Rupert Murdoch Gives Guests a Sneak Peek of Tomorrow’s "Daily" Tonight. Here’s What They’ll See.

The Daily makes its official debut tomorrow morning, at a press event at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

But a select crowd will get to see the iPad newspaper tonight, at an equally notable Manhattan location: Rupert Murdoch’s apartment, where the News Corp. CEO is hosting a “low key” cocktail party.

Although News Corp. owns this Web site, my email invite to tonight’s pre-launch launch event hasn’t arrived, and I’m told it never will. The company hasn’t offered me a peek at the Daily, either.

But at this point I’ve still got a pretty decent sense of what Murdoch’s guests will see this evening, and the rest of us will see tomorrow: A newspaper that’s both old-fashioned and cutting-edge.

People who have gotten up  close to the the Daily describe a digital paper where many of the news stories look just like news stories you’d see anywhere else.

Others will look more like iPhone apps, featuring interactive graphics or videos, or photos you can swipe, pinch and zoom–with perhaps almost no text at all.

And there’s more! There’s no 3-D video yet, though it’s on the agenda. But there will be an audio feature so you can have stories read aloud to you. And there’s a crossword puzzle! And Sudoku!

A Daily-watcher who thinks the thing is amazing compares it to the Daily Prophet, the magical newspaper read by Harry Potter and his wizard pals.

More jaded observers tell me it’s more or less what they’ve seen in existing iPad magazine apps, particularly Hearst’s Popular Mechanics and Condé Nast’s Wired. The big difference is that those magazines come out monthly, and the Daily will get beamed to your iPad… daily.

Still, the most striking thing about the Daily has nothing to do with any technical bells and whistles. It’s Murdoch’s insistence that he can sell a digital newspaper app to consumers trained to expect that digital news is what you get on the Web, for free.

The Daily is almost defiantly anti-Web: It will have a free site, with a grudging sample of perhaps 10 percent of the newspaper’s stories, but that’s it. While Web news sites increasingly focus on aggregation and filtering of other people’s content, the Daily will focus on making its own stuff, even though plenty of other people are already doing it.

And while News Corp. officials have tried to argue that the Daily isn’t a newspaper but something else, it is most definitely produced using a newspaper model: Six sections, written once a day–the Daily team is particularly excited about its sports coverage–and delivered in the wee hours of the morning.

The Daily will allow for some midday updates, but it’s really designed to land with a digital thud on your virtual doorstep, just like the newspapers Murdoch has loved all his life.

Murdoch will charge 99 cents a week for a subscription, and he’s certainly going to get some takers at the start, especially since the Daily will be free for the first two weeks after tomorrow’s launch.

Which will be a noisy one. The press will give it plenty of free promotion, and News Corp. will augment that with a digital ad campaign, in addition to offline marketing donated and/or bartered from other Murdoch properties. Perhaps there’s a way to mention it once or twice during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast on Fox.

Much more important will be the endorsement from Apple, which is using the Daily to roll out a new “push” subscription feature.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was supposed to appear onstage in San Francisco with Murdoch to bless the launch, will send content boss Eddy Cue to New York tomorrow instead.

That’s still Apple’s seal of approval, though, and I can’t think of another time the company has so conspicuously blessed a single third-party product. That alone will be enough to prompt an enormous number of people to try it out.

Remember that Apple already has a customer base of  some 125 million iTunes users–if you do want to buy this thing, you won’t need to pull out a credit card. A few button clicks will do.

The real question, of course, is how many people are going to pay for the Daily a month down the road, when the buzz is gone. And there’s no way to guess at that when you get your first look at the thing. No matter when that happens.

Tiltview Aims to Be CNN for Cord Cutters

Here’s a question we’re frequently getting ever since we launched our weekly Cord Cutters web series: If you cancel cable, how do you get your news? A new site called Tiltview is trying to provide an answer to that by mashing up news clips from a number of networks, giving viewers a leanback experience optimized for watching on devices like Google TV.

Tiltview users can skip over a news clip as well as hit the pause button on any video — but that’s about it, as far as interaction goes. The site automatically selects news sources and individual clips, making the experience very much like watching a 24/7 cable news program.

Tiltview’s developers told us that the site is using an algorithm to rank videos based on source, time published, view count and other factors to evaluate their newsworthiness. “Once you start watching the news, the list of what you are watching is updated in real-time,” they explained via email, adding: “High ranking news can be inserted into the list while you are watching. There is no need to refresh the page to see new contents.”

Similarities to CNN & Co. are no accident: Tiltview’s developers told us that they got the idea for the site after canceling cable and scouring news sites for videos. “Choosing which videos to play and clicking on each one made (us) realize there should be a better way to watch news online,” they said.

The mashup is based on clips found on YouTube, and some of the sources queried include YouTube accounts of news networks like Al-Jazeera, France 24, the New York Times and Russia Today. However, the site also seems to add clips from more partisan political outlets, such as Breitbart TV and Think Progress. Tiltview’s developers said they hope to add more videos from sites other than YouTube soon.

The advent of connected devices with integrated web browsers like Google TV and the Boxee Box has led to a number of Leanback-style mashups in mind in recent months. However, some of these sites have run into issues with rights holders., for example, recently shut down its MTV-like music video mashup because of potential music rights liabilities.

However, playing by the books can be tricky as well. The personalized news service 1Cast tried to offer a news feed similar to Tiltview with licensed content, but failed to get off the ground and recently shut down.

Related content on GigaOm Pro (subscription required):

News Corp.’s Daily iPad Newspaper Launching "In the Next Few Weeks"

The “Daily,” the iPad news app News Corp. was supposed to launch last week, should hit the market “in the next few weeks,” according to James Murdoch. That’s not technically news, since it confirms what I had heard last week, but it’s the closest a News Corp. official has come to announcing an on-the-record launch date for the subscription service. So: Noted!

Murdoch, who runs Europe and Asia for his father Rupert’s company (which also owns this Web site), offered up the quasi-launch date during an onstage interview at the DLD conference in Munich.

As far as I can tell from the coverage, Murdoch didn’t reveal any other details that haven’t been reported–he confirmed that the service will cost 99 cents a week, etc.–but Staci Kramer at paidContent seems to have a good summary. You can watch the chat yourself here.

Meanwhile, I can offer up one tiny morsel of news about the Daily. And granted, it really is tiny. But: Here’s something you won’t see when the app launches, but will eventually–3-D video.

People familiar with the Daily tell me plans for future editions of the app include a gee-whiz feature that will allow correspondents to offer readers a 360-degree view of whatever they’re talking about.

It’s easier to show than to tell, and I can’t embed a sample here, but you can see one on this YouTube page. Most of the applications we’ve seen for 3-D Web video so far involve music videos set in party scenes. But you can imagine how much more interesting this might be if it involved someone reporting from, say, Tunisia.

Cablevision Complains (Very Quietly) About News Corp.’s Web Blackout

Over the weekend, News Corp. briefly pulled down Fox shows from Cablevision customers’ Web browsers.

That’s an unprecedented move in the ongoing fight between cable providers, broadcasters and networks over programming fees. And the news was a big deal for the digerati and people contemplating the future of video.

But it doesn’t seem to have registered in the broader world, and you have to work hard to find any mention of the story in old-media news outlets. And even Cablevision, which uses any ammo it can in the PR fight against Fox and News Corp. (which also owns this site), hasn’t said much about it.

Here, for instance, is Cablevision’s newest message to its customers. If you fast forward to the 1:35 mark, you’ll find a two-sentence description of the Web blackout. But hard to believe many Cablevision customers will be sticking around to hear this one:

At the very least, blacking out part of the Web sounds scary. So why is Cablevision so (relatively) quiet on this?

Two theories, which are not mutually exclusive:

  • It’s not worth complaining about because this stuff doesn’t really resonate with consumers–at least, not in the way that losing access to NFL games and play-off baseball does. No one spent Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon in a bar because they couldn’t watch “Glee” on Hulu.
  • It’s not worth complaining about because Cablevision and News Corp. are actually on the same ideological page when it comes to this stuff. Neither side is really that happy about free TV shows on the Web. The only real difference the two sides have is about money: News Corp. wants to get more of it for its programming, while Cablevision wants to pay less.

On a related note: I still don’t understand why News Corp./Fox backed off so quickly on Saturday, once news of the blackout got out.

There’s no official reason, but there were mutterings about the technical difficulty of cutting off access to Cablevision TV subscribers while leaving Cablevision’s Internet-only subs alone. But hard to believe that News Corp. didn’t think that one through in advance. Same goes for any “optics”-related reason–the whole point of a move like this was to generate publicity, right?

Daily Beast’s Tina Brown Brags About "Interesting Discussions" With Newsweek

How are things at the Daily Beast, the news + commentary site Tina Brown is running for Barry Diller?

Awesome! So says Tina Brown, in an “interview” her site is running with her today, to mark the Beast’s two-year anniversary: five million uniques, “ahead of projections” on advertising, etc. “A romping, vibrant, 2-year-old animal bursting with rude health.” (No mention of Howard Kurtz, though.)

In fact, it’s doing so great, Brown says, that Diller may end up pawning the thing off to Newsweek and new owner Sidney Harman.

Well, she doesn’t say that exactly. But she does acknowledge, out loud, for the first time, that the two sides are chatting:

We hear something is going on with Newsweek.

How clever of you to notice! Yes, there have been some interesting discussions going on, as we have with potential partners large and small all the time.


Here’s a more fleshed-out version of that discussion, via the NYT:

Mr. Harman and Ms. Brown met as recently as last week and are keen on working together. But whether The Daily Beast, which is financed by the billionaire investor Barry Diller, and Mr. Harman can reach a deal that is agreeable to all parties is still unknown, this person said, speaking anonymously to reveal privileged information.

Ms. Brown has gone as far as submitting a memorandum to Mr. Harman outlining how she would run Newsweek, but Mr. Harman was also interviewing other people for the job, this person added.

A few things:

  • It’s astonishing, and also true, that Harman bought Newsweek from the Washington Post (WPO) without knowing who he would hire to run the operation.
  • This also means that no one is really running things there now.
  • Brown would be a pretty good choice, all things considered.
  • And picking up the Beast wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Harman, assuming Diller can do it at the right price: Newsweek’s Web operations are okay, but not nearly as good as they look on paper. That’s because the site is largely dependent on for its traffic, and that’s not a healthy affair. Say what you will about Brown’s start-up, but it hasn’t had the crutch of a big distribution partner.