Movies are the most shared type of copyrighted content online, comprising more than one third of public BitTorrent traffic and commanding a similar percentage of download links on sites such as RapidShare, according to a new study.
The study (.pdf) â which was conducted by piracy monitoring firm Envisional and commissioned by NBC Universal âÂ reports that films comprised 35.2% of the top 10,000 files available via public BitTorrent services. Music, in comparison, accounted for only 2.9% of the traffic (via Ars Technica); but Envisional points out that BitTorrent technology is inherently more popular with sharers of relatively larger files, such as games and videos.
Films also comprise 35.8% of a random sample of 2,000 file links on 10 âcyberlockerâ sites, including Megaupload and RapidShare. In comparison, music files account for 10.1% of the links, while games account for 9.4%.
On the day of Envisionalâs BitTorrent analysis in December, most upload and download activity was concentrated among a small number of torrents: 35% of all peers were involved in sharing the top 10,000 files, which in turn accounted for only 0.37% of all torrents available. Some 6,400 of torrents, accounting for 0.2% of all available had 100 or more active downloaders; while 1.2 million torrents (45% of all available) had no active downloads at all.
The research firm notes copyright infringement is on the rise at smaller video streaming sites. While the traffic at these sites pales in comparison to that of YouTube, it is not insignificant. Envisional relates ComScore data that estimate monthly users of LetMeWatchThis.com (MovieWatch.in) to top 6.5 million, while Movie2K.to claims 5 million unique users per month.
The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have signed off on Comcastâs merger with NBC Universal, albeit with a number of conditions.
Among the requirements, Comcast must relinquish NBCUâs management stake in online video site Hulu (via The New York Times). âWithout such a remedy, Comcast could, through its seats on Huluâs board of directors, interfere with the management of Hulu, and, in particular, the development of products that compete with Comcastâs video service,â the Justice Department states in a news release.
NBC is allowed to retain its minority economic stake in Hulu; the network plans to continue providing the site with TV shows and movies.
The deal is now poised to close by the end of January, the Times reports.
Comcast said yesterday that it believed both the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice âcontinue to make substantial progressâ toward approving the cable giantâs merger with NBC Universal. The companies have notified their transition teams that the regulatory review process, along with bookkeeping matters, will likely push closing of the transaction to January. Details at The Washington Post, Multichannel News, and CNET.
Movies on Demand Stats: Day-and-Date Titles Most Popular
Comcast separately announced Comcast announced that it had doubled the amount of movies it made available on demand the same day they were released on DVD in 2010.
The total day-and-date tally topped 200 during the year, Comcast said (release via Business Wire). Day-and-date films accounted for nine out of the serviceâs ten most popular titles among subscribers. Other increasingly popular on-demand programming includes kidsâ shows, TV series, and music.
Looking for ways to extend the shelf life, as it were, of made-for-online content, NBC Universal is marketing seven âdigital shortsâ for its hit series âThe Officeâ as a physical DVD.Â Vivi Zigler, the studioâs digital entertainment president, tells Variety that the release stands as something of an experiment: NBC U pressed 50,000 copies of ââThe Office Digital Shorts Collection,â compared to the several hundred thousand units it typically ships for a full-season DVD set. âIn the worst-case scenario,â Zigler says, âitâs a really cool, limited edition product. In the best-case scenario, the audience loves it and we make more.â
As Cablevisionâs 3 million customers remain without access to Fox programming, the cable operator and News Corp.-owned broadcaster take their fight to the Federal Communications Commission, which is evaluating whether the parties are negotiating a new carriage agreement in good faith (via The Hollywood Reporter). Cablevision asserts that Fox has ârefusedâ good faith negotiations; the company could face fines if the FCC agrees. In response, Fox calls Cablevisionâs accusations a âcynicalâ ploy to gain leverage âthrough government intervention.â
In related news, U.S. representative Maxine Waters wrote to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski warning that the Fox-Cablevision fight raises new questions about the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger (via Bloomberg). Specifically, Waters suggests a scenario in which Comcast could use its ownership of NBC to extract higher carriage fees from rival video providers.
Current Comcast COO Stephen Burke will replace Jeff Zucker as president and CEO of NBC Universal once the cable operatorâs deal for a majority stake in the network closes, the company said on Sunday.
The announcement, which Comcast made jointly with NBCU parent General Electric, followed Zuckerâs own statement last Friday that he would leave the company upon the close of Comcastâs acquisition.
Itâs likely months before the NBCU-Comcast deal is completed, with regulatory approval not a foregone conclusion (though it is certainly being spun as one). Zucker told paidContent that the timing of his announcement simply followed finalization of his exit package with GE. âOnce you have something like that done in a world like we live in today â a Twitter world, an online world, a blogosphere world â once you have that done, you might as well be honest with people,â Zucker said.
Nevertheless, the presumptive executive shuffle represents a shift from the companies’ previously reported strategy: in December, reports surfaced that Zucker had signed a new three-year contract to remain atop NBCU.
The New York Times, which published an exclusive interview with Zucker on Friday, runs a piece today profiling Comcastâs lobbying of politicians and regulators to push the NBCU deal through.
More on Burke, who is a former Disney executive, at The Wrap.
Similar to the debate among studios over the effectiveness of a 28-day home entertainment window, major television producers are taking sides over the 99-cent streaming rentals of shows now being offered by Apple TV.
Fox and ABC are supporting the launch of the new service. But executives at three rival studios have flatly criticized Apple TVâs new business model in recent days.
âThe 99-cent rental is not a good price point….It doesnât work for us,â Philippe Dauman of MTV and Nickelodeon owner Viacom said at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in New York on Thursday (via Dow Jones Newswires).
NBC Universalâs Jeff Zucker expressed similar sentiments at the same conference on Wednesday (via Reuters). âWe do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content,â Zucker said, adding that after being pitched on the rental model, âwe thought it would devalue our content.â UPDATE: Zucker announced today he would departing as head of NBC Universal when the company’s deal with Comcast receives final approval (more at USA Today).
Last week, Warner Bros. chairman Barry Meyer told a Los Angeles conference audience that his company would rather license entire seasons of TV shows than âopen up a rental business in television at a low priceâ (via the LA Times).
Discussing its second quarter earnings yesterday, Comcast said it was on track to complete its deal with GEÂ for a controlling stake in NBC Universal in 2010. But the transaction cost the cable operator $59 million during the quarter (via MarketWatch), with total costs passing $88 million to date (via AllThingsD).
The expenses, Comcast said, were the primary drag on its Q2 profits, down 9% year-over-year to $884 million.
Other earnings-call highlights include CEO Brian Roberts briefly discussing the companyâs video-on-demand service, and tacitly acknowledging that a broad library of content was only one component of success in the sector. Another component â one that sector rival Netflix âdoes beautifully,â Roberts said â is ensuring that content is easy to find and discover.
Sources close to Hulu tell the Wall Street Journal that the online video site could begin inviting select users to test a $10-per-month âHulu Plusâ service as early as next week. The long-anticipated subscription service would offer access to more content than Huluâs free site, and would be compatible with Appleâs iPad, the Journal reports. Timing of the launch depends on the finalization of content licensing agreements among Huluâs three owners: NBC Universal, News Corp., and Walt Disney Co.
Some 43.5 million unique viewers came to Huluâs free site in May 2010, up from 40 million in May 2009, according to comScore. The comparison comes courtesy of Business Insider, which labels Hulu’s apparent 9% year-over-year gain as growth by âjust barely.â
U.S.Â Senator Al Franken voices his opposition to the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission earlier this week. However, should the merger proposal be approved, Sen. Franken urges nine conditions to be met â among them ensuring that a cable subscription is not required to view NBCU content on the Internet.
âI urge the Commission to consider the precedent this merger would set,â the Senator concludes. âFive years from now, we could live in a world in which most Internet Service Providers own Hollywood studios. The question is whether weâd be all better off for it.â Full text of Sen. Frankenâs letter is here; Radio Business Report has a summary.
Sources tell the New York Post that NBC Universal and Time Warner are among âseveralâ media companies who are refusing to reformat their digital video libraries to accommodate Appleâs iPad. Apple continues to eschew Adobeâs Flash technology for âopen standards like HTML 5.â The battle may be just beginning, with PC makers readying touchscreen tablet devices and Google developing its own Internet TV tuner software. By the New York Post
The FCC has asked Comcast and NBC Universal for two additional economic reports — one on the claimed economic benefits from the proposed $30 billion joint venture and the other on its impact on online video distribution, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The agency has suspended a May 3 deadline for comments and petitions to deny, giving Comcast and NBCU additional time to comply with the request. By Broadcasting & Cable
Bravo is partnering with Target for a partnership in which the cable network’s top series will be sold on DVD exclusively through the retailer. The first-time agreement will include such titles as âThe Real Housewivesâ franchise, âFlipping Outâ and âKathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.â The Bravo discs will be sold in the stores for a 12-week run starting April 13. By The Hollywood Reporter
Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts and NBC Universal President & CEO Jeff Zucker faced a barrage of questions Feb. 25 in a marathon– over five hours with one break– hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on their proposed joint venture, their third Hill visit in as many weeks as they push for government approval of their $30 billion joint venture. During that time, the pair defended their records on diversity, and in some cases pledged to do better, reiterated their pledges to keep NBC free and over the air, and their programming available to competitive distributors. By Broadcasting & Cable
Capitol Hill is going to take another look at Comcastâs deal for NBC Universal next week. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday Feb. 25 on âCompetition in the Media and Entertainment Distribution Marketplace.â The hearing will be the third in Congress. By The Wrap
Comcastâs âXfinityâ rebranding of its cable services, set to launch this week, comes as the company prepares to take a majority stake in entertainment giant NBC Universal. But even as the companyâs makeup changes, its image as a monopolistic cable giant is well ingrained in the public mind, drawing a sharp contrast with media brands like Netflix, YouTube, and Apple. By The Wall Street Journal
Addressing the Congressional Internet Caucusâ State of the Net Conference in Washington, Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts said that the cable company was committed to a free, over-the-air NBC with local station affiliates.
Asked by The Wall Street Journal if there was âany good reasonâ not to turn NBC into a cable channel, he said yes. He pointed out that when Monday Night Football on ABC became Monday Night Football on ESPN, the audience went down. âTo those of us who are connected, we can’t understand that,â he said, but âwe want take that fear right off the table. We think there is a vibrant role for local broadcast and national broadcast television and intend to keep NBC a free, over-the-air channel.â By Broadcasting & Cable
Walt Disney Co., some of News Corp.âs Fox units and NBC Universal Inc. have been sued by a trust associated with Alcatel-Lucent SA, accused of infringing patents for video compression technology.
Multimedia Patent Trust, of which Alcatel is a 99 percent beneficiary, claims DVD and Blu-ray discs sold by the movie and television studios are infringing its patents. Via BusinessWeek
The Department of Justice, in a major antitrust review for the Obama administration, will join the Federal Communications Commission in reviewing Comcast Corp.’s deal to take control of General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal. The decision settles a tug of war between the department and the Federal Trade Commission, each of which sought to weigh in on the $30-billion deal announced in December. By the Los Angeles Times
Last week, GE quietly signed a new three-year contract with NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker to keep him at the company through 2013. By The Hollywood Reporter
Itâs official: Comcast has signed an agreement to acquire a 51% stake in NBC Universal from General Electric, paying $6.5 billion in cash and contributing $7.25 billion in assets to create a new entertainment media conglomerate.
paidContent lays out the main points of the deal, detailing the broadcast, cable, and online networks that will be folded into the new Comcast Entertainment Group.
The Hollywood Reporter looks at what is expected to be a long regulatory review process in Washington â perhaps stretching beyond a year.
General Electric has the boilerplate on the deal as well as Comcastâs regulatory commitment letter, which calls the partnership âpro-competitive, pro-consumer, and strongly in the public interest.â
Broadcasting & Cable breaks related news of Comcastâs upcoming âXfinityâ online video service â which presumably comes under the âTV Everywhereâ initiative the cable company announced with Time Warner earlier this year.
The Wall Street Journal offers analysis on how Comcast may test new video-on-demand windows with movies from Universal Pictures â and how the studioâs relationships with Wal-Mart and other key DVD retailers, not to mention theater chains, could hamper such tests.
The Los Angeles Times profiles Comcast COO Steve Burke, who will work to fit the companiesâ various and disparate entertainment assets into a cohesive entity.
Finally, The New York Times tells the story of the companiesâ long courtship, from a golf course condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho to helicopters above New York and Philadelphia.
General Electric Co. and Vivendi SA agreed on a $5.8 billion valuation for the French companyâs 20 percent stake in NBC Universal, according to a Bloomberg report â paving the way for Comcast Corp. to take control of the media conglomerate. By Bloomberg
There is still no deal between Comcast and General Electric for NBC Universal. But presuming a deal does go through, industry executives expect the cable giant to use the film library of Universal Pictures to further develop its video-on-demand offering as well as other digital distribution models. By The New York Times
General Electric and Vivendi are wrangling over a price difference of several hundred million dollars as the French conglomerate seeks to sell its 20% stake in NBC Universal, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The talks have delayed the completion of a deal between GE and Comcast for control of NBCU. By The Wall Street Journal
The cable company reportedly agrees on a $30 billion valuation for NBC Universal with parent General Electric, but French media conglomerate Vivendi has not yet agreed to a deal for its 20% stake in the company. By Reuters
Comcast and General Electric have reached a tentative agreement for the cable company to acquire a 51% stake in NBC Universal, according to the New York Times. GE would own 49% of the media conglomerate going forward. The main issue remaining is how to acquire the 20% stake in NBC Universal that is currently owned by French firm Vivendi. Talks with Vivendi may still fall apart, sources tel the Times. By the New York Times