When it comes to new media, the answer is plenty. Here’s TVNewsCheck’s latest roundup of the networks’ forays in Web promotion, downloads, video streaming, mobile and VOD.
Ever since ABC cut a deal to offer some of its primetime shows via Apple’s iTunes in October 2005, the Big Four broadcast networks have become increasingly interested in exploiting the Internet, mobile and digital broadcast platforms for promotion and distribution. Here’s a network-by-network look are what they are doing.
ABC: FIRST OUT OF THE GATE
ABC.com—The colorful flagship site is an online alternative for watching many of the network’s primetime shows. Free advertiser-supported streams of full-length primetime shows now include Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Six Degrees, Ugly Betty, Knights of Prosperity and The Nine, four episodes of each show are available at a time the day after their broadcast premieres. Short promotional programs of serialized shows Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy are also available to get viewers up to speed on the show’s story lines.
The site also promotes its primetime lineup with sneak peaks, behind-the-scenes clips, schedules, blogs, newsletters, downloads, games, podcasts, ringtones, wallpapers and show merchandise. ABC says it is adding up to 100 new short form videos a week this season, including cast interviews of new show Day Break.
A new broadband player was launched this fall allowing fast forward (though not through commercials), rewind and chapter skipping, displaying video in a 16×9 format. A four-show trial conducted in May and June of this year resulted in over 5.7 million episode requests and 16 million video streams, according to the network. The viewers of these shows skew young, with an average age of 29 compared to 46 for the TV network.
ABCNews.com—The news site features video and text from Good Morning America, World News Tonight, 20/20, Nightline andThis Week. The site proved its worthiness this fall when it broke the story of Republican Congressman Mark Foley and his instant message come-ons. The story came from The Blotter, the ABC investigative team’s blog. Chief investigator Brian Ross now hosts a weekly video podcast.
ABCNewsNow—Millennial-targeted online subscription news service is available for $4.95 a month, $39.95 a year, although broadband customers of Comcast, AOL, Bell South, SBC, Yahoo DSL and Verizon get it for no extra charge. It features breaking news, uncut interviews from ABC News shows and original programming on health, money, entertainment and other topics. Think broadband CNN.
iTunes.com—ABC was the first network to cut a deal to sell shows on the popular music platform last fall, kicking off a wave of multiplatform agreements. Single episodes of seven ABC shows, including Lost, Desperate Housewives and America’s Funniest Home Videos are available for $1.99 each. Complete seasons are also available.
Originally-produced segments from ABC News were added in August in the categories ABC News Specials, The Day It Happened and Celebrity Flashback.
The network used iTunes to give away one million free downloads of the season finales of Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy as a way to catch viewers up. ABC says it has sold more than six million downloads in its first year on the platform.
Yahoo (tv.yahoo.com)—Video clips, screen shots and descriptions of ABC’s primetime shows are available at http//tv.yahoo.com. The site also allows viewers to schedule recordings of shows using a Tivo Series2 DVR.
Amazon—Digital downloads of The Nine (now on hiatus until January) are available for $1.99 each. The pilot costs just a penny.
ABC News Now Mobile—Linear service identical to ABC News Now online (above) is delivered via application providers MobiTV, GoTV and SmartVideo.
ABC/AccuWeather—Developed in partnership with AccuWeather, The weather service is customized and co-branded by each local station that carries it. Launched by ABC O&Os in Philadelphia (WPVI) and Fresno , Calif. (KFSN), the service is being rolled out this fall others in New York (WABC), Los Angeles (KABC), Chicago (WLS), Philadelphia (WPVI), San Francisco (KGO) and Houston (KTRK).
Cable—There is talk of a deal to offer ad-supported ABC shows for free on cable VOD platforms, but nothing has been announced yet.
ABC reached an agreement with the ABC affiliate board in September to allow affiliates to participate in the online streaming of ABC shows through local advertising sales and branding opportunities. Stations have the option of featuring the ABC.com broadband player on their own web sites to view shows, retaining local ad revenue. Each program will feature one local ad pod, in addition to the three pods sold to a single national sponsor by ABC. The network is also offering an ABC News player, including clips of World News Tonight with Charles Gibson and Good Morning America.
Albert Chang, EVP, digital media, Disney-ABC Television Group
Alexis Rapo, VP of digital media
Bruce Gersh, SVP, business development, ABC Entertainment
Bernie Gershon, SVP/GM, ABC News Digital Media Group
David Watson, VP, product design and development
Eleo Hensleigh, chief marketing officer and EVP, marketing and brand strategies, Disney-ABC Television Group
CBS: CABLE BYPASS
innertube (cbs.com/innertube)—The ad-supported entertainment site features original content like comedy/reality hybrid The Papdits and segments and extras from the network’s current lineup and the libraries of CBS Paramount Television, King World and Showtime.
Full episodes of 13 CBS shows are currently available as well as one the four remaining episodes of the canceled Smith. Most episodes are viewable for four-week blocks, with the exception of Jericho and Survivor. Their full seasons will be up all year.
CBS.com—The site promotes all of CBS with schedules, sneak peaks and video clips from primetime, CBS Sportsline.com (below), CBS News.com and the entertainment news site Showbuzz.com. Original content like the dating show Hook Me Up also make it a destination for content. Viewers can link to individual show sites from a huge pull-down menu in the upper right-hand corner and to innertube.com to watch primetime shows.
CBSSportsline.com—The well-established sports site covers all major national sports and fantasy sports. It’s slowly adding more video. It had great success in March streaming the NCAA basketball tournament games to four million users. Games for 2007 March Madness will viewable for free with commercials, although viewers must wait in a queue until the video become available. A VIP pass can be purchased to move you though the waiting room faster.
CBSNews.com—The video-centric news site features breaking national and international news and separate feature pages with segments from The Early Show, CBS Evening News, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning and Face the Nation.
The Showbuzz—Entertainment news site combining originally produced content and footage repurposed from CBSNews.com, CBS.com, The Early Show and 60 Minutes.
iTunes.com—Single episodes of CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, Numbers, Survivor, Big Brother All-Stars and Jericho are for sale for $1.99 each. An entire season of Survivor goes $19.99. Audio podcasts from 60 Minutes, Guiding Light and As The World Turns are free. CBS Sports is offering a single NCAA tourney game for $1.99 or a “season pass” to all 63 games for $19.99.
YouTube.com—CBS launched a branded channel on YouTube.com offering clips from CBS shows, library sports footage and online previews of daily newscasts. (The channel is not easy to find. Viewers much click on “Channels,” then “Partners,” then “CBS” to get to the channel home page). Borat’s appearance on Letterman two weeks ago has been viewed over 1.3 million times.
Yahoo (tv.yahoo.com)—Video clips, screen shots and descriptions of CBS’s primetime shows are available on http//tv.yahoo.com. The site also allows viewers to schedule recordings of shows using a Tivo Series2 DVR. A deal was signed in October to link Yahoo visitors to 16 CBS-owned station sites for ad supported local news clips. The videos will play on Yahoo, but link users back to the station sites.
Google Video (video.google.com)—Single episodes of the latest seasons of CSI, NCIS and Survivor Panama as well as episodes of such classic shows asThe Brady Bunch and The Twilight Zone are available for $1.99 each.
Amazon—Digital downloads of six current shows including the CSI franchise and three classic shows are available for $1.99 each. The Amazon Unbox Video player requires a broadband connection capable of sustained 1.5 mbps download speeds.
Mobile partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service streams 40-second mobisodes of The Courier; previews of the CSI franchises, The Amazing Race, King of Queens and other shows; and clips of original content from innertube. A new partnership with Sprint features interactive tie-ins withThe Amazing Race and video news segments from CBS News and Paramount TV’s Entertainment Tonight. Amp’d mobile features clips and extras from CSI: NY, Numbers andThe Late Show.
CBS2—The CBS TV O&Os are planning to launch a multicast channel this fall that features news, weather, local programming and supplementary entertainment programming—the equivalent of extra features on DVDs—for some of the network’s top primetime shows.
Cable—CSI, NCIS, Survivor and Amazing Race are available to Comcast customers for 99 cents each the day after they air, but only in markets served by CBS O&Os. Negotiations to expand distribution of CBS shows on the VOD platform are underway.
CBS and its affiliate board struck a deal that allows both parties to benefit from new media opportunities. Under the agreement, CBS will have increased flexibility to make programs available on the Web and other emerging platforms. At the same time, CBS affiliates will have the ability to promote the digital offerings on-air and receive a share in the proceeds, including those from subscription VOD offerings. Affiliates will also receive a bounty for any traffic/Internet users they deliver to CBS.com and other CBS-owned Internet properties.
Quincy Smith, president, CBS Interactive
Jonathan Leess, president and GM, CBS Television Stations Digital Media Group
Jonathan Sobel, SVP, strategy and business development, CBS Interactive
Cyriac Roeding, VP, wireless, CBS Interactive
FOX: BROADBAND IS MY SPACE
MySpace.com—News Corp. acquired this wildly popular social networking site in July 2005 for $580 million, now the second most trafficked destination next to Yahoo, according to comScore Networks. Fox Interactive Media has set about to make it a destination to view streamed shows, with a link to FOX on Demand videos directly from the home page.
Bones, Prison Break, Standoff, Vanished, The Loop, The OC and Talk Show with Spike Feresten are currently featured for free with ads. Fox also announced it will be selling download-to-own episodes of shows on the site for $1.99 each, the same price as on iTunes and CinemaNow. Sorry Mac users; only Windows PCs are supported.
Fox.com—The promotional/distribution site features separate pages for each Fox show, including games, video clips, message boards and companion programming like interview series 24 Inside. A new feature is FoxCast, audio recaps of this week’s shows that can be listened to online or downloaded to an iPod or other MP3 player. Viewers can link to Fox on Demand site at www.myspace.com/fox for free online episodes of eight Fox shows.
4kids.tv—The site is used to promote the four-hour block of children’s programming airing on Saturday mornings on Fox. Episodes of shows like Chaotic are available for free, with ads.
CinemaNow.com—What began as a subscription service that offered users unlimited views of movies online now features movies and episodes of shows like 24 for purchase a la carte by non-members for $1.99 per episode. Primetime shows from the broadcast network are offered alongside Fox movies and programs from FX and Speed Channel.
Direct2Drive.com—Another of the Fox Interactive Media Network sites offers completes seasons of such Fox shows as 24, Prison Break and Bones for $39.95. Series from other Fox entities like FX, Fuel TV and Twentieth Century Fox are also available. Other Fox sites like RottenTomatoes.com and IGN.com are promoting the offerings.
Fox O&O TV station sites—The Fox on Demand initiative allows nine Fox O&O’s to link to the MySpace page that streams full episodes of six primetime shows for free. All 24 O&O station sites underwent a relaunch last summer in part to feature video more prominently. The fourth season of The O.C. premiered on all O&O station Web sites October 26, a week prior to its broadcast premiere, viewable on a video player created by Fox Interactive Media Stations Group. Fox is currently in talks with its affiliates to offer them a co-branded streaming video player that will stream Fox shows on local sites and allow local ads to be embedded.
iTunes.com—24, Prison Break, Bones, Unanimous and Prison Break are available a la carte for $1.99 or on a full-season basis for $39.99 Canceled shows Stacked and oldies like Firefly and Lost in Space can also be found.
Amazon—Digital downloads of Bones, Prison Break, 24, Stacked and classics such as Lost In Space available for $1.99 each though the site’s Unbox Video player.
AOL Video (video.aol.com)—Digital downloads of 24, Prison Break, Bones and Stacked are available for $1.99 each.
Fox Mobile Entertainment—The unit develops original content and marketing opportunities based on Fox properties, interactive components like text message voting for American Idol and original mobisodes based on shows like 24.
Mobizzo—A mobile content shopping destination available on Cingular and T-Mobile phones. The service also offers downloads of such Fox shows Family Guy and American Dad. Purchases, ranging from $1.99 per download to subscription plans averaging $5.99 per month, are charged directly to users’ monthly mobile bills.
Mobile Partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service features promos for House and other Fox shows.
Satellite—On DirecTV, such shows as 24 and Prison Break are available for 99 cents each, up to a week after they air on Fox. The network also offers exclusive video through the satellite provider, including behind-the-scenes footage and weekly highlights.
As part of its new six-year cost-sharing agreement on NFL football, Fox’s 187 affiliates may share revenues from distribution of Fox programs on the Web. Fox may repurpose six hours of any programming genre per week in the first year of the agreement, 80% of primetime in the second year and 100% during the third year. Affiliates are reportedly entitled to 12.5% of the revenue (minus distribution and union fees) from programs distributed on alternate platforms after broadcast and 25% prior to broadcast.
Ross Levinsohn, president, Fox Interactive Media
Mickie Rosen, SVP/GM of entertainment, Fox Interactive Media
Lucy Hood, president, Fox Mobile Entertainment
Mitchell Feinman, SVP, Fox Mobile Entertainment
Ron Berryman, GM of Fox Interactive Media Stations Group
NBC: NBCU 2.0
iVillage.com—Acquired for $600 million, the site is an online community for women. It offers NBC companion programming, promotional stunts and the hour-long original video program iVillage Live about women’s issues. A relaunch is planned to make the site a hub for other NBCU content online.
NBC.com—The promotion/distribution site includes webisodes of The Office, Passions, Friday Night Lights along with interactive elements for Law & Order: CI and online comic book Heroes. NBC Rewind streams two-minute recaps and the latest episodes of primetime shows, including The Biggest Loser, Friday Night Lights, Heroes and Studio 60. Web exclusives include “Earl, I’m Sorry” e-cards, an online companion game for 1 vs 100 and webisodes of Pale Force, a comedy show with Conan O’Brian and Jim Gaffigan. PC’s equipped with Intel Viiv or Intel Centrino mobile technology can access NBCU VIP Access service, offering download-to-own episodes of more than 20 NBCU shows.
nbbc.com—The National Broadband Company is a web syndication service built to help NBCU entities and affiliates aggregate and distribute video content. Video clips are available for a fee to approved web publishers or for free with ads attached. Several other content providers have also signed on to provide content.
NBCfirstlook.com—The promotional site premiered four full-length, ad-supported episodes of new series for free before they premiered on air this fall. Video previews of midseason shows The Black Donnellys, The Singles Table, Raines and Andy Barker, P.I. are now ready for inspection.
Dotcomedy.com—The short-form comedy site draws from current and library programs, dating back to Leave It To Beaver. It also offers original podcasts, blogs and other interactive content.
CNBC—A subscription-based Web site is reportedly in the works that will charge a monthly fee to access all interviews and featured that appear on the cable network. Real time charts and search-based resources will also be available to subscribers.
NBCOlympics.com—Video-centric site produced by NBC and Internet Broadcasting that set a new standard for event-based Web sites attracting as many as two million unique visitors a day during the Winter Games from Torin, Italy.
iTunes.com—A dozen current shows are now for sale on a per-episode or full-season basis. NBC Vintage offerings include Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Dragnet. The five most recent Tonight Show monologues sell for $1.99. A variety of NBC News content is also available.
Yahoo (tv.yahoo.com)—Video clips, screen shots and descriptions of NBC’s primetime lineup are available. The site also allows viewers to schedule recordings of shows using a Tivo Series2 DVR.
AOL Video (video.aol.com)—Digital downloads of Studio 60 and Twenty Good Years are available for $1.99 each. The pilots were made available one week before on premiering on air.
Amazon—Digital downloads of Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip are available for $1.99 each through the Unbox Video Players, which requires a PC and a broadband connection capable of sustained 1.5 mbps download speeds.
NBC Mobile—The service produces more than 20 short-form video programs daily, including late-night clips, breaking news and original mobile exclusives. Interactive SMS applications are prominent such shows as Deal or No Deal.
Mobile partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service features NBC News segments and Tonight Show monologues. MobiTV offers an NBC channel featuring updates from NBC News. Sprint features extras for NBC shows Deal Or No Deal and Late Night with Conan O’Brien spinoff Pale Force. SmartVideo is also a partner.
NBC Weather Plus—The 24/7 digital weather channel is jointly owned and operated by NBC Universal and its broadcast affiliates, balancing national and local coverage. It features an “L-bar” graphic on the screen providing local current conditions and forecasts. A companion Web site debuted in January.
Cable—Law & Order: SVU , Law & Order: CI, The Office, Las Vegas and news segments from NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press are available for 99 cents each on Comcast and Time Warner Cable. NBC is also participating in TWC’s Start Over service.
Satellite—DirecTV subscribers can watch top NBC shows like Law and Order: SVU and TheOffice commercial free the day after they air on the broadcast network for 99 cents each. The programs are downloaded to the DirecTV plus DVR and unlocked upon payment.
NBC formed joint ventures with affiliates to own and operate NBC Weather Plus, nbbc and NBC Olympics.com. So far, NBC affiliates do not share in the proceeds from iTunes.com, NBC.com or other online sales of content.
Beth Comstock, president, digital media and market development, NBC Universal
Jeff Gaspin, president, NBCU Cable Entertainment, Digital Content and Cross Network Strategy
George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer
Vivi Zigler, EVP, NBC digital entertainment and new media, NBC Entertainment
Peter Naylor, SVP of digital media sales
Mark Lukasiewicz, VP, digital media, NBC News
Jon Dakss, director, iTV product development
Greg Plestis, SVP, alternative programming and development