Analysis of Top Themes at PDF 2009

PdF09 Twitters From the White House to White Flight: Whatever

A great analysis of the trends and topics that got the most buzz at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum.  The data behind the analysis was pulled from our tool, Twitterslurp.

Glenn Beck Slams Softball Questioning Of Sotomayor… But There Were No Questions Today (VIDEO)

Glenn Beck is very upset with the softball questions that the Senators offered up to Judge Sonia Sotomayor during her first day of confirmation hearings. To prove his point, Beck played a video montage of Democratic senators praising Sotomayor, notably in statements and not questions.

Unfortunately for Beck, there were no questions today. The first day of the hearings is when Senators and the nominee make opening statements.

Beck did include one clip of a GOP senator, Lindsey Graham, telling Sotomayor “unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re gonna get confirmed. And I don’t think you will.” Beck ridiculed Graham for this: “Does anybody remember when Lindsey Graham wasn’t a worm?”

WATCH:

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Take-Two Cuts FY’09 Guidance On BioShock 2 Delay

Take-Two Interactive is pushing back the release of its hotly-anticipated BioShock 2—and has been forced to lower guidance for its fiscal year 2009 by as much as $190 million as a result. (Not good for a company trying to come back from sequential quarterly losses).

The game, a sequel to the 2007 best-seller BioShock, was slated for release later this year; CEO Ben Feder said the publisher wanted to spend more time on development. The new release date will be in the first half of calendar 2010—meaning it will miss the holiday game sales rush. The news sent Take-Two’s shares down by as much as 13 percent ($7.76) in after-hours trading, though some analysts, like EEDAR’s Jesse Divinich, are viewing it as a positive move in the long run:

“Take-Two (NSDQ: TTWO) has made a very intrepid move by putting gamers before investors, an act most publishers wouldn’t usually consider … Now, I expect them to dominate fiscal 2010,” Divinch said, rattling off a list of titles, including BioShock 2, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption, that the publisher would be releasing next year. “As far as I am concerned, Take-Two is just moving numbers from one financial year to another.”

The decision to push back for the sake of game quality does make sense—particularly if Take-Two wants to get out from under the bias that its a “one-trick pony” beholden to strong GTA sales if it wants to survive. A critically-acclaimed, well-received BioShock 2 could drive record-breaking sales next year; a game released this year full of bugs or otherwise subpar gameplay could have ended up tarnishing Take-Two’s brand equity—and stunting sales of its future titles. Release.


TMZ Brings Ad Sales In-House With Telepictures; Future After AOL Spinoff Under Spotlight

TMZ, the in-news online celeb site that is part owned by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) siblings AOL and Telepictures, brought its ad sales in house this month, paidContent has learned and confirmed from the companies. Till now, the online ad sales of the JV site was done by AOL, but now the company has hired in-house sales execs to do the job—and is still hiring, while working closely with Warner-owned Telepictures on the TV ad sales. Pam Russo, the GM of TMZ.com, told me the company and site have evolved into a big entity in itself, outgrowing the Platform-A infrastructure and how AOL sells the ads. This would help in the 360-degree multiplatform ad campaigns that agencies like a lot these days. What she left unsaid: the Platform-A platform doesn’t fit well with custom ad units and site takeovers, something that has been the stable of other celeb sites (and a favorite of new TV show launches on sites such as Gawker and PerezHilton.com).

This comes as some questions about the future of the site lurk, as AOL prepares its spinoff from Time Warner.

TMZ founder Harvey Levin doesn’t own a piece of the website, but is a partner in the namesake syndicated TV show, and the newly launched TV spinoff Beyond Twisted (the company would not confirm this). It is likely nothing has been decided yet. The ties with AOL still run deep: AOL still hosts the site, and TMZ uses Blogsmith, the blog CMS system that AOL uses for its own blog sites (it acquired it when it bought Weblogs Inc in 2005). AOL’s Advertising.com also serves the ads on TMZ.com.

TMZ.com has been profitable since it launched, but remains to be seen how it looks this year and next, especially if it goes completely independent of AOL. No one would confirm the revenues, but they are likely in the $15 million range. AOL still drives a lot of traffic to it, but TMZ now has to compete with AOL’s own celeb portal Popeater, among others, and one source says the contracted number of AOL homepage placements have gone down, though TMZ says it got a lot of promotion during the Michael Jackson story. The two sites differ in tone: TMZ is focused on hard-hitting breaking news, while Popeater is a more advertiser-friendly venue focused on soft-focus stories and celeb interviews. AOL still has a prominent link to TMZ in its main navigation—and other places—which it is contractually obligated to, so that will continue.

TMZ gets about 30 percent of traffic from organic search, the company says, from a total of 10 million uniques last month (according to Comscore’s data for May 2009). The syndicated TV show, which runs on Fox affiliates around the country, was successful enough that Warner Bros. has launched a new show Beyond Twisted, which just started on a test run across some Fox affiliates.


Time Warner’s HBO, Cinemax Joins Comcast Broadband Trial; Showtime May Take Part

Add HBO and Cinemax to the list of networks taking part in the Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) Online On Demand national trial slated to start later this month. The Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) premium networks will start by providing up to 750 hours of programming a month to trial participants who are customers already; they join TW’s Turner Broadcasting as launch participants.

HBO already has been part of a similar multi-platform experiment with former sibling Time Warner Cable; this will be its first national trial. The most surprising aspect is that its involvement wasn’t announced last month when TW CEO Jeff Bewkes and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts teamed up to talk up TV Everywhere and Comcast’s trial. Bewkes, the TV Everywhere cheerleader in chief, comes from HBO and uses the premium network as an example of the value of offering the same programming across different platforms without charging more. 

Starz Entertainment was the first premium net to join the trial, bring 300 movies and some original programming. So far, Showtime is the odd man out when it comes to premium networks. A spokesman says the CBS (NYSE: CBS) network is looking at taking part but my understanding is that discussions aren’t close to done.

Keep in mind, all of this fuss is over a very small trial in the scheme of things—roughly 5,000 Comcast subscribers across the country—and that these deals are not long-term agreements that would cover a full roll out. The trial, which will make programming available through Comcast.net and the company’s video portal Fancast.com, is primarily a way to test the technology while providing a sampling of info for advertisers and programmers. Expect a flurry of announcements as other networks formalize their involvement or agree to take part. In addition to Turner’s TNT and TBS, Starz, HBO and Cinemax, known participants include AETN, Scripps Networks (NYSE: SNI) and Rainbow Networks.


Bush Sent Gonzales To The Hospital (And The Rest Of Your Scritti Politti)

Man, you turn Marcy Wheeler loose on an IG report, and her eye just seeks heat. Today, Wheeler's getting praise for catching this detail in the unclassified IG report on the Bush-era wiretapping program:

Today's IG Report on illegal wiretapping adresses another previously unanswered question: Who called Mrs. Ashcroft to tell her Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales were coming to the ICU ward to rough of John Ashcroft.


George Bush did so himself.

Here's the salient portion of the report:

According to notes from Ashcroft's FBI security detail, at 6:20 PM that evening Card called the hospital and spoke with an agent in Ashcroft's security detail, advising him that President Bush would be calling shortly to speak with Ashcroft. Ashcroft's wife told the agent that Ashcroft would not accept the call. Ten minutes later, the agent called Ashcroft's Chief of Staff David Ayres at DOJ to request that Ayres speak with Card about the President's intention to call Ashcroft. The agent conveyed to Ayres Mrs. Ashcroft's desire that no calls be made to Ashcroft for another day or two. However, at 6:5 PM, Card and the President called the hospital and, according to the agent's notes, "insisted on speaking [with Attorney General Ashcroft]." According to the agent's notes, Mrs. Ashcroft took the call from Card and the President and was informed that Gonzales and Card were coming to the hospital to see Ashcroft regarding a matter involving national security.

Wheeler's been having a hell of a good year, so go bookmark her, why not?

MORE:
George Bush PERSONALLY Sent Card and Gonzalez to Thug Up Ashcroft [Empty Wheel]

Strangelove: Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin are engaged to be wed! Congratulations! But some worry about what will happen to our nation's PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS!!

The Secret Lives Of Frogs In Boiling Water: Via Yglesias comes the news that a great peace accord has been reached on the frog metaphor front.

Surely You Jest!: Shockingly, it appears that former Clinton flack Howard Wolfson might not be some sort of monument to consistency!

Welcome Our Rock Overlords: Since China holds so much U.S. debt, many people worry that they might obtain the upper hand geopolitically. In related news, I saw the band Imperial China play Fort Reno last week, and would definitely like to see them obtain the upper hand, where sculpted, danceable math rock is concerned. Here's a video of Imperial China playing "There is no Translation" live in the studio of the University of Maryland's WMUC.

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