Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NBC launches new viewer with 07-08 season

Last year was just the test for online viewing of episodes, but now its for real. NBC Universal has dropped Apple's iTunes Store (and visa versa) but with one of the worst streaming viewers on the market the question was how NBC would fare in this new medium. The answer, a few weeks ago was the launching of a revamped NBC.com viewer.

The concept is leagues above last season's. Modeled after ABC.com's viewer, NBC has three sizes including a full screen. Breaking from other networks though, NBC's full screen include a mask around the entire frame that includes the series logo on the top and a logo of the sponsoring brand on the bottom of the screen.

The biggest addition in concept is the adding of ABC styled thirty second advertising units. A 30-second count down also alerts viewers to the time remaining for the break. However, unlike ABC, the show automatically restarts unless you attempt to interact with the ad.

The second season premier of Heroes, for the first 24 hours was sponsored exclusively by Nissan's Rouge which also has a placement inside the episode as well according to MediaWeek (the cheerleader gets the family Rouge [a car not seen in the first season] and she says that her dad is the best dad ever). In sponsoring the streaming episode, a short video of the Rouge drives around an abandon New York City then allows users to look at videos about the different features of car.

The campaign was created by Nissan's OMD Agency.

Hidden in the ads though are also DVD styled extras about Heroes and an easter egg series of videos called "The Maze Master" which are quite fun to watch. Over all the advertisement is engaging and uses the medium exceedingly well. In fact after seeing less than one episode, I now actually remember the name of the car, and a few of its features (Bluetooth hands free phone via the steering wheel) having never heard of the car before.

Other advertisers on the site currently, though not with nearly as compelling ad units are Proctor & Gamble's "Head and Shoulders" brand which simply re-uses an :30 spot and HP which is running a static branding ad that seems to imply interactivity but when clicked on links to an HP promotional Web site.

However, there are major technical glitches. For instance I've still seen less than the first episode of Heroes because after the first ad block of the show never restarted. Then when I tried to reload the browser and start from the second act I got a file not found error.

Other problems also occurred. The first few times I tried to watch the episode, I would hear the sound but the screen was asking me to select an episode again which would re-run the Rouge advert. While trying to watch the Journeyman pilot the same issue occurred before I was able to watch anything at all. Chuck on the other hand played but about half way through just fine, then started to become rather choppy, and never recovered.

In general, the interface is the best I've seen yet. The video quality is good, about the same as ABC's last season, which was already fantastic. The bugs on the other hand are damning. The site has only been live with the new season for about 24 hours as of posting this, but these errors will have to be fixed soon if this update will ever live up to it's potential.

If NBC does manage to turn the reliability around, the player may be the new gold standard. The ability to have extra features and interactive advertising will make sponsorships much more valuable than the mere pennies, or at best dimes networks have been charging for these impressions. NBC should be able to finally see substantive revenue from its online content.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Final Breaths for Bud.TV?

We've talked a lot about Anheuser-Bush's attempt at creating its own branded online channel called Bud.TV. It has a lot of flaws, an aggravating age verification system keeps the content from spreading virally, the funny films were not funny, it is expensive, very expensive.
Everyone in the Ad world was looking to see AB's efforts pan out so that they could finally bid adu to the networks whose ads are being viewed by less and less people. AB thought it might even have a chance (as evidenced by its diverting television dollars to the project). All of Madison Avenue was watching but after its debut the night of the 2007 Super Bowl ratings went in the wrong direction. Receiving after a few months literally onlys tens of thousands of hits a day, viewers of Bud.TV had some of the most highly paid for eyes in advertising history.
Today day though, as Bud.TV takes in their few final breaths they've sent an email to their members looking for some saving wisdom. A poll sent out by Bud.TV this evening asks members to rate the "Swear Jar" film, one of the most viewed videos to come from Bud.TV, on a scale of one to ten.
The poll goes on to if Bud.TV could only have one type of content what would the user want it to be (options including reality content, stand up comedy, humorous ads, ect). Then they are asked their interest in social networking being added to Bud.TV.
The implication of the poll is that AB hasn't given up but that there will be a conservation of resources as they look to build a solid base.
That's right, they'll restrict new content and grow the users.
Well I guess this means that Bud.TV truly is on its last legs.
Smart people learn from their mistakes, brilliant ones learn from the mistakes of others. The next few months of Bud.TV will surely be watched by every genius on Madison Avenue.

Friday, July 6, 2007

iPhone: The Musical -- You just got to watch this one

I'm going to make a prediction here. I blogged about David Pouge, the New York Times technology columnist earlier in the week and his hilarious tech podcast about being one of four people in the U.S. outside of Apple to have an iPhone. Today he has one that tops it called iPhone: The Musical. Pouge sings the song (dubbed "I want an iPhone) then halfway in gets back up vocals from the crowd standing outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store in New York City.

My prediction... Pouge has been living in Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg's shadow for sometime, these webisodes could just bring Pouge into the sun and make Mossberg's black and white just look old fashion.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

An Ad by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

As I may have said a few times one of my favorite ad models for online video is ABC's video player, hands now. The video is beautiful, they'll be launching an HD player with the fall season, and the ads truly take interactive advertising to a new level.

New TeeVee has a great post about their advertising today... read more a NewTeeVee

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Free Online Full Langth Classic Films from SciFi

They aren't exactly webisodes, but the SciFi Channel has posted full length classic films on their site under the title "SciFi Drive In", no ads, and uncut. They are some of the greatest B-grade moves of all time like Killers From Space (Mission Impossible's original Mr. Felps) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) and who could forget Prehistoric Woman, the only color film among the selections. SciFi has some great descriptions like the one for the 1959 thriller The Killer Shrews.

Not Desperate Housewives, but dogs dressed as huge, ravenous shrews. This is the poor man's Island of Dr. Moreau, and stars James Best, better known as Roscoe P. Coltrane of The Dukes of Hazzard.

Check them out. Most are over an hour long but includes some real treasures. The 1902 French film often referred to as the first SciFi film, Le Voyage Dans La Lune, about a professor's voyage to the moon where he classically crashes his rocket into the moon's eye.

My only complaint is that the sound sync is often a little off. SciFi, owned by NBC|Universal is using the same video player as NBC Rewind, which also has sound sync issues over time, but isn't an issue often when shows are cut into ten minute acts. With these films running sometimes as long as 100 minutes, the delay can get to at least a half second off.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Jaman, now playing on AppleTV

Jaman.com (think iTunes store for HD foreign & independent films w/ faster downloads) has hacked the AppleTV to play their content without losing the DRM and it syncs like iTunes.

read more | digg story

The Webisode Blog Could Use Your Help

So I've been running The Webisode Blog for about a month or so now. Every post that goes up is getting just a few more hits than the last, this month I'm even expecting to exceed a thousand page views, not a ton, but it's a few.

The only thing that is keeping it from growing faster is lack of content. Which is where you all come in. I need a few people who similarly enjoy watching online videos and are willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly with people. Write what you want to write about, I'll write the rest and it will be a big happy family.

If you're interested write to me at webisode.editors[at]gmail.com. Tell me your background and what kind of topics you want to cover.