NBA introduces live games on U.S. mobile devices

* NBA to show live games on iPhones, Android cell phones

* More than 59 million mobile devices could use product

By Ben Klayman

CHICAGO, Oct 29 (Reuters) – The National Basketball Association will give its digital offering the full court press, introducing complete live games on mobile phones, including Apple Inc’s iPhone, for $40 a year.

Previously the NBA, whose season tipped off on Tuesday, offered only game highlights on mobile phones. The league already offers subscription packages to watch live games on PCs as well as an added package on cable and satellite TV.

NBA league attendance hit 21.5 million last year. Research firm IDC estimates there are potentially 59 million mobile phones in the U.S. that can carry the new package.

Major League Baseball began selling live games to iPhone users in June. The National Hockey League offers live games through mobile phones in Canada, but not the United States. The National Football League offers live games on mobile devices to some DirecTV (DTV.O) customers.

The NBA package allows fans to watch more than 40 live games each week. It also offers digital video recording technology to pause and rewind 30 seconds of action and access to up to two days of archived games. Users also will be able to get game statistics while watching the action.

Like the TV and Internet packages, locally broadcast games will be blocked for users in their markets, as well as nationally televised games.

Carriers include AT&T Inc (T.N), exclusive U.S. provider for Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone, and T-Mobile USA, a Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) unit that sells phones based on Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) Android. Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile service provider, will begin offering its first Android phone on Nov. 6.

By year end, the NBA product also will be available to users of Research in Motion’s (RIM.TO) BlackBerry. The product works on high-speed cellular networks and Wi-Fi, a short-range network technology. (Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Derek Caney)

Thomson Reuters

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Disney Touts a Way to Ditch the DVD

Purchase of a ‘Keychest’ Movie Would Allow On-Demand Viewing From Multiple Devices

Wallstreet Journal

Walt Disney Co. is close to unveiling technology that it says will enable entertainment companies to adapt their business models to a new reality in which consumers increasingly rely on computers and cell phones in place of DVD players and TVs.

The technology, code-named Keychest, could contribute to a shift in what it means for a consumer to own a movie or a TV show, by redefining ownership as access rights, not physical possession.

The technology would allow consumers to pay a single price for permanent access to a movie or TV show across multiple digital platforms and devices—from the Web, to mobile gadgets like iPhones and cable services that allow on-demand viewing. It could also facilitate other services such as online movie subscriptions.

The company has been quietly demonstrating Keychest for other movie studios and technology companies in a bid to get them to sign on. It plans to unveil the technology next month.

Keychest aims to address two of the biggest hurdles blocking widespread consumer adoption of movie downloads: the difficulty of playing a movie back on devices other than a PC or laptop, and limited storage space on those computers’ hard drives.

As such, Keychest could put Disney on a collision course with an initiative, known as the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, or DECE, that has similar goals.

Keychest uses the same “cloud computing” logic that underlies Web-based applications, such as Google Docs, permitting users to store files and photographs on remote Internet servers and access them from anywhere, rather than keeping them on their own computers.

With Keychest, when a consumer buys a movie from a participating store, his accounts with other participating services—such as a mobile-phone provider or a video-on-demand cable service—would be updated to show the title as available for viewing. The movies wouldn’t be downloaded; rather, they would reside with each particular delivery company, such as the Internet service provider, cable company or phone company.

The rollout of the new technology comes at a critical juncture for the movie industry. DVD sales, once a financial mainstay for Hollywood, have fallen as much as 25% at some studios. Blu-ray discs and digital downloads from sites like Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store, haven’t grown quickly enough to offset the losses. Blu-ray and downloads combined currently make up just 11% of home-video sales, according to industry estimates, with DVDs representing the other 89%. That proportion could grow to 20% next year.

The decline in DVD revenue has undermined the business model Hollywood has relied on for more than a decade. In Disney’s most recent quarterly earnings report, its movie studio recorded an operating loss for the first time since 2005.

Bob Chapek, president of home entertainment at Disney Studios, says the company doesn’t expect Keychest to deliver tangible financial results for five years. But he predicts that in combination with Blu-ray, digital distribution “should bring our category back up to a healthy state where we can expect growth in the future.”

The company declined to name other companies that may have agreed to participate. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest shareholder, and people in the entertainment industry say it would be reasonable to infer that Apple would cooperate with such an initiative.

To be sure, other movie studios may be hesitant to put a competitor in charge of access to their content. And Keychest would allow movie studios to dictate how many devices, connected to which distribution networks, a given title can be played on. That could limit consumer choice and make the system confusing.

The competing DECE effort is being assembled by a consortium headed by Mitch Singer, the chief technology officer of Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment. DECE, announced just over a year ago, includes five major Hollywood studios, plus tech companies like Comcast Corp. and Intel Corp.

Disney and Apple have been notably absent from that group.

Disney executives concede that the Keychest and DECE have similar goals. But they argue their effort represents a more streamlined approach. Instead of designing a new set of standards and formats, as DECE is trying to do, and having participants sign on, Keychest works using a combination of digital file formats that are already common, and recognized by a wide range of existing devices.

Disney executives insist that movie studios, cable companies and Internet service providers who participate in DECE could also use the new Keychest platform. Neither DECE nor Keychest has set a date for when the service would be available.

With Keychest, when a consumer buys a movie from a participating digital-download store, his accounts with other participating services – such as a mobile-phone provider and a video-on-demand cable service—would be instantly updated to show the title as available for viewing.

The Keychest process is enabled by a system that generates a unique “key” when the movie is purchased, then stores that key in a repository. Other distribution services that are Keychest participants automatically query that repository and learn what movies the consumer has paid for.

Movies bought on discs, whether DVD or Blu-ray, could also generate an access key. In the case of a DVD, the user would need to manually type in a code; Blu-ray players are designed to connect to the Internet, and could send codes automatically.

The idea is that if numerous content and hardware companies sign on to Keychest, users could have easy access to a library of movies without toting around discs or data files.

In theory, even if an online entertainment company went out of business, taking down a user’s entire movie library in the process, that user would still have access to the same titles via other services.

“Our vision for the future is that consumers won’t have to think about where they bought [a movie], how they bought it, or when they bought it,” says Mr. Chapek.

Write to Ethan Smith at ethan.smith@wsj.com

Watch It: Online Video Tiny But Growing

Watch It: Online Video Tiny But Growing
by Wayne Friedman, Yesterday, 4:55 PM

online video/small percentage up

Although Internet video is still a tiny fraction of all video consumed — somewhere around 2%, according to recent estimates — activity still grows at a healthy double-digit percentage clip.

For last month, The Nielsen Co. says total online video streams grew 24.8% in September versus the same time period a year ago, to 11.02 billion streams. The time spent by viewers during the month was at 195.2 minutes, up the same 24.8% versus September 2008.

Both those measures, however, were down versus August’s data: 3% in total streams and off 4.7% in the time per viewer per month.

Unique monthly September viewers also climbed year-to-year — up 12.3% to 139.3 million. The number of streams per viewer also was up 11% to 79.1 average streams per month.

YouTube still commands over 50% of all video streams online in the U.S. — totaling 6.7 billion — and more than 76% of all unique viewers in the U.S. with 106 million.

Hulu.com is far back in second place — with 437.4 million streams and 13.5 million users. Yahoo has a little more than half the number of streams of Hulu — 228.5 million — but over twice the unique monthly visitors, at 30.1 million.

Behind Hulu and Yahoo is MSN/WindowsLive/Bing and Fox Interactive Media. MSN has 180.1 million streams and 18.1 million uniques; Fox has 139.6 million streams and 14.3 million uniques.

Social-media company Facebook comes in 10th place overall in the number of streams — at 110.4 million — but is in third place for unique viewers of video, at 23.1 million.

Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for September 2009 (U.S.)

RANK

Video Brand

Total Streams (000)

Unique Viewers (000)

1

YouTube

6,688,367

106,180

2

Hulu

437,407

13,519

3

Yahoo!

228,494

30,084

4

MSN/WindowsLive/Bing

180,104

18,109

5

Fox Interactive Media

139,634

14,342

6

Nickelodeon Kids and Family Network

127,654

5,303

7

Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network

123,665

6,062

8

MTV Networks Music

116,839

9,647

9

ESPN Digital Network

114,652

9,299

10

Facebook

110,418

23,161

Source: The Nielsen Company

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Warner Music Group Launches Web Strategy 2.0

Get Ready for More Pre-Roll Ads on Music Videos

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Submit to Digg Add to Google Share on StumbleUpon Submit to LinkedIn Add to Newsvine Bookmark on Del.icio.us Submit to Reddit yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = “Digital: Warner Music Group Launches Web Strategy 2.0”; yahooBuzzArticleSummary = “NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Warner Music Group is calling on a startup to help execute the lynchpin in its new approach the web. The company struck a deal with Outrigger Media, a small group spun out of video site Veoh, to package artists such as Madonna, Ashley Tisdale and Green Day for advertisers.”; yahooBuzzArticleType = “text”; http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=139539

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) –- Warner Music Group is calling on a startup to help execute the lynchpin in its new approach the web. The company struck a deal with Outrigger Media, a small group spun out of video site Veoh, to package artists such as Madonna, Ashley Tisdale and Green Day for advertisers.

Warner Music Group will work with Outrigger Media to package artists like Madonna for advertisers.
Warner Music Group will work with Outrigger Media to package artists like Madonna for advertisers.

<!–
–> Outrigger, headed by former Veoh sales chief and Dow Jones executive Mike Henry, will sell advertising on Warner videos across the web whether on YouTube or other distributors, such as social networks, blogs or the artist’s own sites. Rather than negotiate licenses with distributors such as YouTube or AOL, Warner is seeking revenue-sharing deals in the hope that brands embrace music videos as a high-end advertising vehicle.

Earlier this fall Warner reached a deal with YouTube that hews to its new principles: instead of collecting a royalty each time a video is played, Warner, through Outrigger, will sell advertising (largely pre-roll ads) against music videos and share revenue with the world’s largest video site.

Dedicated pros
“In the past we’ve had some experience with developing ad sales as an internal capability, but we felt like we really needed to have a group of dedicated pros who know the space and are actively engaged in developing the video component of the online advertising market,” said Michael Nash, Warner’s exec VP of digital strategy.

The deal is the engine that is expected to power Warner’s new approach to the web, which will include distribution deals on similar terms with big portals and distributors from AOL to Yahoo to MySpace to MTV. Even Vevo, the digital joint venture between Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, is a possibility and the subject of ongoing talks. Warner’s core requirement is that the distributor allows Outrigger to monetize the videos, and that the videos link back to artist sites.

The reversal in terms should appeal to web distributors. Before, a deal to host Warner video was an expensive proposition for them because they had to pay license fees; now they’ll collect a percentage of ad revenue commensurate with the traffic they deliver. It also means viewers will be watching a lot more pre-roll advertisements before music videos, though Mr. Henry said they will limit the ads depending on the number already viewed.

No destination
Unlike Universal and Sony’s Vevo joint venture, Warner isn’t interested in building a destination but wants the artists to be the center of the strategy, wherever they are on the web. “It starts with the artist and the unique audience that the artist attracts,” Mr. Henry said. “We are trying to align the artist with the DNA of a brand; what is not the focus is a single site or platform.”

The new strategy is the result of a retrenchment at the label that began last year when Warner began to rethink the way it distributes music videos on the web. It pulled its videos, and then its content, off YouTube; the two could not reach a new deal in December.

As an independent company spun off from AOL Time Warner five years ago, Warner Music Group was aggressive on the web early on. It was one of the first labels to strike a deal with YouTube and led the way in licensing other subscription and ad-supported music services. “The perspective initially was, ‘Wow the internet gives us vast distribution. Let’s license a whole bunch of partners, they will sell it and we will collect a lot of little checks and some big checks,” Mr. Nash said.

But the actual revenue from those businesses proved disappointing. Earlier this year Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner Music Group, cut off further digital investments and wrote off the value of investments the label had made in a number of startups.

Version 2.0
So call it version 2.0 of Warner’s digital strategy. This time, Mr. Nash said Warner is going for quality over quantity when it comes to distribution, an approach more akin to Hulu and more in line with providing a premium environment for advertisers.

Outrigger, with a staff of 14, sells ads for Next New Networks, which also has a distribution deal with YouTube, and for what’s left of Veoh, the online video company backed by former Disney chief Michael Eisner, which retrenched as a technology company earlier this year. Mr. Henry sees selling not only artists but the audiences they attract. Online video is the core, but it also includes monetizing social media, blogs and the artists’ own sites.

“Music videos have gotten the short end of the stick for a long time they haven’t been sold as the incredibly high quality content that they are,” Mr. Henry said. “People don’t watch TV clips over and over and over again. People don’t care what actors in ‘The Office’ do or drink or wear, but they do care about what the artists do.”