Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of August 17th:
CBS's Smith says authentication is a 5 year rollout - I had a number of people forward me the link to PaidContent's in-depth coverage of CBS Interactive CEO Quincy Smith's comments at the B&C/Multichannel News panel in which he asserted that TV Everywhere/authentication won't gain critical mass until 2014.
I was asked what I thought of that timeline, and my response is that I think Smith is probably in the right ballpark. However, these rollouts will happen on a company by company basis so timing will vary widely. Assuming Comcast's authentication trial works as planned, I think it's likely to expect that Comcast will have its "On Demand Online" version of TV Everywhere rolled out to its full sub base within 12 months or so. Time Warner Cable is likely to be the 2nd most aggressive in pursuing TV Everywhere. For other cable operators, telcos and satellite operators, it will almost certainly be a multi-year exercise.
NFL makes its own broadband moves - While MLB has been getting a lot of press for its recent broadband and mobile initiatives, I was intrigued by 2 NFL-related announcements this week that show the league deepening its interest in broadband distribution. First, as USA Today reported, DirecTV will offer broadband users standalone access to its popular "Sunday Ticket" NFL package. The caveat is that you have to live in an area where satellite coverage is unattainable. The offer, which is being positioned as a trial, runs $349 for the season. With convergence devices like Roku hooking up with MLB.TV, it has to be just a matter of time before the a la carte version of Sunday Ticket comes to TVs via broadband as well.
Following that, yesterday the NFL and NBC announced that for the 2nd season in a row, the full 17 game Sunday night schedule will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and NFL.com. Both will use an HD-quality video player and Microsoft's Silverlight. They will also use Microsoft's Smooth Streaming adaptive bit rate (ABR) technology. All of this should combine to deliver a very high-quality streaming experience. But with all these games available for free online, I have to wonder, are NBC and the NFL leaving money on the table here? It sure seems like there must have been some kind of premium they could have charged, but maybe I'm missing something.
Metacafe grows to 12 million unique viewers in July - More evidence that independent video aggregators are hanging in there, as Metacafe announced uniques were up 67% year-over-year and 10% over June (according to comScore). I've been a Metacafe fan for a while, and their recent redesign around premium "entertainment hubs" has made the site cleaner and far easier to use. Metacafe's news follows last week's announcement by Babelgum that it grew to almost 1.7 million uniques in July since its April launch. Combined, these results show that while the big whales like YouTube and Hulu continue to capture a lot of the headlines, the minnows are still making swimming ahead.
Kodak introduces contest to (re)name its new Zi8 video camera - It's not every day (or any day for that matter) that I get to write how a story in a struggling metro newspaper had the mojo to influence a sexy new consumer electronic product being brought to market by an industrial-era goliath, so I couldn't resist seizing this opportunity.
It turns out that a review Boston Globe columnist Hiawatha Bray wrote, praising Kodak's new Zi8 pocket video camera, but panning its dreadful name, prompted Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett to launch an online contest for consumers to submit ideas for a new name for the device, which it intends to be a Flip killer. Good for Hayzlett for his willingness to change course at the last minute, and also try to build some grass roots pre-launch enthusiasm for the product. And good for the Globe for showing it's still relevant. Of course, a new name will not guarantee Kodak success, but it's certainly a good start.
Enjoy your weekend!
Recently the Boston Globe, my local newspaper, ran a 9,000 word, 2 part cover story in its Sunday magazine about a successful family physician who concludes at age 52 that he would be happier as a woman. Regardless of your personal views or politics, it has to be one of the most poignant and riveting pieces of journalism about transsexuals.
But what makes the piece truly winning is that the Globe went the extra mile by shooting 2 short videos (4-5 minutes each) to accompany each part of the story and featured them prominently online, just below the titles. The videos are shot in documentary style and while likely low cost to produce, they more than hit the mark.
What these packages demonstrate is how a traditional newspaper is able to offer a totally different (and I would argue, immeasurably more engaging) user experience with some simple video. This story in particular screams out for more than just words on a page, because it deals with a subject both foreign and somewhat mysterious to many readers. For example, what does the doctor look and sound like after the operations described in the article? Do her/his office colleagues sound convincing when they say they supported his sex change decision? Does s/he seem happy now, after all the traumas her/his family has been through?
These are the kinds of emotional subtleties that video is unrivaled at delivering. The Globe gets huge kudos for treating this story in a manner that marks a distinct break from traditional newspaper journalism. And it is yet another example of how newspapers shouldn't be counted out as dinosaurs yet in the Internet age. Broadband is offering them a whole new lease on life as trusted news and information providers. Shame on them if they don't seize the opportunity.