If the Hollywood Writer's Strike hasn't convinced you that online video is a legit form of television, then Nielsen's plan to track online video views should. Nielsen, the company behind the TV ratings we hear about, plans to "introduce measurement of TV viewing on the PC screen" by the end of 2008.
While measuring internet video viewing poses some challenges due to the number of platforms and devices capable of playing web video these days, Nielsen plans to start by using a panel of voluntary participants, expected to be 40000 homes with 60000 residents, that will have measurement technology installed in their TV sets. The company will also use VideoCensus, another measurement service to compile data.
Probably the most important part of this development is that advertiser demand is the reason Nielsen will move into the web video sector, and advertising dollars will be the real driving force behind innovations in web TV.
After 100 days on strike, Hollywood writer's have voted in favor of returning to work today. 3492 writer's voted to return to work with only 283 voting to stay off the job, meaning the February 24 Academy Awards will proceed normally and production will begin for everyone's favorite TV shows.
Writer's haven't voted on whether or not to accept the tentative contract yet, which will be conducted by mail ultimately finishing February 25. Los Angeles County alone, home to Hollywood, lost $3.2 billion as a result of the walkout.
The New York Times questions this morning if the writer's or the studios were the real winners in the Hollywood Writer's Strike. While the writer's eventually gained a piece of the digital pie they were after, the studio's learned a thing or two during the strike that could take more money out of the writers' pockets in the long-term. Pilot season, traditionally lucrative for writer's, may be a thing of the past as nearly 70 development deals were cut during the strike as the networks found success in focusing their primetime schedules on reality programming. It's expected that this will continue into the next television season. On the other hand, while the studios figured that the writer's would not be able to unify during the strike due to their varying interests, they were wrong. The Writer's Guild is a remarkably unified group and that must make the major studios a tad uncomfortable.
Hollywood writer's could return to work as early as Wednesday after meetings on both US coasts yesterday unveiled the details of a tentative agreement reached by the WGA and the studios was deemed a success by the writer's and Michael Winship, president of the WGA East.
"I believe it is a good deal. I am going to be recommending this deal to our membership," Michael Winship told reporters before the New York meeting.
The three year deal is not official yet however, as a by-mail voting process will take about 2 weeks before it may or may not be officially ratified. But the WGA board will meet today to decide if they should authorize a two-day vote of Guild members to see if the strike order should be lifted. That would mean that writer's may return to work as early as Wednesday.
The Hollywood writer's and the bargaining unit for the studios will be meeting today and tomorrow to discuss a tentative agreement reached that the writer's feel sufficient to begin discussions to end the Writer's Strike that has dragged on since November 5.
WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship said in a memo e-mailed to the 10, 500 members of the Writer's Guild of America that "the agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success." Specifics of the deal which will be discussed this weekend establish new revenue models for new media, specifically internet distribution of content, which will aim to see writer's paid when the studios are paid. Obviously the writer's will not receive the residuals they had hoped for, but must deem the amount agreed to reasonable enough to consider ending the strike.
There is definite progress happening in the Hollywood Writer's Strike and we could see a deal between the Writer's Guild and the AMPTP very soon. We hope a deal doesn't distract some of the great Hollywood writer's from focusing on their various web video ventures that have sprung up as a result of the shortcomings of the big movie studios.
Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to writer Peter Rader.
Internet TV startup Veoh has continued to built on its diverse content offerings, this time via a distribution deal with FearNet, a horror-themed web venture by Comcast. FearNet has launched their own channel on the Veoh platform and will feature full-length movies, footage from horror conventions, celebrity interviews and eventually FearNet features that will be exclusively aired on Veoh. The deal will allow FearNet to reach a much larger audience than it currently has access to, although they'll take a monetary hit by splitting ad revenues with Veoh.
While the Hollywood Writer's Strike definitely has a negative points, we love the fact that all of these "without the oppressing studios" film startups popping up seemingly every other day. Yet another project has been launched, the Film 7 fund, composed of five Hollywood producers and two Silicon Valley execs that plan to bring in financing from outside investors in order to fund films without the help of the major studios. The long-term plan is to produce 25 studio-quality films with moderate budgets over the next 5 years.
Liz Gannes over at NewTeeVee first caught wind of this, and while no names of involved parties have been released, she plans on attending a meet-and-greet for Film 7 this weekend with the likes of Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy so hopefully we'll get some more info then. One detail we're curious about is whether there are currently any projects in the works and how the films will be eventually distributed. Will we see them playing in theaters or will they be released solely on the web? We'd imagine that outside investors would demand a return on their investment and it seems doubtful that there would be to many willing to part with their money for a multi-million dollar film project to be released solely on the web. While video advertising is definitely evolving, it just wouldn't be a safe bet right now. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Two separate statements made by NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker and Apple's Steve Jobs in the Financial Times and Business Week respectively indicate that the relationship between the two is returning to good terms and NBC could make a return to the iTunes platform in the future. Remember back in August of 2007, NBC pulled their content off of iTunes due to pricing and DRM-related disagreements with Apple. A war of word ensued over the folowing months, and only in the past couple of days has any indication been apparent that the relationship between the two companies is improving.
Zucker states in a Financial Times interview that:
"'We've said all along that we admire Apple, that we want to be in business with Apple.' He then unexpectedly adds, 'We're great fans of Steve Jobs.' No telling what has caused the turnabout. Perhaps the writers strike gave both parties time to reflect on their mounting lost revenue."
"“We’ll put it back together on the TV thing. Everybody lost (when Zucker pulled his content off iTunes). But NBC is a great company, and Apple is a great company,” neither of which make a habit of ignoring their customers’ desires, he said. “Fortunately,” he half-joked, “there was a writers’ strike, so it didn’t matter as much as it might have.”
Sounds like at two media execs are thankful for the Writer's Strike. At least they'll be able to blame the poor numbers related to their poor business decision on something other than themselves.
Update: Paidcontent.org indicates that the Financial Times quote by Jeff Zucker was in the context of NBC allowing movie rentals on the iTunes movies service mainly because of Apple's allowance of variable pricing, one of the issues that contributed from the studio pulling their TV shows from iTunes.
Do you ever wonder if you're about to be nabbed for using torrent sites to download movies, TV shows and games? The reality is you could be tracked right now by anti-P2P agencies determined to nail you to the wall in court. The video above by Dan Morrill, a Security Project Manager with VMC Consulting in Redmond, Washington shows him downloading a file using the Azureus while commenting on the information made available about the client and how that info can be processed in order to track you. He also discussed the use of blocklists in order to protect yourself from the identification techniques shown in the video. Check out the vid if you're a chronic illegal downloader. It could save you a huge headache down the road.