Listen to (and share) episode 51 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor and host David Bloom talk about radio powerhouse Cumulus’ partnership with the parent company of digital music site Rdio; the record opening-day haul for videogame Grand Theft Auto V; Redbox’s reeling share price after a so-so summer; and the MPAA’s unhappiness with Google’s anti-piracy efforts on its own search engine.
Last year Google changed its search algorithm in a way that was supposed to demote the rankings of websites that had been identified as persistent copyright violators. But there’s “no evidence” that the change has affected search-driven traffic to the sites, …
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
That’s the intriguing notion floated by Kelly Day, who headed online video distributor Blip.TV before it was bought by Maker Studios, the even bigger creator and distributor of online content based in Culver City. Day, still an adviser to Maker, was keynote speaker as the WestDoc conference for documentary, nonfiction and reality-show makers opened this morning. Online pundits have been griping lately about the 45% cut of ad revenue that Google takes for video it distributes on YouTube, up from a 70-30 split early in the platform’s life. While Day acknowledged it’s expensive and technically complicated for Google to host and distribute the massive amounts of video it makes available on YouTube, show creators have a sense that, because YouTube has so much content, “for the most part there hasn’t been a lot of sophistication about how to monetize the best of that content.” For companies such as Maker that operate so-called Multi-Channel Networks, or MCNs, that represent dozens or even thousands of individual online creators, “there is a great opportunity to think about how to package and monetize that content better,” Day said. And Google might not even mind, she said, given its previous pronouncements and how it allowed a similar ecology of outside companies to grow and thrive atop its core search-engine business.
UPDATED, 11:14 PM: YouTube today dismissed the support that IATSE, the DGA, AFM and SAG-AFTRA has shown for Viacom’s efforts to get another day in court with its $1 billion copyright infringement suit. Not only does the Google-owned company say in a statement that the unions’ brief “recycles” a previous filing from 2010 in the suit but that they “don’t seem to have followed developments in the case.” Read the statement YouTube issued via a spokesperson late Monday below:
The brief filed by entertainment industry unions recycles their brief from the first appeal in 2010. They don’t seem to have followed developments in the case or recognized the changes to YouTube’s place in the entertainment ecosystem. The Court has twice rejected Viacom’s unfounded copyright infringement claims. And even Viacom has conceded it doesn’t object to how YouTube has operated for the last five years. YouTube has signed licensing agreements with every major movie studio and record label, has developed an industry-leading Content Identification system used by 4,000 media partners, and does more to prevent piracy than any other major video hosting provider.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:33 PM: Despite another recent court loss, Viacom’s latest attempt to revive its billion-dollar copyright suit against YouTube has just gotten some very vocal support again from some old friends. “YouTube’s role in the rampant, systematic distribution of content in violation of the exclusive rights of copyright holders caused and continues to cause harm to the entertainment industries and the members of the Guilds and Unions working in those industries,” said a joint brief filed late last week by lawyers for the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the American Federation of Musicians. “We urge the Court to consider the full ramifications of YouTube’s actions, and request that the Court reverse the lower court’s decision.” The unions offered similar such support as they did last week back in 2010. Filed on August 2 this year, the quartet’s new 28-page brief (read it here) comes after Viacom filed materials on July 30 with the 2nd Court of Appeals asking for a new judge in the long-running case. That expected legal move against Judge Louis Stanton followed the NY-based U.S. District Court judge granting YouTube yet another favorable summary judgment in the matter on April 18. That was the second such decision for the Google-owned entity in the case. Viacom first launched the $1B action in 2007.
Google clearly caught the public’s imagination on Wednesday when it introduced Chromecast – the $35 dongle that can turn any TV with an HDMI port, and access to Wi-Fi, into a smart TV. Plug it in, and you can access YouTube, Netflix and other media, including music and photos from your computer, phone, or tablet. The device is already sold out on Google Play, Amazon, and Best Buy. (You can find it for about $45 on eBay, though.) And Google has exhausted its allotment of promotions that gave early Chromecast buyers three months of Netflix for free. So is Google’s new product worth all this excitement? Several critics who have tried it say that it is — but mostly because its cheaper than alternatives such as Apple TV and Roku. It “works as advertised, and it makes me feel like I’m a little further into the future,” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal says. ”For $35, that’s a good deal.” Wired’s Mat Honan says that images don’t show that Chromecast needs to draw power from either a USB port or an outlet. Still, he’s “pretty blown away by how easy, versatile, and inexpensive this is. Given the low, low price … it’s really hard not to like.”
The search giant is quizzing traditional programmers about possible licensing terms — just as Intel, Sony and Apple have — The Wall Street Journal says citing “people familiar with the matter.” Google has even demonstrated its planned …
If Google moves forward with a reported $1.3B acquisition of Israeli navigation and traffic app Waze Inc., it would be the search giant’s fourth-biggest deal by dollar value, The Wall Street Journal says. Waze was founded in 2008 and uses crowdsourcing to provide routing and real-time traffic updates, including police presence, road accidents, speed cameras, and hazards. It has nearly 50M users in about 190 countries. Waze and Facebook had been in talks, but Israel’s Globes reports the social network balked at the price tag and at a stipulation that Waze’s Israeli employees continue working in Israel. (Google has an office in Israel.) Apple had been thought in the running for Waze, but CEO Tim Cook said in May that the company had not made a bid.
The search giant just released a whitepaper that makes a case for studios to buy ads on Google, noting that it has become a central resource for moviegoers when they decide what to see generating data that …
David Bloom is a contributor to Deadline
Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said it was a concern for improving the image of computer programming that led the web giant to participate in filming Fox’s The Internship, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as unemployed salesmen who talk their way into coveted internships at the company. “I’m not sure we had a choice” about participating, Page said at Google’s I/O developer conference today. “Computer science has a marketing problem. We’re the nerdy curmudgeons. (But) the guy who plays the head of search [in the movie] is by far the coolest guy in the movie, and we’re really excited about that.” The comments came as Page talked of the need for better education and more computer programmers if the country is to remain competitive (the company also announced an initiative to make it easy for schools to buy and install educational apps on Google-powered tablets and computers). The Internship, directed by Shawn Levy, is set to debut June 7.
These are among investors’ top concerns following Facebook’s unveiling yesterday of its Facebook Home smartphone super-app, which will put its services front and center on Google‘s Android operating system. It’s an important initiative for Facebook. Many on Wall Street fear that the social network company is caught in a dilemma: It needs to sell ads, but will turn off lots of smartphone and tablet users if it clutters their small screens with sales pitches. That’s why Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia says that early versions of Facebook Home will be ad-free, but “over time the ‘Home’-based home screen will start to display very relevant, targeted, slightly larger, and visually appealing ads –all positive for ad rates.” If that happens then “Facebook Home will be a lot less appealing to consumers,” BTIG’s Rich Greenfield says. Even without the ads, he wonders whether many users want their news feeds prominently displayed on their home screens noting that “always on pictures from what you/your friends/your family did last night could be a wee bit embarrassing when you turn on your phone next to someone.” He and others also want to see whether Google will see Facebook Home as a threat.
In a first of its kind move, Europe’s antitrust regulators on Wednesday levied a fine against Microsoft for breaking a settlement agreement. The $732M sanction against the tech giant came after the competition authority was tipped off that Microsoft had failed to comply with an earlier promise to provide buyers of new computers in Europe the option to opt out of its built-in Internet Explorer browser. Among the companies that first complained to the EU about Microsoft’s non-complicance was arch-rival Google, The Financial Times reported. The EU’s hard line against Microsoft is seen as a warning shot that it is serious about enforcing other antitrust settlements. And, since Google is involved in its own negotiations with European regulators over their concerns about how it runs its search and advertising business, the precedent-setting Microsoft settlement could come back to haunt it.
“It’s important for the Commission to show it’s serious in this case because this will set a precedent, and because the commission increasingly uses settlements to help reach solutions more quickly, especially in the fast-moving technology sector,” Nicolas Petit, a professor of competition law and economics at the University of Liège, told The New York Times. According to the FT, Joaquín Almunia, the European Union competition commissioner, made an indirect reference to the talks with Google when he said he’d asked his staff “to be extremely careful about how we design the monitoring and compliance” provisions of antitrust pacts.