Important news and views in web video, TV, convergence and digital culture during the last week month, super-sized because of my hiatus (2/11-3/4)! Double bullets (••) indicate a must-read!:
Web Video Market:
•• Amazon vs. Netflix vs. Hulu: Premium Web Video Wars Heat Up (AllThingsDigital; NewTeeVee; Advertising Age): Amazon’s streaming service is essentially Netflix with fewer options and a higher ticket price, but it’s a start; they’re not the only one getting into streaming (DirectTV?). Outside of Amazon’s streaming, Netflix might be concerned about its relationship with Amazon Web Services. In other Netflix news, speculation is that Starz, whose Netflix contract is set to expire, could force Netflix to offer tiered subscriptions for its content — Andrew Wallenstein (headed to Variety!) convincingly argues it’ll never happen. And as Netflix chases TV, ponying up millions for a library of CBS shows, Hulu goes after movie buffs, getting, in an amazing coup, the Criterion Collection. Hulu expects record revenue this year. But all these content wars masks a bigger problem, AdAge argues: delayed viewing threatens TV’s core business model.
••UPDATE: For those of you deciding between video services, see Slate‘s handy guide HERE.
•• Is YouTube Courting Celebrities? (NYMag; VideoNuze): The move would pit homegrown stars against big media buzz types. Marc Hustvedt’s opinion is basically what I think. Meanwhile, once again, Google/YouTube might be closing in on Next New Networks.
• Oscars Fall For Web Video (paidContent; Tubefilter; NewTeeVee): Franco and Hathaway may not have earned glowing reviews, but the Oscars tried to web-ify itself hardcore this year. PaidContent looks at Oscar.com, with all its video feeds and extras, while Tubefilter/NewTeeVee look at Gregory Brothers/Auto-Tune the News‘ montage during the broadcast.
• WatchMojo Celebrates Five Years (paidContent): Ashkan Karbasfrooshan on how he created value by not relying on advertising and search. And speaking of alternative models for web video sites, Fortune has a nice profile of Vimeo, the “hipster YouTube.”
• Are People Starting to Pay for TV Again? (NewTeeVee): NTV looks at some positive signs in subscriber numbers for MVPDs. Even better news for pay TV companies, ivi is not a cable system, because it doesn’t comply with the FCC.
• Brightcove Connects With (LG) TV (NewTeeVee): Expect more deals like this, not only with Brightcove but other platforms as well.
• Making Money Through Video Exchanges: SpotXchanage hopes to optimize video placement. ReelSEO probes eMarketer’s report, saying social media with video drives engagement. Meanwhile Mediapost’s Video Insider takes a look at why video exchange has its own specific challenges.
•• Web Video Curation Matures with Tubefilter/Sidereel and Here’s Some Awesome: Here’s something awesome: two new web video curating ventures. Liz Shannon Miller and three great editors inaugurate Here’s Some Awesome; Tubefilter joins forces with Sidereel to pick the best in web series, in a match meant to be. Advertising Age‘s Jim Louderback says “curation” is 2011’s first buzzword, the antidote to machine-driven metric drivers.
• Wrap-Up Shows Gain Momentum (Tubefilter): Yahoo’s Primetime In No Time — 500 million views strong — taps YouTubers, including Michelle Phan (can someone please hire Michael Buckley?!). And of course Hulu’s got The Morning After. Now I see why.
• Vevo Plans Millions in Sponsorship for Artists vs. Athletes (Web Series Network): Already a top video site, Vevo aims for the marketing potential of series.
• Felicia Day’s Star Rises with Dragon Age series (G4): Her new series finally getting her some mainstream attention.
• Queen Latifah’s Web Talk Show with Aol; Michael Cera to CollegeHumor (Tubefilter, 2): Aol is really pushing for big names. Latifah is diversifying too, as she already produces a number of TV shows (BET, VH1). After the failure of Scott Pilgrim (which was awesome, by the way), Cera is hoping the web is his medium. In unrelated news, Jeffrey Trambor and Adam Goldberg (♥) are doing a pretty awesome sounding original AMC web series (is this AMC’s first? I know they’ve done extensions of on-air shows).
• Celebrate the Web Starts Web Pilot Festival (Celebrate the Web): Enter!
• We Love Soaps‘ Indie Soap Awards Anoints Winners (Indie Soap Awards): I’ve always liked these awards, among winners are numerous series I’ve covered including Diary of a Single Mom, Anyone But Me, In Between Men and Anacostia.
Research and Policy:
• FCC Revisiting Retrans (Hollywood Reporter; Broadcasting & Cable 1, 2): FCC considers coming up with rules on retrans disputes, making cable operators happy and public interest groups concerned. Sounds familiar. There’s also a lot of net neutrality chatter between the Senate and House, but with a divided government, I’ll only update if something seems to be happening.
•• Who Rules the Web? (Harvard Business Review): Four tech giants, not publishers: Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook.
• Professional Web Video On the Rise (ReelSEO): Mostly TV, with music videos and kids video also contributing to growth. Lengthy, high quality video is probably helping stats on the effectiveness of online video ads.
Hollywood and Tech:
• HBO Is Online, Everywhere (Los Angeles Times): As someone who’s been watching The Sopranos on A&E — bleeped out! — I’m very happy. It seems like this move is a way to create value for subscribers when some, myself included, were flirting with switching to Showtime, which, unless you’re in love with Boardwalk Empire, might have better scripted content right now.
•• Web Video Format Sparks Justice Dept. Probe (Wall Street Journal): H264, VP8 and HTML5 battles spark legal challenge involving Google, Apple and other tech giants: “Antitrust enforcers are investigating whether MPEG LA, or its members, are trying to cripple an alternative format called VP8 that Google released last year—by creating legal uncertainty over whether users might violate patents by employing that technology.”