38 posts categorized "Television"

May 21, 2010

Googlevision: Coming to a Best Buy Near You

A "who's who" partnership of innovation, Google, Sony and Intel is launching a new television platform that promises to change the way we watch TV by allowing people to access the rich utility of the Internet through their television screens.

"Google was able to conduct a series of Internet searches in a drop-down box that appears at the top of television programs. The search results pointed to Internet videos and other content related to the television program on the screen."

"A telecast of a sporting event can be shrunk into a small "picture-in-picture" box so a viewer can look at statistics or other material about the game on TV."

"Viewers can also make search requests by speaking into a remote that runs on Google's Android operating system."

"Google CEO Eric Schmidt described the potential of the Internet TVs as mind-boggling, although he acknowledged it might be difficult for some consumers to grasp at first. That's one reason he said Google decided to team up with Best Buy, which offers a "geek squad" to deal with complex technology."

It reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2007, "How to Save TV":

"This isn't a competition between TV and the Internet. The Internet is richer because of TV, and it's becoming increasingly clear that programs are richer because of the utility of the Internet. That interdependence needs to be embraced -- even harvested."

"As such, the way to save television is to discard the interruption advertising model on which is based -- that is, to make it more like what is good about the Internet. Rich interactive programs (Choose Your Own Adventure, anyone?), on-demand content that remains free and non-intrusive, and effective, accountable advertising."

"The Internet, simply, needs more bandwidth to support better quality content, higher adoption rates, and better usability. I know Cuban doesn't think much of this can be done, but I'm staking my future on the idea that it can."

"What will we call this integrated system? It's hard to predict. I suppose it depends on the primary path the innovation takes -- whether we're getting the combination of TV and Internet through AppleTV 10.0 or if we're getting it through Comcast Cable. If it's the former, perhaps our children will be asking if we can watch the Internet tonight. If it's the latter, maybe they'll ask if they can play on the TV."

First of all, you're welcome, Google. Your bill is in the mail.

Second, I have to raise an objection to this gross simplification used by the AP in their article:

"Google wants to turn televisions into giant monitors for Web surfing so it can make more money selling ads."

I'm not a fan in all the ways they want to do it, but Google wants to change the world. Selling ads is simply how they are able to fund new adventures, but it's also how they provide these paradigm changes for free.

The utilities they've developed in their relatively short life as a company have already changed the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we do research, the way we invest, the way we advertise and the way we build websites,

Not everything they've developed is exclusively (or even remotely) their idea, but any way you look at it, they've fostered widespread adoption of many of their useful technologies because they've developed a sustainable business model that allows them to offer it at no cost to the user.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Google, Schmidt, or any other Google employee doesn't care about the money. As Ronald Reagan said, it can't buy happiness, but it certainly can buy a better class of memories.

But money is a means as well as an end. Google could have been anything. They chose the type of business they would be, the applications they would develop and the work they would do.

I'm sure the money is nice. But you cannot sell a product like they're proposing to sell unless it has value to the buyer commensurate with the amount they will pay for it. If Google started out with the question, "How do I sell more advertising," they would have folded long ago. - Cam Beck

September 08, 2008

Hey, and what's the deal with Jerry's ad?

Microsoft released their first ad with Jerry Seinfeld today. The ad was a Crispin Porter + Bogusky effort with pretty high stakes especially after the PC vs. Mac commercials. RSS readers click to the post.


Since it's the first of what's probably a series, the jury is still out. However, seems like it's more about Jerry Seinfeld than about Microsoft or it's operating system. This may have never been meant to be a response to those Mac ads. It needs to be at some point. Like it or not those Apple ads have made owning a Mac cool, and they seemed to be especially adept at highlighting all the different kinds of issues PCs have in a way that is funny and that people can relate to.

I recall reading an interview with one of CP+B's planners  where they claimed to "change pop culture". In this case, I think they're using pop culture from about six or seven years ago and ignoring the brand and the product. Jerry's cool but not as cool as owning a Mac is these days.

- Paul Herring

August 20, 2008

Online Olympics coverage and Silverlight


Like a lot of people I'm becoming an Olympic junkie. I have my favorite teams that are either not covered on television or that I want to see live, despite of the time difference.

I wasn't surprised that NBC is using Silverlight  to broadcast on MSNBC. OK, I'll download your plug-in to see what I want to see. It's from Microsoft, right? It should work fine because they make the FRICK'N OPERATING SYSTEM AND BROWSER. We'll it doesn't. I'm not able to see what I'd like to see. However, I am able to watch the 30 second commercials each time I try to bring up the games, which pisses me off even more.

Maybe it is a problem with my Internet Connection. However, how come I can see the 30 second spot in all of its bloated ad agency ego glory?

Once again Microsoft has proven that they can release products without really testing them. You'd think that they realize they could capture the market and create a brand that would chase out competition due to their roots as the creator of Windows and Internet Explorer. Not so. It seems like Microsoft hasn't been able to release a trusted version of any of it's products since the 90's. With all the anti-trust pressure on them, just making it part of what's installed on a PC won't work anymore. Nothing substitutes doing it right the first time.

- Paul Herring

April 17, 2008

Free is Part of the Solution, not the Problem

Adtechleft The keynote speaker for Day 2 of Ad:Tech, NBC's Chief Digital Officer, George Kliavkoff, understands the dilemma posed by the digital space very clearly. It was very refreshing to hear from an executive -- a lawyer, no less -- who refuses to blame (and sue!) users for pursuing something they are passionate about -- a passion that actually benefits the company anyway. Under Kliavkoff's leadership, NBC created a solution that is both profitable to the company and free to the users.

George_kliavkoff_web_2 Instead of whining about how much money it costs to create a show and moaning about how the users are stealing content (like a lot of content creators are still doing), NBC simply created a new and innovative way to consume the content, and they made it easy.

As a result, people would have little incentive to go through the effort to illegally copy and distribute a show, since it was already freely available to them.

"The threat of a lawsuit isn't going to get people to do the right thing ... I truly believe that if you provide an incredible customer experience and you do it in a way that you've given as much flexibility for the user to interact with your content ... they'll do the right thing." - George Klaivkoff

What's more, Klaivkoff reports that NBC's net operating profits for their digital solutions has never been higher. They're up 50% from a year ago. And far from cannibalizing their TV viewership, NBC has learned that when more people watch a show online, more people watch it the next week on TV, too.

Nbclogo We can speculate about the reasons, but I think that placing the shows online fills the primary purpose of allowing people to keep up with their favorite shows, if for some reason they missed it or forgot to record it.

I'd love to see the statistics about when people are watching the shows and what the correlation is between online viewing and DVR ownership. Perhaps from that we can anticipate how many ads are they seeing, anyway (and if they're seeing them at work, at home, or on the road).

And I'm sorry I cannot forbear... I admit that I feel a bit vindicated from all of this, because I laid out the principles for Hulu.com over a year ago when Viacom sued YouTube for hosting copyrighted content. I said, "Make it easier to comply than it is to crack the code," and though Hulu.com doesn't take it as far as I suggested, that is essentially what NBC did.

Tv Unfortunately, there are still pockets of resistance
. Based on other panels I attended, it appears to me that publishers such as the Wall Street Journal and Access Hollywood know that what they're doing right now with respect to online video is wrong.

"I hate preroll ads," said one panelist (and I'm paraphrasing), "Especially when it's 30 seconds long and comes right before a 45-second piece of video."

They allow them on the site, he said, because that's what advertisers will buy. The other panelists agreed.

And from the publishers' perspective, that's a perfectly reasonable action to take. If they cannot raise revenue, they cannot exist, so they do what they must to stay afloat, even if their particular flavor of existence happens to annoy their users.

The problem is that it may work in the short run to raise revenue, but as companies like NBC create excellent consumer experiences, these competitors will likely bleed audience members and, as a result, drive down revenues, because the same or alternative content can be consumed more readily elsewhere.

Advertisers and agencies need to understand a fundamental truth: When people search for either  entertainment or information, they have no interest in being interrupted, and online especially they resent the interruption.

That is no way to build brand affinity.

However, since websites aren't free and publishers need to raise revenue somehow, traditional thinking leads us to believe that we must charge for access to the content, but history has shown us that this just leads to piracy and further resentment.

Instead, consider following NBC's example by actively allowing the users to control how, when, and why they consume the content. Be more innovative in your revenue model. If you must deliver ads, do it so unintrusively in a way that does not give users incentives to seek other means of consuming it. You, and the users, are likely better off when they have a reliable means of getting it from you. - Cam Beck

Photo by James Cridland

February 06, 2008

Are there bigots among us?

The blogosphere is predictably abuzz with chatter about the Super Bowl ads. I like to watch these debates rage more than I like to watch the ads, themselves. It's both entertaining and enlightening to see who is calling whom names, and for what reasons.

I have to confess, though, for most of halftime and the second half, I flipped channels during the commercials to watch reruns of Cheers (you know, back when TV programming was actually pretty good).

If you chose to instead watch the commercials, I guarantee that I laughed harder than you did... unless, arguably you are a competitor of Sales Genie. If you haven't seen them, here's one of them.

Was the ad racist?
Understand that, as a typically dense male, I'm not looking to be offended by everything.

(Wait... am I stereotyping my gender? Never mind...)

Anyway, when I watched the SaleGenie ads on USA Today, I thought their greatest offense was that they were stupid (although, as we examined last year, stupid can sometimes work). Paul tells us that they were beyond stupid, but also racist.

I'm not so sure, but I can certainly see why some people would think so. Our ability to generalize helps us remember things, which is why we are able to make and associate attributes to certain stereotypes.

The problem is that we don't always associate those generalizations with fond memories, which explains the sensitivity.

As a marketer, that's a line I'd rather not walk, but it's becoming clear to me that there's very little in this world that someone can't find something to be offended by.

Are we making something out of nothing?
Apparently Paul wasn't the only one who thought it was racist, though. AdRants, taking a very risky stand in this space, says we're being a bunch of hypersensitive crybabies.

I say it's "risky," because denying the charge of racism against someone else can bring similar charges on the person denying it, which can be difficult to combat... and no one will admit to want to be around a racist.

Take a breath, people!
We have to take all charges with a grain of salt. Many times, the same people who cry or deny racism are the same people who make fun of people for their religion... or their height... or their weight... or their dancing ability... or their background.

Is that any better than being a racist? Is that sufficient reason to suspect their judgment?

All this is to say that we ought to be careful about what we say or imply about others. Racism is bad -- no one is denying that, but so is inaccurately or irresponsibly accusing someone of being a racist.

If you are going to do so, and you are convinced you are right, it will help others understand a little better if you take the following steps to make your case:

  1. Define the term using an objective source
  2. Describe the suspected action
  3. Show how they overlap
  4. Rule out all other explanations

So, was the ad racist?
I have to make the same qualification Bill Green made on the AdRants blog. I'm not a talking Asian panda, so how am I to know? - Cam Beck

January 05, 2008

How to Avoid TV Commercials Without a DVR

  1. Have baby
  2. Make baby laugh
  3. Repeat as necessary

Feed readers click through.

Keep in mind we do, in fact, have a DVR, but this way was sooooo much more fun. - Cam Beck

December 28, 2007

Fencing In or Building Up: A Tale of Two Strategies

Just as excited techies spread rumors that Apple will offer movie rentals through iTunes for several studios, Wal-Mart announced an end to its movie-download service.

Apple Builds Up
Apple_tv_intro_graphicApple has been working its angle for awhile, but studios have resisted because they worried about their ability to control how their movies get distributed, and at what price.

Details are sketchy at this point since the notoriously secretive Apple has not authorized anyone to speak about it publicly, but there is no indication that these same studios will make the movies available to purchase, or to burn to a playable DVD.

Apparently they are still heavily influenced by their compulsion to control the minute details of consumption, placing barriers in the way for those who either don't have an iPod or who don't want to watch a movie on their computers. Of course, consumers could always buy an Apple TV for about $300, which I'm sure would make Apple very happy.

That's a big commitment to demand of consumers to use a service. Yet, with 30 million iPods sold to date (many of them having the ability to watch movies and, with the right cables, play them on a TV), the existing market, it seems, is large enough to justify the risk, irrespective of how slowly their policies will allow the market to grow.

Walmart2 Wal-Mart Fences In
Wal-Mart, on the other hand,  had to shut down its movie-download service when HP discontinued its video-download only merchant product. It's been a few months since I checked, but this service was never available for Macs, whose tech-friendly owners already familiar with downloading media, though largely loyal to Apple, may have been enticed to use the service, if it did more, better, than iTunes did. 

Wal-Mart's decision to fence in isn't necessarily wrong, because this type of service doesn't reflect their strength as it stands now.

If they truly want to go after this market, though, their best bet would probably be to start building some in-house intellectual property that they could use independently of third-party software vendors who hold animus towards a category of users who would be open to using the service.

Having defined itself as a software company, Apple has positioned itself to adapt to a changing environment. Whereas had they relied on someone else to provide the service for them, like Wal-Mart did, they would have been subject to their whims.

Neither dead nor thriving
Movie download services still have a long way to go before they can gain widespread traction, but in spite of the difficulty in getting the expertise and commitment to handle the creation and maintenance of such a service in-house, the main obstacle seems to be the studios themselves.

Fearing widespread copyright violations, studios demand they be allowed to exert excessive control over how and when people consume their media, which is the wrong approach.

The best way to deal with pirating threats is to make it easier to distribute and consume the media lawfully than to exert the effort it would take to use the media unlawfully. They are never going to  control all piracy. And their efforts to do so are just ticking off the people who have no desire to do so. - Cam Beck

Related Post:
My GooTube-Viacom Solution

November 09, 2007

Reasoning for Reruns

If you own a TV, you've surely heard of the writer's strike or at least seen the toll that it's taken on shows.  A good majority of shows that have run this week have been reruns or the final show or two before reruns begin.  Here's a quick video put together by the Writers Guild of America explaining why they're on strike.  It will be interesting to see how this affects the industry in the coming weeks.  Thanks to Colin at Canuckflack for the video. -- John Herrington

October 19, 2007

Montage Music

Last night as I was watching NFL Live to see all the top stories of the day I was pleasantly surprised to see a little synergy between ESPN and a band called Honor By August.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems like listing the band name and the title of the song at the beginning of the montage is something that has just started happening over the last couple of years.  While I had seen a fair amount bands and song titles I hadn't seen a URL before.  This was nice to see as Honor By August got to promote their music and direct people to their MySpace profile while ESPN got a great song to use not only in NFL Live, but also I've learned, on Baseball Tonight.  - John Herrington

Now playing: Hotel Lights - A.M. Slow Golden Hit
via FoxyTunes       

October 17, 2007

NBC Declares War On "Heroes" Fans

Nup_108635_0315_2 Warning: Spoilers for the TV show, Heroes (site), appear within this column.

I've been watching the second season of Heroes, and I have to admit, I'm not impressed. I can only suspend my disbelief for so long. The show about super-powered human beings once showed great promise, but with all the implausible storylines that defy all reason and logic, I am slowly losing the affection the first season engendered.

My problem isn't that people in the popular NBC show can fly, regenerate, phase through walls, read minds, display telekinesis, or shoot radioactive fireballs from their hands.

I can buy all of that.

What I can't understand is why the writers insist we believe that the characters who displayed such courage and selflessness last season, whose plight everyone knows could have been minimized by the good guys communicating and being honest with each other, can be so dumb, dishonest and selfish this season.

Seriously - Claire's dad hasn't learned a thing about the dangers of holding secrets from his family (which nearly got them all killed last year). Plus, he doesn't have the smarts to hide in a place that isn't populated by people who know or would recognize him. He has seen a glimpse of the circumstances of his own death (seemingly from a long fall and sudden stop on the ground), but he doesn't share this knowledge with his daughter, who he knows is somehow involved.

Claire is hardly blameless, either. The guy Claire is secretly seeing (who, conveniently... hmm... can fly) holds some serious animosity toward the guy who abducted him, which Claire knows to be the dad she loves. Not seeing the potential volatility and imminent probability that of the two of them might ever see, recognize, and be threatened by each other conveniently never crosses Claire's mind.

[I was a teen once, too, NBC, and I'm pretty certain I was never that dense.]

Oh, and her car, which she conveniently left unlocked, was conveniently stolen by a guy who was conveniently arrested in Mexico by police who also happened to conveniently arrest super-powered siblings who conveniently busted the car thief out for his stolen ride in which they very nearly conveniently run over a conveniently placed super-powered villain previously thought to be dead but who was conveniently rescued by those who were conveniently stupid enough to believe that they could control him.

Stop. Just stop. You lost me by the second "conveniently."

I just want to reach out to the television, gently and empathetically put  my hands on the characters' shoulders, smile whimsically and say considerately and lovingly, "QUIT BEING SUCH AN FREAKING IDIOT!"

Of course, with how poorly NBC handled communications with their audience (and Apple) when they yanked their programs from iTunes ("NBC: Our Way or the Highway"), is it any surprise the characters they write are fundamentally incapable of communicating, too? - Cam Beck