Yahoo’s Winning The World Cup Contest In U.S.

Yahoo Sports World Cup

Over a third of visitors to the leading World Cup-related sites in the U.S. are going to Yahoo’s site, according to Hitwise, which monitors 10 million U.S. web users.

Here are its numbers on a self-selected list of 15 such sites…

Two interesting observations…
1) The second most popular site is one of the few that stream live matches for free.
2) The official tournament site is besting media operators like ESPN (NYSE: DIS), Foxsports and (and users are spending more time on than anywhere else).

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) piled on 69 percent more visits in the tournament’s opening week, but ESPN3 and Foxsports increased their share more than others, writes Hitwise analyst Heather Dougherty.

Yahoo signed David Beckham for a marketing campaign in which he was to provide content for the site, but nothing discernible has yet happened and the deal, which sees Beckham’s image used in a high-profile Yahoo Sports ad campaign, looks more like a marketing exercise.

In the UK, leading commercial broadcaster ITV said it clocked an average 130,000 viewers for each of the World Cup games it streamed on last week.

London 2012 Olympics Plans To Profit Online

London 2012 Olympics

London 2012 Olympics organisers aim to make money from their online operations, including capitalising on a domestic commercial straitjacket around the host broadcaster.

“It’s part of my department’s mission to be revenue-generating and deliver positive cashflow,” new media head Alex Balfour told the Social Media Influence conference in London on Tuesday. “There’s a huge, huge sponsorship opportunity.

At previous Olympics, broadcasters have keenly sought to profit from their rightsholder status by running premium advertising at home, Balfour said. “But the BBC doesn’t and that’s pretty much unique. For us, it’s an exceptional opportunity. We have 35-plus sponsors at the moment and there’s no way for them to activate (on UK TV) at all. That’s an opportunity for us to drive revenue.

“We’ll do it through straightforward sales but bring social media in as well.” Sponsorship opportunities could include around a results service on the games’ official website.

Although the BBC will be carrying the Olympics in the UK, Channel 4’s carriage of the Paralympics will afford commercial opportunities, Balfour said.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has targeted having a £2 billion budget from private sources, on top of its £9 billion in public funds, though Balfour wouldn’t disclose his budget for his digital department, which numbers a team of six, supported by a technical team.

Google Needs To Decide Which Side Of The Music Industry Fence It Is On

Woman listening to music

Yesterday saw an interesting coincidence of stories hit the wires: on the European side of the Atlantic, the BPI, Britain’s biggest recording-industry association, announced it had sent a cease-and-desist notice to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) with regard to links to copyright-infringed music files. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported on (further) rumours that Google was planning on launching a music download store and subscription service to initially run on Android handsets.

A cynic might argue that the music service ‘leak’ was bad-news management from Google, aiming to portray itself as a doer of music industry good, not bad. Whether that was intended or not, it raises an important point. Some time or another (and it looks like it’s going to have to be sooner rather than later) Google is going to need to decide whose side it is on. If it is serious about throwing its weight behind becoming a major digital music player it is going to need to start making concessions to its label partners. And, of course, it will start seeing more of a business rationale for doing so: how long will it be before ad revenues from keywords alongside P2P links start to look smaller than potential lost Google music revenue? (Remember we’re not talking about cutting the keyword inventory, just ensuring legitimate links appear in searches for keywords to appear against.)

Although the argument for Google’s responsibility for links was always likely to be challenged following the successful prosecution of the Pirate Bay, the music labels will also need to put meat in the game for Google if they want Google as a serious digital music partner. And make no mistake, get it right and they can be a huge force. The labels and Google need their relationships to be as amicable and as fruitful as they can be. The experience of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) shows that antagonizing a key channel partner just wastes energies for both parties and does little or nothing to help the competition and does nothing to help the fight against free.

Mark Mulligan is an analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves, and contributes to the Forrester blog for Consumer Product Strategy professionals.

Power Outage + MacBook = Last Night’s Jimmy Kimmel Show

So maybe this is what convergence looks like: An entire episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show filmed entirely with an Apple (AAPL) laptop’s Webcam.

The conceit: Kimmel’s ABC show lost power on Monday, so he used a MacBook to shoot the show, which aired last night.

Put-on/gimmick? Assume so (What powered the MacBook? And the lights? Etc). But the press, including the New York Times, is reporting it as fact, so judge for yourself. And either way, it’s fairly entertaining. Some samples:

World Cup vs Olympics: How The Next Big Tournament’s Shaping Up Online

Athletes running up hill

“It’s an appropriate time to compare what we’re doing against the World Cup,”  Alex Balfour, the new media head of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games said, presenting these stats to the Social Media Influence conference in London on Tuesday…

—Competing nations: World Cup: 32 | Olympics: 205
—Athletes: World Cup: 736 | Olympics: 15,000
—Media: 20,000
—Tickets: 9 million
—Venues: World Cup: 12 | Olympics: 170+ venues

“The size of what we’re doing is absolutely enormous,” Balfour said. “Day by day, I get terrified by numbers about the range of things we’re doing. The scale is just absolutely huge.” The last, winter Olympics give an indication… stats from Balfour…
—291 million visits (Beijing 2008: 105 million)
—83 million uniques (Beijing 2008: 70 million - compared with Yahoo’s 32 million,’s 20 million)
—Over 50 percent of all Canadians visited the site
—8.7 million visits to mobile site, 1.25 app downloads
—1.2 million Facebook fans (Beijing 2008: 320,000)
—“Every post they put on Facebook attracted about 100,000 comments.”

But it looks like Vancouver and Beijing’s online audience will pale against “London is already tracking x2 Vancouver traffic at same stage and planning for 10 billion visits,” Balfour’s slides said. “We’re aiming to sign up 5m+ to our databases.”

LOCOG is charged with delivering the games themselves for the International Olympics Committee. Online, it has a varied, and changing, remit - including a pre-event site, building audience engagement and UK sports participation ahead of the games and, during the games, publishing results on its own site and out on to third parties including social networks.

At the moment, it’s using Twitter to encourage deep-link click-throughs to pages, Facebook for more static, “call-and-response” excitement building and to collect user-generated messages that could be re-published during the games - some, perhaps, beamed on to athletic venues.

Blutooth enabled display boards at London venues will also be receive and re-publish attendees’ messages. “People can share that with us and then we can re-share it in physical envionrments,” Balfour said. “There’s exciting potential to bring that in to the ceremonies as well.”

“Our major learning from the Vancouver games is that social media has to be FUN. People use it in their procrastination time, downtime, fun time. We produce endless photos of construction progress ... some of them quite inspirational and exciting ... however, when we put updates on our Facebook page, we get complaints. ‘show us something cool’.”

Asked whether third-party services - including mobile location sharers, which could overlay their own messages on to venues in cyberspace - pose a threat to LOCOG’s necessity to protect the investment of official sponsors, Balfour said: “It’s perfectly possible, should we wish to do so, around infrastructure we control, that we can restrict sites from appearing within our territories.”

But he later clarified to me that this possibility would apply in the event of bandwidth problems rather than as a kind of commercial censorship: “There is the potential to, if we are operating a WiFi infratructure, to decrease bottlenecks to priortise traffic to our sites - but it wouldn’t be for any other reason other than to make it more efficient. Many people’s expectation right now is that they can’t (even) make a phone call at a sports event.”

LOCOG is undertaking a big exercise with BT (NYSE: BT) and others to secure comms infrastructure for the games.

Playdom Raises $33 Million From Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, Others


Social gaming startup Playdom, which has been on an acquisition spree ever since it raised $43 million in a first round of funding nine months ago, has raised $33 million more in an add-on to that funding round. The new cash comes from Bessemer Venture Partners, New World Ventures, and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Co.‘s Steamboat Ventures.

In a very short statement, Playdom doesn’t say what it will use the cash for, but the company has been buying social gaming startups at a very fast pace; it has made seven investments over the last eight months.

It also comes as money keeps on piling in to the social gaming category. Last week, Zynga raised a huge $147 million round and Japanese social gaming firm DeNa followed up that news by saying it would launch a $27.5 million fund to invest in social gaming startups.

Playdom’s funding news was first reported by TechCrunch.


Condé Nast Brings Gourmet–But Not Its Staff–Back From the Dead

Last fall, Condé Nast shuttered Gourmet, its beloved but unprofitable food title. Now the publisher is bringing Gourmet back, with a new plan to turn it into a moneymaker: Keep the brand, lose the staff.

Condé will revive Gourmet as Gourmet Live, an app/magazine designed to be consumed on devices like Apple’s (AAPL) iPad. In a presentation at the publisher’s headquarters this morning (promotional clip below), Condé executives and consultants talked up the app’s digital selling points, such as social gameplay, e-commerce opportunities, etc.

But they didn’t spend much time talking about the people who were going to fill the app with content. That’s because Condé Nast will be relying primarily on the magazine’s 70 years of archives for that–the demo makes frequent reference to David Foster Wallace’s great “Consider the Lobster” essay–plus whatever a small staff of “producers” rounds up from outside.

Gourmet used to employ dozens of people, many of whom made a lot of money (for editorial types). How many people will be working on Gourmet Live? The number “won’t be significant,” says Condé Nast distribution executive Bob Sauerberg. “You can’t compare the two things because they’re completely different.”

He’s right in at least one way: Condé and Activate, the boutique consulting firm Michael Wolf and Anil Dash launched this year, don’t expect many of Gourmet’s print subscribers to spend time on the app this year–they’re courting tech-savvy users who probably didn’t read the magazine but who may spend a lot of time on Foursquare, etc.

Leveraging brand equity–and decades of content–with a new property may turn out to be a great idea. It’s certainly better than letting all that stuff lie fallow. But it won’t appease people who loved the old magazine. Then again, people who love old print brands are learning to live with disappointment these days.