Kangaroo court

Following the ruling, a few analysts (Arash @ Screen Digest, Nick Thomas @ Forrester/Jupiter) have come out and criticized the competition commission for a lack of foresight – Pirates must be delighted (Nick Thomas, Forrester).

And while the collaboration may be denied,  the constituent players are still able to throttle competition: “Between ITV.com, Channel 4.com and Kangaroo’s core site, there will be little space left in the nascent online TV advertising market for the likes of Five, BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) and MTV. We believe the provisional findings suggest a lack of familiarity with online content markets.”

Arash at Screen Digest lamented the demise of the service that Didn’t know what it was

Was it a subscription archive service? Was it an ad-supported archive service? Was it a catch-up service? Was it both but in different windows? Was it free or paid? Would it feature US hit shows or not? 

At some point during the 20 months of its short life, Project Kangaroo was one or all of these things. In many respects, it was the brainchild of a confused pre-“iPlayer 2.0” era…

…Kangaroo was a waste of time and effort on the part of both ITV and Channel 4. As the dust settles, the focus will rightly shift towards ITV Player and 4oD which, if the BBC iPlayer and Demand Five are anything to be measured by, will have to make up for lost time if they don’t want to get lost in the noise. “

It’s certainly set the major broadcasters over here back a few steps, but opened a window of opportunity for others and all agree the market will continue to become more competitive.

We thought there was also an interesting – if slightly xenophobic – assertion in the ruling that UK viewers particularly valued programmes produced and originally shown in the UK!

Research is always an interesting beast –  ask the man on the street what his favourite programme is and you can be confident it’ll be most recent show he’s seen and enjoyed; with the most popular content still found on the (dominant) terrestrial channels, of course UK viewers will seem to value UK produced shows.

The real reason this hooker our interest is because the ruling came out the day after The Culture Show ran a brilliant piece by Greg Dyke on the success of HBO. The raft of high-quality, challenging shows coming out of HBO (the Wire, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Desperate House Wives) is increasingly recognized and lauded over here, at stark comparison to the home-grown dirge of reality eye-wash and mediocre ‘safe’ material – It’s all chewing gum for the eyes! (unable to access iPlayer? check accompanying Guardian piece here).

Ultimately, the consumer demand for high-quality, coupled with the increasing awareness of online video, means that regardless of Kangeroo cancellations market growth is a certainty here.

Advertisements

Online video distribution: How & when… with a bit of ‘why’.

teleblaster

Cool TV pic from Ashley B 

Really good piece in Variety about digital distribution?

Basic premise – the indie film sector is holding firm until it sees more revenue from digital platforms. The myriad of solutions out there – for mobile, PC, IPTV – are saturating the market before the content owners even commit their product.

“There’s an awful lot of time and money being wasted right now by people looking into the future,” notes Myriad Pictures prexy and CEO Kirk D’Amico…

…While distribution via emerging digital platforms may prove wildly profitable for indies a few years down the road, for now, as D’Amico notes, “It’s created a tremendous uncertainty in the marketplace…

…By and large, digital revenue remains nascent. For example, iTunes and Amazon, far and way the top digital movie distribution platforms in the U.S., won’t even say how much they’re making from downloads right now…

…The Internet isn’t paying upfront advances on anything yet…You can have a library of 1,000 titles, and you’re probably not going to get a dime from any of the major online services at this point.” [Jean Prewitt, president and CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance]”

…Of course, setting up a deal to get your movie on a platform like iTunes “is only half the battle…Getting eyeballs to see it is the other half.” [Matt Dentler, Head of DRM, Cinetic Media]

So. three things ?

  • Revenues are not there yet ? the content that?s available is not making enough money; content owners are hesitant to commit

  • The lack of commitment is provoking more companies to step up with their own solution. entrepreneurs are thinking ?No one owns the market but there?s still demand and huge potential? a major opportunity will exist until a de-facto solution is found. Why not my solution?

  • A de-facto solution will not be found until there?s a change in the consumer mind-set, enticing consumers to commit to digital viewing.

Being simplistic – content owners will not commit until consumers commit. And until content owners commit, there will always be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to throw another solution, an alternative platform into the ring, further fragmenting the market.

It should be an ever-decreasing circle down to the final successful combinations (there will always be several). Instead, the number of platforms and solutions available continues to swell, while the availability of high-quality, compelling, popular content dwindles.    

It happened with music and it?s happening for online video, but it?s a slow process.

Out at MIP last month, the BBC made some really promising statements about standardising online video platforms. As reported on paidcontent, BBC future media and technology honcho, Erik Huggers, spoke positively about open IPTV platforms built into TV sets…

?Box manufacturers can add this capability, that adheres to the standard, to the box. You could talk to Philips or Pioneer or Sony who are adding internet to television sets … to provide a coherent platform in the country … so the internet hits the living room in the right way, rather than in a fragmented way. It?s the last bastion – it?s about getting in to the living room with the richness and community features that the web offers with the viewing quality from a larger device. Because it?s an open service, any company could build an app for the platform…?

the Beeb joins Akamai and a number of others on this argument for an open platform. Ultimately, this would bridge the gap between PC and TV, provoking [in our opinion] a shift in consumer practice. There?s still a divide at the moment which is allowing half-way broadcast houses like Joost and BabelGum to survive.

Developing an open industry standard (still a hugely difficult process) would allow these chaps to survive on the living room TV. Monetise the content and allow it to be shared between devices in a simple way (see HIRO Media) and you’ve got happy, committed, repeat-users providing the all-important revenue for the content owners.

Again… maybe too simplistic, but something’s got to change…

 

 

 

 Disclosure – Edelman UK represents HIRO Media, and has previously worked on behalf of Akamia

Right on! Reading the Fine Print: Terms of Service

Jackson West has penned a great explanation of the ToS materials on YouTube. Where’s the best place to store your digital video content? How safe is it? Do you retain ownership or are sites positioning their intentions to ensure they can wrest control of it in the future?

The rule of thumb – if you’re in to making money from your UGC, use sites like YouTube as a site to distribute your free stuff, not the Oscar-winning film noir that’s going to make you the big bucks.  

From NewTeeVee:

As online media becomes more professional, it becomes critical to start examining the fine print. Traditionally, entertainers had agents and lawyers to do this for them — and take a hefty cut in the process. In this do-it-yourself, jack-of-all-trades business, though, it behooves you to cultivate an appreciation for legalese. Specifically, get to know the terms of service on a site before you start uploading your videos.

For starters, the safest place to put your online video content in terms of defending your rights to it down the road is on a site you maintain. You set the terms of what, when and how people view your work, can go crazy with advertising and sponsorship, aren’t bound by anyone’s concept of obscenity and stand a much better chance of keeping your work up in the wake of a nastygram.

But the second you put a video on a video publishing platform, you’re agreeing to all the fine print. While these are usually boilerplate arrangements, and abuses of content are largely in the hypothetical stage at this point, it’s a good idea to be wary, or at least shrewd. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV — if you have serious questions, hire one, there’s lots of ‘em.)

Let’s take a look at the critical section of YouTube’s terms of use, since that’s the biggest gorilla in the room.

For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.

This is good. It basically means that beyond the following rights you’re granting to YouTube, you’re not ceding any rights to ownership of the materials.

However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

There’s always a “however,” isn’t there? Basically, this is saying that you are giving YouTube the rights to display your content, make backup copies on servers, give its business partners (such as Google and Apple) rights under these terms and deliver the video via different channels. It’s that last part that could, theoretically be abused — for instance, for a “America’s Funniest YouTube Videos” airing on ABC Sundays at seven or available on DVD at your local Blockbuster.

You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.

Here’s where YouTube makes sure that you can’t go after people embedding content you’ve uploaded to YouTube. Earlier in the document, YouTube makes it clear that if third-party sites slather YouTube-hosted videos with ads, they will go after you. Basically, if you figure out how to make money off videos submitted to YouTube before they do, expect a letter from the legal team (or maybe an acquisition offer, who knows).

The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service.

Here’s the critical juncture. At any point, you can choose to opt out of these terms simply by deleting your videos. So if you do see yourself punching your own groin on ABC or on DVD packaging, it’s time to start threatening to take down your content unless you get a piece of the action (if that sounds like extortion, welcome to showbiz, baby).

You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.

Admittedly, this sounds a tad creepy — the first thought that came to my mind was, “Wow, so that’s what happens to all the porn that’s presumably still being uploaded but never displayed on the site.” Seriously though, this simply means that YouTube’s not going to go through every redundant backup of source material looking for your clip to make sure traces no longer exist, and maybe save them some re-encoding time if you relent and post your video again.

The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable.

Long story short — don’t write the great American novel in the comments. What it may have in over-the-top postmodern statement, it will lack in terms of your ability to sell exclusive rights down the road.

Of course, that’s just the meat of the matter for content creators (here’s a bullet guide to the rest). You’ll find similar, but not exactly the same, language on most other sites where you can post video. Blip.tv has the courtesy of only granting itself non-commercial rights to re-display your content off site (as well as offering the choice of Creative Commons or public domain licensing of your work).

The other thing to note is that YouTube, and most other sites, reserves the right to change its terms at any point without notfication. By leaving your work on the site, and continuing to upload work, you automatically agree to those changes in its terms. And of course, it also reserves the right to delete you and your videos from the system for all sorts of violations, real or perceived, or none at all.

None of these terms, from YouTube or most other sites, are particularly heinous. But if you are looking at producing online video as a business, you might not want to rely on YouTube or any other site as a primary vehicle for delivering your content, but rather a convenient place to further distribute and promote work you’re making freely available from your own site already.

Who has the Rights?

The North Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) could be taken to court after evicting a newspaper reporter from a baseball press box for blogging about a game while it was in progress.  All after the jump

“Reporters covering our championships may blog about the atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action. Any reference to game action in a blog or other type of coverage could result in revocation of credentials,” says the NCAA

The N.C.A.A. decision at the baseball tournament was ostensibly to protect the broadcasting rights that were sold to ESPN, which was telecasting the game, and CBS Sportsline.com, the official Internet provider of detailed descriptions for N.C.A.A. baseball tournament games.

An ESPN spokesman, Mike Humes, said: “To be honest, we didn’t ask for it. They didn’t consult us.” Bearby, the N.C.A.A. lawyer, said the N.C.A.A. initiated the action because “the entertainment event or sporting event has the ability to limit access to who gets that firsthand account.”

Blogging – amplifyig the public domain.

Interesting position. What do events rights owners actually control now? With everyone capable of reporting on an event in real-time, with wildly varying levels of commentary quality, how does a sports events organiser actually control the product?

Pandora gets back in its box

pandora.jpg

It seems that Pandora, the internet radio station has finally lost it’s valiant battle against international licensing constraints. They’ve had  who had to cut off listeners of its internet radio service due to them not being US residents. The company is now pushing for effective, established and centralised licensing bodies worldwide.

 Jordi Ballera, the Deputy GM of Edelman’s Madria office received the following notification today. The UK manages to squeeze through the draconian US laws; unfortunately, the rest of Europe is not so lucky… 

Dear Pandora listener, 

Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora’s streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S. It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows. We show your IP address is ‘85.62.33.130’, which indicates you are listening from Spain. If you believe you are seeing this by mistake, we offer our sincere apologies and ask that you please reply to this email.    

Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music – we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable us to legitimately offer Pandora around the world.

Other than in the U.K., we have not yet been able to make significant progress in our efforts to obtain a sufficient number of international licenses at terms that would enable us to run a viable business. The volume of listening on Pandora makes it a very expensive service to run. Streaming costs are very high, and since our inception, we have been making publishing and performance royalty payments for every song we play. Until now, we have not been able to tell where a listener is based, relying only on zip code information provided upon registration. We are now able to recognize a listener’s country of origin based on the IP address from which they are accessing the service. Consequently, on May 3rd, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from your country. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We will be posting updates on our blog regarding our ongoing effort to launch in other countries, so please stay in touch. We will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

  tim_signature.jpg
-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)

“…Pleeeaase release me, let me goooo…”

DRM

What a fortuitous piece of luck! No sooner do we launch the DERT blog than a story crops up that encompasses all aspects of our DERTy world. The Apple and EMI deal has the lot – digital entertainment, music, distribution, rights, applicable technologies and video, all synonymous with our DERTy activities

We operate in the space where these areas meet – the muddled and incestuous arena where everyone wants to protect what they’ve got, forge new and strategic alliances, exploit the market it to the fullest extent and claim outright ownership.

Our job is to make sense of it all, understand how it fits together and make sure that the people who come to us are equipped with everything they need to succeed. No small task.

The Apple and EMI ‘partenrship’ is one such new and strategic alliance. EMI has released it’s entire artist catalogue to the Apple iTunes site, free from the restraints of DRM protection. The specifics from Eric Nicoli (EMI CEO) and Steve Jobs (Apple Uber-Lord) are as follows:

  • AAC format tracks will be available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99 (20p more than DRM’d tracks)
  • iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied
  • Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price
  • Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track 
  • All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

The full statement from EMI can be seen here, but what does it mean for the industry and, importantly, consumers?

Well, it’s a HUGE step for the digital music business. DRM has been condemned from the outset, drawing vehement criticism for controlling consumers and dictating how and where users listen to their music. Removing these barriers is a significant step, essentially throwing the market wide open and giving consumers choice and control. Where previously, purchased tracks could only be played on certain players or burned to CD a certain number of times, customers are now free to do whatever they wish with the tracks they purchase. 

Apple invariably leads the way here and where iTunes moves, others follow. EMI has stated its DRM-free content will be available to its retail customers so expect to see download sites everywhere battering down EMI’s doors to get the DRM-free tracks. Then watch as record labels everywhere grudgingly follow to stop themselves losing out on the big-bucks.

While it’s a positive step for the market (where the benevolent Apple and EMI stride in, like conquering heroes, to free music from a life of DRM-slavery!) it’s still rooted in Apple’s commercial aim to remain the dominant force in digital music provision (and EMI’s aim to remain solvent). In his open letter in February (when the deal with EMI was almost certainly at its closing stages) Jobs claimed that “cconvincing them[record labels] to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace.  Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.” This is the same Jobs who’s iPod/iTunes vertical represented the most vigorously protected (albeit the most successful) ‘walled-garden’ in the industry. It’s been noted by some bloggers that while most labels dictated the use of DRM to prevent piracy, a number of tracks on iTunes, available DRM-free from the artist/label, were only available from iTunes strapped in Apple’s protected ‘Fairplay’ AAC format. A swift turn of faith? Almost certainly, but one which will certainly reinvigorate the digital download market and ensure Apple’s position at the helm.

The iPod now maintains an 80 per cent (approx) market share globally – the step to provide rights-free tracks will do little to dent that; in fact, without the complexities of DRM clouding the end-user’s understanding of digital music, I’d expect an increase in consumer confidence to push sales. And EMI? For the struggling label that’s lost out a couple times with mergers and sales falling through, this is a step that will ensure their artists’ albums are some of the most prominently available on the worlds most successful download site – no small fact when you need every sale you can get.    

But while both EMI and Apple claim that the tracks are available rights-free, for everyone to purchase (at ‘slightly’ increased cost) and for everyone to transfer to any player they wish, things are not as clear as they may first appear. Tracks downloaded form iTunes are only availble in Apple’s AAC format rather than the more universally compatible MP3 format;

this means that owners of a variety of digital music players will find they need to convert the format types to make them work – not the simplest of process for your average consumer and one that results in a loss of quality, eating away at the much-lauded ‘higher sound qulaity’ tracks.

 So while Apple is removing the traditional DRM, it’s still ensuring that the iPod/iTunes vertical retains its integrity. Owners or non-Apple players will have to wait until other services offer tracks in MP3 or WMA formats.  Shrewd!

 ***UPDATE:  Just been for lunch with the guys at 7Digital. the EMI deal isn’t an exclusive – it’s just another shrewd piece of lime-light robbing from Apple. The Good, the Bad & the Queen, EMI’s flagship non-DRM launch album was available on 7Dig (and others) from the moment it was announced. It’s just that flailing EMI wanted to shout about it with the biggest name in digital music. Understandable really…****

Are we about to usher in a time when you can download what you want, from where you want, without the fear of copyright-bailiffs kicking our door in and carrying off your furniture as payment? Maybe. It’s certainly the biggest step since DRM was introduced and we’ll have to wait and see if the other big labels jump on the band wagon – it’s not certain as they all love to keep a tight rein on their profits. 

 And as for video? When asked about it at the press conference, Jobs’ only response was, “Video content has developed pretty differently from music … I wouldn’t hold the two in parallel right now”. Wait and see chaps.

I’ll leave the final word to Jobs, it’s a favourite of his…