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Analysis for 'blip.TV'

  • Online Video Advertising Industry Keeps Innovating

    Speaking of online video advertising, once again there was plenty of news this week. Among the highlights, Adap.tv launched its video ad marketplace in the U.K., PointRoll added new partners to its "Included" Program and launched new mobile and in-stream Included program, Casale Media announced a new "Videobox" format transforming display ads into video ads, AdoTube released new research that in-stream ads perform 7x better than rich media ads, and blip.tv revealed that it has built a creative services group to produce ads for its clients.

    The online video ad market continues to experience strong growth. I've been talking to a lot of companies in the space recently, related to the ELEVATE conference on Tues, June 7th in NYC. There is a ton of enthusiasm, but also a continued strong need for market education and best practices, which is what we'll focus on at ELEVATE (more info coming next week).
     
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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 11th

    Continuing VideoNuze's Friday feature of highlighting 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry stories that we weren't able to cover this week. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!

    JetBlue Unvails Ads Created By Mullen
    Take a moment to head over to YouTube today where JetBlue has bought out the top-of-page expanding banner for a hilarious new ad campaign, "You Above All," featuring a series of reality-style videos of New Yorkers in situations that mock the JetBlue competitors' service. The clever JetBlue campaign follows the head-turning Sylvester Stallone YouTube ad for "The Expendables" from a couple months ago and underscores the ascendance of YouTube as the #1 piece of online real estate for break-the-mold video campaigns for high-profile brands. Google is capitalizing on YouTube's appeal by featuring it prominently in its current "Watch This Space" ad campaign promoting the value of display advertising.

    Google TV Guns for Cable Deals
    And speaking of Google, with the recent introduction of Google TV, the company is reaching out to cable operators to ink integration deals similar to what it showcased with satellite operator Dish TV last week. Google TV offers tantalizing potential, particularly to smaller operators, to add Internet elements to their core video service, helping better compete with over-the-top entrants like Netflix. Conversely, as we saw this week with the funding/public launch of BNI Video (and in a series of separate product announcements coming next week), technology vendors are lining up to offer cable operators the ability to deliver their own Internet experiences. It's a very confusing time for cable operators, who must figure out whether to go it alone and invest heavily, or partner with a tech giant like Google.

    comScore Releases September 2010 U.S. Online Video Rankings
    comScore's video rankings for September yielded no big surprises, as Google/YouTube continued to be the dominant online video provider and Yahoo narrowly retook the #2 spot from Facebook. comScore changed the way it publicly reports its data this past June which has made it a little harder on independent analysts like me to show trending data as I used to do. Nonetheless, I'm hoping to have some new trending charts to share soon.

    Blip.tv Predicts Best Quarter Yet for Web Creators
    More encouraging news on the online video ad front, as video platform/distributor blip.tv said this week that Q4 '10 is on track to be its best quarter ever. Blip has been a very important player in bringing independent web series to market and its ability to monetize is a key driver of sustainability for many fledgling creators. Blip's news synchs with overall online video ad momentum in first half '10.

    Introducing the JW Player for Flash and HTML5
    Last month I wrote about how the open source JW Player is receiving 15K downloads per day. This week version 5.3 of the JW Player was released which integrates Flash and HTML5 into a single video player, using a unified JavaScript API. What that means is that anyone embedding the new player can seamlessly deliver either Flash or HTML5 video with the browser auto-detecting which playback mode to use. Since browsers and devices are still quite heterogeneous in what formats they support, initiatives like this help reduce friction in publishing and user experience.


     
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  • Netflix, HBO, Others Coming to Google TV

    Google released further details on Google TV this morning, unveiling a slew of content services and apps that will be available at launch. Chief among them are Netflix and HBO Go (both for subscribers), Amazon VOD and Pandora, plus new apps from NBA ("NBA Game Time"), NBCU ("CNBC Real-Time"), and "optimized" content from Turner Broadcasting, NY Times, USA Today, VEVO, Napster, Twitter and blip.TV. Google didn't specify what optimized means, but I suspect it means appropriate metadata so that programs can be exposed in Google TV searches. Of course, "Leanback," YouTube's 10-foot interface, will also be featured.

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  • Online Video Gains on Primetime, Led by Indie Content

    The WSJ reported on Wednesday that online video viewing over the last year has begun shifting from the lunch time daypart to the coveted primetime daypart. Online primetime viewing rose 14% to an average of 62.4 million viewers over the last year according to Nielsen.

    While network programming from Hulu certainly helped, the article credited the jump primarily to independent original web series and networks like blip.tv and Revision3. Revision3's CEO, Jim Louderback attributed its share to the 40% of its audience watching on connected devices like Roku while blip's CEO Mike Hudack argued it was the rise in quality and length of programming. The average length of blip's episodes is up to 14 minutes from 6 minutes a year ago.

    Mike also posted yesterday on blip's blog further sharing his excitement that blip is also close to reaching 100 million views per month. This despite the fact that its web series are produced on a fraction of Hollywood's typical budgets (his estimate is blip's shows cost one-tenth of 1% of Hulu's). Mike's argument underscores the democratization of media underway. The Internet allows hardworking entrepreneurial content creators to work successfully far outside the world of Hollywood's ecosystem to create great content and gain sizable audiences.

    Add in this week's NewFront and it's clear that independent original web video is uttering a battle cry for legitimacy. As devices and platforms that blur the line between online video and television continue to emerge, this trend will further accelerate, potentially positioning indie online content as a disruptor to traditional programming.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign in required).
     
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  • 4 News Items Worth Noting from the Week of July 27th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of July 27th:

    New Pew research confirms online video's growth - Pew was the latest to offer statistics confirming that online video usage continues to soar. Among the noteworthy findings: Long-form consumption is growing as 35% of respondents say they have viewed a TV show or movie online (up from 16% in '07); watching video is widely popular, draw more people (62%) than social networking (46%), downloading a podcast (19%) or using Twitter (11%); usage is up across all age groups, but still skews young with 90% of 18-29 year olds reporting they watch online vs. 27% of 65+ year olds; and convergence is happening with 23% of people who have watched online reporting they have connected their computers to their TVs.

    FreeWheel has a very good week - FreeWheel, the syndicated video ad management company I most recently wrote about here, had a very good week. On Monday, AdAge reported that YouTube has begun a test allowing select premium partners to bring their own ads into YouTube, served by FreeWheel. Then on Wednesday, blip.tv announced that it too had integrated with FreeWheel, so ads could be served for blip's producers across their entire syndication network. I caught up with FreeWheel's co-CEO Doug Knopper yesterday who added that more deals, especially with major content producers, are on the way. FreeWheel is riding the syndication wave in a big way.

    Plenty of action with CDNs - CDNs were in the news this week, as Vusion (formerly Jittr Networks) bit the dust, after going through $11 million in VC money. Elsewhere CDN Velocix (formerly CacheLogic) was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent. ALU positioned the deal as fitting with its "Application Enablement" strategy, supporting customers' needs in a "video-centric world." Limelight announced its LimelightREACH and LimelightADS services for mobile media delivery and monetization (both are based on Kiptronic, which it acquired recently). Last but not least, bellwether Akamai reported Q2 '09 earnings, that while up 5% vs. year ago, were down sequentially from Q1. Coupled with a cautious Q3 outlook, the company's stock dropped 20%.

    IAC is making big moves into online video - IAC is making no bones about its interest in online video. Last week the company unveiled Notional, a spin-out of CollegeHumor.com, to be headed by that site's former editor-in-chief Ricky Van Veen. Then this week it announced another new video venture, with NBCU's former co-entertainment head Ben Silverman. IAC chief Barry Diller seems determined to push the edge of the envelope, as IAC talks up things like multi-platform distribution and brand integration. With convergence and mobile consumption starting to take hold, the timing may finally be right for these sorts of plays. At a minimum IAC will keep things interesting for industry watchers like me.

    Click here to see an aggregation of all of the week's broadband video news

     
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  • Blip.TV's New Deals Give Broadband Producers a Boost

    Broadband-only producers got a boost yesterday as blip.tv, which provides technology, ad sales and distribution for thousands of online shows, announced a variety of new deals as well as product improvements. The deals offer blip's producers new distribution, new monetization and new access to TVs. In order:

    Distribution: blip's new deal with YouTube means that producers using blip can deliver their episodes directly to their YouTube accounts, eliminating the two step process. With YouTube's massive traffic, getting in front of this audience is critical to any independent producer. Since my first conversation with blip's co-founder Mike Hudack several years ago, the company's mantra has been widespread syndication. Blip already distributed its producers' shows to iTunes, AOL Video, MSN Video, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Vimeo is another new distribution partner announced yesterday.

    Monetization: A new integration with FreeWheel means that ads blip sells can follow the programs it distributes wherever they may be viewed. I've written about FreeWheel in the past, which offers essential monetization capability for the Syndicated Video Economy. With the blip deal, FreeWheel delivered ads can be inserted on YouTube. This follows news earlier this week that YouTube and FreeWheel had struck an agreement which allows content providers that use FreeWheel and distribute their video on YouTube can have FreeWheel insert their ads on YouTube (slowly but surely YouTube is opening itself up to 3rd parties).

    Access to TVs - Last but not least is blip's integration with the Roku player which will help bring blip's shows directly to TVs (adding to deals blip already had with TiVo, Sony Bravia, Verizon FiOS, Boxee and Apple TV). While Roku's footprint is still modest, it is positioned for major growth given current deals with Netflix and Amazon, and others no doubt pending. At $100, Roku is an inexpensive and easy-to-operate convergence device that is a great option for consumers trying to gain broadband access on their TVs. Gaining parity access to TV audiences for its broadband producers is a key value proposition for blip.

    In addition to the above, blip also redesigned its dashboard and work flow, making it easier for producers to manage their shows along with their distribution and monetization. An additional deal with TubeMogul announced yesterday allows second by second viewer tracking, providing more insight on engagement.

    Taken together the new deals help blip further realize its vision of being a "next generation TV network" and provide much-needed services to broadband-only producers. This group has taken a hit this year, given the tough ad sales and funding environments, so they need every advantage they can get.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • Looking for Economic Signals at Digital Hollywood This Week

    This week I'll be at Digital Hollywood Fall in LA, the first big industry gathering I've attended since the economic crisis hit. I've been trying to keep my finger on the pulse of what the crisis means for the broadband video industry. Get-togethers like this, with lots of time for informal, off-the-record chats are great for getting a sense of what colleagues think is on the industry's horizon.

    Here are 3 interrelated areas I'm most interested in learning about:

    Financing

    With the credit markets frozen and stock markets tumbling, the availability of financing is topic number one. This is especially relevant for the industry's many earlier stage companies, reliant on private financing from venture capitalists, angels and other private equity investors.

    By my count we've seen at least 9 good-sized financings announced since around Labor Day, when the financial markets started coming unglued: Howcast ($2M), blip.tv (undisclosed), Booyah ($4.5M), BlackArrow ($20M), HealthiNation ($7.5M), Adap.tv ($13M), BitTorrent ($17M), Conviva ($20M), and Move Networks (Microsoft, undisclosed). The rumor mill tells me there are at least 2-3 additional financings underway currently. Really smart money (e.g. Warren Buffet) knows that downturns are exactly the time to invest. However, the reality can often be quite different. What's the experience of industry participants trying to raise money these days?

    Staffing

    In any downturn, the first expense to get cut is people. Headcount reductions are often done quietly, with word later leaking out to the public. Last week brought news of trimming at three indie video providers, Break (11 people), ManiaTV (20) and Heavy (12). More are sure to follow at other companies. As I've written before, the indies are among the most vulnerable in this environment, likely leading many to find bigger partners for both distribution and monetization. But whether layoffs will hit other industry sectors such as platforms, ad networks, CDNs, mobile video and big media is still to be determined by...

    Customer spending

    Central to the question of how deeply the financial crisis spirals is the interdependence of customer spending at all levels of the economy. Thinking you're safe because you're a B2B company is meaningless if your customers are B2C companies cutting back due to reductions in consumer spending. When consumers tighten their belts that leads to advertisers reducing their spending which leads to media companies scaling back which leads to technology vendors feeling the impact. The reality is we're all in this together.

    In fact, the more I read about the economy's fragile condition, the clearer it is that the primary way out is rebuilding confidence and renewed spending at all levels. If a spending paralysis occurs, it could be long road ahead. While there's no reason to believe that consumers are going to slow their consumption of broadband media, the ability to monetize it and innovate around it would be dampened if spending hits a wall.

    These are among the topics I'll be looking to discuss at Digital Hollywood this week. If you're attending, drop me a note so we can try to meet up and/or come by the session I'll be moderating on Wednesday at 12:30pm.

    What do you think? Post a comment now!

     
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  • Dispatch from the Syndicated Video Economy's Front Line

    Yesterday I moderated a panel at the NATPE LATV Festival Digital Day entitled, "The Syndicated Video Economy: Expanding Broadband's Reach." The Syndicated Video Economy or SVE, is a concept I introduced back in March, to help articulate the trend toward widespread video distribution online, and the ecosystem of companies facilitating it.

    The session was a unique opportunity to hear from four executives whose companies are very much on the front line of the trend toward syndication. They shared many insights based on their experiences, and I thought it would be worth passing on a synopsis of these today.

    The four panelists were:

    • Greg Clayman, EVP, Digital Distribution and Business Development, MTV Networks
    • John Fitzpatrick, Director of Business Development, blip.tv
    • Jonathan Leess, President and General Manager, Digital Media Group, CBS Television Stations
    • Brian Shin, Founder and CEO, Visible Measures

    Here are four key takeaways:

    1. Syndication is required to capitalize on the significant fragmentation of online audiences. John summed this up well, suggesting that content creators need to think in terms of their "total potential audience," not just viewers that may come to their web sites. Particularly for established media companies, steeped in traditional destination-oriented, "must-see" mind-sets, this is a crucial point of adaptation to the online world. Jonathan's group gets this, as he reported 60% of its 25 million monthly are already coming from third parties.

    2. Syndication is operationally complex. Jonathan made the point that, for all of syndication's appeal, it poses daunting tactical challenges, particularly with an "always-on" news gathering/dissemination ethos. Challenges he cited include integrating video players with partners' sites, implementing ad management across heterogeneous environments, distributing content correctly and promptly, measuring results and honoring financial obligations. Until the ecosystem of companies enabling the SVE significantly matures, scaling the model will cause ample headaches.

    3. Retaining full control of advertising sales is crucial. While the SVE opens up new audiences, Greg reminded us that nobody is better equipped to sell MTV's inventory - wherever it may be generated - than MTV's own sales team. This is one of the reasons content providers seek to syndicate not just their video, but also their player as well. Jonathan echoed this point from the local perspective. Lack of tight advertising control leads to chaos for media buyers and sub-optimization of pricing. A bonus, as John pointed out, is that distributors will often be happy to just collect their revenue-sharing checks and not have to sell themselves.

    4. Analytics are the ultimate key to fully exploiting the SVE. While traditional web analytics have focused on on-site performance, SVE analytics must encompass video performance over many distribution points. Brian noted that making sense of how a video performs in varying environments - and then adjusting ongoing syndication strategies accordingly - is necessary to optimize viewership across the total audience. Inevitably viewership and engagement will vary by distributor. Collecting, understanding and acting on the data optimizes syndication and monetization.

    Ok, that's a mouthful. Like the panelists I remain optimistic about the SVE's potential, but I'm also clear-eyed about the challenges the SVE raises. I'll continue to track its progress and share findings.

    What do you think? Post a comment now!

    (Note, if you'd like to learn more about the SVE, and also hear from MTV's Greg Clayman, join me on August 6th for a complimentary webinar, hosted by Akamai. Click here to register.)

     
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  • 60Frames Pioneers "Broadband Studio" Model

    Last week I had a chance to sit down with Brent Weinstein, CEO/founder of 60Frames, which is among a new group of companies I refer to as "broadband studios." This is a category that has generated a healthy amount of funding and activity recently, including, among others, Next New Networks ($23 million to date), Generate ($6 million), Revision3 ($9 million), Stage 9 (Disney/ABC's in-house unit), Vuguru (Michael Eisner's shop) and a slew of comedy-focused initiatives. 60Frames itself has raised $3.5 million from Tudor, Pilot Group and others.

    The impetus for 60Frames came when Brent was heading up digital entertainment at UTA and observed that many clients wanted to create digital/broadband fare but wanted a partner for the same roles they've come to expect studios to handle (e.g. financing, distribution, legal, creative, etc.). 60Frames aims to differentiate itself from the pack by being "artist-friendly" - allowing greater creative control and more significant ownership and by relying on strong relationships. With an existing staff of 11 and a goal of launching 50 programs by year end, the 60Frames team is no doubt going full tilt.

    60Frames is following a traditional portfolio approach, working with great talent (Coen brothers, John August, Tom Fontana, others) but recognizing that results in this new medium will vary - there will be some winners and some losers. The goal is obviously to have the best ratio possible. Traditional studios improve their odds by using collective history and data about what types of projects succeed and which ones don't. But no such lengthy track record or data exists in broadband just yet, so it's a lot more speculative pursuit.

    I asked Brent if there's any creative formula 60Frames is using to guide its decision-making. He was pretty emphatic that there's no "formula," but did concede 60Frames is focused on short-form (under 5 minutes), is biased toward comedy where episodes can stand alone more readily, and is mainly looking at niche audiences with a bulls-eye of 18-34 men, where consumption is highest.

    Nurturing relationships and developing great content is only part of the equation for these budding studios' success. Distribution and monetization are also incredibly important, as broadband necessitates an entirely different model. Regarding distribution, I was encouraged to see 60Frames is solidly in the syndication camp to the point that it has not even set up destination sites for its 7 launched programs yet. 60Frames has a network of partners including Bebo, blip.tv, DailyMotion, iTunes, MySpace, YouTube and others. Gaining access to all the popular online destinations will accelerate success. Meanwhile advertising is being handled by partner SpotRunner, which has deep hooks in the space.

    Broadband studios like 60Frames harken back to the original studio moguls in some ways - taking creative and financial risk to explore what works in a new medium. It's way too early to know if or to what extent they'll succeed, but if they do we can expect a gold rush of imitators.

     
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  • Survey Says Broadband To Lag TV in 2012. Forget About It.

    This piece in today's Hollywood Reporter about a newly-released survey ("Broadband Won't Overtake TV, Execs Say") caught my eye because it continues a highly speculative, and largely irrelevant debate pervasive throughout the industry about future video consumption patterns.

    Why's the debate highly speculative? Because truly, none of us has any idea how people will consume video in 2012. There are just too many variables and too many unknowns to make an accurate prediction. Here's a point of comparison: let's say 5 years ago, in 2002, you were asked what percentage of Americans would consume broadband video in a given month? How many (or few!) of us would have predicted a whopping 75%? (the correct answer according to comScore in July '07). Better yet, how many of us would have guessed that over 25% of this consumption would be at just one site (YouTube) - a site that didn't even exist in 2002? Given these examples, who's to predict what 2012 will bring?

    And why's the debate largely irrelevant?

    Read on by clicking here...

     
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  • Survey: Broadband To Lag TV in 2012. Forget It.

    This piece in today's Hollywood Reporter about a newly-released survey ("Broadband Won't Overtake TV, Execs Say") caught my eye because it continues a highly speculative, and largely irrelevant debate pervasive throughout the industry about future video consumption patterns.

    Why's the debate highly speculative? Because truly, none of us has any idea how people will consume video in 2012. There are just too many variables and too many unknowns to make an accurate prediction. Here's a point of comparison: let's say 5 years ago, in 2002, you were asked what percentage of Americans would consume broadband video in a given month? How many (or few!) of us would have predicted a whopping 75%? (the correct answer according to comScore in July '07). Better yet, how many of us would have guessed that over 25% of this consumption would be at just one site (YouTube) - a site that didn't even exist in 2002? Given these examples, who's to predict what 2012 will bring?

    And why's the debate largely irrelevant? Because, in my opinion, it presupposes a continuation of the existing paradigm: an either/or choice of TV consumption OR broadband consumption. Yet these traditional lines of demarcation are already fading. Broadband programming is starting to migrate to networks, as in the recent case of Quarterlife's move from MySpace to NBC, while at the same time network TV programming is increasingly being consumed online. Meanwhile shorter form programming, not bound by traditional advertising pods is on the rise, further confusing industry definitions. Sites like Metacafe, blip.tv, Veoh and others are driving a whole new category of video that could eventually be a more popular format than 30 or 60 minute programs.

    These days consumers themselves are driving this "broadband or TV" debate into irrelevance. They're busy accessing programming on demand - whether "broadband" or "TV" - through a host of devices and services whose popularity is only going to skyrocket in the future. These include TiVo, Xbox, Netflix, Amazon Unbox and many others. Yet traditional thinking is still pervasive. For example, just this week, the chairman of the FCC has attempted to enact new regulations governing how cable programming might be unbundled. Fortunately this initiative collapsed, but take heed, market forces will eventually cause cable operators to offer programming as consumers want it, not how tradition dictates.

    I think Jim Denney, a TiVo product management VP whom I spoke with yesterday hit the nail on the head. Jim said TiVo's philosophy is to have their users "not worry about where any particular video's coming from, but rather just have all choices easily available." That strikes me as a winning business approach for the turbulent and converging 5 years that lie ahead. In my view, those companies which think about how to deliver value to consumers on their terms, rather than being guided by increasingly artificial distinctions, will be the ones to emerge as the winners in 2012.

     
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