Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hacking as Cyberwarfare: China - Everyone Does It

The security chief of China's telecom giant Huawei reportedly said that using the Internet to spy and hack data is "standard practice" for all countries.  The publication of those comments yesterday indicates that the statement has the approval of state authorities.  Huawei has been the public focus of global concerns about Chinese hacking, with the U.S. Congress and Australia among those calling for bans on doing business with the firm.

The issue of hacking is gaining renewed access as the process has evolved from talented individuals exploring the potential, and weaknesses, in computer and telecommunications systems to a world where hacking is a focused and organized activity of collectives.  And in some cases government supported and directed.

Cybersecurity researcher Mikko Hypponen recently lamented the transition-
in the 1990s hackers hacked for fun, but “those happy days are behind us ... The happy hackers have disappeared.” Today “all hackers have motives for their actions.”
By 1999, the US government (Clinton, not Bush), authorized a CIA campaign of cyberwarfare against Serbia during the Kosovo War.  Since then, major hacking incidents such as Stuxnet and Red October, as well as the most recent incursions traced back to China, have raised the specter of state-supported and directed cyberwarfare.

It's also created a markets for both hacking activities and cyberwarfare defense. Freelance hackers offer distributed denial-of-service (DOS) attacks for as little as $2 an hour.  Anecdotes abound of governments using this market to target activists and journalists - including the recent hacking of the New York Times in response to a story of a retiring Chinese official's corruption.  In response, the Times hired a major cybersecurity firm, Mandiant.
After the Times discovered the intrusion, Mandiant allowed the hackers—who it quickly identified as being affiliated with the Chinese government—to skulk around the newspaper’s networks, tracking and learning from their movements before ejecting them.
“The counterintelligence model is the best one for this,” says Mandiant’s Richard Bejtlich. “In most cases, you are operating against the equivalent of a foreign intelligence agency.” 
Cybersecurity firms are increasingly going on the offensive against hacking attacks by "hacking back" - and actively seeking legal authority for their activities.

In a cover piece for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan landed an interview with one of the more notorious of the individual hackers - "th3j35t3r" ("The Jester").  The Jester claims responsibility for briefly knocking WikiLeaks offline and disabling around 200 jihadist websites, and calls himself a "patriotic hacktivist."  While he denies any direct government sponsorship or support, he did indicate that his current activities was "(merely) a continuation of [military] service."
According to security analyst T.J. O’Connor, the Jester has “proved that a single individual is very capable of waging cyberwar at a level we previously attributed only to intelligence agencies or crime syndicates.”
"The Jester" openly acknowledges that he's breaking the same laws that other hackers do, although commenting that the laws can be complex ("murky") in specifics, and he tries to take advantage of whatever loopholes and exemptions available.  But he sees himself as a soldier in an ongoing war;
“Cyberspace is fast becoming a serious battle space, everyone is now taking notice, and I am proud to be on the right side of things (kinda).”

Sources -  All governments hack secret data - Huawei, Rappler
You're Being Hacked, the Daily Beast/Newsweek

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Internet Week's take on the Future of Media

The recent Internet Week conference hosted (and recorded) four sessions where various industry folks talked about the future of media.  From one of the keynotes to panels on "Tomorrow's Media Landscape", "Convincing People to Pay for Content", and "Is Twitter Live TV's Newest Follower?".

AdAge embeds the four videos in its story, and the Internet Week folks have those and other recorded sessions available at the Internet Week NY site on Livestream.

Source -  The Future of Media, as seen at Internet Week,  Advertising Age

Research: "Audience Interactivity and Participation"

The EU has been funding academic research into the transformation of media, audiences, and their social implications under the COST Action ISO906 initiative.  One of the working groups has published some initial findings on audience participation and interactivity in media.  The white paper, "Audience Interactivity and Participation," summarizes interviews with practitioners in several areas - televised political programs, action theater, crowdfunding in music, fan production and interactivity in content, and a highly-interactive visitor's center associated with the EU Parliament.

Overall, the various interviews suggests some awareness of, and interest in, the potential that information technologies provide for promoting interactivity and participation in what had traditionally been unidirectional mass media.  Thoughtful, if not terribly innovative or insightful - yet worth a read.

Source -  "Audience Interactivity and Participation,"  Working Group 2, COST Action 906

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Learning the wrong lesson - putting comments behind paywall

There's been a bit of discussion recently among journalism blogs about the recent decision by the Winnipeg Free Press (Canada) to limit comments to paying subscribers.  Allowing open comment sections should be a serious decision for news sites - there are legal implications with respect to copyright and libel, and considerations about whether open comments fit in with the purpose and focus of the news organization and/or the sensibilities of its readers.

But once an organization commits to allowing open commenting, it's best to remain truly open rather than putting limits on access.  Too heavy a hand in limiting open discussion can harm a news organization's image of neutrality and balance; in their willingness to consider and credit alternative views.  And the explanation given for this decision doesn't help -
“We want to keep the party-crashers out so those who’ve paid for the right to be part of the online conversation can do so without being turned off by yahoos spewing vile and bile,” writes (Winnipeg Free Press) editor Paul Samyn.“The bulk of the ugliness that lands from time to time on our website comes from those abusing the ‘free’ in Free Press to engage in gutter talk or worse on our no-cost forum."
In later comments, Samyn indicated surprise at the reaction to the move - at the amount of reaction (on track to be the most heavily-commented post in the paper's history), and at reader's reactions.  Samyn said he expected a strong negative reaction (but did he really expect 60% to oppose the move, versus 25% who approved).  But reading between the lines there's the arrogance and self-delusion endemic in old-line news organization - casually brushing aside concerns about shuttering an open forum (that's for journalists and not for the yahoos of the general public), and trying to find redemption in the claims from a few readers that having a cleaner, more filtered comments section (that reflected and reinforced their own opinions) might encourage them to look at comments more frequently.

In addition, there's the problem that their filtering (by paid subscription in one form or another) doesn't necessarily reflect their expressed concerns over civility.  It might reflect a desire to limit opposing viewpoints, if they're assuming (or admitting) that their news is targeted to the like-minded among the public, but few papers will publicly admit to doing that.

And while there's significant differences in terms of the traditions of letters to the editor and comments (mainly that the editors select what letters to publish) here's the key question they should have asked themselves - would they also require people submitting letters to the editor to be paid subscribers?

Source -  Winnipeg Free Press: Only Subscribers Allowed to Post Comments Starting Next Week, blog

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Goin' Mobile - Device Differentiation

I've mentioned in a few previous posts that studies are starting to show that mobile device users are starting to differentiate their use and consumption patterns based on the characteristics of the particular mobile devices being used.  A newly released industry analysis b y Adobe Digital Index is providing more insight and support for mobile differentiation.
   To start, the study supports the rapid expansion of mobile and tablet diffusion and use.  The explosion in tablets and their use has been phenomenal - the number of tablets shipped worldwide more than doubled over the last twelve months.  More importantly, in their three years in the market, tablets are already generating more online traffic than smartphones (on a global basis).  A large part of that is the finding that people tend to visit 70% more pages when browsing the internet on tablets than when the browse on their smartphones.  Both tablets and smartphones are each closing in on accounting for 10% of all page views through browsers.
  Traffic using mobile apps is also booming.  In what is a good sign for print media, there was a 200% growth in readers of digital publishing apps from August 2012 to February 2013.  More readers of digital magazines access through tablets than all other media combined.  And tablet use tends to be more frequent and more in-depth than smartphone use.  Specifically, compared to smartphone usage, tablet users open digital publication apps twice as often per month, and read three times as many pages per session.  Tablets account for three-fourths of all online reading sessions.
  Online video use is rapidly going mobile, although the bulk of online video viewing occurs on PCs, or through devices connected to TV sets.  Still, mobile video consumption tripled over the last year, and now accounts for over 10% of all online video viewing.  Here again, despite the much higher penetration rates for smartphones, tablets account for most of the mobile digital video consumption.
  On the retail side, the study found that tablet users are a lot like PC users - they use their devices to compare products and make online purchases.  In contrast, smartphones are used more for quick reference - for price checks, locating stores, restaurants, etc.

Sources - Smartphones and Tablets, Though Mobile, Require Separate Ad Approaches,  Research Brief
State of Mobile Benchmark, Adobe Digital Index research report

Shameless Plug - UT Today gets AP honors

A newscast assembled for the UT Today weekly broadcast on a local commercial station has won top honors in the collegiate Best TV Newscast category at the 2013 Tennessee AP Broadcasters Awards.

The broadcast, part of a series of weekly news magazines produced by students at the University of Tennessee's School of Journalism & Electronic Media and aired on local station WBIR-TV, was produced by Chelsea Jensen Koerten ('13), Brooke Fraser ('12) and Kristyn Royster ('12), and aired last  May.
"This was a great project for all of us and one I repeatedly got asked about last semester as I was interviewing for jobs," says Fraser, who works for NBC in New York. "Many employers found it very impressive and a great opportunity to prepare for the real world."
The winning newscast can be seen here.

Editted - To fix typo and initial phrasing as story instead of the whole newscast.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

China's Online Video market consolidates

China is an Internet outlier - particularly when it comes to who dominates online service categories.  Between the limits the state imposes on foreign firms, and language and cultural differences, the top online services in China are predominantly native firms - Baidu in search, Alibaba in e-commerce, Qzone and Weibo in social media.  As for online video, some firms are moving to consolidate what had been a fragmented market.

Last year, two of the larger video streaming sites in China merged, forming Youku-Todou.  Baidu, already China's dominant search engine, bought out its original partner for its video streaming service iQiyi, and recently announced its acquisition of video streaming service  The moves created two claimants for the title of China's largest video platform (depending on how its measured).

Online video is huge in China, in part due to the scarcity of entertainment programs on state-operated TV.  Chinese online video users watch billions of videos monthly.  Video and search are the most popular online services in China, handily topping social media.  And revenues from online video is booming, with analysts predicting a five-fold increase from 2011 to 2016, mostly from advertising.
  Having a dominant position is important for advertising-supported media - dominant firms historically get an even higher share of total advertising revenues, while close competitors don't do as well (some advertisers don't want to buy both).  Some analysts argue that the future of online video in China will be in mobile, with video ads on mobile being the most effective, and most highly valued, segment of the online advertising market.  Youku Tudou claims 150 million daily mobile users for its online video content, and Baidu claimed 200 million monthly users for its iQiyi streaming service - and that was before its acquisition of  (Note the difference metrics - daily vs. at least once a month).  That's out of 564 million Internet users, according to the latest Chinese government report.

Adding certainly puts Baidu in a better, more competitive position - but it's the content that ultimately drives online video use.  And the reports don't mention what this means in terms of content.  That makes it difficult to evaluate which, if either, will eventually dominate the Chinese online video market.

Sources -  Video streaming is China's big prize, and Baidu just edged closer to claiming it,  Quartz
Baidu Acquires PPS for $370 Million, Claims It's Now China's Biggest Video Platform,  TechinAsia

Edited - Fix typo in header, 13/5/2013

UK's Trader Media moves from print to digital

UK's Trader Media Group, publisher of Auto Trader and related titles, has announced that it will shutter all print editions next month and focus on digital editions.
  The company's top title, Auto Trader, has scene its print edition lose more than 90% of its circulation over the last 13 years.  In contrast, the website has become the go-to online marketplace in the UK for buying and selling new and used vehicles, with website traffic growing 13% a year, pulling in 11 million unique visitors - 3.5 million from mobile users..
  The company's interim CEO praised the role that their print magazines played in developing the brand, but noted that
"With a marked shift by consumers and dealers to online platforms as a means of accessing information and buying and selling vehicles, we continue to innovate to ensure that we offer them the products and services they require through their channels of choice.”
Source - Auto Trader owner Trader Media Group to close print portfolio next month, The Drum

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Syria goes off Net

For a period of about 19 hours yesterday, Syria's Internet connection was out.
   Net security experts said the blackout occurred after both of the top-level domain name servers for Syria became unreachable,  It was unclear what the cause of this outage was.  There have been similar outages over the past few years, whether due to the government shutting the servers down, problems with the physical networks serving Syria, internal infrastructure failures, or attacks from rebel groups.
   The connection was restored the following day, and Syria officials blamed the outage on a "fault in optical fiber cables."  Net experts, though, noted that there are 4 different conduits for Internet traffic in and out of Syria, and that the Internet is designed to reroute traffic if there is a blockage.  The chance for a total blackout resulting from a problem with a single conduit would be embarrassingly small. 
"In the middle of the chaos and tragedy of civil war, why is anyone surprised when the Internet stops working?" (one Internet security expert) said. "Isn't it actually more shocking and noteworthy that the Internet in Syria actually functions pretty well 360 days out of the year?" .
Sources -  Syria Back Online After Internet Blackout, Information Week
Syria back online after latest Internet outage,  c/net

Google, Yahoo Interest in Pay TV?

News reports suggest that YouTube (owned by Google) is getting ready to charge for access to some of its specialty channels, and Yahoo has been in contact with Hulu about a possible bid to buy the premium video service.

Hulu has been on and off the market for the last few years.  When its owners first tried to auction off the service, deals fell through when networks wouldn't commit to continuing to license their content to Hulu.  This dropped the value of the service significantly, well below what the owners sought, so Hulu was pulled off the market.  A few months back, the network owners once again said they'd be open to selling the service, a number of groups expressed interest (including Amazon). 
  Yahoo has been seeking entry into the subscription video on demand (SVOD) market recently.  It had a deal in place to purchase a majority stake in Dailymotion (a video streaming service owned by France Telecom) - until the French government vetoed the idea of foreign majority ownership.  Reports have Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer, making initial contact with Hulu execs; but any talks are still in the early stages.  Yahoo's, and Mayer's, interest in online video was evident at a recent Wired conference:
“I think video is really important … video is something that we’re all innately designed and born to experience, everyone is born being able to watch and to hear,” she said. “Video is just this amazing format.”
 YouTube is already the biggest player in online video, but as a free hosting and streaming service.  What's new is a story in the Financial Times that states the service is ready to implement a pay wall for select specialty channels - possibly within a few weeks.  The official YouTube response to the story was that there was "nothing to announce" at this time - well short of a denial.  What YouTube insiders told the FT reporters was that YouTube was
“looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer.”
  What that suggests is that the service is exploring, and probably already developing, a subscription / pay wall system that could be applied to specific channels/content providers.  The system might help some high-demand YouTube specialty channels with revenues, but it's more likely that YouTube wants the system in place to help attract new premium content channels such as movie studios and sports leagues.  In other words, those content creators that are now licensing content to various SVOD operators, and are thinking about cutting out the middleman and marketing direct to viewers.
  YouTube was quick to calm fears, promising that the vast bulk of user-generated videos would remain free.

I see these as reflecting the growing awareness of the importance of online video and licensing in the expanding TV viewing marketplace, and moves to help online  services position themselves to take advantage of that corner of the market as it expands.

Sources -  Yahoo's Mayer Has Met With Hulu Execs in a Preliminary Look-See at Premium Video Unit,  AllThingsD
Would Consumers Pay For YouTube Channels?,  VidBlog

Redefining U. S. TVHH Universe

When Nielsen announced it was expanding its TV household sample to include homes that had no separate TV set, but could access TV programming via computers or other devices, it was clear that there would be two follow-up changes.  First, that at some point Nielsen would include online viewing in their ratings measures.  Second, that Nielsen would redefine its definition of TV households (TVHH) to include households watching TV programs online.
  Nielsen's latest numbers on the national TV audience has taken that second step, redefining its viewing audience measures.  Specifically, Nielsen's counting you as a potential viewer if you have a working TV set, or a broadband Internet connection and a monitor/display capable of displaying TV programs.
  Under the new definition, Nielsen reported the 2013/2014 U.S. TV household Universe Estimate at 115.6 million (up 1.2%), and the total number of TV viewers (2 and older) at 294 million (up 1.6%).  The gain comes after two years of declining viewing universe numbers, but is still less than the 2010/2011 Universe Estimate of 115.9 million homes. 
  In announcing the new metrics, Nielsen indicated that three factors contributed to the gain - real changes in population; updated formula for calculating penetration across demographics; and the expanded definition of a TV household.  They did not indicate how much of a contribution each factor made.

Sources -  Nielsen Reverses Decline in U.S. TV Homes, Variety
Nielsen Estimates 115.6 Million TV Homes in the U.S., Up 1.2%,  Nielsen press release

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Poynter - Digital Tools for Journalists

Poynter's website has a good post on 10 digital tools they feel can help improve reporting and storytelling.
  Several are what I'd call research tools - FOIA Machine | (@FOIAMachine) (helps create and track FOIA requests); Census.IRE | (@IRE_NICAR) (search, organize and view 2010 Census data); iWitness | (@AdaptivePath) (curates social media, searchable by time and location). 
   However, most are storytelling resources; things that can provide background, graphics, and facilitate multimedia storytelling.  
Public Insight Network | (@publicinsight) and Ushahidi | (@ushahidi) maintain databases of people eager to tell their story - although I'd worry about accuracy and bias in what is essentially advocacy.
Several help journalists create and develop graphics or incorporate multiple media forms into stories - TileMill | (@TileMill) (creates interactive maps); Tableau Public | (@tableau) (user friendly app for compiling graphs, charts, etc.); Popcorn Maker | (@mozilla) (adds interactive features to videos); Atavist | (@theatavist) (tool to compile elements into a single multimedia story, app, magazine, or ebook.
The final one is The PANDA Project | (@pandaproject), which allows newsrooms to share data and materials among reporters, and allows online collaboration.

I'll encourage you to check the Poynter post for more details, and examples of some of the ways media outlets have utilized the tools.

Source -  10 digital tools journalists can use to improve their reporting, storytelling,  Poynter

Off Net to Online - Starting the Revolution

A couple of recent items in support of Friday's post on TV shows moving off broadcast networks.

Soaps - Last week saw another first, as two historic soaps renewed  their story lines online, after being cancelled by their broadcast networks.  New episodes of All My Children and One Life to Live are now being produced by Prospect Park's The Online Network, and are available on Hulu, HuluPlus, and iTunes.  Each of the shows is returning with much of its cast and creative talent intact, familiar sets (although those needed to be rebuilt in their new studio digs), and continuing many long-term storylines.  And they're maintaining their high production values.
(As) far as soap operas go, the new “AMC” and “OLTL” look like the real deal: handsomely executed television series that just happened to be produced for online viewing.
  There are some significant differences - new episodes run 30 minutes, and come out only four times a week.  Moving off broadcast has also freed the shows from the strictures of FCC "indecency" regulations, allowing them to embrace the greater latitude that cable and pay cable programs are exploiting.
Right out of the box, the kids are running around without clothes on during “AMC,” and cursing up a storm on “OLTL.” (On “OLTL,” s-bombs are dropping over Llanview like ducks from the sky during hunting season.)
Commentators suggest that the new shows are once again skating along the cutting edge of soaps, perhaps seeking to entice younger viewers who have grown up watching the less-regulated content of cable and Internet, while maintaining the familiar characters and plots that might just entice older fans and viewers online. 

Production Model -  Talking about Amazon's new political comedy series Alpha House on a cable talk show with producers Jonathan Alter and Garry Trudeau, advertising mogul and TV commentator Donny Deutsch let it slip -
“You guys are on the front line of a revolution,” Deutsch said.
The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) model embraced by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon (among others) could have a huge impact on the future of original content creation and distribution - not only as a new (and booming) revenue source, but in large part because it's a different business/production model.
“It feels a little bit like those folks in the early '50s at the beginning of the era of television or in the early '80s at the beginning of cable TV,” Alter said. “Online TV is coming. It’s coming really fast and it’s going to be great for viewers.”
 The historic TV program business model emphasized general-interest programs for the casual viewer (and advertisers), and high-overhead, heavily unionized, and increasingly expensive studio production. (On a per-episode basis, a half-hour sitcom can cost $1-3 million; an hour drama $2-5 million; a two-hour TV movie $7-15 million). It's a high-cost but potentially high-reward strategy.
  In contrast, the business model for SVOD emphasizes niche programming for the dedicated viewer - the kind of viewer who will pay for access to the show, and devote a weekend to watching a full season of shows, and come back again and again and again.  In other words, the engaged, dedicated, fan.  In addition, SVOD distributors (like many cable networks) are not tied to the Hollywood studio model for production, and can take advantage of declining costs of digital production and less costly locations.  As Trudeau said during the talk show -
"But now there is this perception that content can be made anywhere. Obviously, the provider has to have deep enough pockets, but TV shows are now seen as kind of the new novel. Anyone can make it. As long as it’s of a certain quality, people will go find it.”
  An emerging advantage for niche programming is the potential to use crowd-sourcing for initial funding and testing.  Amazon's testing that approach with some of its candidates for new original movies and series - with pilots airing on Amazon Instant Video to gather viewer feedback and response.  Then using that feedback to tweak content and select which go into full production
"That form of implicit feedback is as useful, or more useful sometimes, than the explicit feedback," (head of Amazon Studios Roy) Price said. "This told us something about the marketability of these ideas."
Amazon Studios recently turned "Blackburn Burrow," a movie script by screenwriter Jay Levy, into a digital comic to get more consumer input.
Between the lower costs of digital production and distribution and the higher value placed on programs by dedicated and/or engaged viewers, the threshold for success online (and on cable networks) is much lower than it is for the Big Four broadcast networks. And it doesn't hurt that niche audiences can attract premium rates for targeted markets.

  The TV program market is changing, evolving, and expanding.  Digital innovation is having a significant impact on program production costs and removing barriers to entry; digital distribution is opening new markets and revenue sources; and advertisers are taking advantage of niche programming and targeted audiences.

   Vive la Revolution!

Sources -  Are Online Versions Of 'All My Children' & 'One Life to Live' TV Game-Changers,  TV Board
Netflix, Amazon Could Impact Original Content Ecosystem, TVBlog
Crowdsourcing goes to Hollywood as Amazon makes movies,  Reuters

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fading at the Washigton Post

On Friday. the Washington Post Co. reported its First Quarter, 2013 net earnings of $4.7 million.  That's a drop of 85% from the first quarter of 2012.
  The newspaper division was a major contributor to the decline.  Newspaper operations generated $127.3 million in revenues for the last quarter - off 4% from the previous year.  More problematic was the net operating loss of $34.5 million.  The newspaper losses were 67% higher than for the same period in 2012  Daily circulation at the Washington Post declined 7.2%, and average circulation of the Sunday edition fell 7.7%.  Print advertising revenues were down 8%.  Print expenses declined 12%, but was attributed "to a decline in newsprint consumption.”
  On the other hand, the electronic media divisions continued to counterbalance newspaper losses.  Online publishing revenues were up 8%, and online display advertising revenues gained 16%.  Revenues and operating results improved for both the TV broadcasting and cable TV divisions.
  Revenues were also down at the company's education division, although operating results improved.

The company blamed much of the big spike in newspaper losses on pension, early retirement, and severance expenses - although still noting that operating results for the newspaper division - even after shedding staff - continued to decline.

Source -  Washington Post suffers 85% earnings drop,  Politico

News from U.K. - Regulations and competition

Three tidbits to pass along -

The mad rush to establish a  press oversight/regulatory body by Royal charter has been sidetracked.  The Prime Minister's office announced that their proposed charter will not be presented to the Queen later this month, as previously scheduled.
  The delay comes after strong negative reactions from the press, and the presentation of an alternative charter for a self-regulatory body to the Privy Council.  The Privy Council posted the newspaper industry's proposal for open content.  After the initial comment period (ends May 23, 2013), the council will consider whether to hold a full consideration of both proposals before making a recommendation and forwarding a Charter to the Queen.

One of the UK Newspaper Society's concern with the original charter proposal was the lack of any clear statement against government interference.  That concern was supported by a new Transparency Report from YouTube, which showed that UK government and police requests for removal of YouTube videos doubled in 2012.  These requests were made for alleged violation of national security or hate speech laws, or were critical of police practices.  The 124 cited requests did not include requests based on copyright violation or court orders.  Google reported rejecting about half of the requests.
  Some of the examples provided were basically requests to remove content that officials thought made them look bad.  If that's the standard that the government's hoping to be applied under the proposed News Regulatory body, that's something to worry about.

BT, formerly known as British Telecomm, announced a deal with the Press Association to provide news and editorial content for their relaunched website.  BT's been transitioning from phone service provider to online content service, having acquired ESPN's UK sports channels earlier and sports licensing deals with major European soccer associations.  The Press Association is UK's national news agency, providing news feeds to newspapers, newsrooms, and businesses across UK and Ireland.
PA's managing director, Tony Watson, said: "The agreement with PA and BT represents a significant moment in our evolution from traditional content supplier to provider and manager of multi-platform content and solutions."
Sources - Royal charter for press regulation delayed by ministers,  The Drum
UK requests removal of 124 YouTube videos,  CBR
Deal with Press Association will provide news and editorial content on relaunched BT website,  The Drum

Online Video Use Still Booming

According to comScore's Video Matrix, 178 million Americans watched 33 billion online content videos last February - 83.3% of the American Internet audience.  That's a national reach matched only by top broadcast and cable networks.  The average online video user consumed 17.4 hours of content that month.  And the better news for the industry is that they also watched 9.9 billion video ads online.

Google sites (principally YouTube) still dominate online video use, attracting 150 million unique visitors who watched 11.3 billion videos.  The average online video user spent more than 6 hours watching videos streamed from Google sites.  In contrast, Facebook - with its best numbers - had only 61 million unique visitors watching a total of 558 million videos.  No other online video source had more than 50 million unique visitors. 
  The report also showed the growing success of a number of YouTube partner channels. Music channels did well - VEVO @ YouTube saw more than 48 million unique users watching 514 million online videos; Warner Music's 26 million users watched nearly 135 million; and UMG (Universal Music Group) pulled in 14 million viewers watching 34 million videos.  Several content hosts/aggregators also hit the top 10 - Fullscreen attracted 38 million unique visitors and 241 million videos watched; Maker Studios pulled in 30 million viewers and delivered 363 million videos. ZEFR (formerly MovieClips), host for movie promos and clips, rounded out the Top 5 with 24 million unique viewers and 96 million videos watched.
  As expected, video advertising platforms topped the list of online video ads sources - Google streaming 2.2 billion video ads, BrightRoll Video Network following with 1.6 billion, and six others in the Top 10 (two streaming more than a billion ads).  Big content streamers showed promise, with Hulu coming in third with 1.4 billion online ads, and CBS Interactive at 565 million.

Source - comScore Releases February 2013 U.S. Online Video Rankings,  comScore press release

Friday, May 3, 2013

Milepost: Android Tops Apple for Tablet OS

The number of tablets shipped from manufacturers more than doubled over the last year, according to a report from IDC.  They reported 49.2 million tablets were shipped in the first quarter of 2013 - more than in the first half of 2012.  Apple remains the top manufacturer, accounting for 19.2 million units, followed by Samsung.  Microsoft entered the Top 5, shipping some 900,000 of its Surface and Surface Pro tables, but still being outgunned 2-1 by Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet.
However, with multiple tablet models and manufacturers using the Android operating system, it's been gaining share from Apple'  In the last quarter (1Q13), 56.5% of the units shipped ran on Android OS, compared to 39.6% running Apple iOS - a virtual flip in positions from the first quarter of 2012.  Windows operating systems cracked the tablet market, with the Windows and Windows RT OS installed on a combined 3.7% of the tablets shipped.

Source - Android Tablets Edge Out iPad: IDC,  Information Week

Expanding Channels for TV (Quality) Programming

HBO and Showtime showed that original TV-form programming could succeed on pay cable channels. SyFy, AMC, Comedy Central, A&E, and many more are creating and airing original professional-quality (on a par with major broadcast network standards) programming, and grabbing large and lucrative audiences.  And now, Netflix has had two hits with new episodes of Arrested Development and original series House of Cards - demonstrating the viability and value of original programming for streaming video-on-demand services, and driving Amazon and Hulu into creating their own original series programming.  Broadcast networks are no longer the sole, or even primary, conduits for quality original series programming.

Need proof? Last year cable networks won more Emmys than the major broadcast networks.  A&E's Duck Dynasty pulled in more viewers than all original broadcast series programming in recent weeks .  HBO's Game of Thrones is becoming the must-see standard for excellence in TV programming.  And a recent study showed that 45 million people watch "professional quality" original video programs a month through streaming services.

At the recent Digital Content NewFronts, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon previewed 19 new original series for potential advertisers, and test audiences.  NewMediaMetrics asked a sample of 3000 people to indicate their interest in the programs (based on a description), and how much "emotional pull of the premise" they felt.  Based on their metrics, they predicted four likely successes - Zombieland (Amazon Studios); The Onion Presents: the News (Amazon Studios); Prisoners of War (Hulu); and Lilyhammer (Netflix).  Five other shows rated just below, judged to b e "on the bubble."
  If you're wondering how accurate "emotional pull" can be, NewMediaMetrics said it used the measure to accurately predict two-thirds of the flops among the major broadcast networks Fall prime-time series..

Sources -  Which NewFronts Shows Will Be Hits:  OnlineVideoInsider
The Nielsen Family Is Dead,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Milestone - Hulu Plus passes 4 million subs

Hulu Plus recently announced that it had passed 4 million subscribers by the end of last quarter - a gain of around a million  subs in the last three months.
"We set new records for revenue and for the first time ever, Hulu viewers streamed more than 1 billion content videos in a single quarter," acting CEO Andy Forssell wrote on Hulu's blog.
Still, they've got a ways to go before catching up with Netflix's 29.17 million subs at the end of the first quarter.  In fact, Netflix added twice as many subs in the last quarter (2 million) as did Hulu Plus.
Premium content streamer HBO Go's 28.7 million subs at the end of 2012.

 Source -  Hulu Plus claims 4 million subscribers,  FierceOnlineVideo

US Newspapers Circulation Report

The Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) - formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) - has just released its report on newspaper circulation as of last March.
  Overall, digital circulation continues to rise, as print circulation stagnates or falls.  Total daily circulation numbers were down 0.7% over the last year, and Sunday circulation fell 1.4%.  In contrast, digital circulation was up 36%, and now accounts for 19.2% of all newspaper circulation.
  The Wall Street Journal remains as the circulation leader, with a total average circulation of just under 2.4 million (with a circulation increase of 12.3%). (I'm going to round to the nearest tenth of a million).  The New York Times moved up a spot to second, with a total average circulation of 1.9 million, posting an increase of 17.6% to move past USA Today, whose average circulation fell 7.9%, to 1.7 million.  The New York Times was also the only newspaper in the Top 25 where digital circulation was higher than print circulation, with digital accounting for 60% of total circulation.  Rounding out the top five are the Los Angeles Times, with average daily circulation at 0.6 million, and the New York Daily News at 0.5 million.
  For most of the rest of the Top 25, average daily circulation was more or less stagnant.  A few papers showed big increases in total average circulation, but most of that seemed to come from the inclusion of "branded editions" (defined as "newspaper-owned products such as commuter, community, alternative-language or Sunday-Select type newspapers") in the total average circulation counts.

Source -  Paywalls Boost Some Newspaper Circs, MediaDailyNews
Top 25 Newspapers For March 2013,  report from Alliance for Audited Media

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lobbyist to head FCC?

President Obama will nominate Tom Wheeler to become Chairman of the FCC, replacing Julius Genachowski.  Wheeler has acted as an informal advisor to the President in recent years, in addition to being a major fundraiser for Obama's campaigns and a paid lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries (both of which face serious regulatory issues from the FCC).
  As some public interest and industry groups commented, at least Wheeler has come real-world experience in the field, as a venture capitalist helping fund tech-based startups and stints with cable trade association NCTA and wireless (cellular) industry trade group CTIA.
"Tom Wheeler is an experienced leader in the communications technology field who shares the president's commitment to protecting consumers, promoting innovation, enhancing competition and encouraging investment," said an anonymous White House official who leaked the news yesterday.
  That certainly is the hope - but the appointment could also signal a return to the "industry-captured" FCC and the revolving door habits of top FCC officials leaving for lucrative industry jobs; or as an extension of the Chicago-style crony capitalism embraced by this administration.  At least Genachowski's immediate payoff is being filtered through the Aspen Institute think tank.
  As for candidate Obama's promise to keep lobbyists out of his administration, that expired long, long ago.

Source -  Obama to nominate Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman: official,  Digital Producer Magazine

Moms Love Social

The 2013 Social Mom Report (for by comScore) reports that 91% of mothers with younger kids report regularly using social media - up from only 20% in 2010.   The report shows that young mothers are particularly heavy social media users: 14% more likely that the general population to use social media regularly, and 14% more likely to report having used Facebook in the last six months.  In fact, the young mothers demo report higher use of all the major social media platforms. They also report spending an average of 24% more time on social media platforms (7.3 hrs/month vs 5.9 hrs/month for the general Internet user).

Moms are also early adopters of connective technologies.  Compared to the general population, they are 49% more likely to have a smartphone, 30% more likely to have a tablet, and 7% more likely to have a laptop.  Young mothers don't only have mobile technology, access to mobile has a significant interaction effect on time with social media - 89% of mobile moms report using their devices to check their favorite social media sites, and they're on longer - using social media platforms an average of 21.3 hr/month.  That's more than three times as much as the average for all Internet users (5.9 hrs/month).  They're also connecting more: they're 57% more likely to have 250+ Facebook friends, 21% more likely to have 50+ Pinterest connections, and 4% more likely to have 100+ Twitter followers.

Becoming a mother is a life-changing event - two-thirds report finding that they have less in common with their non-mom friends once they become pregnant.  For them, social media offers opportunities to keep connections with old friends and family, as well as connecting with an extended network of parenting communities.  And, increasingly, social sites are the place to go for information and answers. 
  • 92% of young moms report sharing family milestones on Facebook, 
  • 45% find themselves communicating more through social media, and less through email
  • 84% say their new mom friends are very important to them
  • 61% say that social media helps them get information quickly
And like other social and mobile users, they are differentiating among the social media platforms.  Facebook is overwhelmingly preferred for general socializing, sharing video or photos, and sharing key family events.  Twitter is used for following news, brands, and celebrities.  Pinterest is used for ideas and inspiration - as one young mother put it, "I am addicted to Pinterest!!! I've found so many cute DIY ideas for the baby's room."
   The combination of staying at home and the desire for kid-friendly entertainment also makes them more likely to adopt alternative video systems.  Moms with younger children are 65% more likely to have a subscription to a streaming TV service (49% do), 45% more likely to have an Internet TV device, 28% more likely to have a gaming console, and 12% more likely to have a DVR.

The report is based on three separate data sources - social media use diaries collected from new and expectant moms; a survey of around 1500 moms with kids 8 or younger; and Internet use metrics and social analytics for mothers in the 18-34 demographic.

Sources -  Nine Out of Ten Moms Use Social Media,  The Social Graf
2013 Social Moms Report,  study released by