Xfinity and Disney/ABC Television Group have announced that Xfinity TV customers can now access three new authenticated TV+ products – WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior — at home or on-the-go — via a suite of new apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and online at WATCHDisneyChannel.com, WATCHDisneyXD.com and WATCHDisneyJunior.com.
The three new WATCH products are the first-ever to provide authenticated users with both access to live, linear network streams as well as an extensive offering of advantaged window “on demand” episodes.
Xfinity TV customers, who subscribe to Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior networks as part of their monthly video service, can now stream these channels live online and via the convenience of their iOS devices. In addition, Xfinity TV customers can view a variety of top series including “Good Luck Charlie,” “Shake It Up,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “TRON: Uprising,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” from Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior on these new WATCH products, on Xfinity On Demand, Xfinity.com/tv and through the Xfinity TV app on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and Xfinity TV Player app on Android-powered devices, anytime.
The free Watch apps include a simple, kid-friendly user interface that brings the current online viewing experience to the high-resolution, Multi-Touch displays of iOS devices. Once a user downloads one of the WATCH apps or visits one of the WATCH websites, they will receive sign-in instructions to verify their Comcast Xfinity TV credentials, allowing them access to their favorite Disney Channel, Disney XD or Disney Junior programs on their device(s).
Non-authenticated users of the WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior services will have access to a limited number of “on demand” episodes each month.
Later this year, Xfinity TV will also integrate all of the content available through WATCH apps on Xfinity.com/tv as well as on other viewing platforms. Today, Xfinity TV offers more than 75,000 TV shows and movies, including a variety of kids and family programming, across Xfinity On Demand, Xfinity.com/tv and the Xfinity TV and Xfinity TV Player apps for iOS and Android, respectively.
The launch of Watch Disney Channel, Watch DisneyXD and Watch Disney Junior, as well as the recent launch of WatchESPN with Comcast is part of a long-term, comprehensive distribution agreement between Comcast Corporation and The Walt Disney Company that was announced in January, 2012. The agreement will deliver Disney’s sports, news and entertainment content to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers into the next decade on televisions, computers, tablets and handheld devices. The new agreement enhances the multichannel business model and supports the companies’ mutual goal to deliver the best video content to customers across multiple platforms using the latest technology and cloud innovation.
For the first time ever, Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ABC or Disney shows live or On Demand and across multiple screens. The companies also agreed to collaborate over the term of the deal to create new, innovative viewing experiences for Xfinity TV customers.
“What if your tablet or phone knew what you were watching on TV and presented bonus features without you having to lift a finger?” asks Microsoft. To kick-start the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft yesterday unveiled the Xbox SmartGlass, an application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and other portable devices that connects phones, PCs and tablets with the Xbox 360 console “to make your entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun.”
Users will, for example, be able to use a tablet to call up a play in the game "Madden NFL" and then play it on a TV screen, or, control websites on a TV using the tablet's touchscreen.
This solidifies Microsoft’s “head start in the battle for every screen,” describes The New York Times. Apple’s iPhones, iPads and and computers are well connected, but Microsoft has sold 67 million Xbox 360 video game consoles and has more than 40 million active Xbox Live members. The company claims its video consumption has grown by 140 percent each year on the Xbox since 2008.
Forbes calls Google and Apple “wild cards” in the connected TV race. “Google’s first connected TV got lots of attention, but little sales,” but it will try again this summer with models from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio. Apple’s smart TV may or may not be out by the end of the year: Apple has been shopping hardware providers and contract manufacturers, but rumor has it the Apple TV will cost in excess of $1,000. The Xbox allows you to keep your old one.
IE for Xbox
Microsoft will launch Internet Explorer for Xbox this fall in all countries where Xbox and Xbox LIVE are available. Between the Xbox, the Kinect gaming platform and Xbox SmartGlass, Microsoft claims users will be able to surf the Internet voice control, and navigate using mobile devices for “an incredibly easy Web browsing experience on the television.”
Entertainment Via Xbox
Adding to the current catalog of customized sports, TV, movies and music apps from TV and entertainment providers, Microsoft is claiming that Xbox will become “your home for sports,” with NBA Game Time, NBA.com League Pass Broadband (U.S.), NHL GameCenter LIVE and ESPN, including the "SportsCenter" and "SportsNation" properties, plus NFL, MLB and NBA coverage.
Finally, Microsoft announced 35 new content partners (both audio and video) launching on Xbox over the next 12 months, which include Comedy Central Stand Up; Nickelodeon; Paramount Movies; The Weather Channel; and Univision, the Spanish-language channel (and the first Spanish-language channel on Xbox Live).
With no fanfare at all, The New York Times has joined ABC News, NBC, Fox and The Wall Street Journal on Hulu. As the Niemen Journalism Lab describes, NYT has signed a content licensing agreement with the streaming video site.
Right now, there is just one Times offering: “Punched Out: The Life and Death of an N.H.L. Enforcer,” which NYT produced alongside a three-part series about hockey player Derek Boogaard. In-stream advertisers included State Farm and Verizon. But NYT generates plenty of video content to supplement each of its print categories (e.g., "The Future of Zoos" in its Environment category). The video.nytimes.com content sits behind the NYT paywall, but Hulu readers will be able to see the content for free on computers, with a Hulu Plus subscription on mobile devices.
By contrast, The Wall Street Journal has 57 titles on Hulu, many of them "Top 5 In Tech," but also content like its 31-minute special report, "Europe at the Brink" (with Citizens Bank advertised instream and in a display ad).
Newspaper video content is not “journalism lite”: A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was up for a national Emmy. (NYT has yet to be so nominated.)
Nor is Hulu “broadcasting lite.” ComScore in February revealed that Hulu is ninth among online video content properties, behind Google sites, VEVO and Viacom Digital among others; but first in video ad impressions. In April, Hulu delivered 1.6 of the 9.5 billion video ads, followed by Google Sites with 1.3 billion, BrightRoll Video Network with 943 million, Adap.tv with 881 million and TubeMogul Video Ad Platform with 831 million. And Hulu in April announced that it would guarantee 100% completion of its in-stream ad placements. (It already delivers 96%.)
NYT’s Ann Derry, who heads NYT’s video property, told Niemen that the Hulu channel will be for longer-form documentary treatments like “Punched Out.” It is a repackaging of a three-part series that ran on nytimes.com last December.
Newspaper websites have been weak on the rich media content that attract visitors. But a select few are venturing into over-the-top broadcasting, producing video on par with their TV competitors, reports Diana Marszalek of TVNewsCheck. The websites for the Denver Post, Boston Globe, the Twin Cities’ StarTribune, SeattleTimes and Louisville’s Courier-Journal are all moving into in-house-produced video content. And they are attracting talented journalists, like DenverPost.com’s Anne Herbst, a national Edward R. Murrow award winner.
“The good news from my perspective is that content is king, not the medium any longer,” said Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Chairman Kevin Benz in an interview with TVNewsCheck. That enabled the StarTribune.com, a newspaper website, to win regional Emmy awards. A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was similarly up for a national Emmy.
And content drives traffic: StarTribune.com enjoyed a 297% increase in videos played from April 2011 to April 2012, though the paper did not detail how that translated into dollars. Presumably, it is a strong case-builder for display advertising.
Local papers will not have quite the budgets the manpower or budgets to become ersatz TV stations, but they can meet the trend halfway. Digital First Media last week announced that it would launch 12 new community newsroom projects, to build upon the success of the Newsroom Café launched by the Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn. The Café was an experiment that led to the Register Citizen being named the 2011 Innovator of the Year by the Associated Press Media Editors.
All of its Denver outlets, including The Daily Camera, dailycamera.com, BuffZone.com and BoCoPreps.com in Boulder, Colo., are planning a variety of community engagement approaches, including enabling local residents to upload video they shoot of sporting events, or of recording sessions for local bands in the “Camera Garage studio.”
That content will not have the quality of, for example, a story produced by Herbst for DenverPost.com; it will lean more toward the iReports on CNN.com. But in time, it should be a boon to newspapers that rely in display, search and targeted ads.
Five months after Comcast announced it, its Xfinity TV subscribers now have access to its ESPN gateway to streaming sports and news. Comcast is offering an authenticated app (iOS only, for now) to access WatchESPN.com.
As paidContent describes, this will double the number of households with access to WatchESPN to 40 million. The app gives the viewer more targeted choices than, for example, XfinityTV.com or the Xfinity TV app, by allowing sports fans to select individual programs from across the ESPN network. Still, it is integrated with the Xfinity TV app, which enables viewers to set up remote recording.
But can you advertise on it? Not yet, but soon. LostRemote interviewed Amy Phillips, the Senior Director of Communications at ESPN, who said “We initially stripped out ads but are introducing more and more advertising into streams [but] we’re working with advertisers and agencies to explore those opportunities.”
They will have to, to stay in line with ESPN President John Skipper’s pledge to maintain broadcaster value. Skipper in February commented that the channel will not use digital platforms to draw viewers away from cable and satellite. “We don’t cannibalize ourself, we use those platforms to cross-promote,” with mobile alerts and fantasy game applications, among other offerings. So perhaps ESPN is speaking with its existing advertisers for upsells and cross-media packages.
Right now there are no social features, so it appears the app is in its infancy, design-wise and business-wise.
Nearly six in 10 core radio listeners (57%) start their day with another medium or gadget, rather than turning on the radio, reports Inside Radio. That according to media analyst and consultancy Jacobs Media, in their Techsurvey8 report.
The 18-34 year old demo is more likely to engage with email or Facebook as their first media interaction of the day, along with their first cup of joe.
The Techsurvey8 results were gathered online from January 31-February 15 from listeners of 170 broadcast stations across the U.S. and Canada, contributing 57,358 total respondents. Jacobs Media surveyed 170 stations, 12 radio formats and 57,358 radio listeners, claiming it is the “largest technology survey ever conducted for radio.”
As a format, radio is hardly dead, but, is a more high-touch medium which, like TV, is finding itself having to meet digital natives wherever they listen.
Why AM/FM Radio still matters: While "favorite songs" and personalities rank highest, there are four emotional triggers that listeners value:
1. Having a radio on while they work
2. Putting them in a better mood
3. Providing a feeling of companionship
4. Offering an escape from the pressures of everyday life
Pandora is a (pure) player: By far, Pandora is the most popular pure-play Internet option, as nearly half (45%) of "streamies" listen to some extent, easily besting competitors like iHeartRadio (19%), Spotify (7%), TuneIn Radio (7%), and Slacker Radio (5%).
However, Pandora users are split as to whether the Internet pure play should be considered "radio" – 43% "yes" – 49% "no."
Protecting The In-Car Listening Franchise: More than half of all respondents say that most of their radio listening takes place in cars. One in ten (9%) now drives a car equipped with a system like Ford's Sync, especially fans of News/Talk and Sports/Talk.
Smartphones, Apps and Tablets coming on strong: More than half (52%) own a smartphone.
Tablets are becoming a significant part of the digital story. One-fourth say they own one (24%), and iPad has a big lead over its competitors.
The Social Media tidal wave: Eight of ten are on Facebook. More than one-fifth use Twitter, and Sports/Talk emerges as the format where Twitter rules.
"Both Nielsen and AOL are pushing toward a more TV-like ad model," describes Adweek, hoping to go head-to-head with TV ad buyers and cull some of those mammoth TV budgets.
AOL has announced it will offer advertisers guaranteed audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties. This is the first time that online gross rating points (GRPs) – based on audience demographics, rather than clicks or impressions – are being used as the basis for advertiser guarantees on the Web. AOL will leverage Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reach, frequency and GRP measurement to determine how well it delivered ads to the desired target audience. As the digital content NewFronts (a digital upfront) approach, AOL is the first major publisher to use a TV-based guarantee model for its online video inventory. Online video ads are one of the fastest-growing formats: eMarketer predicted a 52% increase in online video ad spend for 2011.
“As marketers and advertisers increasingly shift dollars from traditional television advertising to the Web, partnering with Nielsen puts AOL in a unique position to offer a more cost effective mechanism for reaching targeted audiences and a better or equal brand lift, reach and recall,” said Ran Harnevo, Senior Vice President, AOL Video. “AOL has a significant volume of high-quality content valued by advertisers and we are excited to take the lead on showing marketers the value and differentiated results we can guarantee.”
“With online video increasingly playing a role in traditional TV Upfront buying and selling, consistent cross-platform metrics are becoming more and more critical to proving the true value of advertising on a site, in terms that are familiar to brand marketers,” said Steve Hasker, President, Media Products and Advertiser Solutions, Nielsen. “This is the first time that online GRPs – based on audience demographics, rather than clicks or impressions – are being used as the basis for advertiser guarantees on the Web. We are pleased that AOL, the first major publisher to use an audience demo-based guarantee model for its online video inventory, turned to Nielsen’s highly accurate reach, frequency and online GRP measurement to drive increased confidence in their platform as a brand medium. We look forward to working with them to demonstrate their ability to effectively deliver on their clients’ goals.”
AOL will host clients at its Digital Content NewFront presentation on April 24 in New York, NY, and will premier significant video opportunities on sale to marketers and advertisers. AOL offers a rich online video platform with original programs including “Sessions,” “Heidi Klum on AOL,” “Moviefone’s Unscripted” and “The Engadget Show.”
Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings launched in August 2011 providing the first-ever Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited GRP for online advertising campaigns of any size with metrics similar to those used for TV advertising, enabling cross-media planning and analysis. Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings is part of the Nielsen Campaign Ratings suite, which provides a full range of premiere advertising audience measurement.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released the first comprehensive update to its in-stream video advertising standards since 2008. Its “IAB Video Suite” of new and updated specifications is designed to deliver a variety of enhanced video advertising experiences while simplifying technical execution, said IAB in a release.
The upshot is standardization, reports Adweek. “The problem has become acute for Web video,” it said. And as video is consumed in more places on the Web, “it's that much harder to buy—since every publisher seems to use different technology and different tactics for delivering Web video ads.” A benefit to consumers, if not advertisers, is that the suite includes protocols for skippable ads. Or as Adweek describes, “You won’t see that beer ad 10 times in a row.”
IAB spent more than a year crafting the suite in an open forum with leaders from over 45 member companies in IAB’s Digital Video Committee. The new specs include critical updates to its key specs – VAST and VPAID – and the establishment of a new protocol, VMAP.
The suite’s three specs are devised to work together as part of a thorough video advertising offering:
- Video Ad-Serving Template (VAST) – a universal protocol for serving in-stream video ads, permitting ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple compliant publishers/video players
- Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) – a common communication protocol between ad units and video players that enables rich ad experiences and detailed event reporting back to advertisers
- Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) – a new protocol that allows content owners to describe where ad breaks should be placed in their content when they do not control the video player or the content distribution outlet
- “These specs help creativity flourish by making it easier for companies to buy and sell video ad inventory while allowing marketers to deliver in-stream interactive video ads with the confidence that consumers will always receive a consistent viewing experience across different media players,” said Steve Sullivan, Vice President, Ad Technology, IAB.
VAST 3.0, VPAID 2.0, and VMAP 1.0 offer a range of benefits to advertisers, publishers, and consumers. Advancements include:
- Support for “skippable” video ads that allow for publisher pricing models based on ads that play to completion
- Support for “pods” of multiple ads to be displayed in a single ad break, allowing for the creation of viewing experiences similar to broadcast television
- Support for the display of in-ad privacy notices recommended by the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulation Program for Online Behavioral Advertising
- Ability for a single ad to play seamlessly across different devices including iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as certain connected television platforms
- Clarity surrounding compliance, while permitting vendors to support only the ad formats they use
Google for one is delighted with the updates, saying on its DoubleClick blog “We’ve been longtime supporters of video advertising standards. We’re happy to announce our support for the latest set of guidelines announced at the IAB’s Digital Video Marketplace Event today. This means that we’ll be implementing VAST 3.0, VPAID 2.0 and VMAP 1.0 across our video advertising products.”
So is Adap.tv, and its Vice President of Product Ted Grenager served as co-chair of the IAB Digital Video Committee Technical Standards Working Group. “All of us on the Working Group collaborated closely with the IAB team with one goal in mind–the expansion of the digital video advertising marketplace. Now, with these new specs in place, I think we will increasingly see advertisers using them to create innovative new ad experiences for consumers, and distribute and measure them across partners and devices.”
If skippable ads seem like a downer for advertisers, Payam Shodjai, product manager of Google/YouTube believes it will “[incentivize] creative agencies to develop more engaging ads.”
It is worse than we thought, reports Ad Age. A study of consumer habits commissioned by Time Warner and conducted by Boston’s Innerscope Research found that consumers in their 20s (the so-called "digital natives") switch media venues 27 times per nonworking hour; roughly 13 times during a half-hour TV broadcast.
The study had just 30 participants, and as Ad Age described it, offers some insight into a generation that “always has a smartphone at arm's length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment's notice.”
The study was a 50/50 mix of digital natives and “digital immigrants” who grew up on TV and radio, but adapted to smart phones and
The study's subjects were split evenly between natives and "digital immigrants" (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones). The immigrants showed more patience, switching media venues 17 in a nonworking hour versus 27 for the natives.
The participants wore both biometric belts to measure their physical responses, and glasses with embedded cameras to track their platforms and durations while watching 300 hours of programming. They channel- and media-surfed at a dizzying rate, “Looking for…engaging content, and they dismiss so much stuff,” Dan Albert, senior VP-media director at Chicago's MARC USA agency told Ad Age.
The challenge, said an interviewee from Unilever, becomes that if consumers are “snacking” on short amounts of input, then marketers and advertisers must communicate in “snack-like bits of messaging.” Unilever owns both the Dove and Axe brands, among dozens of others.
One (expensive) method of capturing their attention is to “surround” consumers with ads that appear across several venues, as long as the viewer is tuned to the same content. So American Express might run a print ad in a magazine, plus pre-roll ads on the magazine’s digital version and smartphone and tablet apps. Presumably, Facebook and targeted ads reach those consumers as well, for additional exposures.
A Q4 2011 Nielsen survey found that 45% of U.S. consumers who owned tablets use them daily while watching TV, with similar results among smart phone users.
Proving that The Los Angeles Times has a sense of humor, LAT and Nerdist Industries have announced creation of “Hero Complex: The Show” an original entertainment news program for the new Nerdist Channel on YouTube.
Nerdist Channel debuted on Monday (April 2, 2012), and is the latest venture of Nerdist Industries, a multi-platform creator of genre and popular culture content. Nerdist “Has emerged as one of the most respected tastemakers in genre entertainment,” said Times Director of Entertainment Advertiser Marketing and Hero Complex General Manager Jeff Dellinger. “’Hero Complex,’” an LAT blog, “is one of the leading sources of all things geek, and creating a show for their new channel presents exciting opportunities to extend our brand with the audience that matters most.”
If a YouTube channel seems—well—well, unfitting for the LAT, a quick check of the Nerdist channel reveals targeted local ads (e.g. for a Jeep dealer within 10 miles), plus banner and video ads for the upcoming film release “Battleship” and the small business website provider Getyour.net.
Set to debut the week of April 9, “Hero Complex: The Show” fittingly brings The Times pop culture writer Geoff Boucher together with a who’s-who of fanboy superstar talent on the channel, including the Nerdist himself Chris Hardwick, Neil Patrick Harris, the Kids in the Hall, Harry Knowles, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Rob Zombie.
"No one gets the kind of nerd culture coverage that Geoff Boucher is able to get, nor at his level of quality, which one could only describe as amazetastic," said Hardwick. “Were I smaller, I would stow away in his pocket so that I could be present for his one-on-one interviews with the actors, directors and writers that I idolize. Since I'm not, I've somehow tricked him into doing the next best thing: capturing it on video. I am incredibly lucky that Geoff has decided to port the genius of Hero Complex over to Nerdist Channel." (Among Hardwick’s offering: a countrified song about mucus membranes called “Holes.” “Tubes connect your holes to your holes to your body/Makin’ sure of what comes out and where.”)
The first of 15 planned episodes of “Hero Complex” will feature a one-on-one interview with legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott, who created much of the visual language of contemporary science fiction with "Blade Runner" and "Alien" and this summer returns to the genre with "Prometheus." The director of "Gladiator," "Thelma & Louise" and "Black Hawk Down" will discuss his past, present and future in cinema, from his painting studies with David Hockney to his intriguing thoughts on another "Blade Runner." The second and third episodes will feature "Star Trek" icon Leonard Nimoy and Eisner Award-winning comic book writer and cartoonist Ed Brubaker ("Captain America," "Criminal") respectively. Available on both Nerdist Channel and Hero Complex, each show will offer Boucher’s unique perspective and voice on a broad range of topics, from the newest nerd crazes to films with massive cult followings to the most appropriate way to swing a cape while wielding a pen.
“Living in Los Angeles and watching the explosive growth of Hero Complex and appreciating what it has come to mean to genre fans, fanboys and fangirls everywhere, it gives us tremendous pleasure to announce this joint effort with Geoff Boucher, Hero Complex and the Los Angeles Times. A common thread throughout our Nerdist Channel lineup is the authenticity of the people and properties we are collaborating with; Geoff and Hero Complex set the standard in that arena,” said Peter Levin, Chief Executive Officer of Nerdist Industries.
Hero Complex debuted in 2008 as the first major mainstream news site dedicated to the increasingly influential realm of science fiction, fantasy and superheroes. It has rapidly become one of latimes.com’s most popular offerings and won numerous awards. Hero Complex stories are now regularly published in The Times print edition and its ongoing expansion includes the Hero Complex Film Festival and screenings of fan favorites and upcoming releases with artist Q&A’s throughout the year. It also anchors a dedicated area for comics and graphic novels at the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (April 21-22), which continues to grow in scope and distributes special glossy magazines at San Diego & New York Comic-Cons and WonderCon.