MediaFile

Comcast’s Brian Roberts at Web 2.0 (video)

Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts took time out from strategizing over his company’s reported bid to buy NBC Universal to speak at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. As expected, Roberts declined to comment on any ”specific” deals including NBC. But he did indicate as he has done in the past that content will be an important part of his company’s future and that it is always “prudent” to take a look at opportunities as they come up.

While he remained on message (or is that off message?), Jeff Immelt, his counterpart at NBC Universal’s parent General Electric, was a little more forthcoming, saying the company is considering its options for NBC Universal which could include keeping it.

In this 43 minute interview, Roberts also talked on a range of other topics including the importance of building faster Internet services and gave a demostration of his company’s On Demand Online service which he said will be launching nationally before the end of the year.

Comcast’s Fancast tries TV ads to catch Hulu’s coat tails

When most Americans think of where to catch up with episodes of their favorite TV shows on the Web, they more than likely think of Hulu, the online video site owned by NBC, News Corp and Disney that offers free viewing of TV broadcast shows and archive movies. Second to Hulu would probably be YouTube.But not Fancast. Despite being owned by the largest U.S. cable TV operator Comcast, it doesn’t even make the top 10 video sites in the U.S., according to comScore data. (Hulu is No. 5). One of the ways Hulu became better known was by launching a national TV advertising campaign which kicked off during this year’s Super Bowl TV extravaganza. Hulu’s user numbers jumped after those ads — and Fancast hopes for a similar boost.Fancast has dubbed its debut TV campaign “See It For Yourself” and will feature a series of five spots with recaps of shows including CSI Miami, Glee, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother and Gilligan’s Island. Three TV spots will debut on CBS and also on targeted national cable networks. See the Fancast/CSI ad here: The campaign also features an online push and an outdoor drive with interactive bus shelters around the San Francisco area.In truth, beating Hulu might not be Comcast’s biggest prize. It’s more likely to have its eye on its On Demand Online /TV Everywhere initiatives, which aim to make popular cable shows available on demand to paying subscribers. Fancast will be one of Comcast’s key platforms for that new service when it fully rolls out so building awareness of the site now is important.(Photo: CSI Miami’s David Caruso/Reuters)

Is Google’s message on YouTube starting to get through?

YouTube executives and spinmeisters have been pushing back more aggressively at the perception that the video site is a great big drain on Google’s bottomline, probably  losing $200 million to $500 million a year by some estimates. These execs say that hundreds of major advertisers are taking spots on YouTube against “hundreds of millions” of video views every week.

The problem with this is the lack of precise details. How much revenue is YouTube generating from these monetized videos exactly (even approximately)? And how much does it cost to stream and store those hundreds of millions of videos every week? Google and YouTube decline to provide any numbers other than to say things are moving in the right direction. Wall Street and investors are yet to be convinced.

Goldman Sachs analyst James Mitchell is the latest to have a shot at a respectable estimate for YouTube. He says it will generate around $300 million in 2009. He also thinks the best is yet to come from YouTube — and that Google will see some benefit.

from Commentaries:

Twitter backlash foretold

Technology market research firm Gartner Inc has published the 2009 "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies," its effort to chart out what's hot or not at the cutting edge of hi-tech jargon. It's just one of an annual phalanx of reports that handicap some 1,650 technologies or trends in 79 different categories for how likely the terms are to make it into mainstream corporate parlance.

Jackie Fenn, the report's lead analyst and author of the 2008 book "Mastering the Hype Cycle," delivers the main verdict:

Technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books (such as from Amazon and Sony) and internet TV (for example, Hulu), while social software and microblogging sites (such as Twitter) have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among corporate users.

Sun Valley: When will YouTube make a profit?

That question has got louder and louder from investors and Wall Street analysts concerned that YouTube owner Google is racking huge profit-hindering costs to be the free online video platform for the world. It seems Google’s top guys don’t know the answer either — or if they do, they’re choosing not to share it with reporters on Thursday.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a media briefing at Sun Valley that he believes YouTube, which his company spent $1.65 billion to acquire three years ago, will come good thanks to its recent launch of new advertising formats such as pay-to-promote and pre-roll ads. “We’re optimisic that YouTube will be a strong revenue business for us because of these products,” he told reporters.

But the problem is investors are more concerned with the huge costs involved in streaming millions of videos globally everyday with a very small percentage of them covered by advertising. In other words when will YouTube make money from its dominance?

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

‘Tonight Show’ Audience a Decade Younger (NYT)
“In Mr. O’Brien’s first month as host, the median age of “Tonight Show” viewers has fallen by a decade — to 45 from 55, a startling shift in such a short time. This audience composition means advertisers can now address almost exclusively young viewers on “Tonight,” and NBC is already contemplating a shift in how it sells the show,” writes Bill Carter.

Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again (Reuters)

“German publisher Axel Springer plans to launch an international weekly edition of its flagship daily, Die Welt, in a 48-page tabloid format starting February 2010. Springer is still mulling distribution options but the paper will likely be available from airlines,” writes Nicola Leske.

Just the Messenger: Mediaite.com Focuses on Celebrity of Journalism (WP)
On the newly launched website, Howard Kurtz writes: “Mediaite paints with a colorful palette, even if its hues will appeal mainly to journalists and those who obsess over them. By hiring bloggers who worked for Mediabistro and the Huffington Post, Abrams has put together a sassy critique of media missteps and foibles, an overall take not driven mainly by ideology.”

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.

NBC Universal’s Zucker: Olympics still a winner

News broke this week that Anheuser-Busch has told NBC that the brewer will spend only about half as much on advertising packages during the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Games in London, compared to previous years.

Over at 30 Rock, they aren’t too worried about it. NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, who won wide praise for the company’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, feels that there are plenty of advertisers ready to step in and replace any company that wants or needs to cut their spending on the sporting event.

When we asked Zucker about the Anheuser-Busch situation, he said, “The interest in the Olympics — because it’s such a unique event — has been extraordinary. Where certain companies decide it doesn’t work for them anymore, it provides an opportunity for their competitors to come in. That works out just fine for us.”

Hulu breaks into top 3 US video sites

Hulu continues its rapid ascent up the video charts, cracking the top three online video sites in the U.S. for the first time in March.

Some 380 million videos were viewed on Hulu.com, up 14.3 percent from February, according to market research firm comScore.

That allowed the NBC Universal and News Corp joint venture to steal the No.3 spot from Yahoo, whose total number of videos viewed in March actually declined by roughly 5 percent from February. Hulu held a 2.6 percent share of the 14.5 billion videos viewed in the U.S. last month.

iPhone apps: Gaming and advertising paradise?

This may seem obvious to anybody who’s sat beside an iPhone user on the subway but ComScore’s latest research confirms it anyway. Games are one of the hottest iTunes Apps downloaded, and those who download them are well-paid social-site viewers ripe for some kind of new advertsing scheme.

According to the research firm twelve of the 25 most popular mobile apps were games including oldies like Hangman and Pac-man, and newer titles like “Cube Runner”, ”Crazy Penguin Catapult“, and (the top game) Tapulous’s “Tap Tap Revenge”. 

It cited Stylem Media’s “Backgrounds” applications as most downloaded of non-games, just ahead of social network apps like Facebook and MySpace.