It just might if it frightens them enough to accelerate their efforts to make people pay for broadband based on how much they use — the same way they pay for electricity or water. ”This isn’t just a side show,” independent analyst Craig Moffett says. “This is THE central issue defining the value of the cable industry going forward.” And the pricing model could rock streaming companies including Netflix or, perhaps, Sony. It would be “a material risk” to Netflix’s prospects if a Sony-Viacom agreement leads to usage-based pricing, Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner says.
Traditional TV programmers should feel uneasy about some of the findings out today from consulting firm Deloitte’s seventh annual State Of The Media Democracy study. Only 64% of U.S. consumers ranked TV watching as one of their three favorite media activities, down from 69% in 2011 and 71% in 2010, the firm found in a November online survey of 2,129 people. Just 40% of 14-to-23-year-olds put TV among the Top Three. About 51% of TV viewers have connected their sets to the Internet — and another 16% have the equipment to do so. And there’s a sharp increase in the number of people who frequently watch shows on platforms where ratings aren’t measured, or where ads can be avoided. Some 21% (up from 11% in 2011) watch free online video services while 14% (vs. 9%) watch discs of previous seasons and 13% (vs. 4%) watch on a smartphone or mobile device. The number of people viewing shows from an online peer-to-peer network was up to 8% from 3% in 2011, and includes 16% of Millennials. Viewers also are distracted: Just 19% said that they always or almost always just watch TV when they tune in. But 27% said that they browse and surf the Web, 26% read email, and 23% either send text messages or use a social network. Here, too, the numbers are much higher among viewers under 30. The changing behavior …
The change could give cable operators a powerful edge in their competition with phone company broadband services — Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett calls the strategic implications “profound.” It will enable broadband subscribers at Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Bright House Networks to access the Web for free at about 50,000 hotspots. Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable already had a sharing agreement covering the corridor from Connecticut to Philadelphia. The new arrangement will provide more access in that area as well as major cities including Los Angeles, Tampa, and Orlando. The announcement kicks off The Cable Show, the industry’s annual trade gathering, being held this week in Boston. Here’s the release:
Most major cable companies have committed to supply broadband Internet access to low-income households for $9.99 a month, the Federal Communications System is expected to announce Wednesday. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has made expanded broadband access a top priority, and he told the New York Times that with cooperation of the big cable companies “we can make a real dent in the broadband adoption gap.” No federal funds are being invested. The plan relies on the cooperation of private companies. Comcast, for example, began offering $9.99 monthly broadband to some low-income households this year after promising the F.C.C. that it would do so when it acquired control of NBCUniversal.
The low introductory price is meant to appeal to new customers who have never had broadband, either because it was not available or because of the cost or perceptions that it was not relevant to their lives. In addition to the low introductory price, a tech company will offer refurbished computers to low-income households for $150 and Microsoft will provide software. Morgan Stanley will help develop a microcredit program to make it easier for families to afford them. Job websites and education companies also will offer content that, in theory, will underscore the value of online access.
For eligible households — those with a child enrolled in school lunch programs who are not current or recent subscribers to broadband — the $9.99 monthly price will apply for a two-year …
Joining the ranks of Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga in promoting tech startups, Leonardo DiCaprio has surfaced as one of a group of investors who put up $4 million in seed money for visual social media platform Mobli, tech news site Mashable reports. “Mobli allows people from all over the world to share moments,” says DiCaprio, who is taking an advisory post. The way users “share” those moments is by taking photos and videos that Mobli tags automatically with a location or major event that makes it possible to follow specific users, locations and topics. Lukas Haas is another investor. One thing that distinguishes Mobli from similar platforms is the participation of high-recognition names like DiCaprio, David Arquette and even Paris Hilton (remember her?). DiCaprio has posted only seven times, but has more than 8,000 followers. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has separately posted 24 times. But those 31 posts have accounted for 163,244 “media views” — which as DiCaprio, Kutcher and other celebs illustrate, a little goes a long way.
AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong and advisers for Yahoo are discussing combining the two companies in the wake of Carol Bartz’s ouster as Yahoo CEO, Bloomberg reports. Armstrong perhaps sees his opening now that Bartz has been forced out — he was interested in a merger last year but was rebuffed. Armstrong has consulted private-equity firms and investment bankers from Allen & Co, working with Yahoo. Yahoo has been considering all its options, including acquisitions — it is believed to be a bidder for Hulu — and splitting itself into parts. One option appears to be Yahoo acquiring AOL, with Armstrong taking the reins as CEO of the combined company, according to one source. Meanwhile, Bartz has said she plans to remain on the Yahoo board, and though she thinks new interim CEO Tim Morse is “a great guy,” she feels she is the only true replacement for herself.
Oscar’s move to online voting is off and running. The Academy confirms that a very impressive 83% of the membership had returned cards requesting their email address by the deadline date of June 30, but an Academy spokesperson assured me “it’s an ongoing process,” so if you were one of the stragglers, get that email to the membership department.
This is a first step in a very methodical and careful move to online voting for the Academy just as most other guilds and voting orgs have already done. And it is also a first step toward potentially moving the Oscar telecast up earlier in the season to the end of January or beginning of February. An expedited voting process would certainly help make that difficult prospect easier to pull off.
The Academy sent out the request to members in May, and considering the advanced age of some AMPAS voters, the response is encouraging. Common wisdom is that older voters might be the most resistant to change, but officials are happy with the way potential online voting is being embraced so far.
As I wrote recently, there was also some concern about A-listers not providing their direct emails, which is a problem because the Academy does not want to put an electronic ballot in the hands of Brad Pitt’s or Barbra Streisand’s assistants (even though it’s no secret that there are some assistants who have been known to help their boss by filling out the snail-mail ballots anyway). Academy president Tom Sherak tells me confidently that even that part of the process is now “going fairly well” too.
Sherak says the Academy hopes to have a firm that can conduct online voting in place by this month and it is actively involved now in the selection procedure for that. “We’re getting closer” is how Sherak puts it, but he emphasized to me that online voting for Oscars will not be ready for next year’s 84th Academy Awards. He says they are taking a very methodical approach and after securing a firm will begin testing by putting some kind of vote online while still using paper ballots (which will be the only ones that count in the test case) to see how the online method is initially received. Then they will probably test it again leading to its first official use, perhaps in the selection of governors for the board next May. ”It will not be implemented until we’re sure it works, but all of this preparation is necessary so we can move it methodically into a proper voting cycle for the Oscars,” he says. Sherak adds they are aware that even though they want to move this process online, some members don’t have emails. The Academy will be providing an alternative for those concerned voters (likely the old standby paper ballot) just as the guilds do now.
“We will give all our members an opportunity to be part of something they have always been a part of,” Sherak says, meaning no one among the approximate 6,000 voting members are about to be disenfranchised by new technology creeping into the notoriously slow-to-change Academy.
Of course, many of those members already have experience voting online in their various guild contests since most Academy voters are also likely guild voters. The bigger problem here I think for the Academy is that unlike those contests, Oscar, being the highest-profile awards show of them all, may provide an irresisible target for hackers — and the Academy knows it. A key reason they are being careful about diving into online voting is the danger of having its air-tight voting system compromised. After all, WikiLeaks proves no one, even the most closed doors of the U.S. government, are immune to a cyber violation of its top secrets.
3rd UPDATE: Ever since it was announced last week that Google CEO Eric Schmidt would be stepping aside in April and that co-founder Larry Page would take over the day-to-day operation of the search giant, everyone’s been wondering if Schmidt would make the move to TV. Today in Germany, at the Digital-Life-Design conference, he addressed those rumors simply by keeping the door open. When asked how long he plans to stay at Google, he responded, “As long as it’s exciting.”
2nd UPDATE: Just days after announcing that he’ll be stepping aside as Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt is getting a pretty big bonus. Enormous, actually. He’s set to pocket $100 million as he steps into another role, with co-founder Larry Page taking over the day-to-day leadership. The whopping amount is a comprised of stock options and vests over four years. The $100 million award also comes as a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week reveled Schmidt could be selling up to $335 million in stock — and also revealed how much stock he has actually amassed over his 10 years in the top job: 9.2 million shares.
UPDATE: Big Media moguls only can wish they’d reap a stock bonanza like this. In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed that Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, stepping aside in April after 10 years as CEO, will be selling what could amount to be $335 million in stock. As of the end-of-year 2010, Schmidt owned 9.2 million shares in Google. The company’s stock closed at $626.77 a share on Thursday. So what he’s planning to unload represents only about 6% of his total stock ownership. In Q4 earnings reported on Thursday, revenues rose 26% growth vs last year. Co-founder Larry Page will be taking over the CEO role.
Twitter may be amazingly popular, but it’s had major trouble turning a profit. So that’s why it has a new CEO. Co-founder Evan Williams has stepped down after 2 years running the company and will be replaced by the company’s chief operating officer, Dick Costolo. Costolo, 47, may be a better fit within the tech community than Williams who is staying to focus on product strategy. Costolo. He founded RSS service FeedBurner which he sold to Google in 2007 for $100 million. HeW said today in a statement, ”We have awesome stuff in the pipeline, and we’re ready to accomplish more in the next two years than we’ve accomplished in the last four.” But can Twitter monetize its cool factor? Well, the company is next venturing into targeted ads that “find” users based on the words in their tweets.
The WGA is now accepting submissions for the first annual Writers Guild of America New Media Writing Awards. The deadline for submissions is 5 PM PT on Tuesday, November 23rd for the 2011 award. To be eligible for entry, an original stand-alone new media program or an original episode written for a new media series must have first been exhibited on a new media platform between December 1, 2009, and November 30, 2010. The WGA is defining a New Media platform as the Internet via a major video sharing site or unique URL, mobile devices such as cell phones or PDAs, or any other established new media platform. Only work that was written and produced under a WGA collective bargaining agreement and whose writing credits can be determined by the Guild may be submitted.
Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, who already had a first look deal to hatch film projects with India-based Reliance Big Entertainment, have expanded the relationship to the web with Electric City, a serial saga about a Sin City-like world that is so electricity-starved that the power gets shut off each night–and bad things happen in the dark. The plan is to make the storyline a multi-platform digital experience with an animated web series, online social game and mobile application.
Hanks only got into Twitter mode this year, when he confirmed my first story break at Deadline, that he was directing and starring in Larry Crowne with Julia Roberts. But Playtone is very ambitious on the web front. I saw some footage of a test run of Electric City late last year, and it is cool atmospheric stuff with a lot of crime and action, and Hanks himself voicing the lead character. Reliance Big’s gaming arm Zapak will manage the whole project.
The following statement was issued today by Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE):
Verizon and Google: The Deal of the Titans
The world’s biggest media companies want to define how people will get content over the Internet. Money talks; independent content creators: take a walk. A mega-deal is reportedly in the works in which Verizon will favor Internet content from Google because Google has the spare cash to pay for preferred access. And this is being touted as the model for how content providers and Internet service providers will do business. We have seen the future, and it is exactly like the past.
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO represents people who write, edit, produce, and create graphics for television, film, radio, and digital media. Our members write television drama, comedy, news, and public interest programs; they write movies for major studios and for independents; they create original content for the web, for mobile applications, and for other digital platforms. Our members know first-hand how an open Internet permits them to create more innovative, informative content and to distribute it directly to the public.
The Internet and other digital media offer an unprecedented opportunity for creators to reach consumers and for people to watch and read what they want, when they want. This is very different from traditional media in which major studios, distributors, and television networks control the flow of movies and programs. Digital technology
2ND UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Relativity Media will be in the distribution business sooner rather than later as it attempts to become a mini-major. Hmm.
UPDATE: This exclusive deal with Netflix might be impressive if more of Relativity Media’s movies did better at the box office. So it’s not exactly earth-shattering that Ryan Kavanaugh just told me that, at 12:01 AM Tuesday, Netflix is sending out a news release about Relativity no longer delivering its movies to pay TV channels. Instead, Relativity’s pics will now be shown via Netflix’s online streaming service. Insiders are calling this the “largest pay TV deal ever” — if that’s what it is. This will include going forward up to 30 movies per year. The first movies to go through the deal are the Nic Cage starrer Season of The Witch, the Brothers Strauss’ Skyline and The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. And maybe the Sundance-buzzed documentary Catfish and Wes Craven’s horror film My Soul To Take, among Relativity’s future movies. (How many underperforming Relativity films will be included as well?) Sorry, but it’s hilarious to think this deal will make HBO or Showtime or Starz or Epix shudder, especially as they continue to move away from showing movies and more towards original programming.
EXCLUSIVE: DC Comics is already doing a second print run after more than 60,000 copies were snapped up. There will be 100,000 in all for the issue. Downloads of the free issue preview for Wonder Woman #600 though DC Comic’s one-week-old digital publishing app have been “phenomenal”, a source tells me.
Insiders are telling Deadline that the Bloomberg report claiming final broadcast network holdout CBS is joining Hulu as soon as this fall on a non-exclusive basis are “overblown”. Yes, there are talks going on between CBS with Hulu which already includes NBC, Fox, and Disney. And, yes, Big Media loves to collude. And, yes, trading in CBS options surged 4-times the norm on the news. But my insider say CBS “definitely won’t join a free Hulu. Only Hulu ‘plus’ if it’s a good deal.” Said another insider, “we’ve been talking to them and continue to talk to them but there is nothing immediate happening.” Hulu also is in talks with Viacom and Time Warner for a paid subscription service.
UPDATE: In connection with the summary judgment ruling today in its litigation against Google and YouTube, Viacom Inc made the following statement:
“We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions. We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay, this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address these critical issues on an accelerated basis. We look forward to the next stage of the process.” In connection with the judgment, Viacom’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Michael Fricklas, issued a statement about the decision that can be found at: http://news.viacom.com/news/Pages/summaryjudgment.aspx
Statement posted just now by Kent Walker, Vice President and General Counsel of Google:
Today, the court granted our motion for summary judgment in Viacom’s lawsuit with YouTube. This means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.
This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the
The London-based sales company is handling international sales on the documentary that explores the love/hate relationship that fans have with the Star Wars creator. Director Alexandre O. Philippe has boiled down over 700 hours of footage submitted by fans. Clips include online parodies lovingly created in needlepoint, Lego, claymation and puppets. Witnesses including original Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz, Neil Gaiman and Dave Prowse (Darth Vader) all give evidence.
Producers Denver-based Exhibit A Pictures are hanging on to Canada and UK rights themselves. The People Vs. George Lucas is wending its way through the festival circuit, having had its world premiere at SXSW.
Samantha Horley, MD of Salt, said the plan is build the audience through social networks and online. “It’s the future of film sales. As a huge Star Wars fan myself I loved this film, so I know there’s a clear audience out there for this. We plan to find them.”
Let’s face it, we all loved Star Wars until Lucas went out and ruined it. First, he tinkered with the originals, then he made the prequels, and let’s not get started on Jar Jar Binks. The film asks the question: who truly owns that galaxy, far, far away — the man who created it, or the fans who love it?