YouTube stars Shane Dawson, Chester See and Olga Kay have signed on to appear in “Bob Thunder: Internet Assassin,” a movie about an assassin who targets YouTube stars and replaces them with brand-friendly robotic clones. The movie will feature more than a dozen prominent YouTubers, and also feature cameos from Janice Dickinson and Rampage Jackson.
Joe Nation will star in and direct the film, which was inspired by his web series “YouTube Assassin.” (You can watch the first episode of this at the bottom of the post.)
Relativity's digital studio and FilmOn are co-producing the project, which FilmOn is financing. FilmOn is an Internet TV service that has been compared to Aereo. Given the legal challenges for Aereo, FilmOn has focused on shows it owns or has licensed.
Also read: YouTube Star iJustine to Write Book About Livestreaming Her Life
Film companies have begun to recognize the potential of making movies with YouTube stars, all of whom boast massive followings across social media. Almost six million people subscribe to Dawson's YouTube channel, and millions more follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
“Camp Takota,” which starred Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart, has become a model for leveraging social followings during a production. All three women gave their fans a behind-the-scenes look at the production.
“We are excited to work on Bob Thunder with Alki David's FilmOn,” Roger Mincheff, President of Relativity Digital Studios, said in a statement. ”This project harnesses the talent and fervor of the YouTube community to reach a key audience for Relativity. ‘Assassins’ disrupts the traditional film model for packaging and producing films for digital platforms which we hope to continue to replicate with today's storytellers.”
David, the founder of FilmOn, will produce the movie with Relativity's Kendall Rhodes. This is Relativity's second digital project since launching its digital studio, and the first movie. Its first project was a series called “Interns,” which will debut in the fall.
Also read: YouTube Shopping Binge: Media Companies Target Smaller Networks for Post-Maker Deals
Relativity began production on “Bob Thunder” in June and will release it digitally in January.
“I am particularly proud to have partnered with Relativity on this one because they have a great spirit of independence that fully resonates with what we do at FilmOn,” David said in a statement. “We have had a great time making this hilarious movie as an exclusive offering on FilmOn. It's totally everything that it promises to be: funny, current and cool. Joe Nation is about to take his place in the pantheon of Hollywood comedy greats.”
YouTube star Shane Dawson is one of the featured cast members in “Bob Thunder: Internet Assassin,” a feature-length digital movie lampooning YouTube multichannel networks being co-produced by Relativity Digital Studios and video site FilmOn.
“Bob Thunder: Internet Assassin” began production June 8 and is slated for a January 2015 digital release. YouTube creator Joe Nation is directing the film, which is based on his character Bob Thunder in the series “YouTube Assassin.”
The film stars Dawson, who has about 6 million YouTube subscribers, along with a cadre of others, including Prank vs. Prank, Joey Graceffa, Swoozie, Chester See, Olga Kay, Michael Gallagher, Steve Greene, Jacksfilms and Evelina Barry. Janice Dickinson and Rampage Jackson will make cameos.
“Bob Thunder: Internet Assassin” is being funded by FilmOn Prods., owned by Alki David — the eccentric entrepreneur who has tried to launch an Aereo-like Internet TV service to stream broadcast networks online. David and Relativity’s Kendall Rhodes serve as producers.
The movie is set in the world of YouTube MCNs, where stars are systematically assassinated one by one and replaced by brand-friendly robotic clones engineered by the evil “Mr. Network.”
The project comes after “Camp Takota,” another film starring YouTube creators including Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart, was released this year for purchase through VHX and iTunes.
“We are excited to work on ‘Bob Thunder’ with Alki David’s FilmOn,” said Roger Mincheff, president of Relativity Digital Studios. The project “disrupts the traditional film model for packaging and producing films for digital platforms which we hope to continue to replicate with today’s storytellers.”
The live-action comedy is the second project from Relativity’s digital studio, with web series “Interns” slated to launch in September.
Dawson, in addition to maintaining his YouTube channels, is developing “Losin’ It,” a comedy based on his life being produced by Sony Pictures Television for NBC. He also is making a movie, “Not Cool,” commissioned by Starz for its upcoming docuseries “The Chair.” For the Starz series, Dawson and another filmmaker, Anna Martemucci, were given the same script — and viewers will vote for the winner, who will receive the $250,000 prize. Dawson is repped by UTA.
Alki David, in a statement, said, “I am particularly proud to have partnered with Relativity on this one because they have a great spirit of independence that fully resonates with what we do at FilmOn… It’s totally everything that it promises to be: funny, current and cool.”]]>
FilmOn, the controversial start-up from Greek billionaire Alki David, is raising the stakes in the battle over the future of television with a new service that lets viewers remotely watch local television broadcasts.
Through its “Teleport Technology”, a person in New York can watch local television broadcast in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Denver, among other US cities. The free service is launching in the US but could extend internationally.
The technology is likely to spark concern among traditional broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC who are fighting the advance of television streaming services from the likes of FilmOn and its rival Aereo, which allow people to watch broadcast television without paying for traditional cable subscriptions.
At the heart of the battle is the threat to so-called retransmission fees that cable companies pay to carry broadcasters’ content.
For years, broadcasters offered their signals to cable, satellite and telecoms groups for free. In the past five years, however, broadcasters started demanding that distributors pay to retransmit their programming, creating a new revenue stream worth more than $2bn a year that could soar to $12bn, according to Rich Greenfield, a BTIG Research analyst. Those fees account for as much as a third of some broadcaster’s profits.
While only about 10 per cent of Americans rely on “rabbit ear” antennas for watching television, those retransmission fees could come under threat as more viewers cancel traditional pay-television subscriptions in favour of cheaper online streaming alternatives, such as Aereo and Netflix.
A Supreme Court battle now looms in the US over the legality of television services such as FilmOn and Aereo. Broadcasters are trying to shut down the services, claiming that they violate copyright by rebroadcasting signals without consent. FilmOn and Aereo claim instead that they have invented a new and more convenient form of rabbit ears that allow Americans to watch free-to-air television.
The new FilmOn teleport service allows consumers to watch the television shows they want to watch when and where they want to watch them at the same time that it is broadening the audience for independent broadcasters, said Mr David, the self-described “serial killer media entrepreneur” also behind the peer-to-peer streaming site BattleCam.com. FilmOn makes money by selling advertising as well as access to high-definition video and other services.
“It is not killing the media industry at all,” he said. “The media industry has ultimately killed itself.”
Aereo, the subscription-based television streaming company backed by Barry Diller’s IAC, has won a series of court battles and is due to argue its case before the Supreme Court this spring. FilmOn, which offers a similar service for free, has filed a motion to intervene in the case.
Unlike Aereo, court restrictions bar FilmOn from offering major network television through its service in most locations. Mr David said that those restrictions inspired the company to invent its latest offering. “Desperation is the mother of invention,” he said.
FilmOn now offers more than 350 live television channels as well as original programming globally and across devices. Last month, 20m FilmOn viewers watched more than 1.2bn video streams.
If you ask someone in the TV or telecommunications industry to describe FilmOn’s business model, you would likely receive a quick review of the company’s pending legal cases and how it always seems to be a target for TV broadcaster lawsuits in the United States. While this description isn’t totally off base, it does miss out on some of the streaming video service’s more interesting capabilities.
One of these capabilities is FilmOn’s growing library of content, something that many online video service providers will tell you is the single most important element of a streaming video service. Currently, FilmOn offers a wealth of programming from sources all over the world. While a significant percentage of FilmOn’s content lineup features genres like mixed martial arts and action movies targeted at younger adult males, it also offers well-known programming from the likes of PBS, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal.com, the Associated Press, and France24. The company also recently acquired what was once known as the Allied Film library, which adds some 47,000 movies, documentaries, and TV shows to its content lineup.
According to Alki David, FilmOn’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, FilmOn currently offers more than 600 live television channels, as well as original programming, to its viewers. In fact, in January 2014, over 20 million FilmOn viewers watched more than 1.2 billion video streams.
For the past two years, SNL Kagan MRG has been documenting how the growth of streaming video, particularly subscription-based streaming video, has been impacting the global pay-TV and broadcast TV industries. In recent Executive Briefs, we have examined how companies like Netflix, Net2TV, and Aereo have been shaping the future of both the pay-TV market and the online/OTT video market. This Executive Brief takes a closer look at FilmOn, a company that is beginning to make a name for itself in the online/OTT video industry.
Similar to companies such as Netflix and Hulu, FilmOn’s basic business is the transmission of video over the Internet. In general, FilmOn allows its viewers to watch two types of video:
- Broadcast TV programming
- A wide variety of special interest video content
Similar to many other streaming video-based business models, FilmOn’s content is targeted at end-users who watch the video on either personal computers or any mobile device with a screen (smart phones, tablet computers, etc.).
The majority of FilmOn’s content is free, and its basic business model is best characterized as “freemium,” meaning that it is advertising-supported, but is available to be watched at no cost. At the same time, FilmOn does offer some subscription-based video content. The company generates revenues from several different sources, to include:
- Sponsored videos
- Sales and syndication of proprietary FilmOn video content
- White label/affiliate partner deals
- Sales of software and network engineering solutions
These last two revenue generators underline a key feature of FilmOn: In addition to being a streaming video service provider, the company also sees itself as a technology company. The FilmOn platform is fully customizable for white label video services, and it has a team of platform developers (mostly based in the Ukraine) who are constantly upgrading and customizing its video service platform.
Another example of FilmOn’s technology focus is the deal signed last year with Lenovo, the world’s largest computer manufacturer, whose products now come pre-loaded with the FilmOn app.
In terms of its end-user base, most of the people who watch FilmOn’s video content are located either in Western Europe, the United States, or in the Middle East. The company’s global footprint of end-users actually makes it quite different from most other streaming video service providers, who are often targeted at either a single country or a single geographic region.
Overall, revenue growth at FilmOn has been slow, but steady. According to company sources, FilmOn’s consolidated 2013 revenues were just under $10 million. For 2014, revenues are projected to grow significantly, as new TV channel sponsorship deals are signed and advertising revenues rise.
The Best-Known Part of FilmOn’s Business
Without a doubt, the best-known part of FilmOn’s business model revolves around its retransmission of US broadcast TV channels. To accomplish this, FilmOn uses millions of small antennas located in what is commonly called an “antenna farm” to capture broadcast TV signals, which it then retransmits via the Internet to its viewers all over the world.
However, this part of FilmOn’s business has led to a number of legal challenges. According to US broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, by using this type of technology, FilmOn (along with its streaming video rival Aereo) is illegally retransmitting their copyrighted content without permission. While FilmOn disagrees with their assessment, the broadcasters are believed to be mostly concerned about the future of retransmission fees, and how a company like FilmOn might impact those fees.
So what is the big deal about retransmission fees? From roughly the 1980s until the late 2000s, TV broadcasters in the US offered their signals to cable, satellite, and telco TV service providers for free. During this time, the broadcaster’s biggest concern was that they not get “left off” of any leading cable TV or satellite TV channel bundles.
A change in this model began to occur four or five years ago, when broadcasters started demanding that the pay-TV service providers actually pay to retransmit their programming. This change effectively created an important new revenue stream for the broadcasters, one that has been estimated at approximately US$2 billion a year. Currently, retransmission fees from the pay-TV service providers’ account for as much as a third of US broadcast TV profits.
Needless to say, these retrans fees rapidly became the financial highlight of the broadcast TV industry, and anything that threatened them came under almost immediate fire. Enter Aereo, FilmOn, their antenna farms, and their streaming video services.
FilmOn, which calls their arrays of antennas “Micro Remote Antenna Farms,” currently has them located in 16 major US cities. However, due to ongoing litigation and appeals of earlier court rulings, FilmOn can only stream broadcast TV shows in three states: New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
Still, FilmOn remains confident that both its technology and its business model are legal. To underline this belief, the company recently launched what it calls “Teleporter Technology,” a capability that allows users to remotely view desktop devices connected to FilmOn’s antenna farms.
FilmOn has become either famous or notorious (depending on who in the TV industry is describing the company) based on its remote antenna farm/broadcast retransmission business. We will likely see a resolution to the questions surrounding this business later this year, when the US Supreme Court rules on the legality of television services, such as FilmOn and Aereo, which use antenna farms to capture and distribute terrestrial broadcast signals.
TV broadcasters are trying to shut down these services, claiming that they violate copyright by rebroadcasting signals without consent, while streaming video service companies such as FilmOn firmly believe they have developed a new form of terrestrial TV that permits viewers to watch TV in a new and improved way.
The background for the legal challenges facing FilmOn starts with FilmOn X, formerly known as Aereokiller LLC. FilmOn X is the legal name for FilmOn’s US-based broadcast TV streaming service. In September 2013, a federal court ruled that FilmOn X’s broadcast streaming services violated the copyrights of the broadcasters, and ordered the service be shut down. The ruling did not apply to rival streaming video service provider Aereo.
In the ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the US District Court for D.C. sided with the broadcasters, noting they were likely to succeed on their claims that FilmOn X violated copyright law by breaching broadcasters’ “exclusive public performance rights in their copyrighted works.”
Judge Collyer also said the court “carefully considered” rulings by the New York-based Second Circuit, which had earlier affirmed the legality of Aereo. The judge ordered FilmOn’s service to be shut down not just in the Washington D.C. area, but also nationwide, with the exception of the three states covered by the Second Circuit in the Northeast.
FilmOn has appealed the ruling, noting that Judge Collyer never permitted FilmOn to offer an oral argument supporting its position.
In recent weeks, most discussion surrounding the future of streaming video companies like Aereo and FilmOn has been dominated by the impending Supreme Court case. In January 2014, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from the TV broadcasters, including units of Walt Disney Co., CBS Corp., NBCUniversal Media LLC, 21st Century Fox Inc., and Univision Communications Inc., regarding a lower court’s ruling that Aereo is operating legally.
The Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in this case for April 22, 2014, with a final decision likely released sometime this summer. The case itself is listed as an appeal of an earlier lower court’s decision that permitted Aereo to continue delivering TV station signals over the Internet without paying retrans fees to the TV broadcasters.
Other previous lower court rulings were split on the merits of broadcasters’ challenge, and both the US broadcasters and Aereo supported the Supreme Court weighing in to resolve the dispute. The ruling will likely shape the future of online video and copyright protections in the US.
While the upcoming Supreme Court case deals only with Aereo, FilmOn recently filed a motion to intervene in the case before the Supreme Court, arguing that while FilmOn has been enjoined from offering access to network content across most of the US, Aereo is not subject to the same injunctions. Moreover, FilmOn stated that Aereo, as the company’s “primary competitor,” has an incentive to leave the injunctions against FilmOn intact and therefore is not likely to adequately represent FilmOn’s interests before the court.
To date, the court has not responded to FilmOn’s motion.
While it is important to recognize how these legal issues, in addition to the upcoming Supreme Court case, are impacting FilmOn’s business and its mindshare, it is also important to note that the free-to-air broadcast business is really just a small portion of FilmOn’s total business. According to CEO Alki David, the FilmOn X part of FilmOn, which is to say the US broadcast part of the business, accounts for just 3% of total company revenues.
Something that is unique about FilmOn, particularly in comparison to other streaming video services is its growing content library.
FilmOn has repeatedly emphasized that growing its content library is one of the company’s key priorities. In addition to offering popular channels that feature sports, martial arts, and action movies, FilmOn offers a wide variety of content from other genres, to include:
- Animated cartoons
- Talk shows, which are somewhat similar to talk radio shows, only videotaped (the Corey Feldman Show is actually kind of interesting)
- Music videos
- Cooking shows
- Comedy shows
- Educational channels
- Home shopping channels such as QVC
- Fitness channels (topics covered range from Pilates to Yoga)
- Religious channels
- Regional broadcast channels from numerous countries, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom
In a recent interview with SNL Kagan, CEO Alki David noted that “we’ve aggregated so much content. We license over 600 channels on our platform; we’ve licensed 45,000-plus video-on-demand titles; I’ve just acquired the world’s biggest private film and TV collection to ingest and put on our platform as well.”
According to some pay-TV industry observers, FilmOn’s content portfolio can be described as “nichey,” meaning that it has a significant amount of obscure, long-tail types of programming. However, those same observers point out that much of the content in the online/OTT video world, even from market leaders like YouTube and Netflix, can be described as niche-oriented.
What is important, and something that is agreed upon by virtually all people in the online/OTT video industry, is that content is – and will continue to be – an important business model differentiator. Those services and platforms that have compelling content will ultimately prevail over competitive services and platforms that do not.
Regardless of the actual outcome of the court cases facing FilmOn, SNL Kagan MRG believes that the online/OTT video market is poised to expand rapidly over the next few years. FilmOn’s core business is in the “freemium” or ad-supported side of the market, which is a growth market. At the same time, the worldwide subscription VOD (SVOD) business, a service capability that FilmOn also offers, is also on track to experience solid growth.
Looking specifically at the global OTT SVOD market, recent research highlights the following:
Our current SVOD market forecasts are illustrated on the following page. Figure 1 shows how worldwide SVOD subscriptions are projected to rise from just over 80 million in 2013, to over 92 million in 2014, an annual growth rate of 16%.
Revenues from worldwide OTT SVOD subscriptions hit US$5.22 billion in 2013. Figure 2 illustrates how they are forecasted to rise to over US$6 billion in 2014, and ultimately reach almost US$8 billion in 2017.
SNL Kagan MRG has been tracking the online/OTT video market for several years, and we are confident that in the coming years the market will continue to grow, continue to change, and continue to attract new entrants and business models.
In terms of how FilmOn is positioned to compete in this market, we offer the following observations:
Here at SNL Kagan MRG, we will continue to track what happens with the development of business models in the online/OTT video market segment, including the upcoming judicial decisions and their impact on the industry.]]>
Broadcast networks are facing a classic game of Whac-A-Mole in their efforts to stamp out streaming service Aereo.
The nation’s highest court will hear arguments on Tuesday over whether Barry Diller’s two-year-old TV startup is stealing their programming and re-transmitting it to Aereo subscribers.
Diller, who launched Aereo on Valentine’s Day in 2012, has said publicly that the service is “finished” if it loses the Supreme Court case — but industry observers say it might not matter.
“We believe it will only be a matter of months before some new Aereo-like service emerges with a work-around specifically designed to adhere to the court ruling and the process starts all over again,” Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a recent report.
There are already Aereo knockoffs plotting their next moves.
Alki David, who operates a similar antenna-based service called FilmOn, says that if Aereo wins he’s going to expand his local TV offering immediately.
“We’re in 18 cities and our model is free,” he told The Post. “We’d turn on all over the States and have a far bigger slice of the market than Aereo.”
And if Aereo loses?
“We lose maybe 5 percent of our revenue,” said David. That represents ad revenue FilmOn sells against local TV channels.
In addition to broadcast TV, FilmOn, which is ad-supported, also offers movies and other content that won’t be affected by the Supreme Court decision.
New York-based Aereo charges $8 a month to allow subscribers to watch broadcast TV programs on their computer, tablet or smart phone via the Internet.
The service, which is available in 11 cities including New York, works by capturing live broadcast TV signals and retransmitting them using tiny antennas.
FilmOn has taken the antenna idea a step further, adding remote desktop access that lets Boston residents watch local TV broadcasts from New York.
Major broadcasters — including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox — argue that Aereo’s business model is a violation of the 1976 copyright law that prohibits public performance.
Aereo claims that it is under no obligation to pay for free-of-charge programming that is available over the public airwaves.
Both Aereo and the broadcasters asked the Supreme Court to weigh in after legal skirmishes in lower courts failed to settle the issue.
Broadcasters initially sued Aereo in 2012, seeking a preliminary injunction. It was denied in federal court in New York and on appeal. A Massachusetts federal court also denied an injunction, but a Utah federal court granted one.
FilmOn, which changed its name from Aereokiller after it got into a trademark dispute with Aereo, was also sued by a group of broadcasters in California last year.
The federal court judge in that case issued a preliminary injunction against the company but limited the scope to his district, prompting the broadcasters to bring additional suits elsewhere.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in late June or July.
If the highest court finds Aereo is legal, as several lower courts have, then cable and satellite companies that currently pay hefty retransmission fees to broadcasters might stop paying and set up Aereo-like systems instead.
Those include Comcast, the nation’s No. 1 cable provider, and satellite company DirecTV, which, according to David, tried to acquire FilmOn in anticipation of an Aereo win.
Daily Dose: Time Warner Cable finally reached an agreement to carry Fox Sports San Diego, home to the San Diego Padres. Time Warner Cable also struck a new deal to carry Fox's YES Network, the New York sports channel that carries the Yankees. The moves come as Time Warner Cable tries to get other distributors in Los Angeles to carry its SportsNet LA, which will be the new home for theDodgers. Time Warner Cable knows it would look bad for them to be refusing to carry regional sports networks in other markets while at the same time trying to sell its own very expensive channel.
Tough times for wranglers. Animal trainers and wranglers, those folks who often make big stars out of four-legged creatures, fear they are becoming endangered species. Not only is technology cutting into their business, activists are also pushing for much tighter restrictions on the use of animals in movies and television shows. The Los Angeles Times looks at the plight of the animal wrangler.
Cloudy forecast. DirecTV's decision to drop the Weather Channel in favor of the smaller network WeatherNation has some weather aficionados very upset. WeatherNation is described by some Weather Channel fans as a poor substitute that doesn't provide in-depth coverage. At the same time, other Weather Channel fans are hopeful that the contract dispute will persuade the network to stick to its knitting and get out of the reality TV business. More on WeatherNation from the Associated Press.
Get ready for the lawsuits. Alki David, an entrepreneur whose inventions always seem to attract lawsuits from big media, has a new service that lets people watch local TV stations from anywhere around the country. David thinks this will be blessing for independent stations that will now get a chance to broaden their reach, Problem is, of course, many stations are restricted with regard to the markets in which they can air the programming they've acquired. Oh and David is doing this without asking permission of the stations. More on David's latest move to antagonize from the Financial Times.
Mystery solved. That "Dumb Starbucks" that opened up in Los Feliz on Friday turned out to be a stunt for comedian Nathan Fielder's Comedy Central show "Nathan For You." Fielder held an impromptu news conference Monday afternoon at the store, which was jampacked over the weekend. Guessing Starbucks will call off the legal eagles and just enjoy the free publicity. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Sad day on the Good Ship Lollipop. Child star Shirley Temple Black, who lit up the big screen during the Depression and then went on to serve her country as a diplomat died at the age of 85. Temple sang and danced her way into the hearts of Americans in movies such as "Bright Eyes" and "The Little Colonel." She had 40 movies under her belt before she was a teenager. In 1969, President Nixon made her a delegate to the United Nations and she later became ambassador to Ghana. Obituaries from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Variety.]]>
“I’m tired of the majors screwing you, screwing me, and screwing the entire industry, by trying to shut down progress,” said Alki David, founder/chief executive officer of Internet-delivered TV service FilmOn.
Meanwhile, broadcast networks, major cable networks, and TV providers like Time Warner Cable continue to lose business -- viewers, ratings and/or subscribers.
For media companies, large and small, it’s important to make progress and to give people not so fortunate what they really need: cheaper entertainment. (Still, food, housing, fossil fuels and health care might be a tad more important.)
Let’s drill down further to what is really needed entertainment-wise. Unlimited choice at a cheap price? Sounds like that runs counter to TV economics -- make that, any economics.
Then there is usage -- TV and otherwise. A new research report shows that in some areas, 80% of consumers don’t come close to fully using all their Internet capacity.
Still, we see comments like this one from Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Capital Markets: "Broadband is the gatekeeper to the cloud… "There's insatiable demand for broadband."
The reason for the discrepancy could be that not everyone is using equally. For example Netflix usage sucks up to 30% of U.S. bandwidth for just 1% of the population.
Couple this with other longtime TV research showing that of hundreds of available channels, viewers watch from five to nine of them on average. We have is a blind eye in following what entertainment consumers are really doing. Other studies show an additional disconnect: People who own smart TVs use hardly any Web features.
All this suggests that TV, now and in the near term, seems to be a medium of some waste. No problem there. The issue is the size of the spillage.]]>
Fred Armisen to Lead Seth Meyers’ Late Night Band (THR / The Live Feed)
Fred Armisen is joining Seth Meyers at Late Night. The musician andPortlandia star and his 8G Band are joining his Saturday Night Livefriend as the band leader for the revamped NBC talker. “Fred will curate and lead the band, and continue to run it even when he’s off shootingPortlandia,” Meyers tweeted Monday. Rolling Stone Armisen will sing and play guitar, and he’ll be backed by an eclectic group of players: guitarist Seth Jabour (Les Savy Fav), bassist Syd Butler (Les Savy Fav), keyboardist Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys) and drummer Kim Thompson (Beyoncé’s touring band). TV Guide Before switching gears to acting, Armisen played drums in the punk rock band Trenchmouth and in the Blue Man group back in the 1990s. He also often played musical instruments during sketches on SNL. Vulture Considering Meyers and Armisen spent many years at SNL together, including during Armisen’s many character bits on “Weekend Update,” hopefully this will mean Armisen will also act as the show’s sidekick — like a hipster Paul Shaffer. LA Times / Show Tracker Meyers’ reign on Late Nightbegins Feb. 24 and his first guest will be another former SNL colleague, Amy Poehler.
Barnes & Noble Cuts Jobs at Nook Division (NYT)
The bookseller Barnes & Noble laid off employees in its Nook device unit on Monday, the latest sign of the company’s difficulties in executing its digital strategy. Fewer than 100 people have lost their jobs, a person briefed on the layoffs said. Mary Ellen Keating, a spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble, declined to comment specifically on the job eliminations, but said that the company had “no plans to exit the device business.” The Verge Despite a $300 million shot in the arm from Microsoft in 2012, the Nook has only flagged in sales, dropping 66.7 percent for the 2013 holidays as compared to 2012. Reuters Barnes & Noble shares rose by as much as 9.6 percent on Monday after news that the bookseller cut jobs from its team of hardware engineers working on its money-losing Nook digital books and e-reader business.
Michael Smerconish Joins CNN (TVNewser)
The staffing and programming changes continue at CNN with the hire of Michael Smerconish, who will host a weekly Saturday morning show from New York. Smerconish, an MSNBC contributor who has served as the guest host of Hardball With Chris Matthews for the past four years, will join CNN this month. In his new role, he will also appear across all CNN’s programming. HuffPost “We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN,” Jeff Zucker said. “At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN.” TheWrap Smerconish will continue hosting his radio show The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM Radio and writing a weekly column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple The accession of Smerconish to CNN may set up a nice little tete-a-tete in weekend cable TV. Over at MSNBC, Steve Kornacki hosts the well-regarded Up With Steve Kornacki from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Smerconish’s time slot is to be determined, a CNN spokesperson tells the Erik Wemple Blog.
Upworthy Traffic Gets Crushed (Business Insider)
In November, viral-content-for-a-cause site Upworthy posted insane traffic numbers, reaching almost 90 million people around the world, according to Quantcast. Then, in December, Facebook announced a change to the algorithm it uses to determine what kinds of updates (“stories”) users see in the News Feeds. In a blog post, Facebook said it wanted to feature more “high quality” content and fewer “meme photos.” That same month, Upworthy’s traffic dropped 25 percent — reaching 67 million people around the world between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31.
Capital New York Tweaks Prices Ahead of Paywall (Adweek)
Capital New York has tweaked its pricing as it prepares to start charging for e-newsletters and news coverage Tuesday (Feb. 11), making it the latest startup to test consumers’ willingness pay for news. The experiment will no doubt be closely watched as news sites, new and established, search for successful models for content that balance advertising and subscriber revenue. And while parent Allbritton Communications already has substantial experience charging for content in the D.C. market with Politico, it faces questions as to whether it can replicate that model in New York, where Capital is attempting to charge for media as well as City Hall and Albany coverage.
Reshuffle at Time Inc: Entertainment Weekly Taps Sports Illustrated‘s Matt Bean for Editor Post (Ad Age / Media News)
Matt Bean, managing editor of Sports Illustrated‘s website, has been named editor ofEntertainment Weekly, where he will oversee print and digital operations, according to Jess Cagle, editorial director of Entertainment Weekly and People. He began Monday and reports to Cagle. FishbowlNY “Matt’s arrival is a testament to Time Inc.’s confidence in EW,” said Cagle, in a statement. “He is a uniquely talented editor well-suited to this unique brand, and it will be a thrill to see where he and the extraordinary staff take EW in the years to come.”
Hulu Signs CBS Deal to Bring 2,600 New Episodes to Its Paid-for Hulu Plus Streaming Service (The Next Web)
Hulu has inked a new deal with CBS to bring more of the U.S. broadcaster’s programming to Hulu Plus, its subscription-based TV and movie streaming service. The deal adds 2,600 new episodes to Hulu’s library, covering classic TV shows such as The Brady Brunch, Melrose Place and Taxi, as well as more recent programming such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Undercover Boss,United States of Tara and Ghost Whisperer. The fresh content nearly doubles the 2,700 CBS episodes that were added to Hulu’s catalog in November 2012, giving new and existing Hulu Plus subscribers access to over 5,300 installments in total. Variety Titles from the previous CBS-Hulu deal include The Good Wife, CSI: Miami, The Amazing Race, I Love Lucy, Star Trek and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. CBS and Hulu have been active on the deal front as of late, having secured separate deals to deliver previous seasons of current series Blue Bloods and Elementary on an exclusive basis.
FilmOn Launches New Remote TV Service (The Financial Times)
FilmOn, the controversial start-up from Greek billionaire Alki David, is raising the stakes in the battle over the future of television with a new service that lets viewers remotely watch local television broadcasts. Through its “Teleport Technology,” a person in New York can watch local television broadcast in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Denver, among other U.S. cities. The free service is launching in the U.S. but could extend internationally.
‘I’m Not Laurence Fishburne!’: Reporter Asks Samuel L. Jackson About Super Bowl Spot(TVSpy)
It’s a good thing KTLA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin didn’t have Samuel L. Jackson live in the studio Monday morning after Rubin asked Jackson about his role in a Super Bowl commercial. “What Super Bowl commercial?” asked Jackson who was live via satellite on the Los Angeles CW station. “You’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in The Matrix movies for a Kia Super Bowl spot.
HLN to Become ‘First TV Home for The Social Media Generation’ (LostRemote)
HLN aims to become the TV home for the social media generation, network president Albie Hecht announced Monday. As part its full rebranding, the network will be curating its news from across social platforms and blogs, and highlight the most trending, viral stories while pointing out those social users creating the most buzz. “While others report on the conversation, HLN will be a part of it,” said @AlbieHechtHLN. TVNewser RightThisMinute will be the first new show rolled out, premiering Monday night at 10 p.m. ET. It will report on the most viral Web videos and the back stories behind them before they go viral.
BuzzFeed Denied Access to Labor Secretary Perez (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
A BuzzFeed reporter was denied access to labor secretary Thomas Perez on Monday despite the fact that all other reporters present at an event were given access. Labor officials told BuzzFeed reporter Chris Geidner he was being denied access because they “believed BuzzFeed would not be asking about veterans hiring” which was the focus of the event Perez was attending along with first lady Michelle Obama.
The Term ‘Digital Magazines’ May Sound Kind of Dumb, But First Look Media’s Approach Is Not (GigaOM)
Some of the new-media digerati have been having fun at the expense of First Look Media founder Pierre Omidyar, because the new company persists in describing its new family of media sites — including the just-launched Intercept from Glenn Greenwald — as “digital magazines.” Not only does the idea of a magazine seem almost antiquated by now, but most of the examples of the digital version are bloated proprietary apps from old-media standards like Vanity Fair andTime.
Can Philly Newspapers Be Saved? Should The Daily News Close? Is There A Hero in The Ownership Battle? (Philadelphia Magazine)
Writer Steve Volk is a longtime observer of the Philadelphia media scene — so he brings a substantial foundation to this month’s Philly Mag print story that takes readers inside the furious battle for control of the city’s two major daily newspapers. It is also, he swears, the end of his media reporting days. He talked this week about what he learned reporting the story, what he’s learned from his time on the beat and what’s needed to finally, fully save the Inquirer and Daily News once and for all.
AOL’s Error Leads to A Study in ‘I’m Sorry’ (NYT / DealBook)
Was Tim Armstrong’s apology authentic? Last week, I wrote about the increasing tendency of leaders and executives to provide cheap apologies as an easy way to wash away problems. Dov Seidman, founder of LRN, a firm that advises companies on their cultures and how they can translate them into better performance, described the “I’m sorry” epidemic as “apology theater.” We pledged that we would begin tracking apologies and their aftermath. Almost on cue, a highly publicized case study arrived in the form of Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL.
Bill Keller’s Legacy Is The Decline of The New York Times (Gawker)
Former New York Times editor Bill Keller’s announcement that he’s leaving the paper for a news startup is a smart move. It’s also the final act in Keller’s long history of proving that The New York Times is not as important as it once was. Bill Keller was the Times‘ top editor from 2003-2011. He was not a bad editor. He did, however, pick a sh*tty time to be editor. He got to preside over not only a good deal of quality journalism, but also the Judith Miller fiasco and the grim post-recession slew of layoffs and buyouts at the paper. His time at the top was interesting, but not altogether enjoyable. He will go down in history — through no fault of his own — as the man who guided America’s greatest newspaper into the era in which newspapers lost their spot as the most important media outlets.
The post FilmOn’s new ‘Teleport Technology’ changes the streaming game again appeared first on Digital Trends.]]>
FilmOn, a site that streams broadcast network content online, has always been a bit of an afterthought when compared to Aereo, which is much more well known. The first name FilmOn adapted, Aereokiller, should give some insight into the contentious relationship between the two. But FilmOn’s new innovation, dubbed Teleport Technology, threatens to shake-up the streaming landscape in a whole new way, and could make the company a much bigger part of the conversation.
Aereo and FilmOn’s original design concept is based around tiny antennae, which users rent for a fee. The antennae allow them to stream and record content from TV stations. After playing second fiddle to Aereo for years, FilmOn’s newest service breaks free of the antenna chain, so to speak, creating a whole new way to watch that could garner a wider audience.
The so-called Teleport Technology provides users with access to a network of hundreds of thousands of antenna-equipped remote desktop computers, essentially renting access to the devices instead of the antennae. FilmOn says the new method creates a way for users to view what they want, where they want, when they want it. After gaining access to the remote desktops from their home screen, users will be able to watch local content from 13 markets, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Boston, Tampa, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, and Washington DC.
FilmOn’s founder, Alki David, suggests the company’s new “dynamic distribution” of broadcast content will not only help to revolutionize how people watch, but will be a boon to independent broadcasters by empowering them with new tools. David also said that FilmOn’s new tech will help disrupt the major broadcasters’ attempts to stifle innovation, saying the TV industry is at a crossroads that’s similar to the saga which surrounded the Napster era of music distribution of the late 90’s.
For their efforts to stream network content without securing licensing contracts, both FilmOn and Aereo have been embroiled in legal battles with Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS, among others. While Aereo has skirted legal injunctions in most cases, the company’s troubles are linked in no small part to two major court battles that FilmOn lost. Not to be left out, FilmOn has asked to join in on the approaching party at the Supreme Court.
FilmOn’s new streaming method will no doubt be met with massive resistance from those who control the top four broadcast networks, but the company seems to welcome the challenge.
We’ll have to wait and see how things shake out in the courtroom, but for now, it looks like innovation has scored another victory for the little guy.]]>
Feb 3 (Reuters) - Online television service FilmOn X LLC is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let it argue in behalf of competitor Aereo Inc, whose use of television broadcast signals is being challenged by the four major U.S. broadcasters.
The case, to be argued in April, will determine whether both companies can continue with their practice of using network content without paying licensing fees.
The broadcasters claim both services violate their copyrights and represent a threat to their ability to control subscription fees and generate advertising.
FilmOn X said in a statement on Monday that it will file court papers asking to participate in the one-hour oral argument and in the written briefing of the case.
The broadcasters, Walt Disney Co's ABC network, CBS Corp, Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, sought high court review after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled for Aereo in April.
FilmOn X has been involved in litigation similar to that faced by Aereo. The company has appeals pending before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after losing in lower courts.
David Frederick, a lawyer for Aereo, said in an email the company would oppose the motion.
Except for the federal government, the Supreme Court rarely grants motions like the one filed by FilmOn X. If the request is denied, FilmOn X could still file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
If the court were to grant the request, it would likely mean Aereo would have less time for oral arguments before the Supreme Court's justices.
Aereo, backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp , and FilmOn X, founded by Internet entrepreneur Alki David, use similar technology that allows viewers to watch network television on mobile devices. The images are captured via remote antennas. Users then receive the content via the Internet.
The case is ABC v. Aereo Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-461.]]>
In an October 2013 filing, FilmOn described Aereo as a "substantially identical service," adding that, "The technological systems used by FilmOn X and Aereo 'are essentially the same.'"
Now, though, in order to make its voice heard as part of the Aereo Supreme Court case, FilmOn needs to prove it is different. The highest court of the land agreed in January to hear an appeal from broadcasters — including units ofWalt Disney Co., CBS Corp., NBCUniversal Media LLC, 21st Century Fox Inc. and Univision Communications Inc.— regarding a lower court's ruling that Aereo is operating legally.
FilmOn has now filed a motion to intervene in the Aereo case before the Supreme Court, arguing that while FilmOn has been enjoined from offering access to network content across most of the U.S., Aereo is not subject to the same injunctions. Moreover, FilmOn said Aereo, as the company's "primary competitor," has an incentive to leave the injunctions against FilmOn intact and therefore is not likely to adequately represent FilmOn's interests before the court.
But according to University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law professor James Grimmelmann, FilmOn is not likely to get its day in court before the justices — at least in connection to the Aereo case.
"Unless FilmOn could show that it is somehow differently situated in a way that the court will get the underlying legal issue wrong if it doesn't hear from them now, the court is uninterested in hearing from them," Grimmelmann told SNL Kagan. "And because FilmOn has been telling everybody that its system is technologically identical to Aereo's, it has nothing to add. Their entire defense for the last year has been based on the idea that they're indistinguishable from Aereo, so that makes them uninteresting from the court's point of view."
Grimmelmann acknowledged that FilmOn's future in the U.S. could certainly hinge on the Aereo ruling. "If FilmOn operates the way that it currently claims to, then the Supreme Court case will either shut it down or leave it a viable business," the law professor said. "One way or another, they are going to win or lose based on what Aereo does."
But that fact, he said, is not enough to make FilmOn interesting to the Supreme Court.
"Participation in the Supreme Court case is exclusively for those who will assist the court in deciding the case correctly," Grimmelmann said. "The Supreme Court is not a court of error correction. It doesn't exist to get each case right; it exists to get the law right so that other courts can apply it even handedly and fairly to other cases."
He also noted that for most Supreme Court cases, many people have a lot riding on the outcome.
"Millions of people would have been affected by the Supreme Court's decision on the individual mandate on the [Affordable Care Act]. The vast majority of them did not participate on that case, and if they'd asked to, they wouldn't have been allowed to once the Supreme Court took the case," Grimmelmann said. "The people who were arguing the case against the government were squarely affected by it, and they had very good lawyers who argued the case well. That's what the court is looking for."
FilmOn, however, is now making the case that it is quite different from Aereo in some very important ways.
FilmOn CEO Alki David explained in an interview with SNL Kagan that whereas Aereo simply retransmits content and offers a remote DVR service to subscribers, FilmOn creates and licenses programming, as well.
"We've aggregated so much content," the CEO said. "We license over 600 channels on our platform; we've licensed 45,000-plus video-on-demand titles; I've just acquired the world's biggest private film and TV collection to ingest and put on our platform as well. So we're a much different proposition to Aereo."
Another difference, David noted, is that FilmOn offers a free, ad-supported, standard-definition version of its service, whereas Aereo charges a monthly subscription fee. Also, FilmOn has a global footprint, while Aereo is focused on the U.S.
"The free-to-air television component in the U.S. for us is less than 3% of our overall revenues," David said. "So we have a very different strategy and a very different market to that of Aereo."
He continued: "That is why it is critical that we are heard. We've faced district court judges who are clearly in the pockets or on the side of broadcasters. In Washington, D.C., we were handed down a national restraining order. … Now, the Ninth Circuit has put our decision on hold until the Supreme Court hearing. So of course we have to be heard by the Supreme Court because we're so different to Aereo and our business is being so grossly damaged, not necessarily from a revenue point of view but from our ability to be a fully-fledged platform."
Grimmelmann, though, said FilmOn has not lost its court cases because of bad judges; rather, he blames bad litigation.
"Aereo has better lawyers. If you look at the quality of the briefings, the care they put into the arguments, the detail with which they make a response to an opposing argument — Aereo's filings have been very careful most of the time and they litigated well," he said. "It takes a little while to understand the rationale behind the cases that Aereo has been relying on. Aereo's lawyers have had the patience and skill to explain that really well. FilmOn's lawyers have been less successful in walking judges through that reasoning to the point that it makes sense."
Grimmelmann acknowledged, though, that FilmOn has been working from the point of a disadvantage.
"FilmOn came extremely close to being shut down completely before Aereo came along," he said. "Aereo started from a position of being squeaky clean, of having reputable investors, of being a company that didn't have all of these strikes against it; whereas FilmOn started from a hole in the ground, which has made courts look on it a lot more suspiciously."
Going forward, however, Grimmelmann does have some good news for FilmOn. Namely, he believes Aereo and therefore FilmOn have the law on their side. He is working on an amicus brief in the Aereo case that will likely endorse positions favorable to the startup.
"I'm on record as being not entirely positive about Aereo itself," Grimmelmann said. "But liking the company is different from thinking it should prevail on the law."]]>
FilmOn claims the service will help “independent broadcasters across the country flourish” by letting viewers connect to local free to air channels in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Boston, Tampa, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Washington DC.
The service requires no additional hardware or software, and works by letting viewers who access the FilmOn website on their computer or mobile device to connect to hundreds of thousands of temporarily assigned mini desktop computers in thirteen cities across the USA, which are connected to antenna farms, enabling free access to local stations.
The launch comes in spite of an impending Supreme Court case, due to be held this year, challenging the legality of a similar online US TV streaming service, Aereo.
“I’m tired of the majors screwing you, screwing me, and screwing the entire industry, by trying to shut down progress. TV is facing the same crossroads that the music industry did in the Napster era — making the wrong decisions right now could be fatal,” said FilmOn founder and CEO Alki David.]]>