NewTeeVee Live: Roku Readies Channel Store

Roku in the next few weeks will roll out a new marketplace for video channels, enabling users to pick and choose the content that appears on the home screen of their broadband-connected set-top boxes. At NewTeeVee Live, Roku vice president of marketing Chuck Seiber showed off a preview of the new Roku user interface, which included an icon for the device’s new Channel Store and icons for video channels from new content partners Revision 3 and Seiber said that the company is also adding channels for unnamed photo-sharing and video-sharing services.

The marketplace is one part of Roku’s plan to create an open platform on which any content provider could create their own video channels with a software development kit that the company freely released earlier this year. “We’re trying to turn our product into an open platform, and giving our users all the choice they could want,” Seiber said.

The introduction of multiple new channels brings up questions as to how Roku will change the user interface (UI). “It’s a tough balancing act,” Seiber said. “We started out as a Netflix player, so we had that simplicity and you don’t need a manual to navigate this. We will try to keep this as subtle and as clean as possible, but there’s no doubt our UI will have to evolve.”

Despite the fact that Roku faces increasing competition from consumer electronics device manufacturers that are building over-the-top services natively into HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other broadband-connected devices, Seiber said the company continues to do well.

At the same time, he said that the introduction of higher-priced connected products actually help to educate consumers about the availability of Netflix streaming and Amazon On-Demand services available on the device. He noted that on the same day that the availability of Netflix streaming was announced on the PlayStation 3, Roku had one of its best sales days ever, as consumers researched and chose its relatively low-cost solution. “In the short term, what we have is a really inexpensive product. It’s a very simple value proposition that someone can wrap their heads around. It’s a cheap and low-risk purchase,” Seiber said.

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NewTeeVee’s Next Big Thing, Session 2

Despite tackling a diverse set of web video projects, the 10 companies chosen for our “NewTeeVee’s Next Big Thing” list all have one thing in common: They are rapidly gaining traction in emerging and increasingly important aspects of the business. And so we’ve put our trust in them to see into the future.

Here’s what our second five presenters had to say about what to expect from the video market.

Matt Cutler, VP Marketing and Analytics, Visible Measures

Summary: The ads from the Super Bowl spread across 6,000 online video clips and led to a similar number of viewers as the broadcast garnered. Online, about 30 percent of the brand views of an ad online came from social activities such as referrals and mashups. However, the top 10 campaigns captured 45 percent of all online views. So we tell our brand advertising clients that they need to figure into the top 10.

The Next Big Thing: The leaders already in social advertising will press their advantage in 2010, and the followers who are still in experimentation mode will realize how far behind they are.

Brent Friedman, president, Electric Farm Entertainment

Summary: We’re looking for the fully immersive experience. We do high-budget, new cross-platform projects or “make cool shit.” The goal has been to create a convergence between video games and television. For our first project, After World, we produced 130 episodes. But it was really hard to monetize, at least in the U.S. The idea of a destination site just didn’t catch on. Our foreign distributor, Sony, offered it overseas in modular bites, web sites with bells and whistles, and mobile content. Back here in the U.S., we used the same model that we used for After World, but didn’t build an integrated destination web site. Sending the viewers on a “digital schlep” was counterintuitive to create immersion. Now we’re returning to the After World model to spend the money on a destination site. But going forward it’ll likely be branded, probably by a network, and it will be monetized. Through the traditional networks we’re getting bigger marketing budget and leveraging the strengths of the media fence. The site will not be a walled garden-type site, and will be much more dynamic 3-D environments. This will create a level of entertainment that is attractive to the whole ecosystem and will transcend the 3- to 5-minute spot online.

The Next Big Thing:

Angela Wilson Gyetvan, VP Sales and Marketing, 3ality Digital

Summary: There are a bunch of TV makers launching 3-D televisions next year as well as some device makers that will make products that will play 3-D. The next opportunity for 3-D will be intelligent advertisements and products that know when you are there. That’s five years out. And now we take a 3-D TV break.

The Next Big Thing: (See video, preferably with 3-D glasses.)

Bismarck Lepe, co-founder and president of Product Strategy, Ooyala

Summary: Ooyala is a comprehensive online video platform with analytics, transcoding and ads — who, what and how people are sharing video on the web.

The Next Big Thing: As we look at 2010 we think that web sites won’t be focused on the licensing relationships with the content partner, but the relationship with the individual user. We will also be able to authenticate and identify each end user to understand what they watch and have access to. Mobile will play a big role in that process.

Jeremy Reed, SVP Content and Editorial, Demand Media

Summary: The next big thing is “little” — short video that people are interested in that have a none ROI. We’ve been profitable since day one. We have a network of media sites, and we have Demand Studios, which is a content creation freelance community. When we built the company we wanted to create high-quality content, but do it at scale, and with voice that serves our community. Brands want useful, actionable content, but there’s a major disconnect between advertisers’ needs and costs to serve that. We’re all struggling with video monetization, and we look at it with a cost we can afford. Marketing today is stuff like search and YouTube — what are those people looking for and how to we create what they want. We’re dealing with very diverse spaces like humor, health and DIY space. We focused our attention on the headline, design and title. We built an algorithm that determines audience and ability to place high on search. After we developed this tool we created this freelance community. What we found is that we attracted filmmakers, which had associated with big brands, had won awards, and had spread out across the U.S.

The Next Big Thing: Next big thing is trying to understand there is an imbalance between supply, need and cost. You need to understand the ROI before you greenlight content. Is it quality and relevant to a community? And increasing the competitiveness — in a search world is a social world.

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John Ziegler: “AP Blows it in Palin Book Analysis”

ziegler_palinI have signed a nondisclosure agreement with Harper Collins regarding Sarah Palin’s new book so until it comes out I am limited to discussing only what is currently in the public domain. However, I simply must respond to the Associated Press “report” on “Going Rouge.”

Even grading on the “Palin Scale” of media bias, the AP’s synopsis is a joke.

Based on how the AP sees the book, you would think that the most significant disclosure is that Palin had to pay back the McCain campaign for part of her vetting because they lost, followed closely by the fact that she felt “badgered” by Katie Couric and didn’t get her way on election night.

In short, the book that the AP supposedly read sounds like it is full of self-serving whining and almost totally lacking in substance. That is not a remotely accurate evaluation of “Going Rouge.”

First of all, there are far more interesting and important revelations in the book (I have noticed in my own experience with my film “Media Malpractice” that one of the most insidious forms of media bias against conservative projects is to paint them as boring) that the AP has for some reason chosen to totally ignore.

Second of all, Palin’s analysis of what really happened with the now infamous (and totally misunderstood) Couric and Gibson interviews could not be LESS whiny — it is instead full of fact-filled writing that finally provides the full story of what really happened in the way that only a book can do (my documentary, which I am told Palin handed to her collaborator and said “here, this is what happened” could only provide a foundation of understanding that is magnified in much greater detail in “Going Rouge”).

My greatest regret (and I have many) in the course of making and promoting my documentary of the news coverage of the 2008 election is that I completely underestimated how impossible it is for a conservative (especially one as hated by the news media as Sarah Palin) to correct the historical record about media coverage because it is so easy for the very same media to portray you as whining.

I was naïve. I thought that telling the real truth of what actually happened would be seen as intrinsically valuable and eminently appropriate. Governor Palin instinctively knew different, telling me several times before during and after my interview with her that she was wary of being wrongly perceived in that way, and knew that she would have to thread a very small needle. I wish I had done a better job of combating that totally incorrect perception and perhaps that is why I am so sensitive to the subject when it appears the AP is not so subtly laying the groundwork for a resurrection of that bogus charge.

The bottom line is that the AP is either purposefully or out of their own profound unconscious bias, badly missing the most important points of Sarah Palin’s book. Considering the role the mainstream media played in creating the need for her to write this book in the first place, that should not be a big surprise.

If you are interested in this most amazing of all modern political stories, I urge you to read the book for yourself and not let those who want Palin destroyed to continue to dictate your perceptions of her. Her book may be the only way for you to know the real Sarah Palin. Don’t let the AP read it for you.

In 2008, John Ziegler wrote, directed and produced the documentary “Blocking the Path to 9/11″ and created as a precursor to his next film, “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected,” which came out in early 2009 and screened in over 20 theaters. A trailer video for that documentary has been viewed by at least 2.3 million people on You Tube. Lays Off Web Newscast Staff

Just as I got off the stage at NewTeeVee Live with CNN Worldwide VP of Digital Marketing and Development Andy Mitchell, I saw a report that CNN is cutting back on its web video newscasts. The company laid off its four Live anchors as well as “several production staffers,” according WebNewser. Live launched as a free service in 2007 to replace the paid web service CNN Pipeline, which failed to gather many subscribers. Up till today, it had its own staff of anchors completely separate from the cable TV channel.

I followed up with Mitchell in the green room to ask about the layoffs, and he said that CNN is in no way pulling away from online video. However, linear, anchor-led broadcasts are more appropriate for television than for the web. He emphasized that is all about web video, citing its recent redesign.

Mitchell said CNN expects to expand its coverage of major live events, which is exactly what we’d just been talking about onstage. A memo obtained by WebNewser said CNN expects to hire seven original video production staff by the end of the year.

When I interviewed him along with Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg this afternoon, Mitchell said to expect a major collaboration between the two companies next year around an event they hope will rival the success of the Obama inauguration, which had 1.3 million simultaneous viewers at peak and 25 million total streams on’s live feed accompanied by Facebook status messages. He and Zuckerberg declined to provide further details about the project.

NewTeeVee Live: How Obama, CNN and Facebook Brought Change to Social TV

CNN and Facebook’s live coverage of the Obama inauguration was hailed by many, including our own Liz Gannes, as the future of social TV. CNN Worldwide VP of Digital Marketing and Development Andy Mitchell joined Randi Zuckerberg from Facebook’s marketing arm onstage at NewTeeVee Live in San Francisco today to share a little bit of the backstory of this cooperation.

The two tried to add social context to live news events during the months leading up to the election with an idea called “debating the debates.” Facebook had just launched its Facebook Connect platform, and both companies tried to have users watch the debates and exchange arguments online, signaling their allegiance for either candidate with a badge on their Facebook profile. Except that it didn’t work. Facebook Connect wasn’t ready to scale.

Then, the day after the election, Zuckerberg was approached by two engineers who told her about their election night experience. They had watched Obama win state after state via a live-stream in one window on their computer screens, and monitored their Facebook status updates in another window right next to it. The folks at Facebook immediately fell in love with the idea and sent a screenshot over to CNN. “We thought: Why isn’t everybody doing is? Let’s make it happen,” recalled Mitchell.

And make it happen they did. CNN clocked some 1.3 million live-streams and 20 million Facebook status updates during their inauguration coverage. These numbers were even more impressive because every TV network basically broadcasted the very same feed that day, as Zuckerberg reminded the audience. Behind the curtain, two war rooms at both companies continuously monitored the experience, connected via conference link. Mitchell didn’t share any details about the infrastructure used to serve all those streams, but he admitted that the challenges were scary. “We bought up all the bandwidth that was available,” he said.

So why doesn’t CNN complement all of its live coverage with Facebook Connect streams? Mitchell said that the network was still trying to figure out how to utilize this type of interaction for events that have smaller audiences, and he hinted at further integration in the future, albeit without providing any details. Zuckerberg added that the most impressive part of the cooperation has been how it immediately changed the expectation of what social TV has to look like. Before the inauguration, social meant sharing links or babbling in live chat rooms. Now, everyone from to the NBA integrates a Facebook Connect Live Stream.

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Catie Lazarus: Top 10 Reasons This Woman Can’t Write for Late Night Comedy Shows

In the New York Times, Bill Carter writes ,"very few women make it inside the writing rooms for late-night television hosts, despite that women make up a larger proportion of their audience than men. There are no female writers on the new “The Jay Leno Show,” none on “Late Show with David Letterman,” none on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”"

Based on his article and Nell Scovell's personal account in Vanity Fair, I have come to understand why the odds are stacked against my wedging my paw in the door. I still have hope (also known as a delusions).



The Top 10 Reasons This Woman Can't Write for Late Night Comedy Variety Shows

10) I will be overcome by desire for my male comedy writing peers and superiors, who are known for their off-white, pasty skin and muscle tonus minimus, akin to albino, soft shell turtles.

9) My lady sensibility is limited to menstruation (hilarious), babies (adorable), and unicorns mating (adorably hilarious).

8) Due to my genetic make-up, I am physically incapable to handle the job, considering the heavy manual labor required in touch typing.

7)  The number one rule of comedy is fitting in and I sometimes buck the uniform of orthopedic New Balance sneakers, hoodies, jeans, and t-shirts, with ironic catchphrases like, "Pro-Cashmere. Pro-Cotton. Pro-Choice."

6) The only requests I get as a female comedy writer are to discuss sexism in comedy, instead of political satire about how Sarah Palin is so sick she gives swine flu or scripts like Crones: The Musical! or commercials, maybe, Femedy: A bubble gum birth control for tweens who don't want to ovulate. Period.

5) Late-night comedy requires a male point-of-view, and girls, even ones closer to menopause than teething, can only express themselves in glittery pink (which, fyi, typing in does not fund cancer research).

4) As a lady, I automatically cost less, and in a business where money talks, how will I be taken seriously? I mean funnily.

3) I didn't graduate from Harvard so I lack the cultural capital to craft the erudite, intellectual fodder typical of late-night comedies, like the masturbating bear or gift wrapped genitalia.

2) Hollywood would have to make major changes to catch up with medicine, law, even engineering, in its hiring practices, and we all know how open television is to change. It only took 30 years (and millions of dollars)  before CNN let Native American Lou Dobbs quit. (I mean leave to spend time with his family.)

1) I'd have to be funny and learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Thursday Links: 10,000 Applications, Glass Steagall Day, TARP

The Washington Post reports on the jobless "recovery," a term it's still too early to use for the economy given that we've had one quarter of positive GDP growth and that was entirely due to increased government spending. But it's a nice look at how this plays out. Imagine where the job market would be without that government spending....