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Friday
Feb242012

This week's update: In a tsunami of innovation, can Oscar compete?

Yes, Sunday is the Oscars, and I'll have something to say (and maybe win the pool at my Oscar party)... But first, here's my weekly rundown on the most interesting developments in media & technology. If you missed my piece on user-generated storytelling site Beckinfield, you can now read versions of the post on The Wrap and Reuters. 

TELEVISION

I moderated a panel on "Curated TV" this week at the 2nd Screen Summit/TV Goes Social event in Santa Monica, steering a conversation with four smart folks: Adrian Sexton from New Medici, social marketing whiz Carri Bugbee, Revision 3's Steve Smith, and Social Samba's Aaron Williams. 

This first-time conference addressed the accelerating upsurge of second-screen apps related to television. Lots of stakeholders weighed in. The biggest take-away for me was the fact that, according to Technicolor's Renaud Fuchs, more than 100 TV-related second-screen apps have been released in the market in less than five years. Clearly there will be consolidation in the coming years, but in the meantime, a surge of investment and continuing new product launches make the space quite interesting.

Even though I track this space carefully, many of the companies were new to me, including Fanhattan, Buddy TV, Be Recruited, Yap TV, Snappy TV, TV Chatter, Play Up, Viggle, Connect V, Fav.tv, Peel, ShopKick, Movie Night Out, Get This  -- along with those I've already written about, like Miso, Philo, IntoNow, the UK's Zeebox, Nielsen's Media Synch, RCDB, Rovi, IMDB and others. Whew!                                                      

I couldn't help myself by asking a panel with two studio execs to assess the success to date of UltraViolet, the so-called "locker" for movie content. Suffice it to say, nobody wanted to comment, given how bumpy the introduction of the technology and services package has been. Nevertheless, according to one report, UltraViolet has attracted more than 800,000 US customers. 

For those who bothered to track the cable industry's interactive TV unit Canoe Ventures, it comes as no surprise that the plug was pulled. Here's a rundown from ITVT. 

Of course, the storm that has blown cable away is proliferation of alternative content sources via tablets and so-called 'over-the-top' networks that stream directly to the TV set. Funny, another byproduct of this disruption is the return of over-the-air TV antennas, which cord-cutters need if they want to continue receiving conventional network TV.

Four new minority-owned indie networks have been launched by Comcast, part of the terms of the acquisition of NBC Universal. It's hard not to compare these projects with high profile partners like P.Diddy, Magic Johnson, and Robert Rodriguez with the nearly 100 channels being launched this same year by YouTube.  

"Why Transmedia is a No-Brainer for TV" is Simon Staffans' nice summary of his recent ebook "One Year in Transmedia" over at the MIP Blog (which also includes an interview with yours truly).

FILM & CONTENT BUSINESS

Yes, the finale of the movies' "high holy days" will end on Sunday with the show we love to hate: The Oscars. If you want to consume even more silliness, download the Oscar iPad app. Meanwhile, the LA Times ran an old-school article that analyzed the demographics of the Academy membership, which were discovered to be (surprise!) old, white, and male. 

The Oscars aren't the only remaining awards event this week -- yes, Saturday is the Independent Spirit Awards, where you'll find more of the interesting and challenging films of the year. Here's IndieWire's handicap.

I'm enjoying a new site called "Watch It" -- which lists all of the venues where I could possibly see a movie, including theaters, DVD/Blu-Ray, streaming, downloads, etc. One Queue rules them all.  

I quite liked this post from Prescreen's Shawn Bercuson -- the "Moneyball Cure for What Now Ails Hollywood" -- in which he extracts some lessons from Moneyball to help Hollywood move into digital distribution.

If you haven't checked it out, please look at "18 Days in Egypt," a collaborative documentary project about that country's revolution, powered by a platform called GroupStre.am, for which you can sign up for a beta invitation. 

Hollywood Pitch is the name of a new site that helps aspiring filmmakers (or creators of graphic novels, video games and other transmedia components) a way to refine their pitch (for a fee ranging from $200 to $1500). The site is similar to Author Solutions, one of the partners in the venture, along with Zak Kadison's Blacklight Transmedia. Yes, there's one born every day, and evidently no lack of digital P.T. Barnums.

Looks like Conde Nast plans to release complete archives of back issues of many of its magazines for the tablet, including Vogue and Wired. (Warning: there is an auto-start audio interview on this site.)

Real estate is a sign, I think, of things to come, so it's hard to ignore the fact that YouTube will open a 41,000-square-foot warehouse as the West Coast operations center for its "Next Lab" (formerly Next New Networks). Quite a change from a site that got its start by enabling DIY producers to find an audience for videos produced in a garage.  

YouTube, of course, is readying itself for the launch of nearly 100 new branded "channels", and to promote them the company has hired a former marketing exec from Microsoft's Bing 

Machinima is a YouTube phenomenon, with monthly video views hitting 1.3 billion. This NewTeeVee piece takes a look at the network's original content strategy, which will be important as Machinima is one of the new YouTube custom channels rolling out this year. 

Piracy has a negligible influence on US movie box office, according to a study from two universities. This is bound to create a stir.

BUSINESS & DISRUPTION

Silicon Valley superstar Reid Hoffman parses entrepreneurial success into four rules in a Stanford talk, summarized here. 

Investor Paul Graham, Godfather of accelerator Y Combinator, believes that his model will ultimately replace the corporation as we know it…. call it the network effect.  

Crowd-funding site Kickstarter announced the third $1million-plus project this week, leading some observers to wonder if the model has reached an inflection point in number of contributors and high-dollar projects. Truly amazing model, I think. 

Yet another post on the question of whether we are entering a "closed" period of web development because of the dominance of Apple, Google and Facebook -- this one from respected investor Esther Dyson.

The dawn of venture investment 50 years ago created "the talent economy," according to this smart post by Francisco Dao on Pando Daily. 

TOOLS

Literally the day I signed up for Cowbird, the new story-based social network, the NY Times ran a story explaining how it got started. Check out Cowbird. A very different way to be social.

Cowbird is but one of the new breed of special-interest social networks mushrooming in the shadow of Facebook and Twitter. Much to-do has been made of the rapid rise of Pinterest, but this post looks at many others. Wonder if they'll make it? 

Storify is a great tool for curating disparate social media content into a single coherent "story." Now Storify has come to the iPad.  

I've written a lot about news aggregation tools like Zite, Pulse, Flipboard, and Summify. Here's a new twist -- Newsle let's you archive interesting news about your friends -- it's a people, not issue- or source-based tool.

Henry Jenkins interviews Janet Murray about her new book, Inventing the Medium: Principals of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. It's an exceptional clear and beautifully produced book -- part textbook, part manifesto.

Invision is a tool to help designers rapidly create wire-frames and fully interactive prototypes. Check it out.

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