Syndication network 60frames has been oft-mentioned since the beginning of the Hollywood Writer's Strike as a web video platform that could be utilized by professional content creators as an alternative to the politics of the world's best known movie mecca. Today, they've officially launched their programming on their website with Cockpit, an exclusive comedy created by the makers of "Prom Queen", and Erik the Librarian, written and directed by Brent Forrester, known for his work on the hit television series "The Office".
60frames launches at a good time, as not only is the Writer's Strike ongoing, but they've successfully signed distribution deals with the likes of Bebo, Blip.tv, Break.com, Dailymotion, Heavy.com, iTunes, MySpace, Veoh Networks, Vuze, and YouTube. Putting their whole distribution network together means that 60frames reaches nearly 90% of all internet video traffic. The company has an additional twelve projects in the works currently, with plans to have 50 original series' by the end of 2008.
CEO Brent Weinstein said in a press release by the company today, "The idea behind 60Frames was to create a set of financial, creative, marketing and distribution resources that professional artists could use to bring exciting new projects to life in an environment that provides artists meaningful profit participation, ownership, and control of their IP. We’re very excited about our initial offerings and future projects which we believe will expand, in terms of genre and form-factor, the notion of what ‘works’ online. By partnering with the leading online sites, we are giving artists’ content the widest possible exposure while maximizing revenue opportunities.”
60frames is backed by entertainment industry talent agency United Talent Agency and ad agency Spot Runner.
Check out the first show from Goggleburn: Photo-A-Day
Goggleburn is Next New Networks latest channel, the "online TV you gotta see", hosted by Nick Douglas, writer for Gawker Media. It's flagship show is a weekly rundown of the ten best videos on the web, as judged by a formula that looks at "the most-viewed and most-loved" from the gamut of web video sites. Goggleburn promises that the content found on their weekly Wednesday show is exclusive and also plan a weekly Monday show examining web video trends and a weekly Friday show that remains a surprise. But they've made it clear that we just can't be prepared in any way for Friday shows.
Oh, and what exactly is Goggleburn? "Goggleburn is the sting in your eyes when you've been ogling online videos all night and it's 6 AM on Monday and oh dear lord you can't see anything because the Internet blasted you with whiteout."
Want a rent a movie from iTunes? Get the iTunes 7.6 update for both Windows and Macs here!
It seems that the "leaked" crib notes for today's MacWorld keynote by Steve Jobs were either fake, dated, or a brilliant marketing scam by Apple. As rumored, the iTunes movie rental service was announced, with Jobs claiming "every major studio has signed on to some degree". Those studios include MGM, Lion's Gate, Sony, and Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Miramax, and Fox. Jobs strongly emphasized the depth of their movie offerings promising 1000 films by the end of February. A definite drawback to the service is that iTunes will not have titles available until 30 days after they have been released on DVD.
Rentals can be viewed on Mac's and PC's are easily ported to mobile devices such as iPhones and iPods. Library titles will be available for $2.99 and new releases $3.99, titles are downloaded instantly and rentals last for 24 hours. The rental service is available as of today, only in the United States, via an iTunes update. International access will apparently come sometime in the future.
An updated Apple TV was also the focus of rumormongers for the past month or so, and sure enough, the Apple "Take 2" was debuted. Appropriately named given the "failure" of the Apple TV in the past year, the Take 2 version of the Apple TV requires no computer and has built-in rental support for the iTunes service accessible through the press of one button. The price has also been cut to $229 moving the set a little closer to the mainstream market. Other new Apple TV features include Dolby 5.1, built-in support for video and audio podcasts, flickr support, and an upgrade for the existing Apple TV to Take 2 functionality.
Most likely in anticipation of the rumored iTunes movie rental announcement at MacWorld on Tuesday, Netflix will offer unlimited streaming of online movie rentals starting tomorrow. This applies to customers on the $16.99/month rental plan. Currently unlimited streaming is limited to 17 hours per month. Unfortunately for those on the $4.99/month plan, there will be no unlimited streaming for you.
With iTunes rentals rumored to be $3.99, studio Disney and Fox partnered with Apple and both Paramount and Warner Bros. rumored to be close to signing deals as well, it looks as if Netflix will finally have a worthy online competitor.
CES wasn't the only conference happening in Las Vegas last week. The AVN conference, the biggest adult film expo of the year, was in Las Vegas too and a big topic of conversation was how the internet and specifically film-sharing sites are cutting into the revenues of adult film studios.
Many studios now use sites with free film previews to steer users to pay-per-minute or other subscription model sites, but are now realizing that they may have crossed the fine line between providing too much free content and providing too little. Clickthrough ratings are poor from free content with only about 1 in 500 moving from free content to paid sites and only 1 in 50 clickthroughs actually subscribe.
That means that the adult film industry has to start looking at alternative business models if they want to continue to bring in the necessary revenues to continue filming adult movies. Some industry execs have talked of partnering with big network providers such as Comcast and AT&T. Most have refused to comment on any talks with porn bigwigs, although Verizon has said they don't believe there's any money in adult content for them.
Perhaps most interesting were the comments of former husband and video partner of Jenna Jameson, Jay Grdina. Grdina, who is currently the president of ClubJenna, Inc, stated that the company has approached the likes Apple and Microsoft looking for distribution deals. While Microsoft has denied any plans to be included in any adult content distribution deals, but Apple refused to say whether they have talked or are in talks with adult studios. With Apple's track record of refusing to comment in the past, it would make us believe that Apple may indeed be considering distributing adult film content via iTunes. Grdina said himself that distribution would include easy transfer of content to mobile devices such as the iPod.
Just imagine if the Steve Jobs' much anticipated keynote at MacWorld in a couple days was the inclusion of a porn studio in Apple's growing list of iTunes content providers!
Arguments abound in the blogosphere regarding the relative merits of web video compared with traditional TV, the effects of the Writer's Strike on web video traffic, and when online video will be monetized to the point where it's attractive to better content providers than Chris Crocker. I'm a big believer in online video. While I think that it's success will come from the internet's integration with the traditional home theater, several startups are popping up from the devastation of the Hollywood Writer's Strike that may prove me wrong.
Rumors first began to spread about online startups launched by unemployed writers/victims of the Hollywood Writer's Strike near the end of December and the first name that popped up was Aaron Mendelsohn, the screenwriter perhaps best known for his Air Bud creation. I had the pleasure of talking to Aaron this evening about Virtual Artists, a fledgling online video startup that aims to bring "content creators directly to content consumers" with no big studio-meddling in between. Seeking funding to the tune of $30+ million from a variety of backers including Silicon Valley VC's, angel investors, and writers themselves, Mendelsohn is a quickly becoming a leader in moving online video to a place that could enable it to finally reach its potential.
By enabling professional writers to submit their works for production on the web in exchange for lower up-front payment but a greater share of overall ownership, Virtual Artists could be the type of platform that finally attracts the advertising dollars that so many video startups struggle to find. Mendelsohn fully believes this is the missing link in online video. Why would major advertisers spend their valuable dollars on one-hit viral wonders that will never do anything big again? Professional content is exactly what is needed. I tend to agree with him.
In a remarkably well done interview at CES 2008, given the fact she had to carefully choose her words due to the Hollywood Writer's Strike, NBC Universal's President of Integrated Media, Beth Comstock had a few interesting things to say. When asked about her feelings regarding the current positioning of Hulu, Comstock praised the work of CEO Jason Kilar and said that while he hasn't announced a concrete date for the video platforms consumer launch, it is expected to be sometime in the first quarter of 2008. Comstock said the company is also progressing in its digital media activities faster than expected, with a forecast of $1 billion dollars in digital media revenues for 2008, a projection originally not expected to be reached until the end of 2009. While the rest of the world tries to figure out how advertising is supposed to monetize web TV and other digital media, Comstock predicted that digital media business models will reach far beyond advertising in the near future, because they have to for "the sake of digital’s healthiness".
In March of this year, TiVo Season Pass users will be able to watch a huge variety of web video content directly on their TVs. Users will be able to subscribe to and watch any video content available via RSS feeds, "providing consumers a new way to easily and automatically access the content they want to watch on their television sets", says CEO Tom Rogers. With this new web video-elevating innovation, TiVo is well on the way to "providing one stop for all content, through one box, integrated into one interface, accessible through one simple remote control." The new functionality will require TiVo Desktop Plus 2.6 which will also be available in March for $24.95, or free for those with earlier versions.
Have some spare time on your hands? Like about 9 hours. While most of us have a limit of 10 minutes on our YouTube uploads, certain members have the luxury of longer and larger uploads. Come in Charles Trippy, one of those lucky few, who had the luxury of posting a 9 hour video of his evening on YouTube. Why you'd want to watch it I don't know, but I suppose Trippy got his 15 minutes of fame for an utterly useless accomplishment.
A big topic of conversation in the world of television and media for the past few months has been the Hollywood Writer's Strike and what it could mean for the development of online video in 2008. Forbes had a little chat with Dan York, chief of content strategy and acquisitions for AT&T that revealed some interesting little conversational tidbits for those interested in the developing world of digital media.
The main questions asked: Will Hollywood go the free download route or will they populate subscription services on the web? Or will networks continue to run the show? The conversation shed some light on a fact that few of us bother to remember when fantasizing about web video, that being that the networks dictate where and when Hollywood airs their content, and cables, satellites, and networks control two-thirds of current content distribution. That's a pretty big hurdle for online video to overcome.
To put into perspective, York gave an example of a "major production network" that aired a show which registered 11 million viewers over 3 airing via cable and satellite. When the same show was put online for free, it only registered 62000 viewers over 3 days. Definitely not alot of money from 62000 views, at least not when compared to 11 million.
Things will change, though as the living room continues to evolve and the internet is brought to our HDTV's. That's when we'll start seeing the real evolution of online video.