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What’s Next in TV: Machinima, The No.1 Entertainment Network on YouTube

May 9th, 2012 05:00 admin View Comments

Video content is one of the fastest growing categories online. Television networks are scrambling to keep up, because the success stories so far have been smaller entities creating highly targeted and Web native content. The most successful video content producer right now is a company called Machinima, currently in the middle of an investment round that will include money from YouTube parent company Google. Machinima (its name is a combination of the words ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’) is a “video entertainment network for video gamers,” specifically targeted at the 18 – 34 year old male demographic.

This is the first in a series of posts we’re calling ‘What’s Next in TV.’

Machinima’s main distribution point is its YouTube channel, where it has 109 million subscribers and gets more than a billion views a month. In fact, Machinima is now the number one non-music channel on YouTube. As YouTube looks to compete with the big television networks, like CBS and NBC, it needs successful content producers like Machinima. 

While exact comparisons are difficult, you can think of Machinima as a specialist video network in the same way that MTV was a music-focused TV network in the 1980s. That’s precisely how Machinima co-founder and CEO Allen Debevoise describes his company: “MTV was born in the notion of a video format that related to music. In the same way, Machinima is a video format that relates to core gaming.”

According to comScore’s March 2012 U.S. Online Video Rankings, Machinima is the third biggest YouTube partner site – after music video providers VEVO and Warner Music. But Machinima has the highest engagement, at 69 minutes per viewer per month. That’s an increase of 5 minutes from December. Engagement, meaning that users keep coming back to the site and spend time there, is the golden metric these days. Just ask the biggest beneficiary of user engagement on the Web: Facebook.

YouTube is by far Machinima’s main “distribution platform,” but its tentacles are spread elsewhere too. It’s on Facebook (via a series of ‘Pages’ such as this one for gameplay), Twitter (with four Twitter accounts), mobile devices (apps for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Windows Phone 7) and Internet TV devices (Boxee, Roku and Samsung).

Machinima has various types of video content. One is news and reviews, an example of which is a daily gaming news show called IGDaily. It’s a fast-moving 6-7 minute roundup of news of the day in the gaming world, hosted by two wise-cracking, chuckling male gamers. The highlight today was a new Star Wars game starring Boba Fett.

Another type of Machinima video content is original programming, similar to the shows you’d find on CBS (or maybe on the Disney Channel). The latest is a drama series called Bite Me. Every Friday, a new 10-15 minute episode is released. The premise of the show is three gamers “in the midst of a real life zombie outbreak.” There is an interactive component to Bite Me, in the form of clickable pop-ups.

The opening episode of Season 2 of Bite Me, in March of this year, has been watched nearly 1.5 million times so far. That’s less than half the 3.5 million viewers who tuned in to episode 1 of Mad Men series 5 on TV, also in March. But remember that Machinima has a narrower target audience: males 18-34. 1.5 million views in that context is very valuable to advertisers who want to reach that demographic. Plus, Machinima has proven that it can get the big numbers: its most successful original series so far has been Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which finished last year and attracted 4-6 million views per episode.

Machinima also features a variety of resource type content, such as short “gameplay” videos with gaming tips and tricks. Much of this comes from around 4,200 partners, amateurs and semi-professionals who produce videos for Machinima.

However, there has been controversy about the restrictive contracts offered to producers of semi-professional content. Just today, a Reddit thread about an unhappy video producer attracted unwanted attention (and many YouTube dislikes).

Problems with partner contracts can – and should – be easily fixed by Machinima. Regardless, it has built an incredible success story on the back of YouTube. Television networks will be watching closely, because this is probably what the future of TV resembles. Interactive videos, on demand. Shorter, more narrowly targeted content.

There will of course still be a place for the Mad Mens of the TV world, but the type of content that Machinima is producing will be the next big area of opportunity for TV networks… and YouTube, which wants to be one.

Source: What’s Next in TV: Machinima, The No.1 Entertainment Network on YouTube

Viralheat Grabs $4.25 Million For Affordable Social Media Tracking And Intelligence

June 28th, 2011 06:52 admin View Comments

Viralheat, the social media measurement tool that allows content producers to monitor consumer-generated content on the Web in realtime, announced today that it has closed a $4.25 million series A round of funding. The round was led by the venture firm Mayfield Fund and adds to the $75K of seed capital Viralheat raised back in December 2009.

The startup plans to use this new infusion of capital to expand its engineering team, create new products and services for consumer analytics and engagement, and accelerate customer acquisition and revenue growth. As it is, Viralheat faces plenty of competition in the social media analytics and tracking space from Radian6, Visible Measures, Omgili, ScoutLabs, and Omniture to name a few, but the top factor that distinguishes Viralheat from other startups is its affordability. For $10 per month, users can track 10 profiles on the site, and for $40, you can track 50 profiles.

Viralheat has been quietly adding integrations and tools to deepen its feature set and provide customers with a more robust suite of trackable trends, sentiment, influencer data, analytics and intelligence. But, as Viralheat CEO Raj Kadam said recently, the future of this space relies not just on a company being able to track present influencers (though offering 360-degree views of the top evangelists, content producers, etc. is certainly important), but being able to predict what is going to happen next, like what products are about to explode and what consumers are about to buy, for example.

To push into this emergent space, Viralheat recently launched its “Human Intent” product into private beta, which giving businesses the ability to identify customers online that are on the verge of a purchasing decision — in realtime. As part of this Viralheat integrates with Salesforce, using OAuth 2.0 to exports your leads into your sale organization’s pipeline, as well as ease of export and simple employee training.

Viralheat also boasts coverage of Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook Fan pages, YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, blogs, and more, in addition to enterprise grade features like dynamic alerting, geo-location to restrict your profiles by location, and an API to embed social media intelligence into applications.

Since its launch in 2009, Viralheat has grown to over 1,300 customers from 61 countries worldwide. You can read our initial coverage of the startup here.

Source: Viralheat Grabs $4.25 Million For Affordable Social Media Tracking And Intelligence

Google Targets Content Farms With Major Search Algorithm Tweaks

February 24th, 2011 02:50 admin View Comments

Google made a substantial revision to its search algorithm today, the company says. And while no one in particular is being called out, it’s clear that the big losers are content farms and related spammy-content producers who have been having an absolute field day on Google over the last couple of years.

11.8% of search queries have been “noticeably” updated, says Google – meaning there have been changes in the top 2-3 results.

Google is also making it clear that they have not used user data from a recent Chrome extension they released which lets users block specific sites in Google results that annoy them.

Google is saying they’ve compared the data they’ve collected from that extension to the sites most impacted in the new search rollout. 84% of the most blocked sites via the Chrome extension were impacted, they say.

What are those sites? Google isn’t saying. But the changes are designed to weed out low-value content, they say, such as content copied from other websites or non-useful content. That means sites like Demand Media, Associated Content and Mahalo are likely on the list. In a couple of months traffic data to those sites will likely confirm that they were impacted.

In a post a couple of weeks ago I heavily criticized Google for lack of quality search results, particularly in certain categories like travel and commerce. It’s unclear if these changes will fix all that, but I’m keeping an open mind.

And either way, the time when content farms dominated Google search results may be finally coming to an end. Cheers to that.

Source: Google Targets Content Farms With Major Search Algorithm Tweaks

Apple To Unveil Next Generation iPod Touch, Apple TV, 99¢ TV Shows At Media Event On September 7th?

August 25th, 2010 08:57 admin View Comments

iTV rental service at $0.99

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is in "advanced talks" with News Corp over a new partnership that will allow iTunes users to rent TV shows for viewing over their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. At present, users can only purchase these shows at a price of $1.99 or $2.99.

The new service will instead let these users rent the shows for a period of 48 hours at $0.99. Besides News Corp, Cupertino is also believed to be talking to CBS Corp, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co over the new a-la carte TV show rental service. 

If true, this is a major departure from Steve Jobs' earlier plans to introduce a $30 a month "Best of TV" subscription package to iTunes users. It is reported that the media companies were skeptical of Apple's plans since that could risk the retransmission fee revenues that these companies earned from TV system operators. 

According to Bloomberg, the new rental service shall be announced on September 7 at a special media event. Steve Jobs is also expected to unveil the next generation iPod Touch and the rumored $99 Apple iTV platform during the event.

The Bloomberg report is in line with earlier speculations about the launch of on-demand TV stations. You may remember Kevin Rose's blog post earlier this week about content producers offering a la carte TV stations on iTunes to the iTV customers. The new service will allow users to watch TV shows over multiple platforms including the iPhone, iPad, iTV and iPod Touch. This could help Apple effectively compete against rival services like Hulu. The popular video streaming service had launched a Hulu Plus subscription package earlier this year that allowed iPhone and iPad users to stream television content on their devices by paying a monthly subscription fee of $9.99. Apple's offering could additionally bring this content to the users' televisions using the new iTV platform.

Would you prefer to rent the TV shows rather than buying them? Or would you prefer to pay a monthly subscription fee?

Update:

Apple Holding Special Media Event On September 1

[via Bloomberg]

Source: Apple To Unveil Next Generation iPod Touch, Apple TV, 99¢ TV Shows At Media Event On September 7th?

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