Digital Music News
Google Announces Music Service, 900 Million Android Activations
Google has launched the much-anticipated music subscription service through Google Play called All Access, which provides personal recommendations in more than 22 genres. All Access combines a user’s personal music list with Google’s. The service also creates personalized radio stations similar to Pandora. The playlist icon allows users to see and delete tracks in the list. Listen Now in All Access provides music and radio stations created by the app supported on Google TV and the Web, as well as tablets and smart phones. It will become another revenue stream for Google. The service will give everyone a 30-day free trial. Those who sign up before June 30 get a $2 monthly discount from the $9.99 price. More than 96 million people — about 30% of the U.S. population — are expected to stream music from digital devices weekly in the United States this year, according to eMarketer. That’s up from 85.4 million, or 27% of the U.S. population, last year.
Deals & Signings
Time Warner Cable Weighing Bid for Hulu
Time Warner Cable is weighing a bid to purchase an ownership position in Hulu, according to a report in the New York Post. The tabloid cites a source familiar with the sales process and reports that Time Warner Cable is hoping to partner with other cable providers to take over the online video service. Spokespeople for Time Warner Cable and Hulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hulu is jointly owned by the Walt Disney Company, Comcast, Providence Equity and News Corp. The owners have reportedly tapped the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners to advise them on a possible sale. Guggenheim is also reportedly considering entering the bidding.
Microsoft vs Google
Microsoft Responds to YouTube Demands, ‘More Than Happy’ to Include Ads if Google Allows It
Following Google’s demands for Microsoft to remove its Windows Phone YouTube app, Microsoft has responded saying it’s happy to include advertising. Google sent a cease and desist letter to Microsoft recently, with concerns that the Windows Phone YouTube app does not display ads. “We’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs,” says a Microsoft spokesperson. Microsoft appears to want to rectify the situation, noting Google CEO Larry Page’s comments at I/O today.” In light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.” Microsoft recently released an update for its Windows Phone YouTube application to support sign-in, downloads, and a full YouTube experience. The application has been available for just over a week, but Google has demanded that it be removed by May 22nd for violating its YouTube API rules.
New Media Rockstars
Amazon Prime News
‘Covert Affairs,’ ‘Hannibal,’ Coming to Amazon Prime in New Deal With NBCUniveral
Amazon Prime members will now have streaming access to past seasons of “Hannibal,” “Covert Affairs,” “Grimm” and other NBCUniversal shows as part of an expanded licensing deal, the companies said Thursday. Prime members already can stream NBC shows like “Parks &Recreation” and “Heroes,” but the new pact enhances offerings from the broadcast and cable company. Among the new additions are USA Network’s legal drama “Suits,” the musical series “Smash,” and Syfy’s futuristic sci-fi series “Defiance.” Also available are children’s programs such as “Curious George” and “Land Before Time.” Amazon Prime is a $79 annual subscription service that also offers members free two-day shipping on purchases.
Chinese Web Giant Youku Tudou Reports Narrowed First-Quarter Loss
Youku Tudou chairman Victor Koo said he was “pleased” with the progress of the merger of two of China’s biggest online TV entities that created the firm.
The Beijing-based online TV company said that first-quarter revenue rose 21 percent to $83.1 million, with its loss for the first three months of the year narrowing to $37.4 million. The improvements came compared with the combined figures of Youku and Tudou when they were still separate companies in the same period in 2012. According to figures from Analysys International, Youku Tudou remains the biggest player in China’s online video industry with 32.4 percent of the market. Sohu is second with 10.9percent, followed by Baidu-owned iQiyi (6.7 percent) and Tencent (4.7 percent).The Youku Tudou merger last year was followed earlier this month with Baidu’s $370 million acquisition of the steaming-video operations of Shanghai-based PPS. Responding to reports about his rival’s move, Liu released a statement saying how such consolidation in the sector is “inevitable.”
Morgan Stanley Thinks YouTube Will Be a $20 Billion Business
Google won’t provide any revenue information for YouTube, so Wall Street comes up with its own guesses. Here’s the newest from Morgan Stanley: The banks analysts think the video site will do $4 billion in gross revenue this year, and will generate $711 million in operating income. By 2020, Morgan Stanley thinks those numbers could hit $20 billion and $5 billion.
Maker Studios Lays Off Dozens; More May Be Coming
Maker Studios laid off between 30 and 40 employees late last week, and more may becoming, according to multiple individuals with knowledge of the company’s plans. Maker would not comment on the extent of the layoffs when pressed by TheWrap on Wednesday. The company characterized the cutbacks as part of a natural evolution for the YouTube Network, saying it would be hiring in other areas. “Our business is evolving and as we strategically plan for our next phase of growth, we are making adjustments in some key areas and changing allocation of internal resources,” the company said in a statement. “We made these staff reductions in some areas while we are actively hiring in key divisions.”The contractions came just days after former Endemol CEO Ynon Kreiz assumed day-to-day control of the company, taking over from Maker CEO and co-founder Danny Zappin.
Streaming Video News
YouTube Rival Dailymotion Taps Joshfire to Let Creatives in the US Build Their Own Apps
French video streaming giant Dailymotion today announced that it will collaborate with Joshfire, the app creation service, to bring video app-creation capabilities to Dailymotion users in based in the US. The Dailymotion website in the US willnow feature a special Joshfire Factory dashboard. The dashboard contains simple, everyman-friendly tools that enable developers and ordinary fans aliketo design mobile apps with streaming and social sharing functionality for Android, iOS, Connected TVs, or mobile browsers. By allowing content creators to easily make specialized, branded apps featuring their videos on the platform, Dailymotion and Joshfire can help artists and brands reach their fans at any given time and place. This would in theory be an additional incentive for brands to embrace to the platform and post content on it.
The Haps With Apps
Netflix Sees Surge in Tablet Viewing
New data suggests Netflix is benefiting from a surge in streaming on tablets in particular. In addition to being easily the top subscription video app — and second only to YouTube overall in video — it also leads in engagement, with nearly a third of total video viewing in March, according to NPD’s Connected Intelligence Smart Meter. Netflix sees apps playing a major role in video’s future. In a position paper it posted to its investor relations board last month, the company said it expects content providers to begin programming as much for the app-based experience as for their linear programming. “House of Cards,” and other original shows like “HemlockGrove,” and the revival of “Arrested Development” are examples of that trend from Netflix itself. For networks, Netflix use on smartphones (Wi-Fi andcellular) is minimal, comprising only 3% of total app data usage, which is on par with YouTube.
Producer of The Ring and Mulholland Drive Releases New Horror Movie as an iOS App
Plenty of people watch movies on their iPads, but Neal Edelstein, producer of hit films The Ring and Mulholland Drive, wanted to go farther. His new movie, Haunting Melissa, is a ghost story told directly through an iOS app. Not that Edelstein would exactly describe Haunting Melissa — the story of a teenage girl who believes her dead mother is haunting her, and then suddenly disappears — as a movie. “I didn’t want to take a movie and stuff it in an app,” he told me. Rather, the goal was to use technology “to push a story out to people in bits and pieces.” Edelstein’s production company, Hooked Digital Media — which includes investor Jason Washington as cofounder and MySpace cofounder Aber Whitcomb as advisor — built an iOS platform that pushes content out to viewers over time. Haunting Melissa doesn’t have a predetermined length: Edelstein shot thousands of hours of video, and it will be pushed out to viewers in “chapters,” or segments, on a timeline that can be tweaked on the back end.
Watch Out, UStream and Co: YouTube is Expanding Its Live Streaming Offering
YouTube took another big step towards fully embracing live video Wednesday: The video site opened up live streaming to a much larger crowd of publishers, allowing anyone who has an account in good standing and at least 1,000 channel subscribers to stream live on the site. The changes were announced on the YouTube Creator blog Wednesday, and they come conjunction with Google I/O, the Internet giant’s annual developer conference. YouTube has been working behind the scenes for some time to make live streaming on its service more robust and attractive. It added the ability for select publishers to charge for live streams a year ago, and rolled out a completely revamped live streaming platform earlier this year.
YouTube Space LA Chief on Hosting Matt Damon and Charging to Watch Videos
Liam Collins isn’t exactly a household name in Hollywood, but he should be, given his role as overseer of perhaps the world’s largest production studio dedicated entirely to Internet videos. Collins heads YouTube Space LA, the lavish new studio in Playa Vista that occupies 41,000 square feetinside a former airplane hangar where Howard Hughes built the Spruce Goose. Since opening in November after a $25 million renovation that gave it a mod-1970s feel — except for the 36 monitors that connect as one giant screen above the front desk — the studio has been crowded with everyone from Matt Damon to Amy Poehler using editing suites, recording booths, cameras, lights, mics, grip equipment, screening rooms and more. Everything is lent for free to those making content for YouTube — especially the roughly 200 channels the Google-owned site has partnered with and lent an estimated $250 million in exchange for an ad revenue split. With YouTube announcing May 9 that it will charge subscription fees for certain channels,quality content is even more important.
YouTube Adds First Paid Channel for Horror Films
YouTube has a new paid channel for horror junkies, adding Screampix as the first subscription channel dedicated to frightful fare. It launched on Wednesday in the US and Canada for $2.99 a month, and will roll out to the U.K., France and Brazil later this year. The channel features more than 200 hours of horror footage, including full-length features, trailers and interviews. Movies are grouped into categories such as “Women on a Rampage” and “Zombiepalooza.” Kearie Peak, former COO of electric entertainment, is co-founder of the venture. Former SyFY executive Ray Cannella will be in charge of programming for the channel and will also interview horror filmmakers and take viewers behind-the-scenes of assorted films.
Opinions & Analysis
With I/O Speech, Larry PageReminds Us Why Google Rules Tech
Not even Googlers were certain that Larry Page would make an appearance at the kickoff to the tech giant’s annual developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday. But there he was onstage, in a red t-shirt, with a matching microphone and his quiet, froggy voice filling the room. And as Page spoke, his voice not only grew stronger, the impression grew stronger that this is the man, and Google the company, that is leading technology today.
Netflix + “Arrested Development” = Really Entertaining Viral Marketing
Earlier this week, for instance, the company set up a frozen banana stand — which will mean a lot to “Arrested Development” fans and nothing at all to the rest of you — at various Manhattan locations. The stand drew huge crowds.
And today this appeared in my inbox: