MediaFile

Now showing: The cable show

The big story in the media for the rest of the week is the annual National Cable Telecommunications Association Show, or “the cable show,” as its commonly called.

This year’s primary topic looks like it will be how the big, traditional operators in the business will adapt to an age when the Internet is giving people more options to watch shows, and not always in a way that feeds the bank.

Here is our own take on the show from the Reuters wire:

Both sets of companies will be brainstorming on how to cope with or benefit from disintermediation: consumers can now watch decent-quality video online whenever they want, and often for free.

“Last year, cable companies were in a more probelgradetectionist mode but now they’re facing up to the inevitable trend, because online video is really here to stay,” said Tuna Amobi, equity analyst at Standard & Poor’s.

Executives will also have the economy on their minds.

“The current recession has cut into consumer spending for household TV and telecommunications, while also causing most marketers to reduce their advertising budgets,” said Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan.

Advertising works for Hulu, kind of

The jury is out on whether advertising will ever work for online video sites as they strive to become real profit-generating businesses. Well, it’s worked for Hulu, but not in the profit-generating kind of way — at least not right away.

Hulu jumped to become the fourth most-watched video site in the United States last month thanks to a major advertising spot during the Super Bowl, according to Internet audience measurement firm comScore in this Reuters story. Those spots featured Alec Baldwin telling viewers about Hulu’s “evil plot to destroy the world” by turning people’s brains to mush.

Comscore said Hulu’s viewership grew 42 percent to 34.7 million unique visitors watching around 333 million videos.

from Fan Fare:

Hulu gets social

Video streaming Web site Hulu.com marked its one-year anniversary on Thursday by announcing new social networking features, as the site seeks to gain ground on other Internet entertainment hubs.hulu-ceo-jason-kilar
    
The Web site, a joint venture between General Electric Co.-owned NBC Universal and News Corp., launched "Hulu Friends" which integrates functions from social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, as well as e-mail providers Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, and allows users to see what their friends are watching, share new videos and leave notes for each other.
    
Hulu, which allows visitors to view television episodes and movies on their home computers, still has a long way to go if it hopes to catch up to video sharing giant YouTube.com. Internet tracking site comScore reported this month that YouTube accounted for about 43 percent of all videos viewed over the Internet in January. By comparison, Hulu.com had only a 1.7 percent share of all videos viewed. The Google-owned YouTube has reached out to mainstream entertainment companies, including Universal Music Group, as the site seeks to add more premium entertainment on its site. But unlike YouTube, which mostly has short video clips, Hulu allows users to view entire episodes, and it has positive trends in its favor.

Research firm Knowledge Networks reported in February that use of third-party video hosting sites such as Hulu to access network television shows doubled since 2007 among Internet video users age 13-54.

Hulu keeps bringing in the fans, even without Sarah Palin

After jumping to become the sixth most viewed online U.S. video site in October, Hulu managed to keep its spot in November despite not having the benefit of a Sarah Palin/Tina Fey boost from Saturday Night Live

Hulu is the new star of the rapid growth of online video as a mainstream media in U.S. New comScore data shows more than 77 percent of all U.S. Internet users watched online video.  

YouTube is, of course, the most watched video site by quite a stretch, with more than 12 billion videos watched. Fox Interactive Media (mostly MySpace) stands at No.2 with 439 million; Viacom Digital has 325 million and Yahoo next with 304 million. Microsoft had 296 million.

Ditch cable, save for a flat-screen TV?

Everyone wants to save money in these troubled economic times. For those of you craving a flat-panel TV, Bernstein Research suggests you might be able to afford a “nice” LCD model if you cancel your cable bill and utilize free Web video sites like Hulu.com for a year.

In the report “The Nouveau Broke – Hitchhiker’s Guide to a Free LCD TV,” analyst Jeff Evenson says IP video will eventually account for at least 80 percent of all video viewed globally as college students, recent graduates, and young adults — equipped with computers and broadband Internet — find cable less necessary.

The economic crisis could accelerate Web video adoption, he writes:

Some consumers may decide to reduce expenses by canceling video subscriptions (e.g., cable) and viewing content over the Internet … we conclude that making the switch could easily pay for a “nice” LCD TV in under a year if consumers utilize advertising-supported content and 3 years with reasonable use of “for fee” downloads.

Hulu would love to expand — you know, sometime

Hulu is going global. Maybe.

The video website owned by News Corp and NBC Universal is apparently thinking of expanding to Britain, France, Germany and Japan. But don’t get too excited. Peter Smith, president of NBC Universal International, told a conference that while Hulu would love to push out its boundaries, there aren’t yet any concrete plans.

He didn’t say this, but it seems that given what’s happening with the global economy, this may not be the best time to expand a service that depends on advertising revenue. Speaking of which…

The Financial Times has a story out today that suggests Hulu could match Google’s YouTube in US revenue next year. The article cites Screen Digest, and certainly other researchers may disagree. Still, it’s interesting that Screen Digest figures both online video cites will bring in about $180 million. Should we interpret this as a Hulu success? Or a YouTube failure?

And now for an afternoon snack….

prisoner.jpgThere’s a little something for everybody in the media industry in Frank N. Magid Associates’ annual study of user/viewer/reader behavior. We got a look at some of the findings and took especial note of stats on online video usage, research sponsored by video sharing site Metacafe.

Boiled down, YouTube is still king of online video watching, according to nearly 2,000 web users aged 12 to 64 surveyed by Magid Associates. But as online video becomes a part of our daily routine, corroding wholesome activities like watching TV and going to the movies, there should be plenty more room for sites like rival Metacafe or slick Hulu.

Here’s some of the data on the overarching trends. Magid managing director Mike Vorhaus attributes them to a growing appetite for “snack-sized content.” Now try to make some money off it:

Zucker upbeat on offbeat upfront

zucker.jpgIn one of the busiest weeks for network TV executives, NBCU’s Jeff Zucker nonetheless stopped by an Avenue A/Razorfish event for a question-and-answer session with the ad company’s vice president of media & entertainment, Domenic Venuto.

Not surprisingly, given it is upfront week, one of the first questions put to Zucker centered on his media company’s rather untraditional upfront.

(A quick refresher: NBC unveiled its lineup for 2008-09 last month, and Monday skipped its usual splashy upfront presentation at Radio City in favor of what it called the NBCU Experience over at 30 Rockefeller Center. For more details click here). 

GE: NBCU not for sale

immelt.jpgNBCU is not for sale. Got that?GE Chairman Jeff Immelt plans to put to bed persistent rumors that the industrial conglomerate is considering courting buyers for its broadcast, cable and movies division after the Beijing Olympics, according to the New York Times, citing Immelt’s note to GE investors in its annual report that will be filed on Wednesday.NYT quotes from the letter:“Should we sell NBCU? The answer is no!”"I just don’t see it happening. Not before the Olympics, not after the Olympics. It doesn’t make sense.”Immelt tells investors NBCU earnings are also expected to jump 10 percent this year.Speculation gathered steam last October after the Financial Times reported about Immelt considering NBCU’s fate only after the Olympics in August, citing unnamed sources. That set the chatter mill abuzz with scenario-spinning with potential suitors for pieces, if not the whole.But who really wants a broadcast network — and who doesn’t already have one — these days?(NYTimes)Keep an eye on:

    Hulu launches, finally. (Reuters) Spitzer, from all angles. (HuffPost) Disney sees $1 billion from online content revenue in 2008, up from $700 million in 2007. (paidContent) AOL replaces head of Platform A after just seven months. (NYPost)

(Photo: Reuters)