TELEVISION programmers are looking to make the Web a lot more like TV.
On Tuesday, the emerging-media group at Scripps Networks, part of the E. W. Scripps Company, plans to introduce an all-video Web site that will use programming from its Food Network, Fine Living, HGTV and DIY Network brands, as well as new clips.
A major advertiser in Scripps offline media, General Motors’ GMC division, has paid for a video showroom on the site and a presence throughout it.
Others are likely to follow, as advertisers show a growing interest in the approach. “One of the biggest drivers for online advertising the first time was Web sites advertising on other Web sites,” said Peter Petrusky, director for advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “This time it’s being buoyed by the offline brand builders like Coke, Honda, Nike, Visa and Nestlé.”
With box-office attendance sliding, so far, for the third consecutive year, many in the industry are starting to ask whether the slump is just part of a cyclical swing driven mostly by a crop of weak movies or whether it reflects a much bigger change in the way Americans look to be entertained – a change that will pose serious new challenges to Hollywood.
Studios have made more on DVD sales and licensing products than on theatrical releases for some time. Now, technologies like TiVo and video-on-demand are keeping even more people at home, as are advanced home entertainment centers, with their high-definition television images on large flat screens and multichannel sound systems.
“It is much more chilling if there is a cultural shift in people staying away from movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the Exhibitor Relations Company, a box-office tracking firm. “Quality is a fixable problem.”
But even if the quality of movies can be improved, Mr. Dergarabedian said, the fundamental problem is that “today’s audience is a much tougher crowd to excite. They have so many entertainment options and they have gotten used to getting everything on demand.”
“For the cost of roughly two and a half martinis, you can have access to the entire archives,” [NYTimes Digital’s Martin] Nisenholtz quipped. He took issue with bloggers who predicted the subscription plan will reduce the readership and influence of the paper’s columnists. “We expect quite a number of people will subscribe,” he said.
But since the New York Times has more online readers than print subscribers, it’s hard to believe the columnists won’t see a dramatic fall-off in readership even if its subscription plan catches on.
The painful transition facing the newspaper industry was on display here this week at the Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital” conference. In a panel discussion, top executives from three newspaper companies — Knight-Ridder Inc., The Washington Post Co. and Dow Jones & Co. — expressed optimism about what they called the “challenges” facing their industry. Since most large papers have gained more Web readers than they have lost in print, the panelists said the industry has a chance to reinvent itself.
“If we’re in trouble, shame on us,” said Donald Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post, noting that total readership of Post journalism has more than doubled in the past seven years if online readers and those reading the company’s free Express paper are counted.
Unless the government want to pay me to get cable… Lawmakers split on subsidy for digital TV converters
Lawmakers seemed split along party lines Thursday over whether the government should buy converter boxes for millions of Americans who still use antenna-based TVs, once the nation’s shift to digital TV is finished.
A bill drafted by House Republicans sets Dec. 31, 2008, as the date by which broadcasters must return their analog airwaves to the government and broadcast in digital only. That deadline — two years later than Republicans originally advocated — drew bipartisan support at a House hearing Thursday.
But the bill includes no subsidy for the $50 boxes, which would convert digital to analog for consumers who use analog TVs that rely on antenna rather than on cable or satellite TV.
Since becoming a federal class action, the suit has quietly expanded to include thousands of songwriters and hundreds of millions of dollars in disputed revenue. Now a proposed settlement has many music publishers up in arms, claiming that it will permanently disadvantage composers.
If approved, the settlement will no longer require that Columbia House and BMG Direct — best known for sending listeners 12 CDs for the price of one — seek permission to distribute copyrighted songs. Instead, a new Internet-based system would give songwriters 30 days to object before the license is automatically granted.
One question — *what* agency spearheaded this? DHS?? Star Wars pirates forced off net
An internet site that let film fans illegally download the new Star Wars movie before it reached cinemas has been shut after raids in the US.
The Elite Torrents site allowed 133,000 members to download thousands of films and software programs, according to the Homeland Security Department.
The Justice Department said fans used it to download Revenge of the Sith 10,000 times before it was released.
It was shut after raids by federal agents in 10 cities across the country.
Wired News raises a more troubling point – U.S. Jacks Torrent Site
Acting on detailed information provided by the motion picture industry, federal agents descended on administrators and users of a popular pirate-friendly file-sharing site Wednesday in what the government is calling the first criminal law enforcement action against BitTorrent users.
FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents executed 10 search warrants in nine states in a strike on Elitetorrents.org, a free, members-only BitTorrent aggregator hosted in the Netherlands.
[…] Another 10 suspects outside the United States remain under investigation, but were not a part of Wednesday’s raids, said Sevel. Casual downloaders were also spared, but a Justice Department spokesman in Washington would not rule out future federal action against them. […]
ICE, the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, spearheaded the investigation because of its international scope.
So, yes, the Department of Homeland Security headed this up……
Later: The Register’s Fearless Feds sink Star Wars pirate website comments on the troubling, yet absurd, elements of this story.
The FBI Press release: Federal Law Enforcement Announces Operation D-ELITE, Crackdown on P2P Piracy Network
I’ve been covering Internet stocks for more than five years and cannot remember a time when legal disputes and resolutions were having a greater impact on the industry and its companies. Perhaps this is indicative of a segment that’s becoming more stable and mature. Maybe the legal activity evidences the growing importance of intellectual property in the Net area, as companies increasingly employ it to establish and extend competitive advantages. We at S&P do think the Internet field is more crowded than it was a few years ago, and players are striving for proprietary differentiation.
The world’s largest Web companies and at least one equity analyst who covers them are taking notice. Today’s competition is taking place in the marketplace and in courtrooms. Corporate success for online businesses seems predicated on both good products and services and associated legal protections.
But as the medium develops and radio chains such as Infinity and ClearChannel Communications enter the field, podcasters who want to play brand-name content will face a copyright stumbling block. “It’s going to be extremely frustrating,” says Chris MacDonald, director of legal affairs for the Association of Music Podcasting, a group of Webcasters.
Why the conundrum? Simply put, copyright law hasn’t caught up to technology. While the music industry has created an efficient licensing system for music-streaming on the Web, which doesn’t entail making copies, it hasn’t cobbled together one for podcast-style music downloads.
PLAYING IT SAFE. And since podcasts enable listeners to download Web radio shows onto their iPods or other music players, the podcasters are violating copyrights if they don’t get permission from each recording label whose music they play. The one-off approvals add up to a big headache for small-time podcasters.