Teenagers – those great respecters of copyright

7 04 2008

It wouldn’t be a Monday without another digital media scare story from the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper: aside from its sister newspaper’s report that video-rich services such as YouTube and the BBC’s iPlayer are melting the internet, today’s shock horror ‘revelation ‘ is that 95% of U.K. teenagers are illegally copying music. Well fancy that.

The article shares findings from a survey commissioned by industry group British Music Rights, quoting the group’s chief executive and one-time popster Feargal Sharkey as the findings painting an ominous picture for the next generation of musicians.

Yet a significant number of those naughty teens polled are sticking to tried-and-tested means of copying, such as borrowing eachothers’ CDs or recording from a radio broadcast. Brits have been doing this for decades at it isn’t the underlying cause of lacklustre performance from the music industry. Has Mr Sharkey never heard of peer-based recommendation? It might, after all, introduce his music to a whole new generation.

Mr Sharkey clearly doesn’t buy the wise words of Glenn Merrill, poached by EMI from Google last week to stop the rot at one of the world’s largest labels: “file sharing is a good thing for artists and not necessarily bad,” said Merrill. “We should do a bunch of experiments to find out what the business model is.”

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A week in online TV & video: wrap-up

4 09 2007

U.K. indie producer and Guardian columnist Anthony Lilley provides an excellent contextual wrap-up of the week’s key developments in the online video space, including:

  • The arrival of iTunes video downloads in the UK;
  • NBCU’s non-renewal of its video deal with iTunes;
  • South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s online syndication deal with Viacom — a watershed moment for the producers of the most sought after content;
  • Google’s deal with music collecting societies the MCPS and PRS.




Don’t want to be targeted, contextualised, watched? Get Firefox

3 09 2007

The International Herald Tribune reports on the AdBlock Plus plug-in for the Firefox browser and its “potential for extreme menace to the online advertising business model”.

The program creator claims 2.5 million users have so far installed the app., hardly a big enough figure to yet worry the likes of Google; but with its user base growing by 300,000 to 400,000 a month, this may soon change.





YouTube: and now the monetisation begins

22 08 2007

The long march toward Google attempting to monetise YouTube commences today, as the company unveils its contextual advertising strategy for clips on the site.

YouTube has shunned pre-roll ads, used by many of its competitors on broadcast and portal sites, electing instead for animated, transluscent overlays across the bottom of its video player console.

Ads appear 15 seconds after a clip has started playing, inviting viewers to click on the overlay. If clicked the original content pauses and the ad begins playing in the video console, if not the overlay disappears after 10 seconds (presumably to be replaced by another).

Reports range from 20 to 50 charter advertisers signed up for the launch of the new InVideo service, including BMW and NewLine Cinema. The rate card for InVision ads starts at US $20 per 1,000 times the ad is displayed

But Google doesn’t see it as a panacea, as Eileen Naughton, its director of media platforms told Reuters:  “In the history of Google, there has never been one ‘answer’. It’s not the end-all, but it’s a very promising format that we are ready to bring to the market.”

It’s less of a surprise that most ads will be paired with professionally-produced content, such as Warner Music Group videos, though Google is dipping its toe in the water of ads wrapped around consumer-generated content.

Now begins the task of Google making its $1.65 billion investment in YouTube pay off (not that it needs to pay the money back to anyone!)

Edit: early reaction to the new ads.





Content distribution just got smarter

20 08 2007

Echoing a similar deal between Google and Viacom prior to the former’s acquisition of YouTube, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Disney Channel actress Raven-Symone are to create original web video content, which Google will then distribute to target demographics via its AdSense  contextual advertising network.

MacFarlane will create around 50 animated shorts, while Symone will craft a series of ‘how to’ videos targeted at teens and tweens. The US $10 million bill for content creation is being underwritten by Media Rights Capital (MRC), the film financing vehicle in which ad group WPP, AT&T and Goldman Sachs have all taken stakes. Revenues from the ads embedded in each film will be split between MRC and Google.

MRC’s backers have given it a warchest of US $400 million per year — enough to finance 10 indie movies, five or six TV series and 10 to 20 broadband video series. The company has built its business on acquiring rights bundles where traditional studios have feared to tread; for example, it snapped up non English and Spanish-speaking territory rights seven-times Oscar-nominated Babel, which achieved $114 million in box office takings, 70% of which was from non-U.S. markets.

Variety is heralding the MRC/Google deal as one which throws open the doors to mass distribution for indie-produced content, while allowing each respective party to concentrate on the bits of the business they’re best at. In a further sign that online video distribution has passed the tipping point, the same report quotes MRC digital president Dan Goodman: “We’re looking at this as a business-model, not as a pilot.”





Paid online video: Google throws in the towel

11 08 2007

Google has conceded failure in its attempts to monetise video downloads and ended its 19-month experiment to offer paid programming, reports the Washington Post.

Google has been offering a range of video on a download-to-rent or download-to-own basis since January 2006, with titles ranging from US $2 to $20 and viewable only through a downloadable player.

Google’s decision to close the retail part of its video site indicates the company had less success selling content than attracting advertising spending, which accounts for 99 percent of revenue, said the New York Times.

“The current change is a reaffirmation of our commitment to building our ad-supported monetization models for video,” Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.

Visitors to Google’s sites watched 1.8 billion clips in May, accounting for 22% of videos viewed in the U.S., according to online measurement firm ComScore. However, the vast majority of these were via YouTube.





YouTube may need to re-brand as SueTube

7 08 2007

First came Viacom’s US $1 billion action against YouTube, then the U.K. Football Association and music publisher Bourne piled in.

Now others including the U.S. National Music Publishers Association, the U.K. Rugby Football League and the Finnish Football League Association have joined the class action.

Rumblings from Japan too, where a consortium of television, music and film companies is saying that the video sharing site isn’t doing enough to counter copyright infringment. This time it hasn’t turned legal, yet, but the criticism adds to a growing clamour that Google is dragging its heels over the introduction of content-fingerprinting technology.