Studios, Operators Spending $30 Million To Promote Movies On Demand


Several cable operators and movie studios are teaming together to launch a $30 million marketing and promotion campaign touting the virtues of movies on demand.

The three month, multi-media campaign titled “The Video Store Just Moved In” will shine a spotlight on the burgeoning movie on demand category, according to operator and studio executives. The campaign, which began last night (Tuesday) with a spot on Fox’s American Idol, will focus on the fun and ease of ordering and watching top theatrical movies at home as compared to trudging out to rent movies from the local home video store, according to campaign officials.

The campaign launches as more studios are debuting top box office titles via on demand at the same time they hit video store shelves. Over the last two years there has been more than a seven-fold increase in the number of day-and-date titles offered to digital cable customers nationally, according to VOD content aggregator In Demand. More on Multichannel.

Evidence That Apple Is Onto Something: There Are 38 App Stores, And More On The Way

GetJar's Mobile App Economy Projections

Here’s another chart with hockey stick-like projections for the global mobile applications space: The market is set to grow to $17.5 billion by 2012, which will be greater than the value of all CDs estimated to be sold that year. The report was commissioned by GetJar, which distributes free applications on the behalf of developers worldwide, and was conducted by Consultant Chetan Sharma.

—Mobile app downloads across all types of handsets are expected to increase from more than 7 billion downloads in 2009 to almost 50 billion in 2010 – an annual growth rate of 92 percent.
—The sale of apps will shift from carriers to off-deck sources over the next two years. In 2009, mobile operators accounted for more than 60 percent of all apps revenue, but in 2010, this will fall to under 23 percent.
—In 2009, the number of app stores grew from eight to 38 – an increase of 375 percent.

GetJar only distributes free applications today, and makes money through an auction-like process in which developers bid to have higher placement in the app store. GetJar also provides its library of applications on a white label basis to handset makers and carriers, including Sprint (NYSE: S), Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) and even Carphone Warehouse in the UK. GetJar VP Patrick Mork said they conducted the survey to get a bigger picture of what was going on in the market today: “With regards to downloads and where it’s going, there’s no earth-shattering surprises,” he said. “The global market will be worth $17.5 billion by 2012, which effectively means that it will outsell more established mediums.”

The big question is whether apps will continue to largely be free and subsidized with advertising, or whether consumers will buy them. The overall revenue from both paid and ad-supported downloads and virtual goods is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012. But the mix will change over the next two years: The report found that advertising-based revenue accounted for about 12 percent in 2009, but by 2012, advertising is expected to generate 28 percent of revenues.

Because advertising will be relatively slow to take off, Mork said GetJar has decided to start offering paid apps, and has been trialing a number of payment solutions over the past year. Paid apps will be rolled out on a limited basis by the end of the year. The revenue split is expected to be as favorable as Apple’s, which shares 70 percent of revenues with developers, but it could be even greater, Mork added. “We’ve never made money off the sale of content. Developers bid for visibility, so in theory we could give 90 percent or even more back to developers. If it works for them, then why would they not invest more money in bidding for more downloads?

Still, Mork believes a majority of apps should be free. “Some consumers will never pay for content, but the business models haven’t matured yet, so the paid model is the only thing they know and works to a certain extent. But selling content in emerging markets will never be a big market. Somehow we’ll have to monetize off the back-end. I think it will happen, but it will take a few years.”

Are You Watching TV While You Read This?

More fuel for the “everybody’s watching TV and the Web at the same time” meme: Data from Nielsen showing that lots of people are watching TV and the Web at the same time, at least during big live events.

Nielsen says 13.3 percent of Americans who watched the Oscars also used the Web during this month’s telecast and that 14.5 percent of those watching last month’s Super Bowl did the same thing (see table below; click to enlarge).

These numbers are both up from last year, and the only surprise here is that they’re so low. But remember: Not everyone spends as much time on the Web as you do–a third of the country still doesn’t have broadband.

Nielsen says that online/offline viewers spent the majority of their Web time at Facebook, Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), which isn’t surprising. It’s a little bit interesting that doesn’t crack Nielsen’s list of Top 10 domains for simultaneous viewing. But perhaps most people who Twitter during TV time are doing so from their phones.

Speaking of which, many thanks to all of you who have refrained from Twittering during and immediately after “Lost” this season–my stream has been nice and quiet so far. Or perhaps no one’s watching “Lost” anymore. I wouldn’t blame them; this season has been frustrating even by the show’s frustrating standards.

Video @ SXSWi: Sean Lennon And Making Sure The World Doesn’t Suck

Sean Lennon @ SXSWi

I gave serendipity a chance today at SXSWi, opting to attend a session solely because the title caught my eye—Making Sure The World Doesn’t Suck: How Independent Content Can Save The Media. The payoff: a lively session, although the topic often felt like an umbrella that anything could fit under, and the brief video chat with Sean Lennon embedded below.

Lennon was the outlier on the panel moderated by IFC’s Evan Shapiro, rankling some of the others when he said “you don’t have to be dedicated to be a blogger.” He quickly added that he wasn’t trying to impugn the character of bloggers, just to highlight the low barriers of entry for blogging and many other areas. Yes, agreed game designer Harvey Smith, but “a low barrier to entry doesn’t mean a low barrier to making great content.”

When an audience member shouted out OK Go as an example of viral video, Lennon quickly pointed out that when he was at Capitol EMI, “They had this incredibly viewed video (the treadmill) but the proportion of sales to video was incredibly small. It was shocking.” Not something this audience really wanted to hear.

Lennon now is part of Chimera Music, a music collaborative, and produced his mother Yoko Ono’s last album. For her current tour, they use a video done from 1950s Japanese animation for a budget of close to zero. The video got a great reception from the SXSW crowd, with instant requests for the link. One problem: it’s not online. Lennon explains why in our conversation—and how much he still has to learn from his mom about using social media.

@ SxSWi: Spotify CEO Ek Says Spotify Passes 320,000 Paid Subs But Mum On U.S. Date

Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify

If you were hoping that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek would use his South by Southwest Interactive keynote to announce a launch date for the U.S., no such luck (although Rafat has a source who says possibly end of May). Ek’s biggest bit of news: Spotify now has more than 320,000 paid subscribers, up from the 250,000 number the company last acknowledged earlier this year. Nothing specific on the pace.

What’s holding Spotify back in the U.S.? “We are seeing a lot of support. We want to get all of our ducks in a row to make maximum impact” when we do launch.” The number of parties involved makes it more complicated for Spotify to negotiate rights in the U.S. than in Europe. More from Ek:

Not a social net: Spotify’s communal playlists may seem like a precursor to a social network but Ek was quite clear: “We don’t believe in being our own social network; we believe in working with social networks.” For instance, Ek has experienced first hand how frustrating it can be when someone messes with a playlist you’ve spent time and energy developing. One way to solve some of that would be to add permission levels for different groups of users so people have varying rights. If social nets add that feature, Spotify can incorporate it.

P2P: I’m sure it was just a coincidence that I lost my wireless connection just as Ek was explaining how using Spotify’s p2p can reduce demands on bandwidth. “We’re consuming more internet capacity than Sweden has as a country ... p2p solves the problem in an elegant way.”

Apple: Ek doesn’t have any inside knowledge but expects Apple to launch a cloud-based music model. “People want to share, to access independently. I think it makes a lot of sense for them to do something in that area.” But, he added, “I don’t have any magical insight into Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). If I did wouldn’t be sitting here.”


Universal Music Releases An iPhone Game To Promote Artists, Sell Tracks

Universal Music's Six String iPhone App

Universal Music Group was early to tap into the whole music gaming phenomenon by partnering with Tapulous to make iPhone apps for artists such as Lady Gaga and Souja Boy Tell ‘Em.

Now it’s branching off and working with others to create even more gaming applications. The record label’s latest app is called Six-String and is now available for $4.99 from the App Store for the iPhone or iPod touch. The game was developed by Frontier, which makes popular guitar simulators for the iPhone. The app will be used to highlight new releases, such as The Scorpions’ “Raised on Rock,” which can already be played on the phone, even though the album isn’t due out until March 23. A spokesman said the game is totally separate from the apps it is making from Tapulous: “This about us leveraging our core assets further to expand the musical experience for consumers.”

The app comes with five other songs, including: Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name;” Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream;” Fall Out Boy’s “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs;” Peter Frampton’s “Show Me The Way;” and Orianthi’s “According To You.” Players can also buy additional songs from within the app from a list of 20 other titles, and they can also purchase the corresponding song, video and ringtone from iTunes.

The game sounds a lot like others sold by Tapulous Glu Mobile (NSDQ: GLUU), or EA Mobile etc., except for that it’s not about the beat—players actually pretend to play a guitar by plucking, strumming and changing chords on the device’s screen. The game has two play modes: Practice or Studio. In Practice Mode, a player gets familiar with a song before going into studio mode and competing to earn points and try to work their way up in the rankings. A contest will award the highest scorer as of 6 p.m. on April 6 a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster.

Playdom Provides Fellow Social Gamer MetroGames With $5 Million Funding


Social gaming startup Playdom is putting this past fall’s $43 million funding round to quick work lately. The San Francisco company is investing $5 million in Argentina-based social gamer MetroGames as part of the South American company’s first round. The investment comes a barely two weeks after Playdom acquired Offbeat Creations, the developer of several Facebook-based titles, including dice game Super Farkle.

When it got its $43 million first round in November, Playdom said it intended to use the proceeds for acquisitions and to expand its own gaming platform. For its part, MetroGames will use the new money to build up its own pipeline of games—it currently has 30 games available on Facebook—and ramp up development of its social gaming platform. The Buenos Aires company didn’t say whether it was seeking additional investors as part of this first round.

Playdom and MetroGames also expect to work together on various projects, but neither one offered details on what areas. The deal not only increases Playdom’s own reach across Facebook, but the geographical expansion into Latin America is designed to help it keep up with rivals like Playfish, which was acquired by Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) last fall. Release