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Mission of the Viodi View:
In this on-line publication, we share our analysis, opinions and direction on the interactive television news and views that we believe will be of interest and use to our friends associated directly or indirectly with independent telephone companies. For more information as to the various ways Viodi works with independent telephone companies, please go to http://www.viodi.com/alliance/
The Viodi View [Viodi, LLC] and its associates used their best efforts in collecting and preparing the information published herein. However, the Viodi View [Viodi, LLC] does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any and all liability for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions resulted from negligence, accident, or other causes.
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the property of their respective owners. © 2006 Viodi, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
By Ken Pyle, email@example.com, Managing Editor, Viodi View
Five years – this is a lifetime for a kid, while it is barely a blip in time to an adult. Five years is also supposed to be the magic number in terms of a business and its prospect for survival. Survival is what Viodi has been doing now for five years, as last week marked this important anniversary. Despite the sometimes rocky the path, we have always tried to live up to our goal of, being the bridge between the Heartland and Hollywood.
In this context, “Heartland” refers to the approximately 1,000 independent telcos that strive to make their communities stronger by connecting them through state of the art telecommunication networks. And these telcos are independent in the very best sense of the word, in that they have always been willing to be pioneers the deployment of new innovative product offerings, such as IPTV. I will be talking more about what independent means, in the next issue of the Telephony’s magazine, the independent.
“Hollywood” refers to the image of tinsel town and the corresponding excitement surrounding the content industry. The big difference in today’s world is that one doesn’t have to be in Hollywood to be part of the creative world. Low-cost technology is enabling people around the world to bypass the old channels and express and display their creativity. I have been fortunate to be able to see a great deal of this creativity as I wander around the country talking to and learning from independent telcos at Viodi’s Local Content Workshop.
Viodi's Content Pavilion is where we take the Local Content Workshop to a new level. Located at TelecomNEXT, it will feature a mix of sessions regarding content, a showcase for suppliers and a content awards ceremony. In the tradition of previous Viodi produced conferences, we have added a couple of sessions that deal with the ever changing nature of content, as well as the challenges and opportunities of producing local content. These sessions are:
We will announce who will be the speakers for these sessions by the next issue of the Viodi View. In the words of Local Content Workshop alum, John Dillard, President of Monroe Telephone in Monroe, Oregon,
What really will separate the Content Pavilion Viodi’s previous endeavors is that this is our first booth at a major tradeshow (TelecomNEXT). Fortunately, we are being helped out by a number of first rate suppliers, including Adobe, Digital Containers, ETI Software, Iacta/Games4TV, Integra5, nCast, Packet8 and Serious Magic. Additionally, Sony Media Software is a sponsor of the Content Pavilion and NRTC is a sponsor of the Content Awards & Reception.
What these suppliers share is that they all provide technology or services that allow an operator to differentiate through the creation of original content or by adding value to existing content. Content differentiation will be critical in order to prevent the broadband pipe from becoming a commodity. Our goal with the Content Pavilion is to create a sort of one-stop mall with regards to content, especially of the local type, so that operators will be to get some new ideas as to how differentiate themselves from the competition.
Alan Weissberger participated in a TIA webinar open to selected media members last week and reports on some interesting statistics regarding the domestic and worldwide state of the telecom markets. With a forecast growth of 8.9 and 11.4% for the United States and the Rest of the World (ROW), respectively, it could be said that the telecom market is back! It may not be the blazing growth of the dot com era, but those are the sort of growth rates that any mature business would be thrilled to have. Click here to read some of the interesting telecommunications factoids and statistics reported on by Weissberger.
Interestingly, the TIA and FTTH Council just came out with a report this morning suggesting that the number of fiber to the home passings has passed the 3.6 million mark and the number of subscribers grew by 70% in the fourth quarter of 2005 to 548,000. Maybe Fiber to the Home has hit the mainstream.
Peter Lowten offers some interesting insight into S2 Data’s IPTV 2006 conference last week in San Jose. Peter’s British humour [note, the spelling] shines through in this entertaining and informative look at this conference that is very important to anyone wanting to know about topics surrounding IPTV, such, in-home video distribution, HDTV and MPEG-4. Click here to read more.
In the last few months, comments made by AT&T’s CEO Ed Whitacre and other providers of broadband service, suggesting that Google and other content providers will have to “pay” for performance have drawn fire from various groups. There has even been a bit of political backlash. I thought it was pretty interesting then that AT&T has apparently filed lawsuits against companies that are using MPEG-4 technologies which allegedly violate AT&T patents. And these companies are significant players, like Apple with their video iPOD.
Could this be a way for AT&T to extract an IP (Intellectual Property) toll, even if they can’t assess an IP (Internet Protocol) toll on the "over the top" providers? It will be interesting to see what other IP gems the new AT&T management will find as they dig through the thousands of patents of the formgeter Ma Bell. To see the original article from PC Magazine, click here.
I was searching around the Viodi View site for something and I ran across this article, Are Those Mouse Ears or Rabbit Ears? - The Wonderful New World of Disney, from a few years ago regarding Disney's first attempt at its MovieBeam offering. It will be interesting to see what happens this time with their service. Meet the old beam, same as the new beam.
Bemidji, MN, home of Paul Bunyan Telephone, for being home to half the men and women of the U.S. Olympic curling team.
The last issue of the Viodi View focused on the ever changing nature of commercials in today’s interactive television environment and how advertisement and content is so closely intertwined that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Unilever’s Dove brand has a brilliant new campaign that integrates print, web and television for their new “Calming Night” body wash and lotion products and is a great example of how advertising can enhance content and visa versa.
What Unilever/Dove has done is clever on many levels, as it provides a great way to circumvent the DVR commercial bypass problem, provides content that resonates with their target market and gives them a mechanism for obtaining direct customer feedback.
I noticed the print ad for the Dove product sometime in the last week, mainly because of their famous spokeswomen, Felicity Huffman from ABC’s Desperate Housewives. I didn’t read the ad, but I saw it was for some sort of “sleep product”.
What caught my eye was the commercial starring Huffman that aired during last Sunday’s episode of Desperate Housewives. As I recall from the ad, she didn’t talk much about their product, but focused on the problems faced by today’s moms. She pointed viewers to the web site and suggested that she would be talking to famous television mothers from years past, like Carol Brady (Brady Bunch) and June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), to get their advice for today’s harried mothers.
Felicity Huffman is somewhat serving as the bait in this television spot. That is, a person in a DVR household who was randomly fast-forwarding would see Huffman and would stop the fast-forward process thinking that Desperate Housewives had returned from its commercial break. After 10 or so seconds of absolute confusion, the viewer might realize that they were not watching Desperate Housewives, but by that time they would be so enthralled with Huffman’s discussion of the Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver that they would stick around for the rest of the message and maybe even go the web link.
The web site integrates videos, polls, contests and viral elements. The videos have a common theme of Huffman having a hectic day followed by a shower with the Dove product. She then falls into a deep sleep and dreams she is transported into a sitcom either dating from the 50s (Leave it to Beaver), the 60s (the Munsters) or the 70s (the Brady Bunch). These first class productions are directed by Penny Marshall and feature exellent chroma-keying, such that it appears as if Huffman is in the same scene with the sitcom characters with whom she interacts.
These videos are using Adobe Flash 8, which not only provides streaming but allows dynamic interaction unlike regular video. One of the things I observed is that dates that are embedded in the video appear to be dynamic. That is, it always appears as if it is the video was made the day it is watch by the viewer. They have several feedback mechanisms, including the ability to share with a friend via Instant Message or Email.
Or, one can enter the top CEO contest. In this case, Dove, in conjunction with AOL, is looking for the top “Chief Everything Officer”. The Grand Prize is lunch with Felicity Huffman and a $1,000 shopping spree. Appropriately enough, this will be awarded on May 17th, which is right around Mothers Day.
By the way, I went to the site out of purely professional reasons, but my spouse, the target prospect for Dove, didn’t even notice the ad. Even after I pointed out how cool this integrated campaign was, she didn’t express an interest in going to the web site. So, it will be interesting to see how effective this campaign really is.
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