Disney unleashes VOD channel on Cablevision, TWC
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts' Disney Travel On-Demand channel debuts this month on Cablevision and Time Warner Cable (TWC) network systems, reaching more than nine million viewers.
The free channel will be ad-free and for now, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts executive VP of global marketing Michael Mendenhall says, "I don't think we'll have ads in the future."
The feature Disney is most proud of is the "Talk to Agent" interactive capability, where viewers can request a phone call from a Disney travel representative (that comes within five to 10 minutes). The reps can send Disney information to consumers' homes and aid in hotel, theme park, adventure tours and cruise line inquiries for any Disney offering worldwide. So far this is the only interactive element of the new VOD offering.
When Disney tested its product on Cablevision's VOD channel in 2004, Talk to Agent was the most requested function, so Disney focused on this interactive element first and foremost, Mendenhall says.
Although Disney does have original programming in the works with accompanying interactive features, right now the company is focusing on expansion and looking at various arrangements with cable and satellite providers, Mendenhall says.
In total, Mendenhall says Disney has about 18 original programs in development. But, to start, the VOD channel will offer six programs, including: "Making the Magic," a reality show that follows an entertainer as he tries to become a Disney performer; "Disney Fact or Fiction," which unravels different Disney myths; "Dream Makers," a show hosted by Joey Fatone and Michelle Kwan, where unsuspecting guests are given Disney surprises; and "Disney Travel Insiders," where host Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View" offers travel tips and tricks.
The channel's program mix will include episodic, reality and special events shows, which will average about 15 to 22 minutes in length, as well as concerts and celebrity hosts. The content will change every three to four weeks, Mendenhall says. "It's important that it's fresh, that it's new, that it's original so it doesn't become too stale."
The idea for the offering stems from Walt Disney's "The Wonderful World of Disney," which ran Sunday nights on ABC in the '50s, Mendenhall says. "Walt did it so well, with immersing consumers in his content, in his vision. It was very highly effective. Now we can engage consumers in real time with this technology piece."
The channel is set to debut this week on TWC and next week on Cablevision.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
Joining e-ad party, Microsoft buys aQuantive
In a move that is equal parts strategic and defensive, Microsoft Corp. will acquire, for about $6 billion in cash, aQuantive Inc., a company that specializes in online and interactive advertising.
The move follows the $3.1 billion purchase of another large online/interactive ad firm, DoubleClick Inc., by Google Inc., which is developing into something of an archrival to Microsoft.
At the end of April, Yahoo! purchased online advertising exchange Right Media for $680 million, to beef up its already formidable online advertising business. Meanwhile, WPP, a large advertising and media company, decided to buy digital marketing company 24/7 Real Media for $649 million.
aQuantive is the parent of Avenue A | Razorfish, an ad agency that specializes in interactivity; Atlas, a digital marketing company; and DRIVEpm, a reseller of online ad space.
AOL parties too; acquires mobile ad, digital marketing companies
AOL has acquired Third Screen Media, a mobile advertising network, and has acquired a controlling interest in Adtech AG, a German digital marketing solutions company.
Third Screen will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL's Advertising.com division, and Adtech will operate as an independent and majority controlled subsidiary of the same division.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
AOL acquires Adtech's ad-serving platform, which includes ad management and delivery apps, enabling Web site publishers to manage, traffic and report on their online ad campaigns.
Third Screen connects advertisers, publishers and mobile phone carriers with a common platform by allowing ads to be managed and delivered via WAP, downloadable applications, SMS, MMS and mobile video, AOL said.
According to eMarketer, the U.S. mobile advertising market is expected to grow from $421 million in 2006 to $4.7 billion by 2011.
MySpace adding branded video channels
In the next few months, MySpace Video will launch branded channels for its global network, with news outlets including National Geographic, The New York Times and Reuters, and lifestyle outlets including The Daily Reel, Animation Show and Young Hollywood.
The partners can customize their own video channels and use them as hubs to create niche experiences for users. The New York Times, for instance, which operates the nation's number one newspaper Web site, will offer video containing national news, movie reviews, politics and cooking.
All of the branded channels will live inside MySpace Video and will contain varying video content offered by each respective partner, the company said.
thePlatform, adap.tv combine for online video ad solution
thePlatform's media publishing system customers can now use adap.tv's online video advertising platform, thanks to a strategic partnership between the two companies.
adap.tv's platform allows publishers and advertisers to match online video content with relevant ads in real time. Algorithms analyze the video content and determine the most suitable ad, and they also adapt in real time to viewer behavior, the company said.
"adap.tv has crafted a sophisticated solution that presents relevant product information and messaging based on viewer choices in real time," said Paul A. Palumbo, research director with AccuStream iMedia Research. "adap.tv's text and graphics overlay inside the video window takes a page out of the broadcast medium's utilization of crawls to provide more viewer information, but enhanced with interactive triggers."
Get Interactive creating next-gen ad platform
Get Interactive is developing a new advertising platform that will deliver a real-time consumer shopping experience to Web and mobile video content.
The company is working with brand advertisers and content producers to enable the identification of products in video content and provide audiences with the opportunity to purchase products directly from that content, without disrupting the viewing experience, the company said.
GET Interactive's platform integrates into any Web site or mobile device without the need to download software or register with a third-party site.
Concurrent selling stock shares, warrants for $14M
Concurrent Computer Corp. has entered into definitive agreements with a group of investors to sell, in a private placement, 11.2 million shares of its common stock and warrants to issue up to 2.8 million shares of common stock.
Gross proceeds from the sale are expected to be $14 million, the company said. The purchase price for each share of common stock and the related warrant is $1.25. The warrants will have an exercise price of $1.62 per share.
Concurrent plans to use the proceeds of the private placement for general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures, the company said.
Ovum: VOD to pass $12B revenue mark by 2011
VOD revenues will reach $12.7 billion worldwide in 2011, making it one of the fastest-growing digital content services, predicts Ovum, an analyst/consulting company.
Ovum expects to see more telcos launching their VOD content propositions in the near future.
"VOD is not a revenue generator at the moment, but a "must have" vision of the future in terms of both cash flow and telcos' content business survival," said Aleksandra Bosnjak, a content and media analyst at Ovum. "From a content provider's perspective, telcos and ISPs will be the new contributors to content distribution and film finance, especially over the long term as the service improves, and reaches a more significant scale, and enhances its on-demand functionalities."
• TiVo offers on-screen search capability
TiVo Inc. is releasing Swivel Search, which allows broadband-connected TiVo subs to link from descriptions of a certain program to any others that have common elements, such as the program's name or actors, or from suggestions based on other viewers' feedback.
• Australian co. launches 3G-to-TV app
Gravity Ventures has launched a new 3G-to-TV live video calling solution. Australians can make a standard video call from any 3G mobile phone to interact with, and participate in, the newest genre of TV shows—Participation TV.
Participation TV offers production companies and TV broadcasters new forms of competition and news services, as well as talkback TV. It also opens up new revenue streams, including mobile advertising, the company said.
• TandbergTV hooks up with Turkish DTH operator
Tandberg Television is providing a digital video system for Turkish DTH operator Digiturk.
Digiturk is striving for greater bandwidth and operational efficiency with a system upgrade so it can support more channels and the introduction of HDTV and VOD.
• Comcast Corp.'s system in the state of Washington will drop Microsoft Corp.'s TV software in favor of GuideWorks, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
• Drug firms eye TV channel to bypass European ad ban, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.