Posts for 'People'

  • Steve Jobs and the Elusive Connected Device

    This morning the world remembers Steve Jobs, whose influence on the computing, music, film, communications and other industries is immeasurable. Jobs's ability to imagine how things could be - and then make them so - made him the most unique business leader of modern times. His personal philosophy, articulated in his memorable Stanford commencement speech in 2005, is likely the only career advice anyone should ever need. Setting the bar high, and never being willing to settle for less, was Jobs's mantra. His ability to infuse this in his Apple colleagues was the reason the company turned out one hit product after another.

    Yet for all of Jobs's successes, one product he had yet to nail was the "connected device," the industry term for something that delivers personalized video, including TV shows and movies, to a large screen. To be sure, Apple has begun having success with its Apple TV, yet Jobs still considered that device a "hobby" (his words) because he saw that it fell well short of the revolutionizing impact the iPod or iPhone had in their respective industries.

    continue reading

  • Here's What the World's Largest Media Buying Agency Thinks About Online Video Advertising [VIDEO]

    A couple of weeks ago at the ELEVATE: Online Video Advertising Summit, Mike Bologna, head of emerging communications at GroupM did a fireside chat with Jack Myers, Chairman, Media Advisory Group, to discuss the agency view of online video advertising. For those not familiar with GroupM, it is a unit of WPP and is the world's largest media buying agency, accounting for over 32% of global media billings. Mike is the point person on all emerging media and has a front-row seat in the unfolding drama of online video's efforts to attract traditional TV dollars.

    In the 25-minute video (after the jump), Mike provides a candid view of online video's opportunities and challenges. Among other things, he clarifies what constitutes "professionally created" content, explains that online video can be viewed as more economical than TV despite its higher CPMs, discusses how the strong recent upfront actually benefits online video, shares why he just advised a client to shift 4% of its TV spending to online video, describes why a single source of measurement is critical to the industry's growth and articulates the challenges YouTube has in attracting ad dollars.

    continue reading

  • Audio Interview With Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos

    I'm pleased to provide an audio recording of an on-stage one-on-one interview I did with Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos, at the NATPE Market conference on January 25th. I've been meaning to post this for a while, but experienced a few technical issues in getting it done. The interview is particularly timely given news this week that Netflix may be looking to distribute its first original TV series, "House of Cards," directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey.

    In this wide-ranging interview, Ted and I discuss topics such as Netflix's content acquisition strategy, how it decides how much to spend on licensing, the critical role that data plays in informing Netflix's decision-making, the future of the DVD business and lots more. Of note, this is the interview in which Ted said that Netflix would bid against HBO for Warner Bros. films when those parties' distribution deal comes up for renewal in a couple of years and that Netflix had the resources to fully compete. That declaration was a departure from Netflix's traditional public posture about working closely with premium cable networks rather than disrupting them, and set off a raft of media coverage.

    continue reading

  • Hey Jason Kilar: You Should Go Back to Amazon and Compete Against Netflix

    Not that Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar has asked for or needs my career advice, but in light of his controversial "speaking truth to power" blog post on the future of TV, which has wags all over the industry saying his tenure at Hulu is all but over, I'll offer it up anyway: he should go back to Amazon (where he was prior to Hulu) and run their soon-to-be-launched video subscription business that will compete directly against Netflix.

    continue reading

  • On-Stage Interview With Netflix's Content Chief Ted Sarandos, Next Week in Miami Beach

    Please join me in Miami Beach next Tuesday, January 25th when I'll be doing an exclusive one-hour interview with Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos at the annual NATPE Market conference. The session is sponsored by William Morris Endeavor. The NATPE Market conference runs from next Monday to Wednesday at the luxurious Fontainebleau Resort.

    Ted is Netflix's point person for the company's lengthy list of recent content deals (e.g. EPIX, Disney/ABC, NBCU, Relativity Media, etc.) that have powered the popularity of Netflix's streaming service. Among the topics we'll discuss include how Netflix decides what type of content to pursue, how these deals are typically structured, how big Netflix's budget is for ongoing content acquisition, which connected devices are most popular for Netflix streaming use, which competitors he's most worried about, and what's on the roadmap for 2011 and beyond.

    continue reading

  • Interview with Tremor Media's New CMO, Melinda McLaughlin

    Yesterday I had a chance to ask Melinda McLaughlin, the new Chief Marketing Officer at video ad network powerhouse Tremor Media, a few questions on her second day of work. Prior to joining Tremor, Melinda spent 10+ years at cable network group AETN and prior to that was with 2 ad agencies. An edited transcript follows:

    VideoNuze: What attracted you to the online video adverting space and to Tremor Media?

    Melinda McLaughlin: I spent the last 11 years on the traditional TV side, in many areas of AETN such as consumer insights, sales strategy and corporate strategy, always around monetizing the assets of that global platform. At a certain point, because I'm a closet geek, and am into what the future is going to look like and how media is going to evolve - plus what fundamental truths about how business models work will remain - I sort of hit a point where a company like AETN and competitors are just not on the cutting edge of where this area is going.

    And so although it was a terrific job, for good reason companies like AETN aren't going to lead in terms of changing consumer behavior or how advertisers are going to change the way they think. I see Tremor bringing together all of the benefits marketers have been saying they require in order to take the online video advertising space seriously. Tremor, together with ScanScout, is the one that can give advertisers the platform and set of tools to do targeting at scale, with real-time intelligence and content screening. Throwing myself into where the revolution is happening is an exciting next step.  

    continue reading

  • HealthiNation Adds Doug McFarland as Chief Digital Officer

    HealthiNation, an independent provider of health-related online videos, is announcing this morning that online industry veteran Doug McFarland has joined as Chief Digital Officer to oversee digital strategy and operations. McFarland was previously co-CEO of Dimestore Media (acquired by Knowledge Networks), CEO of online video ad network ScanScout, EVP/GM of Eyeblaster and EVP/GM of He's also been on HealthiNation's board for the last two years.

    continue reading

  • Intel's CEO is Bullish on Google TV, Less So on Apple TV

    Intel CEO Paul Otellini is plenty bullish on Google TV. In a short video interview with's Poppy Harlow, he praises Google TV's vision, saying that "we're just at the beginning of the smart TV revolution" and that "the holy grail here is a seamless proactive integration of this content." Of course, Otellini has a vested stake in Google TV's success as Intel is supplying its Atom chip to power Google TV.

    Otellini is decidedly more bullish on Google TV than he is on Apple TV, though he's cautious in noting that Apple is an Intel customer too. He says that Apple TV is "a streaming device for protected content, and there's a market for that," but quickly adds, "I think there's a bigger market for a deeper integration of the Internet into content." I think he's right on both accounts. It depends on what the user values - an open Internet experience on their TV, or a closed, but easy-to-use way of accessing a high-quality library (not to mention the price for each). There isn't one right answer, yet anyway. See "For Connected Devices, To Browse or Not to Browse - That is the Question" for a deeper discussion.

  • Google Poaches Key Netflix Executive to Run Content Partnerships

    Here's an interesting executive change: Google has apparently nabbed Netflix VP, Digital Content Acquisition Robert Kyncl to be its new VP, Content Partnerships. is reporting the move, though neither side has confirmed. The Google role has been open since David Eun moved over to AOL as President of Media last February.

    Assuming the move is true, it would be a key step forward for Google - and more specifically YouTube - in gaining access to premium content. Kyncl would bring not just his relationships with Hollywood, but an insider's understanding of the economics behind all of Netflix's streaming deals with partners such as Epix, Warner Bros., Universal, ABC, Starz and others. That kind of credibility and insight would be a huge boon to YouTube, which has made some progress with premium content providers (e.g. Univision, WWE, etc), but has still had trouble breaking through. Google certainly has the stature to be a major distributor of premium content, but actually getting things done in Hollywood is notoriously tricky for outsiders.

    continue reading

  • 5 News Items of Interest for the Week of Aug 23rd

    Following is the latest update to VideoNuze's new Friday feature, highlighting 5-6 of the most intriguing industry news items from the week that VideoNuze wasn't able to cover.

    Ads skipped by 86% of TV viewers, but TV ads still most memorable

    A new Deloitte survey unsurprisingly finds high rates of ad skipping among DVR users watching time-shifted programs, yet also notes that 52% of respondents say TV advertising is more memorable than any other type (only 2% cited online video advertising). Is there a love-hate relationship with good old TV advertising?

    Endemol USA Plans Kobe Bryant Web Series
    Online video continues attracting celebrities, with the latest being LA Laker star Kobe Bryant, who will be featured in 8 episodes teaching Filipino kids about hoops. The series is being produced and promoted by powerhouse Endemol. More evidence that independent online video is gaining.

    NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, Without DirecTV
    DirecTV unbundles its popular NFL package, selling online access to non-subscribers for $350. It's not clear there will be many takers at this price point, but it does raise interesting possibilities about unbundled subscribers connecting to their TVs and also how sports will be impacted by online and mobile viewing.

    TiVo Launches Remote with Slide-Out Keyboard
    TiVo is enhancing navigation with a long-awaited keyboard that slides out of its standard-shaped remote control for $90. With TiVo's new Premiere box offering more video choices than ever, quicker navigation is required. As other connected devices hit the market, it will be interesting to see what clever solutions they come up with too.

    MTVN's Greg Clayman Heads to News Corp to Lead iPad Newspaper
    Amid the ongoing shuffle of digital media executives, MTV Networks lost a key leader in Greg Clayman, who's moving to News Corp to head up their new iPad newspaper. Greg's been on VideoSchmooze panels and we've done webinars together; he always brings great insights as well as a terrific sense of humor.
  • Video Interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

    Last week when I was in CA for the Cable Show, I did a side-trip to Los Gatos to meet with and interview Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the company's headquarters. We met up in the "Green Acres" conference room, one of the building's many meeting spaces named for popular TV shoes and movies. As I've written over the past several months, Netflix is on a huge roll, having grown its subscriber base 25% in just the last 2 quarters from 11.1 million subs at the end of Q3 '09 to almost 14 million subs at the end of Q1 '01.

    Watch the interviews to learn more about topics like what Reed thinks is really driving Netflix's rapid growth, what Netflix pays to stream a movie online vs. deliver a DVD, whether streaming will remain unlimited, why Reed thinks TV Everywhere is "frustratingly brilliant," who the real competition is, what's on Netflix's streaming product roadmap, why sports are so important to cable, how net neutrality will be resolved and importantly, why Netflix's message to Hollywood is "our checkbook is open."

    Reminder: Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos will be on the VideoSchmooze breakfast panel on Tuesday, June 15th at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Click here to learn more and save with the early bird discount.

    Part 1 (9 minutes, 27 seconds):

    Part 2: (9 minutes, 20 seconds):

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #51 - February 26, 2010

    Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 51st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for February 26, 2010.

    First up this week Daisy discusses the Beet TV online video roundtable in which she participated this week. Beet got a bunch of industry executives together for a discussion moderated by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Daisy talks about what she learned and the one-on-one interviews she conducted which will be available soon at the Beet site.

    Then we discuss my post from yesterday, "Sezmi is Slick; Marketing It Will Be the Big Challenge," in which I reviewed the opportunities and challenges that Sezmi, the recently-launched next-gen video service provider is facing. Sezmi is now available in the entire LA area, with expansion to other U.S. geographies in store for later this year. I delve into why I think the skeptics are getting ahead of themselves in their downbeat assessments.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (14 minutes, 52 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • Interview with Will Richmond on Beet.TV

    For those of you who read my words each day, but haven't actually heard or seen me, Beet.TV has a short interview with me below. Daisy Whitney asked me a few questions about the future of online video at the recent NATPE conference in Las Vegas and I offered up 3 key trends to watch. Please, don't throw any virtual tomatoes at me!
  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Jan 11th Week (Real's Rob Glaser, ESPN Mobile, Broadband's impact, Vail goes 360)

    1. Goodbye to RealNetworks' Rob Glaser - For broadband veterans like myself, this week's news that RealNetworks' founder and CEO Rob Glaser is stepping down from the CEO role after 16 years brought to mind how far the online video and audio worlds have come, in a relatively short time. Having done a fair amount of work with Real back in my Continental Cablevision days, some of my first memories of seeing video delivered through the Internet were with the RealPlayer.

    There is no question Rob was one of the pioneers of the online video industry, and everyone working in the industry today owes him and Real a debt of gratitude. In the Internet's first wave, Real was out ahead of everyone in audio and video. Unfortunately for the company, Microsoft's decision to roll out its own media player (and to bundle WMP with Windows) scrambled Real's future and set off years of antitrust litigation. Over the years Real has tried many things, some of which worked and some of which were serious head-scratchers (Ryan Lawler recounts 5 of the company dumbest moves here).

    Personally, it's been a while since any video I wanted to watch required the RealPlayer download. And the last time I did download it, I was so incessantly bombarded with offers that I uninstalled it and swore I'd never download it again. Nonetheless, Real remains one of the largest digital media and technology companies, with $140 million in Q3 '09 revenues and almost $400 million in cash and short term investments. The new CEO will inherit all this, plus the challenge of how to make Real a more significant player in a broadband-dominated world that Rob envisioned so many years ago.

    2. ESPN: "Mobile will be bigger than the web" - I'm always on the lookout for insights from content executives charged with building their company's mobile initiatives (and mobile video more specifically) and so I found's interview with John Zehr, ESPN's SVP and GM of Mobile a worthwhile read. ESPN has made a ton of progress in mobile since its MVNO was shut down and the post provides growth stats on some of ESPN mobile's most successful efforts.

    Reflecting the key shift in mobile away from "on-deck" carrier-focused distribution deals to a more open Internet-like environment, Zehr said ESPN's mobile revenue model is built on payments from aggregators like FLO TV and MobiTV, advertising and app sales. That sounds a lot like the traditional cable model of affiliate fees, advertising and ancillary revenues like commerce. And just like in cable ad sales, ESPN sells all of its mobile ads itself, avoiding third-party ad networks that it believes would commoditize the ESPN brand. ESPN is clearly bullish on mobile, with Zehr saying "Not too far in the future, mobile will be bigger than the web." With the Apple vs. Google mobile war getting underway there's a lot of momentum building. Still, to keep things in perspective, we're a long way from mobile eclipsing the web.

    3. Does broadband help the economy or not? - I was intrigued by this piece in Network World, reviewing a new study, "Does Broadband Boost Economic Development?" which makes the case that where broadband connectivity is available, it helps local economies, though it doesn't necessarily help the individuals who live there. I'll admit, this is pretty wonky stuff, but as broadband becomes ever more central to our economy and to video in particular, it's important to understand broadband's impact. This is true all the more so as we have a major net neutrality debate looming this year, which could have far-reaching consequences for both content providers and network operators.

    4. Vail introduces 360 degree video, it's almost like being there - Finally, on a lighter note, if you've been itching for that ski trip to Colorado this winter, or just want to escape the daily grind for a few minutes of pleasure, check out Vail's new virtual video clips, shot in 360 degree splendor with partner Immersive Media. The company's Dodeca spherical camera system captures video from 11 different sensors, allowing the viewer to click on the controls to switch angles.

    Immersive caught my attention recently with music concerts they've captured and plus their work with brands like Red Bull, Armani and Mercedes. The company offers a full suite of capture, production and distribution services. In Vail's case, you get to experience some of the mountain's best runs alongside other skiers. It's great marketing for Vail and though it's no substitute for actually being there, your legs won't hurt afterwards either!

    Enjoy the weekend!

    (Note - The VideoNuze Report podcast with Daisy Whitney will resume next week)

  • Brightcove Appoints David Mendels President and COO

    Brightcove has appointed David Mendels as president and COO, a new executive position at the company.

    Mendels has been on Brightcove's board of directors since late 2008 and for the last several months has been its acting head of sales. He was most recently the EVP and GM of Adobe's $1 billion enterprise software and business productivity division which includes Acrobat, Connect, LiveCycle and Flex. Prior, he was an early employee and spent many years at Macromedia, where he helped the company expand internationally, ran business development and alliances and managed a number of the company's key products.

    Mendels and Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove's founder, Chairman and CEO, briefed me over the holidays on the appointment. The two worked together following Macromedia's acquisition of Allaire back in 2001. From Jeremy's perspective, bringing on Mendels won't prompt any radical changes. Rather, the goal is to strengthen the company operationally and help it scale to capture opportunities both see in its 3 target markets: core media, non-media (i.e. business, government and education, which Jeremy said already account for over half the company's revenues) and small organizations (which Brightcove is pursuing with its recently launched Express product). Both also envision Mendels further globalizing Brightcove's business and also building out its channel sales efforts.

    For his part, Mendels thinks of Brightcove as being comparable to Macromedia back in 1993 when he joined it - still relatively small but profitable, with a strong management team in place and operating in a product area with huge mainstream opportunities ahead, yet where no single company or larger enterprise has established a dominant position. Mendels said he's not coming to Brightcove with a big agenda for change, but instead to help drive execution, create efficiencies and further penetrate newer market segments. One important area of emphasis is building out a developer program to help proliferate video applications based on Brightcove's APIs. As part of Mendels' transition, Brightcove is also searching for a head of North American sales and a head of Asia Pacific sales (Japan excluded).

    The two believe that a continuing preference by many organizations to build vs. buy is Brightcove's biggest source of competition, though they see this starting to soften as video becomes more integral to customers' overall operations. Both are also very mindful of the plethora of other online video platforms in the market, as well as new startups that continue to spring up. As Jeremy and other Brightcove executive have told me in the past, the company believes it distinguishes itself from others not only on the basis of its platform, but also by its breadth of offerings, international presence and simultaneous pursuit of numerous market segments.

    Brightcove is indeed well-positioned, though as I pointed out recently, I don't foresee there being any single, truly dominant provider in the video platform market any time soon. It is still relatively early days in the industry and there will be lots of competitors. I continue to believe that the best way for prospective customers to determine which provider meets their own particular requirements is to intensively demo various products and see how they each perform.

    However, as the market inevitably matures, requirements converge and video becomes more mission critical, video platform providers' ability to effectively scale all aspects of their operations is going to become an increasingly important differentiator. In this respect, Mendels' Macromedia and Adobe experience is going to be extremely valuable to Brightcove's ongoing success.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

    (note: Brightcove is a VideoNuze sponsor)

  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Nov 30th Week (Alicia Keys on YouTube, Jeff Zucker's record, Comcast's Xfinity, SI's tablet demo)

    Following are 4 items worth noting for the Nov 30th week:

    1. Alicia Keys concert on YouTube is an underwhelming experience - Did you catch any of the Alicia Keys concert on YouTube this past Tuesday night celebrating World AIDS Day? I watched parts of it, and while the music was great, I have to say it was disappointing from a video quality standpoint -lots of buffering and pixilation, plus watching full screen was impossible.

    I think YouTube is on to something special webcasting live concerts. Recall its webcast of the U2 concert from the Rose Bowl on Oct 25th drew a record 10 million viewers. That concert's quality was far superior, and separately, the dramatic staging and 97,000 in-person fans also helped boost the excitement of the online experience. It's still early days, but to really succeed with the concert series, YouTube is going to have to guarantee a minimum quality level. Notwithstanding, American Express, the lead sponsor of the Keys concert had strong visibility and surely YouTube has real interest from other sponsors for future concerts. It could be a very valuable franchise YouTube is building and is further evidence of YouTube's evolution from its UGC roots.

    2. Being a Jeff Zucker fan is lonely business - In yesterday's post, "Comcast-NBCU: The Winners, Losers and Unknowns" I said I've been a fan of Jeff Zucker's since seeing him deliver a brutally candid and very sober assessment of the broadcast TV industry at the NATPE conference in Jan '08. My praise elicited a number of incredulous email responses from readers who vehemently disagreed, thinking Zucker's performance merits him being sent to the woodshed rather than to the CEO's office for the new Comcast-NBCU JV.

    To be sure, NBC's abysmal performance under Zucker (falling from first place to fourth in prime-time), will be one of his legacies, but I take a broader view of his tenure. A good chunk of NBCU's cable network portfolio came to the company via the Vivendi deal around the time Zucker took over responsibility for cable. Since that time the networks have grown strongly in audience and cash flow has doubled from about $1 billion to a projected $2.2 billion in '09. NBCU added Oxygen (which combined with its iVillage property makes a strong proposition for women-focused advertisers) and The Weather Channel, in a joint buyout with two PE firms.

    While Zucker's hiring of Ben Silverman to run NBC was a misstep, NBCU has enjoyed stability on the cable side, with two of the highest-regarded women in TV, Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick cranking out hit after hit for their respective networks. A CEO's tenure is always a mixed one, with plenty of wins and losses. It can be hard to know how much of the wins to ascribe to the CEO personally, rather than the executives below, but at the end of the day, NBCU was transformed from a single network company to a cable powerhouse; even Zucker skeptics have to give him some credit for this.

    3. Comcast rebrands On Demand Online to Fancast Xfinity TV - yuck! - Largely lost in the NBCU commotion this week was news that B&C broke that Comcast is changing the name of its soon-to-be-launched TV Everywhere service from On Demand Online to Fancast Xfinity TV. Yikes, the branding gurus need to head back to the drawing board, and quick. The name violates the first rule of branding: pronunciation must be obvious and easy. Not only is it unclear how you pronounce Xfinity, it's a an unnecessary mouthful that doesn't fit with any of Comcast's other workmanlike brands (e.g. "Digital Cable," "On Demand," ""). If we're talking about a new videogame targeted to teenage boys, Xfinity is great. If we're talking about a service that provides online access to TV shows, there's no need for something super-edgy. I'd suggest just sticking with "On Demand Online." But even more importantly, priority #1 is getting the product launched successfully.

    4. Sports Illustrated demo builds tablet computing buzz - If you haven't seen SI's demo of its tablet version being shown off this week, it's well worth a look at the video here. Never mind that there isn't such a tablet device on the market yet, the rumors swirling around Apple's planned launch of one has created an air of inevitability for the whole category. As the SI demo shows, a tablet can be thought of a larger version of an iPhone (likely minus the phone), providing larger screen real estate to make the user experience even more interesting. It's fascinating to think about what a tablet could do for magazines in particular, along the lines of what the Kindle has done for books. The mobile video and gaming possibilities are endless. Judge for yourselves.

    Enjoy the weekend!

  • 4 Items Worth Noting from the Week of September 14th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 14th:

    1. Ad spending slowdown continues - TNS Media Intelligence reported that 1st half '09 U.S. ad spending declined 14.3% vs. a year ago, to $60.87 billion. Spending in Q2 '09 alone was down 13.9% vs. a year ago, the 5th straight declining quarter. The only bright spots TNS reported were Internet display ads (up 6.5%) and Free Standing Inserts (up 4.6%).

    Rupert Murdoch and others in the industry have lately been suggesting that advertising is starting to improve and that the worst is behind us. But TNS SVP Research Jon Swallen was less sanguine, saying only that "Early data from third quarter hint at possible improvements for some media due to easy comparisons against distressed levels of year ago expenditures." While the online video ad sector has held up far better than most, the ad spending crash has caused many in the industry to re-evaluate whether ad-only models are viable, particularly for long-form premium content online. Subscription-oriented initiatives will only intensify the longer the ad slowdown lasts.

    2. Veoh's court victory is important for all in the industry - I'd be remiss not to note the significance of U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz's granting of Veoh's motion for summary judgment, effectively throwing out Universal Music's suit alleging Veoh had infringed UMG's copyrights. Judge Matz articulated the specific reasons he believed Veoh operated within the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA.

    As a content producer myself (albeit at a completely different level than a music publisher or film studio!), I've generally been a huge advocate of copyright protection. But the fact is that DMCA - for better or worse - set out the rules for digital copyright use and they must be enforced clearly and forcefully. Anything less leaves the market in a state of confusion, with industry participants wary of inviting costly, time-consuming legal action (Veoh has said the UMG suit cost it millions of dollars in legal fees). For online video to thrive the rules of the road need to be well-understood; Judge Matz's ruling made an important contribution toward that goal.

    3. Digitalsmiths announces new senior level hires - This week Digitalsmiths announced that it has brought on board Josh Wiggins as its new VP, Business Development, West Coast and two others, who will collectively be the company's first L.A.-based presence. They'll report in to Bob Bryson, SVP of Sales and Business Development.

    I caught up with Digitalsmiths' CEO Ben Weinberger briefly, who explained that with tier 1 film/TV studios and other content owners (news, sports, etc.) the company's major focus, it was essential to have a full-time presence there staffed with people who know the industry cold. Ben reported that the company has honed in on target customers who have very large files, have video as their core business/revenue center, require sophisticated metadata management and often need a rapid video capture, processing and playout workflow. Digitalsmiths is proving a solid example of how to effectively differentiate through product and customer focus in a very crowded space. Announced customers include Warner Bros., Telepictures and, others are in the hopper (note Digitalsmiths is a VideoNuze sponsor).

    4. New site is a worth its weight in gold - On a somewhat lighter note, this week the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation unveiled, which offers thoughtful, introspective video interviews with a wide range of TV's most influential personalities. If you have nostalgia for the classic TV shows from your youth, or just appreciate the amazing talent that has made the medium what it is, this site is for you. It is remarkably well-organized and accessible and brilliant proof of online video's power in presenting invaluable material that was previously available only to a lucky few.

    I happily got lost in the site listening to Alan Alda talk about the fabulous writers of M*A*S*H and Steven Bochco describing the magic of "Hill Street Blues." I searched by "Happy Days" and quickly found the exact clips of Ron Howard talking about the role of his "Richie Cunningham" character in the show's arc and Henry Winkler revealing the influence of Sylvester Stallone on how he developed the voice of "Fonzie." Mary Tyler Moore is irresistible discussing specific scenes of the Mary Tyler Moore show and her poignant memories of Mary Richards navigating the working world. Kudos to the Academy, the site is a gem.

    Enjoy the weekend and L'shanah tova (Happy New Year) to those of you, who like me, will be observing Rosh Hashanah this weekend!

  • Move Networks' New President/CEO Roxanne Austin Explains Company's Advantages

    I spoke to Roxanne Austin this afternoon, whom Move Networks announced as its new president/CEO earlier today. Roxanne is a former president/COO of DirecTV, partner at Deloitte & Touche, and current board member of Ericsson, Target, Abbott Laboratories and Teledyne. Since 2004 she's been running her own investment and consulting firm Austin Investment Advisors. Move's president/CEO slot has been vacant since the spring when John Edwards was shifted to Executive Chairman.

    Roxanne believes Move's distinct competitive advantage is that it is the only provider of end-to-end solutions for high-quality live, streaming and VOD video delivery. Roxanne sees the timing as being right for Move because the industry has evolved to an understanding that broadband video must have both paid and advertising-based models. In addition, it must be able to offer users traditional linear experiences as well as VOD, all in HD.

    My recent post on Move's repositioning detailed the company's new focus on supporting video service providers (e.g. cable, satellite, telco, ISPs, etc.), however Roxanne equally weights content providers (its traditional customer base). As Roxanne put it, "we want to follow the rights." In other words, whoever has the ability to distribute premium video content - either the creator or the authorized distributor - is in Move's sights.

    Roxanne wants to see Move's adaptive bit rate streaming technology remain best-of-breed, even as new competition from Microsoft and Adobe heats up. But I think she correctly emphasizes that the company's total solution - which now includes Inuk's "virtual set-top box" software - is how it will distinguish itself.

    As all industry participants feel the pinch of the recession and the need to demonstrate viable broadband business models, better video quality alone is not sufficient to succeed. Move is betting that by supporting traditional linear, paid models, along with new VOD (and sometimes ad-only)-based models, it will be the technology partner of choice.

    There are a lot of moving pieces here, but Roxanne's industry relationships and know-how surely enhance Move's odds of eventual success.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • Watch Liberty's John Malone at the D7 Conference

    If you have a spare 10 minutes, have a look at this interview Walt Mossberg did with John Malone yesterday at the D7: All Things Digital conference. Malone, who's now chairman of Liberty Media/Liberty Global, was the head of cable giant TCI for many years. Nobody on planet earth knows more about how the cable TV business works than Malone, and his responses to Mossberg's questions about how premium TV programming will or won't shift to online and a la carte availability are well worth listening to.

  • Digitalsmiths Adds 2 Senior Executives

    Digitalsmiths has added to its executive team, hiring Bob Bryson as SVP of Sales and Business Development and Melissa Sargeant as VP of Marketing. Both are industry veterans; Bob was most recently in a similar role at Move Networks and Melissa was director of product marketing at CA.

    Digitalsmiths has been expanding beyond its roots in indexing by also offering content management and publishing solutions. In Q4 '08 it raised a $10M round, and in Q1 '09 it received a strategic investment from Cisco. The hirings continue a trend I see throughout the industry - companies with traction are able to continue to raise money and bring on new talent. Other recent examples include Betawave, Brightcove, ExtendMedia and Tremor Media.