YouTube copyright filters from next month

31 07 2007

YouTube is to introduce a new content-fingerprinting technology as early as next month, reports Media Post. The disclosure came during a preliminary hearing in Viacom’s US $1 billion copyright infringement action against Google/YouTube.

Viacom attorney Donald Verrilli applauded the initiative but said it wouldn’t be appeased by this promised cure-all, the report adds. “We’d have been a lot happier if they’d put this in place when they launched,” he said.

The technology will be as sophisticated as fingerprint technology used by the FBI, claims the Associated Press, adding that the technology will copyright owners to provide a digital fingerprint that within a minute or two will trigger a block from YouTube whenever someone tries to upload a copyright video without permission.


Veoh’s new CEO on the challenges ahead

28 07 2007

Some interesting (if obvious) quotes in this Ad Age interview with Steve Mitgang, the former Yahoo exec tasked with leading the company’s ‘Panama’ search iniative and recently appointed CEO of online video aggregator Veoh:

Ad Age: Why has it been so hard to create a viable business around online video? It seems to be wildly popular among consumers.

Mr. Mitgang: According to the reports, YouTube only sold $30 million in ads last year because they didn’t build a system to support … that healthy tension between editorial and advertising. They just didn’t build it. They were trying to grow [an advertising vehicle] out of a legacy position as opposed to starting out the right way. We’ve built and are enhancing a discovery and recommendation engine to give users the right video and discover gems. Not just show you what you’re looking for. The flip side of understanding those user behaviors and recommendations is for targeting purchases. We can say, look at the car enthusiasts … [these ones] are primarily interested in German cars or muscle cars. Being able to tell that to the brand manager of Mustang or Mini, we’ll be able to help them better than anyone else. Whether watching user-generated or premium content we’ll help target against the right users.

Ad Age: From a consumer standpoint, how does the recommendation engine help?

Mr. Mitgang: There are big problems on horizon for video that we’re solving. In a world with billions of videos, it’s harder for people to know what’s interesting. That’s why building discovery or recommendation engines is key. Search only solves a transactional problem. Whether you’re shopping at Amazon or Netflix that discovery process is an important one. When people are using video more completely, in a 100,000 channel world, discovery’s important. How you manage videos is important, along with how you manage your bandwidth and disk space.

DailyMotion inks content deal with RDF USA

28 07 2007


Video sharing site DailyMotion is to license programming from independent producer RDF USA notes the Hollywood Reporter via Reuters.

RDF USA is the stateside off-shoot of the UK indie company best known for making inventive use of the space / time continuum during the British Queen’s photo shoot with Annie Liebovitz, disgracing the BBC. In the UK its hit TV shows have included Wife Swap, while its US subsidiary has produced commissions such as  Shaq’s Big Challenge for ABC. In February 2007, RDF established a digital unit, tasked with the creation of content intended for internet distribution.

Meanwhile, Daily Motion had 37.5 million unique users worldwide and 3.2 million in the U.S. in May and out-performed YouTube in its home countryof France

“YouTube dwarfs DailyMotion in the U.S., but its 4.7 million streamers (which translates to people who actually watch videos as opposed to just visiting) in April led other indie dot-com comers, including MetaCafe and, according to comScore Media Metrix,” said the report.

“While it will clearly be very difficult for any video site to replicate what YouTube has accomplished, is stating the strongest case at the moment, both domestically and internationally,” Erin Hunter, executive vp media and entertainment solutions at comScore, told the Hollywood Reporter.

DailyMotion is but the latest social network seeking to ramp up its selection of professionally-produced content; MySpace and Crackle (formerly Grouper) have announced similar initiatives during the past fortnight.

Fox, MySpace raise the game on web video

27 07 2007


MySpace and US broadcast net Fox have teamed with The Producers Guild of America for ‘The Storyteller Challenge’, a scheme which is billed to give up-and-coming filmmakers their own showcase on MySpace plus, for the best two entries, US $25K and development deal with Fox.

As posted previously, this mirrors a similar move by Sony’s newly re-christened social network Crackle.

Depending on which way you want to see it, it’s either a deeply cynical ploy by all concerned to squeeze more for less out of aspiring filmmakers, or a democratisation of opportunity for the next gen of talent.

In any event, the aim to raise the bar of their respective offers with more polished content can’t be entirely unrelated to a couple of recent pieces of research, such as this week’s Pew/Internet Online Video study, which indicate growing consumer preference for professionally-produced (vs. ‘amateur’) content. It’s also interesting to witness further evidence of the trend for the best produced-for-web content having the potential to make the leap on to TV.

Hey, let’s be careful out there

25 07 2007

You can’t get a clearer statement that social networks are representative of all parts of society than the revelation that among MySpace users in the US are 29,000 convicted sex offenders — and that’s presumably just the ones who’ve told the truth about their digital identities.

According to the report, Attorney General Roy Cooper is calling for state legislation which will mandate parental consent for children joining any of the social network sites. This naturally assumes parents know enough about how the internet works in order to be able to make such informed decisisons.

I’ve never forgotten how it got drummed into me as a little ‘un that you should be wary of strangers – yet trust is so often taken for granted online – and parents presumably think that if their kids are tapping away from the safety of home, this is safe.

It’s a thorny problem to tackle and one which I don’t believe legislation is the answer to. The online industry as a whole – from content providers through to ISPs – could be doing more to educate users, of all ages, about the risks inherent to interacting with others on the web. Watch this space for when government agencies make a greater play of the mass of personal data Google stores on all its users.

Stepping back a level further, we could ask ourselves some more searching questions about being better parents full stop (and you won’t find the answers in any manual or FAQs).

Sgt. Phil Esterhaus of the Hill Street precinct couldn’t have expressed it any better…

The first YouTube election

23 07 2007

So US voters are to be alllowed to put questions to presidential hopefuls via CNNs link-up with YouTube , a move BBC News suggests is “a transformational moment”. Just as media companies are gravitating towards social networks, chasing younger consumers who are shunning traditional outlets, so too the trend is increasingly being aped by politicians (witness the UK’s Labour government channel on YouTube). Will it emancipate the non-white vote so disgracefully under-represented last time round? Think technology, think broadband adoption, think social class and therein lies the answer. So transformational for some…

Chinese video sharing site targets > 30s

17 07 2007


When it comes to social networks, most press coverage is devoted to the usual suspects: MySpace, YouTube, etc. So interesting to see the latest stats from the world’s most populated country, China.

According to figures for the first half of 2007, is gaining market share over domestic competitors. However, unlike equivalent offers from market leader Tudou (dubbed China’s answer to YouTube), and western counterparts, youku is seeking to differentiate itself by targeting > 30s (including appropriately skewed content), a market which it believes is more lucrative. 

In common with the rest of the online video sector, agnostic of geography, 2007 will prove to be a year of consolidation: “There may be no more than five operators in the market by the second half of 2007 and no more than three players by next year,” said Mr. Victor Koo, CEO of “We are starting to see the turning point in this space.”

Sony hopes to give Grouper some Crackle

17 07 2007


Sony might’ve spent US $65 million acquiring social networking site Grouper, but since completing the deal last August, the site has struggled against titans such as YouTube and MySpace. Sony’s solution? A re-brand to Crackle and re-position of the site with an emphasis on more polished content from “emerging filmmaking talent”.

Sony promises payments, development deals and meetings with Hollywood execs for the best films submitted; as well as the opportunity for the very best to make the leap to TV screens via Sony’s TV channels.

The re-vamp offers content segmented into 12 ‘channels’ including animation, comedy short films, music, horror and “stories from real firefighters”. Just goes to prove that differentiation in this market takes priority over the legion of me-too offers.

Online video performance stats: June 2007

12 07 2007

AOL Video has outperformed MySpace during June, according to Nielsen/NetRatings stats for June, but the competition don’t even hit the halfway mark when it comes to YouTube’s performance.


1. YouTube (51 million unique visits)

2. Google Video (18 million)

3. AOL Video (16 million)

4. (=) Yahoo! Video & MySpace (15 million each)

Evolution of the Joost/Viacom deal

10 07 2007

More clues emerge on Viacom’s stake in Joost and whether the latest development is merely an expansion of that arrangement, or a sign that Viacom’s interest is in acquiring Joost outright .

Viacom’s VH-1 is to premiere the entire series of its new scripted comedy I Hate My 30s from next Monday, 10 days ahead of its first network airing. “We see this as Phase 2 in creating value with content owners,” gushed Alberdingk Thijm, executive vp content strategy and acquisition for Joost. What was phase 1? Putting more stuff up there than a few vids of girls in bikinis, boys on skateboards and black and white episodes of Lassie. 

Each episode will feature with pre-roll spots, together with cross-promotional for other Viacom interests on mobile and VOD.

The Viacom tie-up was opportunistic: Joost was desparate for big brand content partners and Viacom was looking at a way to put one in the eye of Google/YouTube following the great content take-down.

The key to the announcement is exclusivity in content before it can be watched anywhere else. Something which a handful of the major networks and MySpace are already wise to.

Prediction: irrespective of Viacom’s ulterior motives in the Joost deal, the relationship remains key for the latter. There are the beginnings of a “look what we did for Viacom” proposition in the making; handy to have up your sleeve at a time when the smart Madison Avenue / Charlotte Street money may be moving away from traditional media, yet many clients remain nervous about committing their buck to (in their view) such a nascent space.

Video has usurped music as primary growth area of online

5 07 2007


Online Video Activities Are Outpacing The Growth In Popularity Of Other Digital Media, While Social Networking Is Quickly Becoming The Dominant Online Behavior Globally,” say market insight firm IPSOS (btw, why do American press releases have to Put Every Word Starting With A Capital Letter?)

 1 in 5 adults with experience of social networks – phenomenal. 20% of most us is with experience of checking out these sites within the last 30 days, rising to almost half the online population in South Korea.


Pooches Reunited… or should that be DoggieTube?

5 07 2007


Like to be Linked In with a pedigree? Poke a mongrel? Yes, it had to happen, the world’s first social networking site for our four-legged friends. The Dogs’ Diaries section is particularly surreal.

The things the web makes possible…

4 07 2007

An interview with the founder here

Online Video Industry Index

3 07 2007

A handy directory of the main players in the online video business, both B2B and B2C; focused on the US market.

Joost continues its industry schmooze

30 06 2007

 Joost logo

Gotta hand it to these guys, they’re more serious about the product than many in this market; it’s pretty cool to use (if you like TV that way) and in addition to the opportunistic addition of Viacom (post-Google snub) as a content partner puts them in a pretty good place. The arrival of new CEO Mike Volpi draws on the experience of a Cisco veteran (or heir apparent to John Chambers), tasked with making Joost jump from the PC to TV.

“We have the opportunity, through the Joost platform, to combine that media fare with interactivity and all aspects of the Internet,” Volpi said. “Our number one task right now is to create this market,” gushed Volpi to the assembled audience of Hollywood execs, at an event for content owners and advertisers. “Long term, getting digital content onto viewers’ TV set is the Holy Grail of Web video, analysts say,” the report adds.

A recent report in Investors Business Daily [sorry subscription only] reveals that the Joost software has been downloaded 700K times. An even earlier recent report [sorry can’t recall source right now] suggests 600K registered users and 60K active users — over 10% of the installed base. Not bad for a brand new product with no mainstream consumer awareness.

IBD‘s take on Joost’s main competitors: Metacafe, Break, Sony’s Grouper, Blinkx, Jalipo and Babelgum.

Social networks and the social divide

30 06 2007

“A long-term research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites,” reports BBC News. Citing research by PhD student Danah Boyd from the School of Information Sciences at UC Berkeley, the study suggests “those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college. By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.”

“Ms Boyd also found far more teens from immigrant, Latino and Hispanic families on MySpace as well as many others who are not part of the “dominant high school popularity paradigm”.

“MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers,” Ms Boyd said.