will now become more than just a way to discover music videos, but also a way to transact business and actually see the artist and buy their works.”
  • The feature should arrive in the coming weeks. YouTube will take a percentage of sales to cover costs.

Will Cable Operators Switch to A La Carte or Will Programmers Resist?

  • The weak economy is leading cable operators to reverse their opposition to so-called “a la carte” programming. Comcast and Time Warner have lost 1.2 million customers in the last 12 months.
  • Programming costs have risen 6-10 percent annually over the last decade. And the fear is that it will continue as they see ESPN, for example, sign a $15 billion, 8-year deal with the NFL. Cable and satellite operators are also now paying to retransmit local broadcast channels.
  • “There is a growing recognition that the current model is broken,” says Craig Moffett, cable analyst at Bernstein Research. He expects smaller, less costly programming packages to emerge as Time Warner is doing with its TV Essentials pack.
  • “The specter of unbundled programming is likely to encounter fierce resistance from network owners such as Viacom Inc or Discovery Communications Inc, which are keen to maintain the economics of selling their most popular channels as a package with their smaller, nascent networks,” reports Reuters.

Google Goes Live with Music Discovery Site Magnifier

  • Three months after Google launched its cloud-based Music Beta, the company has introduced a new music discovery site called Magnifier.
  • According to the Official Google Blog: “Magnifier will feature great music and the people who make it, including videos of live performances, interviews with artists, explorations of different musical genres and free songs that you can add to your Music Beta collection.”
  • To kick-off Magnifier this week, Google is featuring indie rockers My Morning Jacket. “We’re giving away two of their tracks to Music Beta users, one of which is an exclusive to Magnifier: a live performance of ‘The Day is Coming.’ To get these free tracks and hundreds of other songs in our Free Song Archive, you need a Music Beta by Google account (if you don’t have an account, request an invitation).”
  • There is no mention that Google analyzes your Music Beta library to suggest new songs, but they certainly could do so.

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