Interesting bitsandbytes – celebrity data, new search engines, Disney’s views on content

Interesting bitsandbytes:

Celebrity Data:

*Ken Sonenclar, managing director of DeSilva+Phillips, opened the media investment bank’s Future of Celebrity Media conference, by pointing out that entertainment mags are down 18 percent, not as bad as magazines in general. And as more bloggers create their one celeb-focused sites and media stars like Ashton Kutcher and Martha Stewart are reaching to fans directly via Twitter, bypassing the traditional avenues. It’s getting so bad, Sonenclar said, “Even paparazzi aren’t being paid well anymore. They’re competing with too many so-called amateurs.”

As for online, Yahoo’s OMG leads by far when it comes to uniques, Sonenclar said, showing a bar chart of celeb sites. OMG is distantly followed by TMZ and People, and Microsoft’s Wonderwall, which has come out of nowhere. However, 90 percent of Wonderwall’s traffic comes from people clicking on the “celebrity” channel on MSN’s homepage. The same is true for OMG’s success. While that may skew those sites popularity, versus celeb mag sites run by People and Entertainment Weekly, advertisers don’t really care, Sonenclar said. Still, whether those sites can create brands as well known as People and EW, remains a very open question. Ultimately, the power of celebrity brands still make it possible for established media to hold their own in terms of attracting users and sponsors.

A Studio head that gets it:

*Less than a week after the announcement that Disney (NYSE: DIS) was taking an equity stake in the News Corp-NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) joint venture.  Iger told analysts: “We believe that broader distribution of our content makes sense given the growth in online viewing,” adding, “New media isn’t going away.

“We absolutely must be where our consumers are going.”  One reason: if Disney and others don’t make programming available on a well-timed, well-priced basis, consumers will find it anyway. Iger said going with a service like Hulu helps fight piracy by offering better alternatives.

But avoiding piracy isn’t the only rationale. Iger wants to be where the audience is and, so far, the demographics for Hulu are younger than those for broadcast television. Just as he has with iTunes sales and VOD, Iger stressed that cannibalization isn’t a concern. Instead, Disney sees a way to expand its reach to views.

Search Engines –2  NEW TYPES:

# 1- Systemic Knowledge – meaning its not searching but computing the answer (think Spock from Star Trek). Visit :  wolfram
# 2-  And Real-Time search – is the second. They are: one from OneRiot and one from  Tweetmeme tweetmeme. Real-time search also can be found here: Twitter Search, , FriendFeed and the recently launched Scoopler. But for the most part, oneriot, tweetmeme and scoopler all are designed from the get-go as ‘real-time’ engines.

*Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that you can use to compute systematic knowledge immediately. You can put in anything you would like to know and you can compare multiple results with each other. There is no need to know how to search; just type in what you want to know.

This is significant in that real-time search s now becoming more important from a ‘social’ perspective than before. First and foremost what emerges out of this is a new metaphor — think streams vs. pages. John Bothwick describes it like this:

“In the initial design of the web reading and writing (editing) were given equal consideration – yet for fifteen years the primary metaphor of the web has been pages and reading. The metaphors we used to circumscribe this possibility set were mostly drawn from books and architecture (pages, browser, sites etc.). Most of these metaphors were static and one way. The steam metaphor is fundamentally different. It’s dynamic, it doesn’t live very well within a page and still very much evolving.

A stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information — that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe we are a part of this flow. “

TV is coming to the iPhone and it’s free and it will ‘rock’ rumor has it.

Word on the street is


Hulu will be putting out a free iPhone app very soon that streams full length TV shows using 3G and WiFi. And any hopes of AT&T charging for TV flew out the window.  Guess Apple apple will be sucking wind about charging all of us now through iTunes to watch the same things. Wonder what that will do to iTunes sales of these shows. My hunch is not too much and if anything will make more fans and will increase ratings. Why? Why do I say that giving away ‘Lost’ won’t cause a loss of

sales of the same at iTunes? itunes Because, if you are really a rabid ‘Lost’ fan, you will want to own it anyway, whether you get to watch last night’s season finale or not. Giving it away for free (and on a very small screen) only whets the appetite of those that might decide to sample the show using the app. Come ‘on everyone, haven’t you all

heard of piracy? Calico Jack the Pirate Well, this is simply ‘legal’ . Have you ever heard of the WWF? (or WWE today). They still give away wrestling on TV daily on TBS and charge $ 39.99 or more for essentially the same show on PPV.  It seems like someone in Hollywood may finally be seeing the light.

Création et Internet or the French version of the RIAA

So last week, a copy of the new X-Men movie made the rounds on the newsgroups. Missing many elements of a feature film, it only heightened awareness of the film’s impending debut this summer – not deterred it. In fact, you can easily argue that fans who saw the illegal copy will RUN to the theater and pay to watch the film in its entirety WITH all the special effects included. Fox- it was a very nice ‘deliberate’ slip-up. Deliberate?? Huh? Its actually a brilliant marketing move on their part. How do I know this? All the posts disappeared in the newsgroups 2 days after they appeared. Only the actual newshosts can delete headers and posts. Confirming that someone at Fox MUST have made an arrangement to put up the movie and then pull it down. No other film was ever pulled like that, leading me to believe that Fox most likely paid to have it put up and pulled down. A very inexpensive but brilliant marketing play.


Now for the French. Arrest the downloaders? Huh? How about arresting the UPLOADERS instead? There are far fewer uploaders than downloaders. After all, get rid of the content going up and there’s nothing to pull down and download. Known informally as the “three strikes” directive, it has won preliminary votes by the Parliament and is expected to be approved in both houses Thursday.

The law empowers music and film industry associations to hire companies to analyze the downloads of individual users to detect piracy, and to report violations to a new agency overseeing copyright protection. The agency would be authorized to trace the illegal downloads back to individuals using the downloading computer’s unique identification number, known as its Internet Protocol, or IP, address, which the Internet service providers have on record.

For a first violation, the agency would send a warning by e-mail.

If a user made another illegal download within three months, a second warning would be sent by certified mail. If a third infraction occurred within a year, the service provider would be required to sever service. an Internet advocacy group based in Paris, said some computer users would turn to encrypted downloads and other methods to avoid detection. On Wednesday, a Swedish company, the Pirate Bay, began a service called Ipredator, which lets users use its virtual private network to make anonymous downloads for 5 euros a month.

So, how in the world will this law make any kind of dent in piracy?? Esplain Lucy!


At the last minute, several members of the opposition Socialist Party rushed in to vote against the plan, according to Christine Albanel, the culture minister, in what she called a “cynical maneuver by the opposition.” The bill was rejected, 21-15.

Jérémie Zimmermann, director of La Quadrature du Net, an Internet advocacy group in Paris, described the outcome as “a huge political blow” for Mr. Sarkozy and Ms. Albanel. “It’s a victory for the citizens and the civil liberties over the corporate interests,” Mr. Zimmermann added. LONG LIVE FRANCE!

Z Channel and the Academy Awards – part 2

Back then, HBO hbo.jpg and SHOWTIME showtime.jpg advertised ‘exclusive’ movies to attract consumers to subscribe. The only way the regular average ‘joe’ consumer knew that ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ was exclusive to SHOWTIME or HBO back then was if somehow that ‘joe’ saw or heard an advertisement to that effect. BTW as an aside, I believe that the notion of film/pay TV exclusives was invented by Barry Diller while at Paramount (under Bill Mechanics tenure). Otherwise, no one really knew that HBO only had Warner Bros. movies, Universal, Fox and Columbia (Sony) but not Disney and Paramount. But frankly, consumers didn’t care. They only cared that they could watch Beverly Hills Cop on SHOWTIME that month. Movie titles, not actor or Studio names drove the pay TV services. This actually was in direct contrast to what drove movie audiences in the 40-‘s 70’s, which was actors and actress’ names, not titles.

There was no internet for public consumption in 1980. There was no Kazaa, no Limelight. Just video tape and Z Channel. Every month, Z Channel printed a full color, wonderfully full sized (8 1/2″ X 12″) movie guide. Complete with review, full cast and credit lists (down to every gaffer) and plain, unabashed commentary of every film. If Z didn’t like it, they were honest. They loved movies that were disasters and gave them all a platform for exhibition (i.e. Heavens Gate or Howard the Duck). They were the ‘road warrior’ of movie channels. They had more subscribers than HBO and SHOWTIME COMBINED here in southern Los Angeles.

No other pay movie channel ever did movies like Z did. If you were a lover of movies then you couldn’t do without the channel in your home. Not only movies, but they featured Disney, Universal, Hanna Barbara, Avery, Jones, Clampett, Iwerks and Fleischer Animation, classic film series focusing on certain film genre’s: Film Noir, Fallen Women, Gangsters, Greatest Cartoons and Outrageous Cartoons, Hepburn and Tracy, Bacall and Bogart, Grant and Hepburn, Hitchcock and Wells, and John Waters to Cassavettes and more.

So, how was Z Channel able to show Academy Award nominated movies each year prior to the film’s ancillary release to video, airlines, syndication, etc? Not even the dominant Pay service HBO or Showtime were able to show these films. First, Z Channel was not broadcast on a satellite, therefore the signal was not exposed to anyone outside Los Angeles. The Studios rationalized that this ‘local only’ exhibition limited, to an extent, the films exposure and really wouldn’t spoil any subsequent ancillary releases. This was the early 80’s and at that time the video release was the primary revenue generator for the Studios next to pay TV. If the Studios allowed a nationwide release of these films, they would have spoiled the national Pay TV release and ultimately not been able to command the same kinds of prices (license fees) from HBO and Showtime that they were getting. Second, the studios agreed to let Jerry play these films because the screenings helped Academy members screen the films they were suppose to be voting for (the early version of getting a ‘screener’ en-mass). Third, they loved Jerry. They loved his enthusiasm for film, his love of restoring films that were cut to shreds by their distributors (the studios). And, the guys that were in charge of licensing at that time (some) were true film lovers. Bill Mechanic (former CEO of 20th Century Fox, responsible for ‘Titanic’ and the Disney ‘limited release’ VHS strategy) was VP at Paramount, Ned Nalle was VP at Universal, Jamie (The WB TV) Kellner was VP at Orion and Eric Frankel was VP at Warner Bros.

Z was a maverick. The maverick for a pay TV service that should have survived but didn’t. I miss Jerry Harvey and I bet a few people here in Los Angeles miss the Z Channel too. But most of all of what I miss about the Z Channel is the thrill of discovery of the movies. The ones I missed and could read all about and watch and the ones I ever knew I missed, plus all of my favorites.

In September 1987, Rock Associates, a small Seattle company, bought Z and wanted to take it national to compete with HBO and Showtime. A month later, Rock Associates was wiped out in the stock market crash of Oct. 19. In an attempt to save Z Channel, Harvey agreed to merge the company with American Spectacor, a cable firm that had bought the rights to broadcast Dodgers and Angels baseball games. Under the agreement, Z would broadcast live sports and continue to show movies. But the combination did not work for the channel’s fans or its programmer.

Harvey murdered his wife and then killed himself. They were both 39. Z went under a year later. The entwined stories of Harvey and his movie channel are the subject of “Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession,” a very good documentary by Xan Cassavete.

All in all, I wish there were other ‘maverick’, type channels that one can sample or watch and discover new programming on. If I have taken too long to make a point, I apologize. What I’ve meant to say from the beginning is this: I think the internet IS that ‘next’ place to discover that new programming or movie/TV show. Its not cable TV anymore. That’s your grandfathers TV.