Canadian iTunes store adds U.S. prime-time shows

pple Inc.’s Canadian iTunes store on Thursday added a host of U.S. Television shows for download that were previously unavailable, effectively removing a barrier that was a source of frustration for consumers north of the border.

Episodes of popular American television shows from studios ABC, NBC, Fox and Warner Bros., including Lost, 24 and 30 Rock are now available on the iTunes store.

Single episodes in standard definition cost $2.49, while high-definition episodes cost $3.49. A full season of a program in standard definition is $49.99, while seasons in high-definition cost $69.99. As with other media downloadable from iTunes, the videos will play on PCs or Mac computers, as well as on an iPod, iPhone or on a television with the aid of an Apple TV set-top box.

The Canadian iTunes store first began adding television content in December 2007 and last summer added movie content, but the store has been hobbled in its offerings compared to the U.S. iTunes store, with the most popular prime-time American programs unavailable.

Simon Atkins, a spokesperson on behalf of Apple, would not comment on the reason for the sudden addition of new programming.

But Apple is facing increasing pressure in both Canada and the United States from other industry players eager to grab a piece of the on-demand video market.

Cable companies are already offering video-on-demand and time-shifting, personal video recorder options to keep customers, and Rogers Communications announced earlier this year it would be launching a broadband video portal to bring a video-on-demand service to the internet.

Television networks are also experimenting with making broadcasts available online as streaming, rather than downloadable, video. Last year CTV and ABC announced a deal that would allow CTV to stream full episodes of ABC series such as Lost and Grey’s Anatomy about a month after their initial broadcast.

In the United States, many of the large networks have teamed up on the video streaming site Hulu, but because of rights disputes the service is unavailable to Canadians unless they make an effort to fool the site into thinking they are ordering the service from the U.S. — a process that involves masking their internet protocol address.

As well, YouTube has begun hosting video streamed content from studios such as ABC, but again, that content is not currently available in Canada.

Apple is also not the only Canadian competitor in the downloadable video marketplace. Last May, Bell Canada launched its own Bell Video store, while Microsoft in 2007 launched downloadable movie rentals over Xbox Live, the online component of its video game console.

Payoff Over a Web Sensation Is Elusive

Susan Boyle is seen by millions online, but cashing in on the clicks has been tricky.

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Published: May 24, 2009

Susan Boyle, the frumpy Scotswoman who became a worldwide singing sensation last month, may wind up as the winner this week of “Britain’s Got Talent,” the hit ITV show.

YouTube

An image from a YouTube video of Simon Cowell during a performance by Susan Boyle.

After a six-week absence, she returned on Sunday night to sing “Memory” from the musical “Cats,” wowing the crowd and advancing to Saturday’s finale. The producers immediately posted her performance on the Internet for the rest of the world to see.

She has already won a popularity contest on YouTube, where videos of her performances in April have been viewed an astounding 220 million times.

But until now, her runaway Web success has made little money for the program’s producers or distributors.

FremantleMedia Enterprises, a production company that owns the international digital rights to the talent show, hastily uploaded video clips to YouTube in the wake of Ms. Boyle’s debut, but the clips do not appear to be generating any advertising revenue for the company. The most popular videos of Ms. Boyle were not the official versions but rather copies of the TV show posted by individual users.

The case reflects the inability of big media companies to maximize profit from supersize Internet audiences that seem to come from nowhere. In essence, the complexities of TV production are curbing the Web possibilities. “Britain’s Got Talent” is produced jointly by three companies and distributed in Britain by a fourth, ITV, making it difficult to ascertain which of the companies can claim a video as its own.

Before the current season of the talent show started on April 11, the parties tried to cut a distribution deal with YouTube, but they could not agree on terms, according to two people with knowledge of the talks. The people asked for anonymity before they would discuss confidential negotiations.

YouTube, a unit of Google, has been keen to make money from its hulking library of online video by signing contracts with copyright owners and sharing the revenue from ads it sells before, during, after and alongside the videos. Major media companies have shown varying degrees of interest in these deals, in part because they are reticent to split much money with Google.

Then Simon Cowell, an “American Idol” judge who is also a producer and a host of “Britain’s Got Talent,” helped introduce Ms. Boyle to the world.

Her performance was a made-for-TV fairy tale: a dowdy 48-year-old makes awkward jokes, the audience engages in a collective eye-roll, then the performer shocks everyone by bursting into a soulful, Broadway-worthy rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Cut to the amazed faces in the theater, hear the judge Piers Morgan call her singing “without a doubt the biggest surprise I have had in three years on this show,” and cut to commercial.

On YouTube, though, where the segment was viewed by more people than could ever have witnessed it on TV in Britain, there were no commercials. The tens of millions of views swiftly brought YouTube and the producers back to the negotiating table, according to the people with knowledge of the talks, and soon they reached a deal for video clips.

YouTube was especially interested in a deal, according to the people with knowledge of the talks, because the company was essentially losing money by serving every video stream without recouping any of the costs.

FremantleMedia, which had registered YouTube accounts for the next several seasons of “Britain’s Got Talent” in advance, uploaded dozens of clips from the show in late April. But American viewers are not seeing ads on the video pages, suggesting that the companies still do not see eye to eye.

FremantleMedia “is investigating the best routes to monetize the channel in conjunction with relevant partners,” said a spokeswoman, Belinda Thomas, who said the company would not comment further.

The production companies and YouTube worked through the weekend on a more comprehensive deal, one of the people with knowledge of the talks said. The deal would enable FremantleMedia to place ads against unofficial copies of the show, using YouTube’s “Content ID” system, which companies like Universal Music already use. For now, the copies simply show a message directing users to the official talent show channel managed by FremantleMedia.

“We’re glad to be helping Britain share its talents with the rest of the world,” a YouTube spokesman, Ricardo Reyes, said. “It’s up to our partners to decide what to do with their videos on YouTube.”

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How much money have the parties lost? In the days after Ms. Boyle’s debut, The Times of London published what it called a “crude estimate” suggesting that the parties involved had left $1.87 million on the table.

That is based on 75 million streams of the various clips of Ms. Boyle, which the newspaper estimated could get $20 to $35 for every 1,000 views in the United States, and more than that in Britain.

While other TV networks act quickly to remove videos when users upload them without copyright permissions, ITV has “nonexistent piracy enforcement on YouTube,” said David Burch, a marketing manager at TubeMogul, an online measurement firm.

The broadcaster and producers allowed the copies to stay online because they created buzz for the program. The clips have received more than a half-million user comments.

The view counts continued to grow as people awaited Ms. Boyle’s next performance. Visible Measures, a company that tracks online video placements, said Ms. Boyle was responsible for the fastest-growing viral video in the roughly five-year history of Web video. Only three other videos have received more clicks, said the company, which tracks viewing across about 150 sites. (YouTube is the biggest by far.)

Matt Cutler, the vice president for marketing and analytics at Visible Measures, said the level of interest was “off the charts.”

“On TV, watching the content is the end of the experience. Online, watching the content is the beginning of the experience,” Mr. Cutler said.

The history of viral videos has shown that when new clips about a subject become available — in Ms. Boyle’s case, her new performance on Sunday — it “actually boosts the viewership of the existing assets,” Mr. Cutler said.

Six hours after the new performance, dozens of copies were already circulating on YouTube.

Turner, Target, Others Testing Video in Email

Turner Broadcasting and Target have begun using a new service that allows them to insert video directly into promotional emails. When consumers click on a link, the video is simply ready to watch.

The system, branded as CertifiedVideo and launched in mid-April, comes from Silicon Valley’s Goodmail Systems and has obvious value to media companies — a la Turner with their appealing video. Turner is using the service for its NBA TV network, while concert promoter Live Nation is expected to also be an early adopter to plug its acts.

Goodmail CEO Peter Horan, who spoke Tuesday at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit, said an afternoon TV talk show is set to send out emails with “behind-the-scenes” footage, and of questions for the host that end up on the cutting-room floor — both of which will be exclusive to the email. He declined to name the show.

Marketers could use the embedded video for revenue generation as well as for promotional purposes by selling pre-roll ads for the videos.

Target has run two campaigns with video in its marketing emails, including one linked with Earth Day promoting green products. Horan said retailers can “leverage content and advertising created for other media.” (Target could also generate revenue by employing an extension of its offline campaigns with pre-roll for brands it sells.)

Lifestyle Web sites Daily Candy and Thrillist have signed on to use the system, as has Fox Digital for its Beliefnet site.

With streaming video exploding online, Horan said CertifiedVideo looks to bring “the best of the Web” to email.

When an email is opened, the video’s sound is off and doesn’t start until a consumer opts to view it. A Daily Candy-type outlet can insert video strategically in an email newsletter, while a network may opt to have an email with just video.

Marketers pay Goodmail either on a CPM basis per email sent out, or via a revenue share that could be based on sales of pre-roll ads.

CertifiedVideo is offered via AOL, but Horan said other ISPs will come on board soon. Five-year-old Goodmail, which specializes in email security, is based in Silicon Valley.

Marketers had the ability to embed video in emails several years ago, but ISPs effectively shut it down to avoid spyware and viruses.

Creating Powerful Digital Video Campaigns

by Peter Bowen, Yesterday, 2:30 PM

People see digital video screens everywhere they go today: at gas stations, coffee shops, gyms, taxis, grocery stores and sports stadiums. If you’re on the go, you’ll almost certainly run into multiple digital video screens during your weekly routine, whether they are large LCDs or smaller interactive screens. But how effective are they? And what’s the best way to incorporate them into your advertising campaigns?

Place-based digital video advertising has emerged as an extremely effective branding tool. According to research conducted by OTX, 44% of adults said they paid a lot or some attention to place-based digital video advertising, placing it ahead of billboards, the Internet and mobile phones, and on par with magazines, radio and newspapers. And 63% reported that place-based digital advertising “catches their attention” — more than any other media.

Still, if you want to make this new medium part of your integrated advertising campaigns, you’ll need to ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for the buck. Here are five strategies media buyers are using to do just that.

1. Build brand ubiquity with national reach to complement your TV plan.

Placed-based digital video advertising creates brand ubiquity for advertisers looking to reach mobile consumers. Until recently, the fragmented nature of this media, consisting of many private, regional digital video networks, made it difficult to execute a national buy. Companies like SeeSaw Networks, however, are now aggregating many of these networks, making it very easy to create brand ubiquity for today’s mobile audiences. SeeSaw, for example, delivers more than 50 million weekly gross impressions through its network of over 50 partners spanning over 30 different categories with over 26,000 locations in over 200 DMAs.

2. Capitalize on life patterns to deliver contextually relevant messages.

Life Pattern Marketing is a methodology that employs behavioral analysis to target groups of people — Alpha Moms or Young Urban Professionals for example — to reveal where they go during a busy week as they work, play, socialize and shop. With this knowledge, you can precisely identify a segment of the population, map where they go throughout a week, find the locations offering digital screens, and select the locations that provide the right context for your products and services-whether it’s reaching consumers interested in wellness at health clubs, medical offices and juice bars, or engaging sports fans via 50-inch plasma screens at sports bars and health clubs, Jumbotrons, or even a 2100-square-foot digital screen on a blimp at a NASCAR race or baseball game.

3. Leverage geo-targeting to precisely deliver your message. With place-based digital video, precision marketing tools let advertisers target a specific radius — 5, 10 or 20 miles around a very precise list of addresses. This lets brick-and-mortar retailers and companies with service restrictions precisely define the areas to advertise in. Precision targeting enables brand managers to reach more of their target audience, more often and at less cost, whether it’s a telecommunications company with a new service available only in some locations, or a restaurant chain wanting to confine its promotions to a specific distance from its locations.

4. Extend your interactive campaigns with mobile and place-based digital advertising. Consider this scenario: a pizza delivery chain allows customers to go online and set up a profile that includes an address and set of size and topping preferences. These customers can then order their preferred pizza using their mobile device simply by sending a text message. To increase the use of this service, the company launches a place-based digital video advertising campaign in contextually relevant locations, such as gas stations along key commute corridors. The ads remind consumers to use the Web service right there and then. Only digital video advertising makes this three-pronged interactive advertising strategy perfect for local promotions as well as national loyalty and rewards programs. The mobile phone is the “click-through” of place-based digital advertising.

5. Deliver contextually smart promotions to the right audience. By combining Life Pattern Marketing and precision targeting, place-based digital video advertising can take contextually relevant advertising to new levels. Think about creating dynamic digital video spots that run based on local conditions in particular zip codes — the ultimate in presenting the right offer in the right place at the right time. For example, ads at local gas stations can promote seasonally and locally relevant products such as snow chains during winter, batteries and radiator fluid during summer, and umbrellas and rain boots on stormy days — and the ads can be dynamically updated to reflect current inventory levels!

Disney Climbs Aboard Video Site Hulu,

The Hulu deal includes ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ but doesn’t include the popular cable show’Hannah Montana,’ at left.

By SAM SCHECHNER and ELIZABETH HOLMES

Walt Disney Co. took a major step to reshape the Web-TV landscape by jumping aboard video site Hulu, a move that brings together three of the biggest broadcast and cable network owners under the same banner.

Disney Channel

The Hulu deal includes ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ below, but doesn’t include the popular cable show’Hannah Montana,’ above.

ABC

In joining Hulu, Disney is ceding some control over the online distribution of its ABC television and other programming in exchange for an equity stake, marking a shift in the digital strategy of the entertainment giant.

Thursday’s announcement caps nearly four months of debate within Disney, as executives have weighed whether to seek more viewers by putting ABC television shows in the hands of a site co-owned by direct competitors. Hulu is a joint venture of General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal and News Corp. (News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.)

Disney will invest an unspecified amount of cash and commit to $25 million for marketing, according to people familiar with the talks. The amounts would be the same as what NBC Universal and News Corp. pledged when they formed the venture in 2007, these people say.

Each of the networks will now hold a roughly 27.5% stake in the venture, down from the 40% original stake held by NBC Universal and News Corp.

The remaining share will be divided between private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners and Hulu staff.

In return, Hulu will be the first outside site to stream ABC’s full-episode television programming itself. Hulu will soon stream ABC TV shows such as “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The site will also be home to archived titles from Disney’s TV and movie library, along with shows from ABC Family and Disney Channel.

The deal doesn’t currently include some of the most-watched cable programming in the Disney-ABC Television Group portfolio, such as “Hannah Montana” and the “High School Musical” franchise. Keeping those titles only on Disney sites could sidestep complaints from cable operators, which have objected to programmers’ splashing shows across the Web.

Both NBC Universal and News Corp., which owns Fox , also extended their exclusivity agreements by a year with Hulu, which were set to expire at the end of 2009, according to Peter Chernin, News Corp. president and chief operating officer.

Now all three networks will have their content exclusively on their own Web sites and on Hulu, Mr. Chernin said.

Hulu operates on a revenue-sharing basis with its content partners; Hulu ads sales teams don’t sell against one show but rather in “buckets” of programming grouped by audience. Only the content providers — meaning the media company providing the videos — are able to sell ads tied to a specific video.

Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, said the deal was “an evolution of the strategy” to expand the company’s audience. ABC.com viewers are older and female, while Hulu’s are younger and male. CBS Corp. is the only major broadcast network not participating in Hulu. CBS puts its shows on a wide array of sites, such as Veoh, but without offering them to any exclusively. Quincy Smith, head of CBS Interactive, has said he wouldn’t rule out putting some shows on Hulu in the future, on a nonexclusive basis.

* Find television listings at LocateTV.

Ad Sales at TV Sites Hits $1.1B in 2008

TVNEWSDAY, Apr 30 2009, 4:28 PM ET

Local online media grew 46 percent to $12.6 billion in 2008 and will shoot up another 3.9 percent this year to $13.1 billion, according to the seventh annual survey of the market from Borrell & Associates.

Sales at TV station-owned Web sites hit $1.1 billion in 2008, up 36 percent from 2007 and are poised to grow another 22.7 percent to $1.35 billion this year.

“At issue with TV sites is their reliance on one of the lowest-growth formats of interactive advertising — standard format display, banner and listing advertising,” the study says. “This caused a slippage in advertising market share in 2008, from 9.5 percent … in 2007 to 8.3 percent last year.”

In 2008, the local online market continued to be dominated by so-called pure plays Web companies with no old media ties — the likes of Google, Local.com, Interactive Corp., Marchex and ReachLocal. Altogether, they accounted for 47.6 percent of the market.

But for the first time since Borrell began tracking the market in 2001, the pure plays lost share to radio, directories and magazines. Their share was down 2.1 percent from last year.

Like TV station sites, newspaper-run sites also experienced a slight drop in share. Newspapers’ piece of the pie went from 26.9 precent to 26.4 percent.

Borrell attributes the sales gains of the legacy media sites to shoe leather. They have 98,000 salespeople on the street with existing relationships with local advertisers and can cross-sell online advertising products, the study says.

“And they are adding Internet-only sales reps at a rapid pace,” it says. “At the beginning of 2009, this sales force numbered about 9,000, up 30 percent from a year ago. At the risk of stating the obvious, more salespeople generally generate more sales,” the study says.