Google today announced that it is adding nearly 500 Paramount movies for transactional video-on-demand on Google Play and YouTube over the next several months. The rentals will be available to consumers in the U.S. and Canada.
Google now has content-sharing deals with five of the six major studios (20th Century Fox is the lone holdout), and 10 independent studios (Washington Post)
The rental pricing is comparable to most rentals on Google Play – $3.99 for new releases and $2.99 for most catalog titles, with an added $1 premium for HD content. ¬†Once rented, movies can be watched once for a 24-hour window over a 30-day period.
Google Play (previously known as Android Market) lets users buy or rent movies, music and books for download to Android-based portable devices and the TV.
Supporters and detractors of the ‚ÄúStop Online Piracy Act‚ÄĚ (SOPA) gave testimony before the House of Representatives‚Äô Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as the legislative chamber seeks to toughen the nation’s intellectual property enforcement measures during the current legislative session.
The U.S. Copyright Office joined Hollywood studios and other content distributors in endorsing of SOPA, with Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights, testifying before the House committee that the legislation ‚Äúprovides 21st century tools to the Department of Justice with respect to foreign infringing websites.‚ÄĚ Pallante stressed her office‚Äôs view that SOPA neither embodies a ‚Äúzero tolerance‚ÄĚ enforcement approach that would risk curtailing of First Amendment rights; nor does the legislation ‚Äúaffect the safe harbors that Internet service providers enjoy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).‚ÄĚ The full text of Pallante‚Äôs statement is here.
Google‚Äôs copyright counsel, Katherine Oyama, countered with several examples of how SOPA would ‚Äúundermine‚ÄĚ the DMCA safe harbors, impacting the business of ‚Äúvirtually every Internet company.‚ÄĚ
Ahead of its Monday third quarter earnings call, Netflix announced that it will bring its streaming video subscription service to the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2012.
Netflix said that customers in the UK and Ireland will be able to watch streams of TV shows and movies on their home televisions through a range of consumer electronics devices capable of streaming from Netflix, as well as on PCs, Macs, and mobile tablets and phones. The company said it would disclose further details about the service, including pricing, content and supported devices, closer to the service‚Äôs launch date.
In the UK, Netflix will compete against Amazon-owned LoveFilm, which offers subscribers both DVD rentals and movie streams. Google‚Äôs YouTube also has begun to market a-la-carte online movie rentals in the UK (via The Guardian).
Netflix will release results for its third quarter (ended Sept. 30) after the stock market closes on Monday. Analysts and shareholders are eager to learn whether the company lost U.S. customers after its price increase went into full effect in September.
Media analyst Richard Greenfield contends that Hulu‚Äôs owners would be wise to retain their interests in the online video site ‚Äúto have direct control of their digital future‚ÄĚ (registration required). But in what looks to be a likely sale of the site by Comcast, News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity, Greenfield says that YouTube owner Google ‚Äúis the most compelling‚ÄĚ buyer.
Among the factors Google has in its favor, Greenfield says, are the company‚Äôs ‚Äúincredibly deep pockets,‚ÄĚ which it would use to acquire more content for Hulu. For content owners, the analyst says, a Google-owned Hulu could further develop the marketplace for digital rights ‚Äúbeyond Netflix currently and to a lesser degree Amazon.‚ÄĚ
Greenfield speculates that Google‚Äôs size, however, could stir seller concerns that they would be ceding too much control over their business to the Internet company.
Initial bids for Hulu are due this weekend; other companies reported to have an interest include Amazon, DirecTV, and Yahoo.
Bids this week for Hulu could range between $500 million and $2 billion, one source close to the sale of the online video service tells The Wall Street Journal. The main factor in determining a price is the nature of content licensing agreements that Hulu would be able to secure with its current owners, which include Disney, NBCUniversal, and News Corp. Companies expected to bid on Hulu include Amazon.com, Google, and Yahoo, as well as DirecTV. Initial bids are due Wednesday.
A Google executive tells The New York Times that the launch of its cloud-based music storage and streaming service, sans support from record labels, is a negotiating tactic to win the Internet giant more ‚Äúsustainable‚ÄĚ licensing terms from music companies. But exactly how much leverage Google will gain with its Music Beta remains to be seen. An early hands-on review of the service gives it poor marks for functionality and ease of use (VentureBeat).
Google is following Amazon.com into the cloud music space, launching a service that gives users the ability to upload as many as 20,000 songs to an online locker for streaming to Web-enabled computers or Android mobile devices. And as with Amazon‚Äôs Cloud Player, major labels have no involvement.
The Google service will start as a free, invite-only beta program; music fans can request an invitation at music.google.com. Users can upload their iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries, complete with playlists and song ratings, and access the music on their Android phone or tablet through an app. The devices cache recently-played songs so that users can continue to play music even while offline.
For the moment, Google Music aims to simplify consumers‚Äô experience of listening to digital music. Unveiling the service at Google‚Äôs I/O developer conference Tuesday, a company representative said the wireless service heralded the end of ‚Äúpainful syncing‚ÄĚ of digital music libraries between phones and computers.
What of major labels‚Äô participation? In contrast to Amazon, Google lacks a digital music storefront. If Google‚Äôs remarks to business press today are any indication, broad label support for the company‚Äôs music effort is unlikely to arrive anytime soon.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been in negotiations with the industry for a different set of features, with mixed results,‚ÄĚ Zahavah Levine, Google‚Äôs director of content partnerships, tells Billboard. ‚ÄúA couple of major labels were less focused on innovation and more on demanding unreasonable and unsustainable business terms.‚ÄĚ
At its developer conference, Google also demonstrated a prototype music application that one day could see integration with the cloud-based service: a home sensor could read tags embedded in the jewel cases of packaged CDs, unlocking access to the albums in a user‚Äôs Google Music Account.
Amazon, meanwhile, seems to be quietly expanding its Cloud Player service to be compatible with Apple iOS devices, such as the iPhone (via TechCrunch). Although Amazon warns iOS device users that Cloud Player does not support the Safari Internet browser, the service does in fact work via Safari. Amazon, which markets a Cloud Player app for Android devices, has yet to formally announce any expansion of the streaming service to iOS.
Combined revenues from the four major mobile application stores run by Apple, Google, Nokia, and Research in Motion will increase by 77% in 2001 to $3.8 billion, according to research firm IHS Screen Digest. Yet despite rapid growth in Google‚Äôs Android Market and elsewhere, the Apple App Store still will claim more than three quarters of the industry‚Äôs app sales.
Projected figures for the Apple App Store this year call for revenue of $2.91 billion, up 63.4% from $1.78 billion in 2010. Given that Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad are the market leaders in their field, IHS Screen Digest says, the company‚Äôs App Store is expected to take in 76% of revenue this year and retain 60% market share by 2014.
Google‚Äôs Android Market, meanwhile, will see the industry‚Äôs fastest growth in 2011. Android Market revenue will increase by 295% this year to $425.36 million, on its way to become the second-largest application store.
IHS analyst Jack Kent says that consumers have shown an ‚Äúunflagging interest in downloading games and other applications‚ÄĚ to smartphones and tablets this year.
The total number of downloaded applications in 2011 is expected to reach 18.1 billion by year-end, nearly doubling last year’s total of ¬†9.5 billion.
More than one third of tablet computer owners (34%) already spend more time each day using their devices than they do watching TV, according to new research from¬†Google‚Äôs AdMob. The survey of some 1,400 tablet users reveals game playing to be the most common tablet activity, at 84% of respondents; more than half (51%) consume entertainment such as music or videos on their devices.
Among other findings on the nature of tablet use:¬†68% of tablet users spend at least 1 hour a day on their tablet, and¬†82% primarily use their tablet at home.
Google‚Äôs SVP and general counsel, Kent Walker, told legislators in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday that the company plans to unveil ‚Äúin the next week or two‚ÄĚ improvements to its procedure for removing links to infringing content from Google sites.
Testifying before a House subcommittee on issues of intellectual property enforcement, Walker said that the Internet giant was testing the new system, which seeks to remove links to infringing material within 24 hours of Google receiving requests from content providers.
The new turnaround time aims to boost the effectiveness of the ‚Äúnotice and takedown‚ÄĚ process outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Currently, Walker said, Google‚Äôs YouTube can act on infringement notices within minutes; but he acknowledged that link removals from other Google sites can take days or even weeks.
Walker‚Äôs comments came in response to questioning from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), who took the company to task for not implementing improvements sooner. The Congresswoman cited data from music industry trade group IFPI that during February 2011, 46% of the infringement notices that record labels sent to Google concerning blogs on Google’s Blogspot network remained active for more than seven days.
‚ÄúYou really have an obligation to take those down within 24 hours,‚ÄĚ Wasserman Schultz told Walker.
The Google executive conceded that refining the notice-and-takedown process with copyright holders has been a ‚Äúcontinuing conversation,‚ÄĚ but he maintained his belief that the parties were ‚Äúmaking really material progress.‚ÄĚ
The new measures make good on a specific initiative Google announced in December to tighten its copyright controls.
The House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday was the Congressional chamber‚Äôs second in recent weeks, as lawmakers consider proposing new ways to stem online infringement and sales of counterfeit physical goods.
In a brief submitted yesterday to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Google lays out its arguments for why YouTube should be held free of copyright infringement liability in a $1 billion lawsuit brought by Viacom.
Not only did YouTube act in compliance with the notice-and-takedown requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Google says; Viacom employees themselves posted copyrighted material to the online video site, to promote the companies‚Äô programming.
‚ÄúPlaintiffs cannot point to a single clip that YouTube knew was infringing but did not take down,‚ÄĚ Google states in its brief. ‚ÄúNor can plaintiffs make any serious claim that YouTube should have known simply by looking at a given video whether it infringed their copyrights. That is due in part to the ways that plaintiffs themselves used YouTube to advance their own businesses ‚ÄĒ a topic about which their briefs are virtually silent.‚ÄĚ
More excerpts and analysis at The Hollywood Reporter.
Amazon.com looks to lure Android device users away from Google‚Äôs Android Market with daily price promotions and ‚Äútest drive‚ÄĚ previews of apps. As TechCrunch reports, Amazon retains control over app pricing, unlike Android Market or Apple‚Äôs App Store (where developers set prices). The pricing policy will enable the retailer to offer popular paid apps, such as Rovio‚Äôs Angry Birds, for free under a ‚Äúfree app of the day‚ÄĚ promotion.
Amazon will have to defend its use of the term ‚ÄúApp Store‚ÄĚ before a California federal court, with Apple filing a trademark infringement suit against the retailer late last week (via Bloomberg). Apple has received approval for its own ‚ÄúApp Store‚ÄĚ trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, but Microsoft has filed an opposition to the registration.
Apple‚Äôs long-anticipated complement to its iTunes digital music store will not be a stand-alone subscription streaming service like Spotify, but rather a cloud-based rights locker for iTunes customers to access their music purchases from any Apple device, the Financial Times reports.
The service could debut as early as this summer, the paper reports. Meanwhile, Spotify is still reportedly negotiating with major record labels to launch a U.S. version of its European subscription music service. Google also is fixing to enter the space with a cloud-based locker service of its own.
More at Ars Technica, which spotted the FT report late last week.
Google brought its Android Market app store to the Web today, while pledging to support in-app purchasing capabilities in apps by the end of the first quarter (via Engadget). The new Android Market storefront boasts ‚Äúover-the-air‚ÄĚ transfers: a user can browse and purchase apps from any Internet connection, and the store sends the purchases wirelessly to the user‚Äôs specified device.
As digital commerce continues to heat up, Apple is now requiring retail app developers to offer an in-app purchasing option for content such as e-books, the New York Times reports.
The new requirement comes to light following Apple‚Äôs rejection of a Sony iPhone app that would have let users purchase and read e-books from Sony‚Äôs Reader Store.
Sony‚Äôs app would have operated like Amazon‚Äôs Kindle app for the iPhone and iPad, which opens a browser window to enable new content purchases over the Web. Under Apple‚Äôs new requirement, the developers must offer users an in-app purchase option as well ‚ÄĒ with such purchases subject to a 30% revenue cut for Apple.
The news follows a similar rift in January between Google‚Äôs Android market and social game site Kongregate.
Google‚Äôs search engine has stopped suggesting certain technologies and sites popular with file-sharers, in an apparent step from the search company to help curb copyright infringement.
Typing ‚Äútorrent,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúmegaupload‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúrapidshare‚ÄĚ into Google no longer prompts ‚Äúinstant‚ÄĚ suggestions or auto-completions of the terms, although full-word searches still produce accurate results. At least as of Thursday, the Google engine still auto-completes searches for sites such as The Pirate Bay, Isohunt and Mediafire (as originally reported by TorrentFreak).
The move follows Google‚Äôs pledge to tighten its anti-infringement controls in December. But representatives of companies affected by the measure tell TorrentFreak that Google overreaches in its new filtering scheme, impeding the discovery and legitimate use of file-sharing services.
Vevo, the ad-supported music video streaming service, steadily grew its audience in 2010, topping 50.6 million viewers for the month of December alone, according to data released by comScore.
Much of the Vevo traffic still hails from YouTube, where the major-label-backed service launched in December 2009.
YouTube and other Google-owned sites, as usual, collectively rank as the top online video content property for December 2010 with 144.8 million unique viewers, comScore says. The average time Internet users spent watching videos on Google sites in December topped 274 minutes, or 4.6 hours.
More online video data from comScore here.
A dispute between Google and social gaming site Kongregate reveals how the lines of competition continue to be staked out between app retailers and both aggregators and developers of digital content.
Hours after¬†Kongregate launched an ‚ÄúArcade‚ÄĚ app on Google‚Äôs Android Market yesterday, Google removed the app from its digital storefront, reportedly citing violation of the mobile app store’s terms of service.
Kongregate CEO Jim Greer tells Joystiq that Google deemed the free Kongregate Arcade app ‚ÄĒ through which users can play and download some 300 Flash games from Kongregate‚Äôs mobile site ‚ÄĒ to be an app store in itself, placing it in competition with the Android Market.
But the Arcade app, Greer argues, is ‚Äúall essentially cached content delivered in a browser, which to me is just bizarre that that would be considered an ‚Äėapp store.‚Äô It‚Äôs just browser-based content.‚ÄĚ
Kongregate is a unit of videogame retailer GameStop, which does not market game apps online, but does offer downloadable content for console game systems and PCs.
The flap could hold ramifications on other retailers that are planning to sell Android apps, such as Amazon (more at GigaOm). For Kongregate, the publicity over Google‚Äôs removal may work in its favor, MocoNews points out. The Arcade app is now available at upstart app store GetJar, which has seen heavy traffic for other popular game apps such as Angry Birds (1.5 million downloads from GetJar to date).
As a social site, Kongregate remains relatively small: at last check, its homepage’s real-time ticker claimed some 36,675 users were online playing games.
Jeremy Allaire, chief executive at online video platform Brightcove, says competition between rival standards will be a key factor to watch in the evolution of online and mobile video next year (via TechCrunch). Yet this standards war — which actually will drive more video onto more devices, Allaire says — may not be the type packaged home entertainment marketers are used to.
‚ÄúSeveral alternative stacks are emerging for encrypting / securing and then, in turn, delivering video in a high-quality and reliable manner to all platforms and devices,‚ÄĚ Allaire says.¬†The battle between Apple and Adobe is already underway. ‚ÄúAnd now,‚ÄĚ Allaire notes,¬†¬†‚ÄúGoogle will get in the mix with Widevine‚Äôs technology…We should expect that, like with On2‚Äôs video codecs which were open-sourced as the WebM video standard, Google will open source and freely distribute the Widevine technology, as well as bundle it as a standard part of the infrastructure in Chrome, Chrome OS and Android browsers and operating systems.‚ÄĚ
Adding to its digital video delivery operations, Google is acquiring Widevine, a provider of digital rights management and video optimization tools, for an undisclosed sum.
‚ÄúBy forging partnerships across the entire ecosystem, Widevine has made on demand services more efficient and secure for media companies, and ultimately more available and convenient for users,‚ÄĚ says Mario Queiroz, Google‚Äôs VP of Product Management, in a company blog post. ‚ÄúWe are committed to maintaining Widevine‚Äôs agreements and will provide direct, quality support for their existing and future clients‚ÄĒand we plan to build upon Widevine‚Äôs technology to enhance both their products and our own.‚ÄĚ
Widevine CEO Brian Baker adds that the company will continue to market video optimization and content protection solutions. ‚ÄúWe are excited to have access to Google‚Äôs vast resources,‚ÄĚ he says, ‚Äúas we continue to improve our products, support our customers, and meet the future needs of consumers, content owners, service providers and device manufacturers.‚ÄĚ
Some content owners have long perceived Google to be slow in responding to copyright violations on its sites and services; Viacom continues to allege that Google‚Äôs YouTube has profited from the infringements of its users. While standing behind the safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Google today said that it is planning strengthen its copyright protection program with several modifications over the next several months.
Topping the list of changes, says Google General Counsel Kent Walker, is an initiative to ‚Äúact on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours.
‚ÄúWe will build tools to improve the submission process to make it easier for rightsholders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products (starting with Blogger and web Search),‚ÄĚ Walker says in a company blog post. ‚ÄúAnd for copyright owners who use the tools responsibly, we‚Äôll reduce our average response time to 24 hours or less. At the same time, we‚Äôll improve our ‚Äėcounter-notice‚Äô tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.‚ÄĚ
Additionally, Walker notes:
‚ÄúWe will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. While it‚Äôs hard to know for sure when search terms are being used to find infringing content, we‚Äôll do our best to prevent Autocomplete from displaying the terms most frequently used for that purpose.
‚ÄúWe will improve our AdSense anti-piracy review. We have always prohibited the use of our AdSense program on web pages that provide infringing materials. Building on our existing DMCA takedown procedures, we will be working with rightsholders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program.
‚ÄúWe will experiment to make authorized preview content more readily accessible in search results. Not surprisingly, we‚Äôre big fans of making authorized content more accessible on the Internet. Most users want to access legitimate content and are interested in sites that make that content available to them (even if only on a preview basis). We‚Äôll be looking at ways to make this content easier to index and find.‚ÄĚ
More on the news at CNET.
Viacom has joined ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in blocking Google TV devices from accessing streams of full-length TV show episodes from its network websites (such as ComedyCentral.com and Nick.com). ‚ÄúWe continue to evaluate Google TV to identify opportunities where it may make sense to optimize our Web content for the platform,‚ÄĚ a company spokesperson tells paidContent. (The site questions whether a Web browser, which is essentially what Google TV is, truly represents a bona fide distribution ‚Äúplatform‚ÄĚ just because it pulls content for television screens instead of PC monitors or smartphones.)
Google still has some TV network support, but it is currently touting websites such as CBS-owned CNET and PBS Kids as the ‚ÄúBest of Google TV‚ÄĚ in a new promotion for the service.
More on how the major networks are thought to be blocking Google TV devices at The Washington Post.
While ABC, CBS, and NBC continue to block Google TV devices from accessing Internet streams of their shows, Google is hoping a newly formed executive team at its YouTube unit can convince the broadcasters of the business model‚Äôs potential (via the San Francisco Chronicle).
Two YouTube executives ‚ÄĒ Robert Kyncl, former VP of content acquisition for Netflix, and Dean Gilbert, the former VP of product management for Google TV ‚ÄĒ are charged with brokering new content deals with broadcasters and others. As NewTeeVee notes, the executives may have a difficult time overcoming broadcaster resistance without opening up Google‚Äôs checkbook.
In response to music industry requests for greater help in identifying links to unauthorized files, Google has offered to pitch in ‚ÄĒ for a fee, CNET reports.
The tech news site points to a confirmed recent exchange between the search giant and representatives from the RIAA and IFPI, in which Google said trade group members could utilize its ‚Äúsite search‚ÄĚ service to uncover pirated material at a rate of $5 per 1,000 queries. That rate could amount to several millions of dollars per year for labels, CNET quotes a music industry source as saying.
Under federal law, Google must remove (for free) search results that link to infringing files, upon specific requests from copyright owners. But rightsholders bear the responsibility of discovering the links.
The paid service could be just another bargaining chip with labels as Google reportedly continues to mull the launch of its own digital music store.
As usual, Google sites (viz. YouTube) top comScore‚Äôs latest monthly online video rankings, garnering 146.3 million unique viewers in August 2010. But Facebook.com jumped one position in the research firm‚Äôs chart, edging Yahoo! sites to capture the No. 2 spot with 58.6 million viewers and 243 million viewing sessions during the month (via PR Newswire).
Other comScore findings from August include:
- More than 85% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
- The duration of the average online content video was 4.8 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
- Video ads accounted for 10.7% of all videos viewed and 1% of all minutes spent viewing video online.
Under Google‚Äôs proposed music service, customers would be able to pay $25 for access to songs via Web and mobile apps, anonymous industry sources tell Billboard. The company also would sell music downloads a la carte. Execs say that the terms of the service are bound to change from what Google is pitching ‚ÄĒ and there still are no details on when (or in what territories) the service would launch.
YouTube concludes this afternoon a second day of live-streaming tests with four content partners ‚ÄĒ Howcast, Next New Networks, Rocketboom, and Young Hollywood ‚ÄĒ as it mulls a broader rollout of the service.
YouTube says in a blog post that the new platform integrates live streaming directly into the content providers‚Äô YouTube channels; all the broadcasters need is a webcam or external camera. The trial programs also are testing a ‚Äúlive comments‚ÄĚ feature for viewers.
YouTube‚Äôs test comes on the heels of a reported surge in the American live streaming audience across websites such as Justin.TV, Livestream and Ustream. Research firm comScore recently reported that time spent on such sites has grown by 648% over the past year, to 1.4 billion minutes.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the traffic from third-party sites to video sources comes from Google, with Facebook claiming a 4.3% share and Twitter just 1.2%, according to a second-quarter report on Web video trends by Brightcove and video analytics firm TubeMogul (via Online Media Daily). But video referral traffic from the social networks is surging. Such traffic on Facebook is growing at an average monthly rate of 48%, while Twitter is growing at a rate of 38.7% ‚ÄĒ compared to Google‚Äôs 15.5% monthly growth rate.
At the current rates, Facebook will surpass Yahoo to be second only to Google in online video referral traffic within the year, the report says.
Facebook recently edged Google in another online metric ‚ÄĒ time spent on the site ‚ÄĒ¬†for the first time ever, according to comScore (via Silicon Alley Insider). In August, Facebook users in the U.S. spent in excess of 40 billion minutes on the site; Google users fell just shy of the 40-billion-minute mark for the month.
Google is in talks with major studios to launch a paid movie streaming service on YouTube by the end of the year, according to the Financial Times. Streaming movies would cost about $5, and titles would be available on the same day as their release on DVD and other Internet video-on-demand channels, according to the Financial Times‚Äô unnamed sources.
YouTube has long viewed itself as a potential partner with studios not just for film advertising and promotion, but digital distribution as well. In January, YouTube tested $3.99 streaming movie rentals of five independent films in a campaign with the Sundance Film Festival.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and 12 other music industry trade groups have sent an open letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, seeking more information on how the company‚Äôs joint proposal with Verizon for an open-Internet framework would accommodate digital content protection efforts.
‚ÄúThe music community we represent believes it is vital that any Internet policy initiative permit and encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography,‚ÄĚ the letter reads (via Digital Media Wire). The letter also urges for the tech companies to honor a distinction between ‚Äúlawful and unlawful activity‚ÄĚ online.
Backstory and analysis at Ars Technica.
The second-most-popular search service would consider acquiring a stake in Hulu if the online video site goes public, says Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus (via Bloomberg). For Yahoo, ownership in Hulu would shore up its position in digital entertainment as well as raise its profile among advertisers. Hulu‚Äôs estimated $200 million in revenue this year ‚Äúimplies superior monetization‚ÄĚ compared with Google‚Äôs YouTube video site, Rohan adds.
In related news, ‚ÄúModern Family‚ÄĚ producer Steve Levitan vocalized his previously reported anti-Hulu stance on Twitter earlier this week (via Forbes). ‚ÄúSome estimate Hulu IPO could bring in $2Bil,‚ÄĚ Levitan posted Aug. 18. ‚ÄúWhat will the content providers get? Zero. What is Hulu without content? An empty jukebox.‚ÄĚ
Levitan‚Äôs position has not gained much traction in Hollywood‚Äôs C-suites; ‚ÄúModern Family‚ÄĚ remains one of Hulu‚Äôs most popular shows. But Wall Street reacted with more caution than enthusiasm to the broadcaster-owned video site‚Äôs prospective IPO.
Time Warner Cable‚Äôs Britt: New Net Neutrality Regulations Would Risk ‚ÄėUnintended Consequences‚Äô
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt says that new regulations for Internet service providers could carry ‚Äúunintended consequences‚ÄĚ if they wind up being outmoded by the ever-competitive broadband marketplace.
On the Google-Verizon policy proposal, which calls for an exception to open-Internet principles for new services and mobile/wireless networks, Britt offers: ‚ÄúVirtual private networks already exist. [Critics of the Google-Verizon proposal] are ignoring the fact that these services have been in place for many years. If there were a prohibition against that, then corporations couldn‚Äôt do business the way they do it today internally. If IBM wants to pay me to lay a cable from one place to another using Internet technology, should that be prohibited?‚ÄĚ
In proposing that the wireless broadband space remain free from government net neutrality regulations, Google acknowledges that it has shifted from its previous position. However, it‚Äôs all ‚Äúin the spirit of compromise,‚ÄĚ the company says in a follow-up corporate post.
Google‚Äôs chief Washington counsel, Richard Whitt, cites three factors driving the company‚Äôs strategic shift. ‚ÄúFirst,‚ÄĚ he says, ‚Äúthe wireless market is more competitive than the wireline market, given that consumers typically have more than just two providers to choose from. Second, because wireless networks employ airwaves, rather than wires, and share constrained capacity among many users, these carriers need to manage their networks more actively. Third, network and device openness is now beginning to take off as a significant business model in this space.‚ÄĚ
More on Google‚Äôs previous stance ‚ÄĒ and on why it wants the proposal considered by Congress instead of the Federal Communications Commission ‚ÄĒ at Ars Technica.
Google and Verizon are receiving pushback from many media companies, but praise from some, on their proposal to keep mobile networks and the development of ‚Äúnew entertainment and gaming options‚ÄĚ (among other services) outside the government‚Äôs net neutrality framework.
Among those criticizing the proposal is Facebook, which advocates the application of open Internet rules to mobile networks (via the Wall Street Journal). IAC chief Barry Diller, meanwhile, called the proposal a ‚Äúsham,‚ÄĚ according to the New York Times.
Yet some agree with the proposal‚Äôs call for the government to allow broadband providers room to develop new products, such as a premium tier for content access. Danny Stein, the chairman of eMusic, tells the New York Times that while Internet access should remain open and neutral, ‚Äúthat doesn‚Äôt mean there can‚Äôt be premium options to appeal to some amazing consumer experience outside of the garden of net neutrality.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation,‚ÄĚ the chief executives of Google and Verizon state in a joint proposal, announced yesterday, for how the U.S. government should regulate Internet services. To this end, the two companies press for broadband providers‚Äô right to develop ‚Äúnew entertainment and gaming options,‚ÄĚ among other new products, that are separate from traditional Internet access and hence not subject to the same government regulations.
Google and Verizon stress that under their proposal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would monitor the development of these new online services, to ensure that ‚Äúthey don‚Äôt interfere with the continued development of Internet access.‚ÄĚ
But the proposal has been met with outcry from media watchdog groups, along with a terse response from the FCC.
Andrew Jay Schwartzman, SVP and policy director at advocacy group Media Access Project, sees in the new-services proposal potential for a loophole that ‚Äúmay make some services unaffordable for consumers and access to those services unavailable to new start-ups‚ÄĚ (in an interview with the New York Times).
The FCC, for its part, bridles at the corporations‚Äô attempt to redefine the government‚Äôs role in net neutrality.
‚ÄúSome will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That‚Äôs one of its many problems,‚ÄĚ FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says in a statement (.pdf). ‚ÄúIt is time to move a decision forward ‚ÄĒ a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever.‚ÄĚ
As Warner Music Group reported a loss for its sixth consecutive quarter, the company said its digital business ‚ÄĒ which now accounts for 27% of total revenue ‚ÄĒ grew by just 2% (via WSJ). But CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. says he is optimistic about the prospects of music services for mobile/wireless devices ‚ÄĒ a space that Google and other ‚Äúmajor corporations‚ÄĚ might enter over the next 12 to 18 months. All Things Digital and paidContent have the close read on Bronfman‚Äôs earnings-call comments.
Spotify, the European streaming music provider, is approaching its licensing negotiations with U.S. labels entirely anew, in efforts to launch some version of its proposed ‚Äúfreemium‚ÄĚ service Stateside before the end of the year, according to Billboard. The music trade magazine‚Äôs sources say negotiations ‚Äúhave reverted back to square one.‚ÄĚ
Hailed as a pioneering model for digital music distribution, Spotify‚Äôs proposed mix of free ad-supported streams and paid subscriptions threatens to be a non-starter with labels in the U.S. ‚ÄĒ¬† even as the likes of Apple and Google are rumored to be hashing out details with labels for their own streaming music services.
More analysis at All Things Digital, which raises the question of whether all four major label groups, or just some of them, are holding up the Spotify launch.
With its hiring of music licensing attorney Elizabeth Moody, Google may be taking another step toward the development of its own digital music service, Billboard reports. Moody has worked as an associate at the law firm Davis Shapiro Lewit & Hayes, which according to Billboard has represented MySpace and other services in their licensing negotiations with labels.
TechCrunch reported this past weekend that Google has ‚Äúquietly‚ÄĚ invested between $100 million and $200 million in Zynga, the creator of FarmVille and other social network games, as it plots new entertainment offerings. According to the report, Zynga games will be the ‚Äúcornerstone‚ÄĚ of a Google Games launch this fall. Speculation abounds on everything from how Google’s entry could alter the online/social gaming space, to why exactly so many people find these games so addictive.
While Viacom prepares to appeal a federal court‚Äôs dismissal of its infringement suit against Google, Viacom unit MTV Networks is preparing to sell digital ads for Warner Music Group on the label‚Äôs YouTube channels, as part of a multi-year partnership between the digital music companies. As All Things Digital points out, there is nary a mention of Google or YouTube in the companies‚Äô press release ‚ÄĒ the ad sales agreement spans a range of websites, including MTV‚Äôs own, as well as mobile apps. But YouTube likely figures heavily into the deal as Warner Music‚Äôs top traffic generator.
Teradata’s Colleen Quinn on the recent federal court decision in Viacom v. Google: with YouTube found to have been acting within the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions, the verdict effectively places significant operational burdens on Viacom and other content owners. Read the blog post here.
YouTube is tooting its virtual vuvuzela after a federal court in New York dismissed Viacom‚Äôs $1 billion infringement claim against Google yesterday. The decision, as USA Today reports, turns on the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: ‚Äúmere knowledge of the prevalence of (copyright violations) in general is not enough‚ÄĚ to make YouTube liable for unauthorized ‚ÄúDaily Show‚ÄĚ clips. Viacom plans to appeal the ruling. By USA Today
Fred von Lohmann, a longtime advocate for digital rights, is leaving the Electronic Frontier Foundation to join Google as the company‚Äôs senior copyright counsel, according to CNET. The attorney defended Grokster in the landmark MGM v. Grokster case, decided by the Supreme Court in 2005.
The search engine could launch a Web-based service for music streams and downloads as early as this fall, in efforts to supply entertainment content to Android phone users. But Google‚Äôs entry into content distribution would hold implications beyond the mobile space. CNET reports on what the move would mean for Apple‚Äôs iTunes as well as music labels.
Rival tech giants including AT&T, Comcast, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon announced earlier this week that they are joining together under the newly formed Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) to ‚Äúdevelop consensus on broadband network management practices or other related technical issues that can affect users‚Äô Internet experience.‚ÄĚ Chairing the group is a former chief technologist of the Federal Communications Commission. CNET reports that the formation of the group signals a political d√©tente between the companies over net neutrality, as well as a bypassing of Washington regulators. By CNET
Weeks after Google‚Äôs announcement of an initiative to bring more streaming video to the Web using an putatively open-source video codec, the MPEG LA says its members may hold patents on the ‚ÄúVP8‚ÄĚ technology. As CNET reports, companies may be reluctant to adopt VP8 if they have to pay royalties on it. By CNET
USA Today teases out some choice exchanges between Viacom and Google from newly unsealed court filings in the entertainment company‚Äôs $1 billion lawsuit against the video site. Viacom alleges YouTube consciously built its site traffic on massive-scale copyright infringement. Google responds that Viacom studios themselves, including Comedy Central and Paramount, surreptitiously posted video clips to YouTube to generate viral marketing buzz. By USA Today
Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes. The move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the competitive TV hardware market, the partnership is an effort to get a leg up on competitors. By The New York Times
The door is wide open for Google to poach iTunes users with a cloud-based music service, argues Wired‚Äôs Eliot Van Buskirk. Among the ways that Google can rise to unseat the digital music incumbent: align itself with consumer electronics manufacturers to bring the service into living rooms, and continue leveraging its music search functionality. By Wired
As the four biggest record companies wait to hear more about a proposed iTunes cloud music service, word comes now that Google has kicked the tires on a start-up specializing in cloud media. Google has showed interest in possibly acquiring Los Angeles-based Catch Media, a company that intends to help make it simple for consumers to enjoy their digital movies, music, and books across numerous different hardware and service platforms, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations. By CNET