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Analysis for 'Crackle'

  • Crackle Unveils Linear TV Feature "Always On," Powered by Adobe Primetime

    Crackle is introducing a new linear TV feature dubbed "Always On," which will begin streaming a scheduled program whenever a user opens Crackle. The move gives viewers a TV-like experience in addition to the 100% on-demand experience that Crackle has been. Crackle will launch Always On exclusively on Roku devices in May, with other platforms to follow during the summer.

    Always On helps differentiate Crackle and appeal to TV-oriented ad buyers, a stated goal when it decided to pull out of the NewFronts this year. The hybrid linear/on-demand approach will be powered by Adobe Primetime under a broader deal also announced yesterday. Adobe Primetime will provide playback, ad insertion and DRM for Crackle.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #230: Crackle, HuffPost Live and Online Video Ad Growth Ahead

    I'm pleased to present the 230th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week found Colin at the BroadbandTV Con event in Santa Clara where he was impressed by the 2 keynotes, by Eric Berger, EVP, Digital Networks, Sony Pictures Television (Crackle) and Roy Sekoff, President and Co-Creator of HuffPost Live. Eric and Roy provided insights about their strategies and the audiences they're pursuing. Both services are highly successful in their own ways. Colin shares his observations, and compares and contrasts the two.

    One commonality is that both services are free to viewers and ad-supported, which brings us to our next topic, PwC's growth forecast for online video advertising, which I covered this week. We dig into the details and other PwC numbers. Even though PwC projects video ad spending will more than double, to $6.8 billion in 2018, Colin actually believes the forecast is too conservative. He explains why and what would really impress him.

    Listen in to learn more!


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  • Watch Jerry Seinfeld Gush About the Internet and Online Video's Potential for Content Creators [VIDEO]

    Jerry Seinfeld gushes about the role the Internet has had on society and online video's potential for content creators in a "BuzzFeed Brews" interview with business editor Peter Lauria. It's pretty cool to see how deeply Seinfeld gets the power of online video and how it's reinventing entertainment.

    Seinfeld himself has hit upon a successful formula in online video with his interview show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," which just exceeded 25 million streams on Crackle and got great visibility during the half-time of the Super Bowl with the mini Seinfeld reunion episode.  

    Among Seinfeld's choice quotes in the interview:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #173 - The Rising Cost and Quality of Video Content

    I'm pleased to present the 173rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we focus on the rising cost of content to pay-TV operators and the rising quality of content found online.

    In a post yesterday, Colin validates pay-TV operators' complaints about programming costs, noting, for example, that at Comcast they rose from 34% of video revenue in '08 to 40% in '11 (at Time Warner Cable they were 41% and at DirecTV they were 45%). As we discuss, these escalating costs are eating into operators' profit margins as subscriber rate increases haven't kept pace. As VideoNuze readers know, sports is a major culprit in all of this, though entertainment networks have raised their own rates as well.

    Against this backdrop, the quality of content available online is improving markedly. For example in just the past couple of weeks, we've seen Netflix announce another new series, with the producers of The Matrix films and Babylon5, Amazon Studios announce new shows "Betas," "Zombieland" and "Sarah Solves It" and Crackle a second season of "Chosen."  Further, anime network Crunchyroll disclosed it's now up to 200K paying subscribers, TheBlaze (Glenn Beck's online video network) is raising $40M. Even the BBC, one of the most traditional TV networks, announced it will be premiering shows on its iPlayer.

    In short, the quality of programming online is getting better all the time, while the cost of content to pay-TV operators is escalating, in turn putting pressure on subscriber rates. All of this means viewership patterns are bound to change and with the broader video industry.

    Reminder: sign up for "Sizing Up Apple TV" a free video webinar, next Tuesday, April 2nd featuring Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and me.
        
    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 57 seconds)

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  • Social Recommendations: No Surprises There

    Today I'm pleased to share a contributed post from Alan Wolk. Alan is Global Lead Analyst at KIT digital. He frequently speaks about the television industry in general and second screen interactions in particular, both at conferences and to anyone who'll listen. Recently named as one of the "Top 20 Thinkers In Social TV and Second Screen" Wolk is one of the main architects behind the award-winning KIT Social Program Guide and writes about the television industry at the Toad Stool blog. You can find him on Twitter at @awolk

    If you are interested in contributing to VideoNuze, please contact me!

    Social Recommendations: No Surprises There
    by Alan Wolk

    There’s a firmly held belief in the world of social TV and social media that our social graphs-- the people we are friends with on Facebook and Twitter and other social networks-- are the best source of recommendations for anything from restaurants to movies to TV shows. (Witness this week’s Facebook Graph Search announcement.)

    I’m here to suggest that may not be the case, particularly in regards to television.

    Let’s take Facebook, the most personal of the social networks. While it is considered good form by many on Twitter and LinkedIin to connect with relative strangers, our Facebook friends are generally people we know in real life.

    Or knew.

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  • Roku Scores Best Buy Distribution Deal

    Roku is announcing this morning that its Roku XD streaming player will be available at Best Buy stores nationwide. The deal is a big win for Roku which has primarily relied on online sales to drive over 1 million units to date. The price point for the Roku XD, which delivers up to 1080p HD using 802.11n WiFi will be $79.99, the same as online.

    I've been using the XD device for a while now and it performs nicely. The biggest question mark I've had about Roku has been around its ability to compete in a very noisy consumer electronics environment, dominated by giants with well-known brands. Lately the success of Apple TV, which also retails for under $100, has felt like it could squeeze Roku, especially given the popularity of Apple's stores, which have no doubt helped introduce many to the Apple TV product. Because Roku only had limited hands-on opportunities, primarily early adopters would be drawn to its players.

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 4th

    It's Friday and that means that once again VideoNuze is featuring 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry stories that we weren't able to cover this week. Have a look at them now, or take them with you for weekend reading!

    Verizon to Launch 4G LTE Networks in 38 Markets
    Verizon will enable 5-12 megabit/second mobile data speeds in 38 markets, reaching 110 million Americans by the end of the year. The 4G technology, known as "LTE" promises a major new growth opportunity for HD mobile video, making smartphones and tablets even more appealing as video viewing devices.

    Time Warner Sees Ally in Web
    Time Warner's CEO Jeff Bewkes understands the Google TV value proposition, explaining that it will help program discovery and provide another option for paying subscribers to view. Those sentiments echo what I said in my initial thoughts on Google TV, that incumbent TV networks should be enthusiastic about Google TV because it doesn't disrupt their business models, but - by fully tying in the Internet - creates all kinds of new on-screen engagement opportunities. I expect other TV networks will follow soon.

    Sony's Crackle movie and TV streaming service debuts on Android phone app
    In a sea of new Android app releases, the new app from Crackle stands out because it offers streaming of full-length TV shows and movies on all Android devices. I sampled it this week on my Droid X and the video quality was outstanding. With the launch of LTE from Verizon later this year (see above), the quality bar will be raised further. Given Android's momentum, all premium quality video providers (e.g. TV networks, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc.) should be optimizing their content for it.

    Rupert Murdoch: Simultaneous Theater-VOD Release 'a Big Mistake'
    A word of caution from News Corp head Rupert Murdoch: so-called "premium VOD" - where theatrical release windows shorten to allow for a new high-priced home VOD option - is a mistake. Murdoch didn't give further details, though he does see some window compression happening. I continue to argue premium VOD would be a wrongheaded move by pay-TV operators who should be focusing on new ways to deliver more programming for lower prices (to compete better with Netflix, etc.) than less programming for higher prices.

    Ford revs up Web series
    The latest branded entertainment entry is from Ford, which has partnered with the producers of "The Amazing Race" to create "Focus Rally: America" a new series serving as pre-launch marketing for Ford's new Focus cars that will be featured on Hulu. Ford will use the series to highlight the SYNC and MyFord Touch entertainment/navigation options. Branded entertainment continues to gain steam as an augment to traditional TV advertising as the format allows brands to tell a fuller story in a more immersive context than 30-second TV spots allow.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
     
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  • Crackle Notches an Early Win with "Jace Hall" Show

    The broadband content provider Crackle is notching a win with its new comedy/interview series "The Jace Hall Show." I received a press release that it generated 500K visitors in the first two days following its launch on June 5th and a million to date. I'm always intrigued with what kinds of original broadband programs are working - and why - so I grabbed some time yesterday with Mary Ray, Crackle's VP of Marketing to learn what's behind Jace's success.

    For those of you like me who are not gamers, Jason "Jace" Hall is probably unfamiliar. But Mary explained that if you're in the gaming community he's a fairly well-know producer who has a wide network of relationships in the industry. His show brings you into the world of his relationships, making you feel more connected to gamers' movers and shakers. And since he has his finger on the pulse of what the young male gamer audience is looking for, that gives him a real edge. Plus Mary believes that Hollywood still hasn't paid much attention to this market, despite gaming's huge following.

    In the program's first episode Jace provided a sneak peek at a Duke Nukem Forever game that has reputedly been in development for 12 years. Gaining this type of access is practically like having exclusive content. Mary said that Crackle didn't do any advance paid marketing for the show; rather the audience was driven purely by word-of-mouth and buzz-building. I joked with Mary - spend no money but gain a big audience - the show sounds like a marketer's dream!

     

    I asked Mary what she thinks the most important takeaway from Jace's early success is. Her feeling was that tapping into what the audience is hungry for is the key. While I agree, I'd go a step further. I think that trying to find talent that already has a following - whether in gaming, TV or some other medium - is a genuine way to improve a program's odds of success. I'm not necessarily talking about A-list talent per se, but rather talent that is at least known within some kind of niche (e.g. finance, comedy, woodworking, etc). That's not say "don't go with unknown talent looking to break out," but I do think it's important to recognize that doing so carries more risk.

    The whole area of original broadband content is surging with players like Crackle, Next New Networks, 60Frames, ManiaTV, Break, Heavy, MyDamnChannel, FunnyorDie and lots of others pioneering the model. It's going to be very interesting to learn more about what works and why.

    What do you think works in original broadband video? Share your comments now!

     
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  • Sony Launches C-Spot Comedy Series

    The stampede into broadband-only comedy shorts continued yesterday with Sony launching "C-Spot". The six short series will run on Sony's Crackle.com, YouTube, AOL Video, Hulu, Verizon Wireless' VCAST and others likely to come.

     

    Comedy has been such a popular genre online because it is cheap to produce, easy to digest in short bursts and doesn't require story narratives to be compelling. What we've seen to date largely appeals to the young male demo which can't seem to get enough of the gross-out or sophomoric skits or hot ladies delivering goofy laugh lines.

    I sampled a few of C-Spot's new programs and while I won't pretend to be a professional reviewer, I did find them to be a cut above some of the average comedic fare I've found elsewhere. Plus I think Sony's onto something by serializing these shorts and releasing new episodes on specific days of the week.

    Though broadband is truly an on-demand medium, I continue to believe that audience-building requires habituation that is only driven by regularly-scheduled new releases. Prom Queen (though not a comedy) met with success by serializing, and I've been surprised there haven't been more imitators to date.

    Regardless of format, I'm expecting comedy will remain the broadband medium's hottest genre, attracting indies and established players alike.

     
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  • TV and Broadband: Who's Morphing into Whom?

    Does TV programming beget broadband video programming or is it the other way around?

    If you were expecting a simple answer, recent evidence suggests that none will be forthcoming. Step away from the relatively straightforward model of streamed or downloaded TV episodes, and the question of how original video content will be produced and distributed between broadband and TV is whole lot more complicated. Layer on the writers' strike and the world only fogs up further.

    For those who see broadband as a pathway to TV, Quarterlife's deal announced last Friday with NBC to bring their new Quarterlife series to the network following its run on MySpace offers encouragement that Internet programming can move to the TV (bear in mind that Quarterlife was originally pitched as a TV series however).

    Another example is TMZ.com, which has been successfully syndicated as TMZ TV this fall by Warner Bros. TMZ shows us that a brand that was created and built solely online can make the leap to TV. And just last week TV Week reported that Twentieth Television and Yahoo were close to a deal to create a new syndicated series based on popular broadband videos that they've collected.

    On the flip side, there is plenty of evidence of opportunities for TV programs spinning off broadband programming, or existing TV producers with assets and skills pushing into broadband as a first outlet for their work.

    Consider Sony's Minisode Network, with distribution on MySpace, Joost, AOL and Crackle. In an effort to squeeze more life out of its library of classics, in June Sony launched abbreviated versions, for broadband "snacking". This initiative is being closely watched as a model for how to repurpose existing assets to make them more palatable for attention-challenged online audiences.

    And Endemol's recent deal with Bebo to produce "The Gap Year" series for exclusively for Bebo's audience shows that a successful TV producer is turning its sites on broadband as a first outlet.

    All of these deals underscore broadband's disruptive nature - its ability to create new opportunities for incumbent players, and also for new entrants. My read is that most (though not all) broadband producers would love to make the leap to the TV. In the mean time, broadband offers a low-cost, interactive distribution path to experiment with more engaged audiences.

    Many key industry players are now waking up to the idea that broadband is fundamentally re-writing traditional equations of how to extract value from well-produced video. But these equations are not yet well-understood. Some of the early deals, as outlined above, will be showing everyone the way.

    -Will Richmond

     
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