Important news and views in web video, TV, convergence and digital culture during roughly the last month (5/1-5/31)! Double bullets (••) indicate a must-read!:
Web Video Market:
•• Netflix On The Rise: As usual, Netflix dominated news in web video. Netflix is now officially bigger than Comcast and plans to spend a lot more money on creating original series. For its part, Netflix sees itself as a helper, not competitor to TV, film or cable operators, paying up for syndication deals. But Dish are less-than-loving. It’s also now officially on Android devices. After broadcast networks slash and cancel shows, some speculated Netflix would save shows; at the same time, the site is also being credited for possibly decreasing piracy, which makes sense.
•• YouTube Ups Its Game: Not to be outdone, YouTube upgraded its movie-on-demand service. According to some reports it may be upgrading its web series and professional video distribution. It’s also expanding the options advertisers have to buy pre-rolls ads, probably to compete with Hulu and prepare for TV/web convergence. Its first NextUp class concluded its week of networking and producing, and it announced Creator Institutes at USC and Columbia College. It’s re-teamed with NBC for a Talent competition. To top it off, it’s beefing up its 3D technology — ReelSEO breaks it down.
• Justin.TV Upgrades Video Game Streaming (NewTeeVee): Live-streaming game play is on the rise, and Justin TV wants to further capitalize on it. In other news, Call of Duty‘s producer Activision is creating a subscription-based web series for its Elite members.
• Comcast Delivering Content Via IPTV? (Wall Street Journal; NewTeeVee): It’s testing it at MIT. Comcast has a reputation for being phobic of any internet-based distribution (though it has an iPad app like Time Warner Cable, Cox and Cablevision, who is having problems) but likely sees the benefit of getting away from set-top boxes, improving the consumer experience and fighting off competition from Netflix, etc. Convergence happening fast and strangely.
•• Star-driven Web Series Make Leaps: Confession is a web series hit; Image Entertainment is distributing the series as a feature-length film. Webby-host Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy debuts on Showtime this summer. In other news, NewTeeVee compiles various web series success stories. Web-grown stars Rhett & Link’s series to premiere on IFC. Even 50 Cent and Glenn Beck are going to the web, and Ashton Kutcher is supporting them as well. Is Felicia Day right?
•• Web Series Networks Take Flight (Tubefilter; New York Times): The beloved video networks redesigns its site to spotlight web series and enters into a distribution agreement with Collective (Fred, iJustine, and the ever-expanding Annoying Orange). New York Times profiles the rise of alternatives to YouTube, focusing on Blip. Speaking of web series networks, Tubefilter looks at TheWB.com, then and now, while Funny or Die and Revision3 are doing gangbusters. DoubleBounce is distributing failed TV pilots.
• EQAL Raises More Cash (Tubefilter): Network focused on celeb- and brand-friendly series pushing socio video.
• CBS Dips Into Original Web Series (Tubefilter)
Research and Policy:
• FCC Commissioner Defends Taking Comcast Job (New York Times): After approving Comcast-NBCU deal.
Hollywood and Tech:
• TV Is Not Dead (Nielsen): Demand for TV advertising is still strong, despite declining ratings and TV ownership. Fox is upping its web video ad load to merge TV/online, and most of its ad deals now include an online extension. MTV/Viacom has an web video production studio. TV is, as other reports have suggested, raising demand for audience data.
• Running out of Space: Limited wired and wireless bandwidth begins murmurs of consumer outcry. Netflix is largely to blame for terrestrial broadband caps (Netflix blames ISPs). A former FCC commissioner contextualizes the spectrum crunch.
• HBO Go and Cox Are Everywhere: HBO’s app is very popular.
• Warner Bros. Buys Flixster, Rotten Tomatoes (CNet): Conflict-of-interest geeks have a new hobby.