Paramount to Start Online Service to Sell Movie Clips

Published: December 14, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Paramount Pictures, looking for new ways to turn its old movies into cash, especially as DVD sales continue to decline, is creating an online video clip service that will allow users to search hundreds of feature films on a frame-by-frame basis.

A scene from “The Godfather,” above, on At right are clips from “Forrest Gump” and “Top Gun.

Feeling “the need for speed,” as Tom Cruise put it in “Top Gun”? Log on to, search for the exact video snippet you want and press the checkout button. Within minutes — with the price depending on the type of licensing use you have in mind — Paramount will electronically deliver the selection in the format and resolution desired. Most scenes are available in multiple languages.
The site, to be introduced on Tuesday, is powered by VideoSense, an automated indexing tool developed by the technology company Digitalsmiths. Using proprietary video interpretation systems, Digitalsmiths allows films to be quickly searched by specific actor, line of dialogue, location, genre or product, among other criteria.
Paramount will initially restrict use to business customers — advertising agencies, mobile carriers, foreign broadcasters — that want to license pieces of films for commercial use. The plan is to ultimately open the site to consumers. People wanting to embed a specific scene from “The Godfather” on their blog could go to and buy it.
The service reflects a renewed effort in Hollywood to create fresh content from existing libraries, much as ring tones became a blockbuster offering for the music industry. Movie and television studios, suffering from a steep drop in DVD sales, are hopeful that serving up clips can become a business in itself while also stoking demand for the films in their entirety.
Although clips from films like “The Godfather” are already available free on YouTube, analysts said the new service was a chance worth taking.
“This Digitalsmiths technology is very impressive because it gives the ability to slice and dice and remodify content in a safe, automated way,” said Bobby Tulsiani, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.
“It remains to be seen if it opens up a new business opportunity, but we didn’t think people were going to pay for ring tones, either,” he added.
Paramount’s new service will initially allow users to search 80 films, including “The Godfather,” “Forrest Gump,” “Grease” and “The Addams Family.” More than 200 films will follow, with the ultimate goal being about 1,000 movies, or about a third of the studio’s total library, according to Geremie Camara, vice president of product development for Paramount Digital Entertainment.
Ben Weinberger, chief executive of Digitalsmiths, which is based in North Carolina, would not discuss pricing or say how much it cost to index movies; Mr. Camara also refused to provide financial information. Generally speaking, however, clip pricing ranges from technically free (a foreign network buys a movie and as part of the deal gets usage of a certain number of clips for promotion) to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a clip used in a national advertising campaign. The bigger the movie, the more expensive the clip: “The Godfather” is almost certainly going to cost you more than “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” although it depends on the usage.
As for individual use, no pricing has been set but it will most likely follow the ring-tone model: Licensing a snippet of a song for a commercial is expensive, but a ring tone of the same snippet for personal use costs 99 cents.


Burger King to Sponsor Live Online Streaming of Awards Show

Deal With Spike Network Also Includes Custom Ads, Branded Video Player

LOS ANGELES ( — It seems strange to consider in a year like 2009, when on-demand content and social media merged, that awards shows are still among the last entertainment properties available for live online streaming. Whether it was the Emmys, the Oscars or even MTV’s “Video Music Awards,” nary a live simulcast of an acceptance speech could be found on YouTube, Hulu or a TV network site, only clips and illegal torrents.

Burger King VGA screenshotEnlarge

So when Burger King signed up to sponsor the webcast of Spike’s “Video Game Awards,” airing Saturday, it was more than a standard sponsorship. The burger chain wants to make sure that when gamers watch the show, they can “have it their way,” to paraphrase the chain’s longtime tagline.
Burger King will sponsor all of’s live coverage of the event, with camera access for viewers to chose from of the stage, the red carpet, the green room and the backstage production. Spike is part of MTV Entertainment Networks.
Dario Spina, Spike’s senior VP-integrated marketing, said Burger King’s all-inclusive sponsorship will help offset the incremental costs that come with adding increased camera angles and live streaming, as well as limit the number of pre-roll ads the viewers sit through online. A Burger King-branded video player will stream the live content on and MTV Entertainment’s to reinforce the sponsorship with less commercial messaging.
“In our opinion, it’s a small price to pay in order to deliver an interactive experience to our consumers,” Mr. Spina said of the extensive sponsorship. “The goal is to serve up the content in the best way we can. We’re more concerned about elevating the viewing and 360 experience than with regard to delivering the show in a traditional way.”

Burger King’s interactive sponsorship innovation is not without precedent. The marketer sponsored four different online camera angles for last year’s VGAs, which accounted for 71% of the traffic to the VGA site and 40% of the page views, with 251,000 video streams (but the feed wasn’t live). Last year’s sponsorship also acted as a launch for BK’s Flame Whopper, which resulted in a “measurable impact” on the sandwich’s sales, claimed Tia Lang, Burger King’s director of media and interactive. This year’s push will promote the chain’s $1 double-cheeseburger offering, which Burger King is hoping will see a similar lift as a result of this year’s multiplatform sponsorship. “It’s always a tough correlation to make, but one of the things we’re always interested in is engaging viewers in ways that are relevant to them, so that when we are able to do that we capture a bit of their share of mind as they’re making a decision to eat when they’re hungry,” Ms. Lang said.
Burger King could use some positive results from its entertainment sponsorships, which the company’s CEO defended after reporting a 4.6% same-store sales decline in the U.S. and Canada during its first-quarter fiscal-year earnings call. Asked if the company would pursue a less niche-oriented take in its ad strategy to boost sales, CEO John Chidsey said that “things would be even worse” without those efforts. Global CMO Russ Klein departed shortly thereafter in November for personal reasons, following two quarters of nearly 5% sales losses.
Nevertheless, Burger King is sticking by its longtime agency partners — Crispin, Porter & Bogusky for creative, Mindshare for media and digital — both of which helped Spike create custom ads for the TV broadcast and online. Although these kinds of integrated deals increasingly cut out the agency partners wherever possible with other brands, “We love to get all the parties together,” Ms. Lang said.
Other returning sponsors for this year’s “VGA” include Mtn Dew, which will renew its sponsorship of last year’s Best Independent Game Award. Game Stop will serve as the show’s retail partner, and Verizon Wireless will sponsor custom spots during the telecast.

Mobile Ad Lets Consumers Buy Universal’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’

by Laurie Sullivan, Yesterday, 7:00 AM

 Universal Studios Home Entertainment on Thursday will launch a mobile campaign that lets people purchase a movie directly from an ad.
Supported by Adgregate and Greystripe, the ads will allow consumers to start pre-ordering the movie ‘Inglourious Basterds’ today on Blu-ray and DVD, or purchase the movie on Dec. 15. The transactions are done through the “secure” rich media ad-unit via mobile phones.
The ads target ages 18 to 24. They will run across Greystripe’s media mobile ad network, rather than search engines, including iPhone apps like Words with Friends, Sheep Launcher, and TowerMadness.
Created by marketing media agency Ignited, the ads will allow Universal to capitalize on growth in mobile commerce and in mobile advertising. Marriott International revealed in December 2008 that it generated $1.25 million in gross revenue in the first 100 days since introducing direct mobile Web bookings.
Mobile advertising revenue should jump 60% this year to $184 million and reach $566 million by 2013, according to Henry Wong, Adgregate CEO, citing stats from Yankee Group. “The game is all about capitalizing on impulse and convenience buys, and speed to purchase,” he says. “It’s not clear what the conversion and drop-off data will be.”
Through ShopAds, Adgregate will manage the cataloging function and checkout when consumers click on the ad to buy the DVD. “It will launch as a pre-order ad for five days and then transition to get-it-now ad,” Wong says.
Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester Research, says a better consumer experience on phones such as the Android, iPhone, Palm devices, and Nokia are contributing to the uptick and success of mobile advertising for brands.
It appears that more people have become comfortable shopping from their mobile phone. Deloitte’s 24th Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, published October 2009, suggests that one in five shoppers plan to use a mobile phone to assist with holiday purchases, from researching prices and other product information to actually buying presents.
An increase in smartphone shipments will also contribute to the success in mobile commerce. Research firm iSuppli expects 181 million smartphone units to ship worldwide in 2009, reaching 238.9 million units in 2010, according to analyst Tina Teng.
“Even before smartphones became well-known jargon in our daily vocabulary, people purchased ringtones directly from their wireless operators,” she says. “If the ad is positioned correctly in the browser, and the ad is relevant to what users are searching for, or location-related, people will become curious and check out the advertisement.”

$2 Million In Funding For B2B Video Platform

Online video marketing firm VisibleGains—formerly PermissionTV—has raised $2 million in funding, per an SEC filing. VisibleGains has raised around $23 million in total, including a $3 million round of debt in April 2008; the company said the new money came from “existing investors,” which include BlueCrest Capital Finance, Castile Ventures, CommonAngels, among others.
Matt Kaplan, VisibleGains’ chief strategy officer and VP of marketing, said the company would use the funding to bulk up its sales and marketing teams in the wake of the re-brand. The name change came as part of a shift in the company’s business model: Instead of competing with bigger, better-funded B2C video platforms like Brightcove and Ooyala, VisibleGains now focuses on the B2B market, helping enterprises create and distribute online video ads, trailers and sales pitches.
Kaplan said the transition had been successful thus far, and that the company signed on eight new clients in the technology sector; VisibleGains’ video platform runs on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, so customers license the technology; they also get access to pre-packaged video clips, analytics and some consulting services.