Jan 19

2014 – Week 3



  • Had my first ever full-length sports massage. Ouch! Seriously, I had bruises. But I did notice a difference in the next run, with muscles that often give a twinge working fine. Ideally, you’d get one weekly, but every 3-4 weeks at a minimum. It all depends on finances as they’re not the cheapest!
  • I was on Russia Today, on its programme CrossTalk, directly as a result of my appearance on Al Jazeera. The topic was pretty much the same, social media and journalism. This was not in a dedicated dark studio, but on the corner of the office, so had people working around me. Weirdly, I had a screen backdrop which showed a live view of London – the camera providing the view on the screen was pointing out the window behind the screen!
  • A had a good chat with the people behind Digital Mums. I’m probably going to be doing some mentorship on their pilot project, to train at=home Mums to do community management. I think this is a really good idea!
  • I had brunch with someone I used to work with in JWT New York. He’s just started a new role and is over here for 3 months connecting with new and existing clients. Had a good meal in Chinatown and took him on a whistlestop tour of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the Southbank. We were going to go into Westminster Hall, but apparently at a weekend, you can only get in if you are on a paid tour!
  • Had dinner with a bunch of bloggers. David Weinberger was visiting London and there was a small dinner with some old-school bloggers.

London streets


It was a lighter week in the plan, a recovery week before it all gets hard again. Two light recovery runs and the following main runs.

  • 8 miles with 8 * 100m sprints, speeding up to get the legs moving quicker.
  • 8 miles easy running, done along the river, just about getting the tide time right so I could use the tow path
  • 12 miles easy running, in Richmond Park on a sunny morning. So many runners out in the park, wonder how many of them are doing the London Marathin too?
Sep 24

US TV New Shows

Over the last two weeks I’ve taken a look at some of the new TV shows that will appear in the ‘Fall’ season. These are the free ones that are available on iTunes or Amazon. Here’s what I think.

  • Bionic Woman. Loved it, even with Michelle with a US accent. Set up the premise well (conspiracy theories aside) and well put together. Something I’m going to watch.
  • Chuck. This was surprisingly fun. Great characters, fun story. (even if similar to Jake2.0) Interested to see if it keeps up.
  • Journeyman. Premise has been done before as well – time jumping to fix things, but enjoyed the acting on this. Need a few more to make up my mind
  • Life. Damian Lewis is good, but this is just another cop show for me at the moment. Probably not.
  • K-Ville. Another cop show, but far different background to others. Got potential
  • The Big Bang. Comedy in the style of the IT Crowd with one of the characters strongly reminding me of Cory Doctorow for some reason. Nerds meet the ‘real’ world. Funny, but jokes could be a little one dimensional
  • Back to You. OK. Comedy. well put together but not my cup of tea

The odds are I’m going to end up watching one or at most 2 of these shows. I know I’ll be watching Heroes and Stargate. As I’m unlikely to be watching most of them on ‘TV’ which ones that continue for me will depend in the ease of getting them online from the ‘official’ distributor. One of the reasons I watch little House is that it is no available through normal methods and I’m not passionate enough to download. I feel the same about CSI – but I watched a lot more of it last year as CBS had a great online policy. When I felt like watching something, I could just go grab it. I don’t mind the streaming nor the minimal ads they have on them whilst streaming, but just make it easy for me to watch. As I watch all my telly on the telly (I rarely port it to another device), even if through the PC connected to it, that restriction does not phase me like it does many others.

Posted in TV
Jun 20

Veoh TV

Last week I got a sneak preview of Veoh’s new service, veoh.tv, but got asked not to blog about it. The news has now broken and there’s a few detailed write ups around. Erick Schonfeld has a great overview,

VeohTV is an application that you download to your PC. It lets you watch any video, not just on Veoh, but anywhere on the Web—whether it’s on NBC.com, CNN.com, YouTube, or AskANinja.com (but not Joost, which does not show videos on its Website). It turns the hodgepodge of video on the Web into something that looks remarkably like TV by gathering all of it into a remote-controllable experience you can watch from ten feet away

Phil Butler looks at the features and contemplates the revenue drivers

Joost content is obviously excellent and the quality of broadcasts there is very stable, which illuminates one of VeohTV’s only real weaknesses – the system is dependent on the quality of sometimes less than excellent online video. This is not problematic with content from NBC or other major networks, but the user’s “hands on” filtering will determine a quality library. The ads were a major concern of mine and I found Joost to be an early leader in upscale and unobtrusive advertising. Dmitry reflected a rather perfect logic in response to this concern, in that VeohTV will be able to target ads that will be relevant to individual users and therefore inherently less obtrusive.

and Mike Arrington has a business round up.

Will it work? It certainly might. I’ll have to wait and try out the software first. But the vision is solid. This avoids the time and cost of doing licensing deals with content owners. Like Real’s new player that allows users to basically bookmark and locally store video, it assumes that video will continue to be widely distributed across the Internet. Whoever creates the best interface for the content will win users, and liquidity events.

What did I like about it?

  • The interface was intuitive, smooth to use and very close to the Tivo model. I liked it better than the Joost model.
  • Loved the way you can pull everything together into your own channels
  • From an advertisers perspective, the channels and what you can do around them offer some great opportunities, better targetting and , hopefully, a way of advertising that is not too intrusive but could be useful.
  • The search function. Cool. Very, very cool. Pulls stuff from all over and let’s you line it all up to watch.

Look out for a lot more online buzz around this once the beta starts rolling out.

Apr 23

TV news of the future

I like Dave Winer’s idea for how TV news may evolve, allowing you to choose what you want to watch. He’s made a mock up here. Let me choose what stories I want to here and, more importantly, when I want to stop hearing about stuff. There comes a point when there is no new information, just new opinion to fill the airtime. Those are the times that it’s useless to me – but may not be for others who like this stuff. Let us choose which bits we want.

Apr 20

Video connections

I spent a fair bit of last night (when I wasn’t travelling back to work because I’d left my keys there) watching live video streams. The first was from Chris Pirillo; tuning into Chris I found him talking to Kosso, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. Sharing the broadcast with Chris was Eric Rice and he was later joined by Ben Metcalfe. With 2 laptops set up, I could have the video in one place and the chat and other browsers open in the other so I could multitask and it came closer to tv type entertainment, in the background until something interesting happening.

Over the course of the evening, there around 120 people in the chat, on average (I think). Many of these had come from various forums and sites or from the front page of ustream and were asking the questions about why this was being done, why people were watching it etc. I know why I was watching it – I read the blogs of Chris and Eric and I know Kosso and Ben in person. I was also trying to get my head round the service and see how if it could be used at work. By making it easy to set up and stream, from a mobile situation, it opens up the possibilities to allow direct connection with users of a brand. So far, these are what immediately spring to mind.

  • Straightforward sponsorship. For someone with a following in the right demographic, sponsoring their costs is a good way of connecting with that demo, in an unobtrusive way.
  • Adding it onto an event. If a brand is running some kind of event, then it can be extended out to the web to increase the audience. Live streaming and feedback to the people on camera through the chat. Even if only a couple of hundred (there are scaling issues at the moment) they are likely to be early adopters and ‘sneezers’, spreading the word. Capturing the live feed and posting it later also increases the spread.
  • You could take this slightly further and add the feed into banner ads. More disruptive but able to spread to a wider interested audience but may be prevented by the scaling issues
  • Supplementing a chat. One of the brand I work on already runs chats a few times a year; adding video to this would increase the value and the engagement as the attendees get to see the hosts.

There’s bound to be more once I get my head around it more. This is not currently mass media, but for offering a direct and immediate connection between a brand and its fans, it could be perfect.

Apr 19

Simpsons’ Quiz

I don’t really watch the Simpsons, never really got into it. So imagine my surprise with I got over half the questions right on this short BBC quiz put together to ‘celebrate’ their 20 years on the air. The programme is obviously far more insidious than I realised.

Posted in TV
Mar 22

NBC and News Corp announce deal

Read the press release. The content companies are joining up with AOL, MSN, MySpace And Yahoo! to provide premuim video content – does this mean DRMd and subscription?

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” said Peter Chernin, President
and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. “We’ll have access to just
about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time,
consumers will get what they want — professionally produced video delivered
on the sites where they live. We’re excited about the potential for this
alliance and we’re looking forward to working with any content provider or
distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.”

“Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this
announcement incredibly exciting,” said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of
NBC Universal. “This venture supercharges our distribution of protected,
quality content to fans everywhere. Consumers get a hugely attractive
aggregation of a wide range of content, and marketers get a novel way to
connect with a large and highly engaged audience.”

I love that they think that they are providing what the user wants, as if they are the only ones, as if the web goes to YouTube for their health and not to watch great content. The release is full of PR speak – do these guys really talk like that? And if they do, please let me never meet them, with their borgified market speak they sound quite boring. Would I use the service – yes, if it gives me the content I want at the place and time I want and is not over encumbered my advertising as they try and squeeze every single drop of money from everywhere they can.

This is not about the consumer getting what they want; this is about dinosaur media companies being dragged licking and screaming into an web reality. The consumer is already taking your programmes, you are only just know getting onto the bandwagon. No doubt the content will be good, they will get viewers – there is a tendency for most people to do what is ‘right’. But be real with your vain announcements – remember, we’re all talking about you, how about answering back in a human voice occasionally.

Mar 02

BBC on YouTube

You can find clips from BBC shows on YouTube, fans putting them up to share the love. And now the BBC has done a deal with Google/YouTube to create three new channels dedicated to the corporation’s output.

  • BBC – showing added value programming, ie the behind the scenes stuff that goes on the websites. This is advertising free
  • BBC Worldwide – clips from programmes, carrying advertising in which the BBC will have a revenue share. This is the same model for the rest of the BBC worldwide programmes, which are not funded from the licence fee and carry ads. However, in this case, the channel also appears to be open to the UK
  • BBC News – news clips, also advertising funded but this time not accessible to the UK

I’m glad they are stepping up and doing this and think the BBC Worldwide decision, allowing access from the UK, is a pragmatic one. Especially if they show the clips on the BBC sites as well – the US networks have seen some uplift in viewers after putting clips on the service.. But I found the comment from Ashley Highfield ingenious, given the zealousness with which they have been acting to take down the recent Top Gear clips I’ve linked to.

Mr Highfield said the BBC would not be hunting down all BBC-copyrighted clips already uploaded by YouTube members – although it would reserve the right to swap poor quality clips with the real thing, or to have content removed that infringed other people’s copyright, like sport, or that had been edited or altered in a way that would damage the BBC’s brand.

“We don’t want to be overzealous, a lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us,” he said.

Feb 22

BBC Value

Ian just posted his video from Future of Web Apps programme, where Michael Arrington suggested the BBC should be dissolved.

I did some back of envelope calculations about the worth of the BBC. Let’s say that I watch 2 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. In the US, programme are around 42 minutes long, so 18 minutes of commercials (but let’s say 15 for promos etc). That means I’d watch around 182 hours of ads with that viewing habit. At UK minimum wage, that’s around 1000 GBP worth of my time. I see getting that time back as entertainment, on a non-commercial channel by paying my licence fee of 126GBP, as a bargain, never mind when you add the rest of the stuff they provide.

And yes, I’m in the US now, but I’m paid up for the year and there’s still Tivo and Slingbox, the online radio, the online news and info and all the other stuff to give me my fix.

Posted in TV
Feb 15

Pushing a Community around Jericho

Over the last few days I’ve been working my way through all the back episodes of Jericho from CBS. As I usually do, I turn to Wikipedia to see if there any additional pieces of information to add to my enjoyment of the show (I’m a trivai freak at times). The show has a loyal base of online fans, as the wiki episode guides are pretty complete, which is not always the case; if you take a look at the CSI listings there’s very little info there which I find surprising for one of the biggest programmes on TV.

BUT CBS are obviously aware of the fans need to add to the show experience; they have created their own wiki for people to update. You don’t have to sign in to edit and they’ve even created a very nice editing tool so you do not have to know the arcane mark-up language.

Jericho Wiki

But you are not getting the same contributions as wikipedia are getting. It’s easier, there are a lot more show assets that can be used, there’s a reasonably active message board on the site that demonstrates that fans are involved, but little action to document the show. So some thoughts about why not:

  • Wikipedia is a known place to put the information so anyone who wants to document the show goes there, despite it being slightly easier to add images to the CBS wiki
  • The fans who connect on the message board are not fans who want to document the show in a wiki – they want to discuss, not record.
  • There is a fear that the work that would be put into documenting the show would disappear from the CBS site; the effort is better being put into something that will last longer.

Whatever the reason for the reduced participation in documenting the episodes they are doign a lot of other things to gain interest in the show, with online chats, Q&A for the producers and just a lot of extra content.

Feb 13

Top Gear hits Alabama and Alabama hits back

I got told that I had to watch Sunday’s Top Gear. If this clip is indicative of the whole programme I think I’m going to have to. Typical piss-taking from the presenters getting them in some real trouble.

Too late…looks like they pulled it. Thanks to Keiron who points towards another copy. How long before this one goes…

Posted in TV
Jan 28

The Day After

Sci Fi is running at 23 yo movie called The Day After, about the impact of an all out nuclear war between the USA and the USSR. The apartment i was in before this one still had the fallout shelter stickers in the basement, as a place the building residents would have to shelter, whilst waiting for the fallout to reduce. If anything actually survived the direct strike I’m sure New York was targeted for. However, with my shopping habits I’d unlikely to have the food or drink to survive,

Right… I think it’s time to find something more cheerful to watch. Where’s that YouTube Comedy list.

Posted in TV
Jan 18

Sky and Timeshifting programmes

Sky is bar far the largest purveyor of DVR/time shifting services in the UK. A review of their service released last week shows that they have over 2 million boxes out there, with around 5million people using it – that’s around 8% of the UK population. As a long time user of TiVo, where the programme information is provided by Sky since TiVo left the UK market, I’m a big fan of time- (and place-) shifting when it comes to my entertainment. The time shifting numbers are show what areas are most popular – and there’s no surprise for me that drama is the most recorded and current affairs/news the least

* Drama is the genre of programming most frequently recorded by Sky+ customers, accounting for 39.3% of all time-shifted viewing. Other popular genres are documentaries (14.9%), entertainment (13.0%) and movies (9.5%). In contrast, some genres of content remain at their most popular when consumed live. News and weather account for just 0.6% of time-shifted viewing by Sky+ viewers, while current affairs programmes account for 1.2%. (Source: Sky View)
* These trends are reflected in the ranking of channels whose programming is subject to most time-shifting by Sky+ viewers:
1. FX 33.1% of viewing is time-shifted (01/02/06-20/12/06)
2. More 4 27.7%
3. Hallmark 24.8%
4. Living TV 23.3%
5. ITV3 23.1%
* Across all channels, time-shifting accounts for an average of 12.2% of total viewing through Sky+ boxes. (01/02/06-20/12/06)

Last weekend I volunteered to have a tivoless weekend as an experiment for weekend. Withdrawal symptoms set in quickly just from the thought of not using, even if I didn’t want to use it there and then. A bad weekend – definitely confirms I won;t go back.

Dec 19

Cable connection and the BBC

I’ve just had two technicians round to connect up the cable system for TV and phone. Whilst here, we got to discussing the BBC. The whole concept of TV/radio without advertisements seemed to astound them and there were a lot of questions about how it worked, how you paid the licence fee, how did they know you had a TV. Using HBO as a reference point, we got over the astonishment and then discussed whether it would work here – would you pay a higher subscription not to have ads, could you have a choice of ad-supported or ad-free. As we move to a digital, on-demand system, that must one possible way.

Posted in TV
Dec 17

Connectors and adapters

I’m trying to find some way to plug the various entertainment bits and pieces I have together without spending a fortune on replacing everything. But so far no luck. I have a PC with a VGA output but a TV with a choice of HDMI, SVideo, combination or composite inputs. And I have a UK PS2 which has a power upstepper but still needs to do PAL to NTSC conversion. And if I can’t get neither of those to work I’m going to have to get a multi-regional DVD player. Which does not seem to exist in the US as far as I’ve seen to date. I’m sure I could get them all working together somehow but at the moment, I just feel the need for a nice black box that just appears and does everything for me, or a gadget geek to go out and get everything and then plug it all in.

Nov 27

BBC UGC – Yes or No?

User Generated Content, Citizen media, particpatory content. Whatever you call it, it’s not going away and the number of advertisers jumping on the bandwagon with various degrees of success increases everyday. The BBC has been there for a while and now we have two stories demonstrating various successes.

In the first, BBC News 24 has started a programme made up of news stories sent in by the public, to “reflect the stories catching our audience’s eye and talking to them directly about the issues they feel really matter.”

In the second, the editor of Newsnight is suggesting that UGC has not been forthcoming for a 2 minute slot on his programme, a chance to get your message in front of 1 million viewers, and he is calling out for entries. In the comments, the lack of response is put down to many reasons: no publicity and short notice; lack of payment when the BBC gets the rights; different demographics of the Newsnight audience vs the typical 16-24 creator; a feeling that it is the BBC’s job to create not the audiences; a feeling that UGC should stay online not in the TV. Also, the difficulty and difference in creating a short video as opposed to a well crafted written piece.

I don’t know why the difference, these are all valid reasons. Maybe because the two types of programme need a different discipline. The first, on a ‘cable’ channel, just asks you to send in things as you think about them and additional work will be done by the reporters. The second gives a finite time for you to create a story that will be shown to a far larger audience.

Nov 22

Primetime Online – watching the networks on the web

Due to my lack of electronic goods, my TV watching has been restricted to waht I can find and play on the laptop. Now, yes, downloads would give me copies to keep, but sometimes the instant gratification is what I need so I turned to the networks and their forays into online programming to see how good they are. I’m going to run through the majors to give you a taste of how easy, or hard, it is to watch. I’m using TimeWarner cable which is currently running at 4.5Mb down (although previous speeds have clocked in around 2 Mbps)

Finding the content

ABC: you can access the videos through a few ways. There’s a large button on the home page, the main show listing has icons to show which ones you can watch and you can get to the episode from the show page. (ABC also wins the prize for the most annoying to assess due the videos that autoplay on every page – at loud volume)
CBS: there are 2 routes from the home page, one to watch a series direct and one to a overall section on CBS video. They do not seem to have integrated the service as much as ABC as you cannot get to the video from the series information, even when there is a link to catch up on previous episodes.

NBC: this has the least routes in. From first glance it looks like you can go to the NBC video from the home page section below the fold but this only gives you interviews, clips etc. What you are after is NBC Rewind which you can get to via the Video navigation option or from the series page. NBC also offer you the chance to download a video player to your PC and download locval (DRM’d) copies of 2 shows, which manes you can watch whilst not connected but they will stop playing after a certain time.

What’s available?

ABC: has 7 of it’s primetime shows available. For each, the past 4 episodes are available.

CBS: It’s Innertube channel has the largest selection, with 14 different shows available online. For each, there appears to be 4 episodes.

NBC: NBC Rewind has 7 shows being offered in the full versions.

The Playing Field

ABC: launches a new window that has pretty movable flash display for you to to find your choice of entertainment. The videoplays in a window about 3×6 inches or can be expanded to full screen. ABC seems to have issues with band width detection at it continously flashes warnings that my connection is less than 500Kbps or 800 for the big screen. None of the others give me warnings. I have had issues with playing content, in that it goes so far and no further

CBS: again launches a new window, and plays the video in a 5×5 inch screen or in full screen. The qauality is OK for large screen and very good for small. No warnings about bandwidth but it has occasionally paused for buffering. Unlike ABC, the player also shows related videos, clips etc that you may be interested in. Navigation is easy and it is straightfoward to find your way around (once you’ve got there!)
NBC: Plays within the existing window in about a 7×4 window. The big screen version is not that much bigger, but you get it without the wrapper. However, one advantage over the other players was the ability to move between acts – so you can watch a bit and come back. NBC also offer their download service for 2 of their programmes (Studio 60 and Heroes) which plays in full screen.
The Advertisments

ABC: the player has a title sponsor with a banner link, the programme is bought to you by the sponsor and then there are limited ads between each act (Not sure how many, not got that far in the playing!)

CBS: Each section has a title sponsor and they have an ad between the acts.

NBC: nothing new here, again they offer a title sponsor with a banner link whioch changes per act. Each act has an ad before it. Interestingly the standalone player does not have ads (which I guess means that they may charge for it soon?)
In general, I get disappointed with the ads as very few of them appear to have been adjusted for the web, they are just TV scrapes. There is a lot of opportunity for marketers to make something a wee bit different to capture the imagination..and click through.

In summary, I’ve not managed to watch ABC content yet, I prefer the NBC experience of the player and CBS offer the best package. It’s not better than TV on Tivo, but it’s still pretty good.

Jan 01

Favourite TV

On a good week I only watch maybe 4-5 hours of TV. It’s not to say that the TV is not turned on more than that, but the programmes on are usually not something I make an effort to watch but is often just background, (in fact, the film Zulu is on at the moment, which is a still enjoyble despite the large number of times I’ve seen it.)

A couple of TV polls caught my eye this week. The first is Time’s best of TV for 2005. Being an American list, I’ve only heard of the first 2 items (Battlestar Galactica and The Office) but I’ll be looking out for the rest. I find it interesting that they put a sci-fi show in first place but Galactica is good drama that is just set in sci-fi world. It’s been one of my favourites this year and looking forward to the new episodes in January.

The other is a poll of the UK’s most missed programmes. 5 out of the 10 are sci-fi, and you could probably add Buffy to this as well ( I wonder if Doctor Who would have been in the list if it had been done last year) So despite my perception of mainstream media normally disregarding such programmes (you rarely see them reviewed) they are well regarded.

.1 Star Trek
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. Friends
4. Fawlty Towers
5. Blake’s 7
6. The X-Files
7. Babylon 5
8. Stargate
9. Seinfeld
10. The A-Team

I’m surprised that Stargate is on the list as 2 series are in production (in fact the original is going into a 10th season) and new episodes are a regular on terrestrial TV at the moment. I guess it was not on when the poll was taken.

Posted in TV