Grey’s, Wives on Hulu from today

Starting today Disney content will go live on Hulu, consumating a deal that was struck earlier this year to join the two-year venture with NBC Universal, News Corp and Providence Equity Partners.

The first few shows include popular fare from ABC such as Grey’s Anatomy,  Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. This means Hulu is going from strength to strength in locking down its leadership as the place for watching TV on the Web.

Part of the attraction of Hulu is that it is free for U.S. residents, since most of the content can be watched for free over the air in the U.S. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu’s owners added a paid service as part of the TV Everywhere initiative players like Time Warner have been promoting. Such a ‘paid-for’ service would actually be free if the customer is already a paying cable/satellite TV subscriber.

Hulu is also making strides to launch in the UK soon.

In the meantime, if you’re stuck at your desk tomorrow at 9.30am PST (12.30pm EST) you can watch the Michael Jackson service live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The broadcast is being provided to Hulu by half-sister network Fox News. After the live-stream, Hulu will also offer on-demand access of the entire memorial service.

Jimmy Kimmel at the upfront: Hey, we’re lying to you

Remember the days when the upfront presentations featured chart-topping singers, Broadway acts and drag racing, and lasted five or six hours? Most of that has disappeared over the past couple of years.

Today, these are largely low-key affairs. Executives talk about the importance of network TV, show a few clips from the new programs, promise to work closely with advertisers and call it a day.

Still, some stars do appear. ABC still trots out Jimmy Kimmel for a few laughs each year during its upfront presentation at Lincoln Center.

Lifetime, Scripps pitch advertisers

How do you sell TV advertising in this environment? If you’re Scripps Networks, you trumpet the product integration available in your make-over and do-it-yourself programs. You also make no bones about how difficult things are for advertisers and consumers.

At Tuesday’s Scripps upfront presentation (held at Cipriani 42nd Street), executives talked about these “very difficult and challenging times” and described viewers as “disillusioned,” “anxious,” and “frustrated.”

“There has never been a more important time than right now to reach out to viewers about their homes” said one Scripps executive.

Disney breaks out interactive results

The Walt Disney Co drew kudos from analysts in an otherwise dismal earnings report for breaking out results for its Interactive Media Group for the first time.

The unit, made up of its console, mobile and online gaming operations and, turned in an 18 percent revenue increase but operating profit dropped after the soft retail environment, competition for consumers’ time and Disney’s “substantial” investment in the product lines were factored in.

The decision to break out the unit’s results — it comprises just 3 percent of Disney’s total revenue, according to one analyst — came in the same quarter in which Disney CEO Bob Iger warned investors that its older media businesses — DVD sales and broadcast television — face “secular changes” from which they may never recover.

Pint-sized Club Penguin habitues tapped for virtual charity

Is it really giving if the money you’re shelling out for charity isn’t real? The 6- to 14-year-olds that Disney is targeting in a Dec. 12-22 charity drive on its social networking Club Penguin Web site probably would answer an emphatic “Yes!” to that existential poser.

That’s because donating the make-believe coins they earn playing games on Club Penguin to charities like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund – two beneficiaries of past penguin largesse — means less “money” to spend in the snowy virtual world on rugs and armchairs for their igloos, or hairdos and clothes for their penguins. Talk about a painful choice!

Kids who donate will actually be voting on which of three real-world causes to support, and their giving will determine how the New Horizon Foundation, whose principals started Club Penguin, splits up a $1 million donation to charities that represent those causes. During last year’s 10-day campaign, 2.5 million kids ponied up more than 2 billion virtual coins to help other children around the world, New Horizon’s Lane Merrifield said.

Four-wheeling at Disneyland

Disabled Segway riders who were barred from using the vehicles at Walt Disney theme parks may soon find themselves four-wheelin’ down Main Street under a proposed settlement the company reached with three disabled parkgoers who had sued for the right to use the personal transporters.

In their 2007 lawsuit, the three Segway owners argued that Disney violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by providing only sit-down wheelchairs and motorized scooters for disabled parkgoers.  Disney denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, court documents showed.

Under the settlement, Disney won’t allow Segways in its parks because of the potential danger to other parkgoers because of the vehicles’ 12 mph speed capability. The company will instead develop its own four-wheeled ESV, an electrically powered vehicle designed for operation while standing.  If the settlement is approved by a judge, Disney will make at least 15 of the vehicles available for parkgoers to rent at each of its U.S. parks starting in April 2009, court documents showed.

It’s 8:00 p.m. — do you know where your TV is?

television-set.jpgThe new prime-time TV season is starting and that means all eyes are on Nielsen ratings. While that’s the case every fall, this one is a bit different — the industry is recovering from a writers’ strike that threw the 2007-08 season into disarray.

AdAge points out, for instance, that serialized dramas already appear to be having trouble getting their footing back. It says two NBC dramas, “Chuck” and “Life,” both opened the season to sharply lower viewing numbers for the 18-49 demographic than they did a year ago.

Both are indicative of how many serialized dramas lost media momentum last year due to the strike, and how hard it will be to rebuild it without the buildup of free media any new show receives

Amazon spills (some) beans on the Google phone

google.jpgThanks Amazon! The online retailer put out a release this morning with some juicy details about Google’s new mobile phone — even as we’re still waiting for the official unveiling later today.

So, here’s what they say about the phone…

“The T-Mobile G1 is the world’s first Android-powered mobile phone in an exclusive partnership with Google. The T-Mobile G1 combines full touch-screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard with a mobile Web experience that includes the popular Google services that millions have enjoyed on the desktop, including Google Maps with StreetView, Gmail, YouTube and others. ”

Amazon, which has a deal with Google related to the phone, also says that the phone will have “one-touch access” to Google Search and will allow access to Android Market, “where customers can find and download unique applications to expand and personalize their phone to fit their lifestyle.”

AOL changes look, opens email, gets more social

aol_sept_mock_v5.jpgAOL has relaunched with a redesigned page. It has also unveiled a new ‘every email’ feature that allows consumers to access multiple email services and integrates access to social networking sites.

Effectively AOL is getting more ‘social’ by allowing users to access not just AOL and AIM email on their AOL page but also Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail. Paid Content points out that Hotmail is not directly accessible through, so AOL is providing a link that can be inserted in one of the module email slots and and a link to Microsoft feedback so people can ask for the feature.

 In addition to being more open, AOL hopes the email aggregation will help recapture some of the user attention it lost before people leaving the ISP were allowed to keep their AOL addressesPaid Content.

Gorgeous to gimmicky – new tech at Berlin’s IFA show

Technicians mount a new generation of OLED TV screen on the Samsung exhibition stand at the Internationale Funkaustellung consumer electronics fair in BerlinThe genuinely gorgeous and the jaw-droppingly gimmicky are rare sights on the floors of TVs and tumble dryers on show in in Berlin at IFA, which claims to be the world’s largest consumer electronics fair, but this year Sony takes the dubious accolade of having both on show within a few metres of each other.

First the sublime: Sony’s XEL-1 TV, based on OLED technology, will go on sale in Europe for the Christmas season for around 3,000 euros after being available in Japan for almost a year. With just an 11 inch diagonal, you don’t get much screen size for your money, but you do get a TV that’s just three millimetres thick and has strikingly more vivid picture than conventional LCD technology.

Of course, Sony isn’t going to be alone with OLED televisions for long. Samsung also has an impressive array to go on sale next year, though theirs will be pricy too — product executive Noh Young Joong told Reuters they would likely cost two to three times as much as equivalent-sized LCD units.