Tag Archives: entertainment

Case Study: NBC’s Heroes

HeroesAfter a summer-long teaser campaign, NBC‘s “Heroes” opened to great ratings and wonderful reviews. I haven’t been this excited for a new series since 24 and Lost first showed up.

According to this recent LA Times article, the networks are spending increasingly higher amounts to produce their new series. High-definition video is more expensive to produce. Marketing campaigns are no longer restricted to their own networks. And successful shows demand much more than just a TV image.

Heroes

Heroes is a tale of “ordinary people with extraordinary abilities.” Sort of like “X-Men” before they got together under one roof. There’s the cheerleader who can’t get hurt. The single-mom whose reflection in the mirror has a mind of its own. The cop who can hear your thoughts. The Japanese salesman who can bend the space-time continuum…

Heroes offers a great many opportunities for Digital Media Integration. Is NBC taking advantage of them?

What Heroes is doing right

Heroes has a magnificent story where, like in Lost, all the characters are somehow connected. The producers have also tried building an off-screen story to accompany the broadcast. It’s in this area of media integration that shows like Heroes can really make a difference. These are some of the things NBC got right:

Heroes Hiro* Hiro Nakamura (space-time dude) has a blog.

* Claire Bennet (unbreakable cheerleader) has a MySpace profile, as do some of her on-screen friends. (Very interesting, given that MySpace is owned by one of NBC’s rivals).

* If you missed the live episode, you can download it or watch it on NBC’s website. They also have a two-minute replay available.

* Message Boards let you get together with other viewers and some of the show’s producers and explore your wildest conspiracy theories.

* Heroes Comic BookOnline Comics delve deeper into the storyline.

So NBC is actively expanding the show into the internet, which is great. But they still have a way to go…

What Heroes is doing wrong

Considering the effort NBC has put into this show, it’s sad to see them not taking full advantage of the available opportunities. These are some of the things they either got wrong or didn’t get at all:

* Hiro’s blog is hosted at nbc.com, under a huge NBC logo and navigation banner.Hiro's Blog on NBC

* Hiro’s blog shows a note indicating it’s been translated by Yamagato Software. A Google search for this company comes up empty. A mock website for this company, perhaps with some hidden clues, would’ve been great. (Interestingly enough, there’s a Yamagata company that does translations).

* There’s no online presence for Isaac Méndez, the artist. An online gallery or even a Flickr account should me available with some of his paintings.

* No online mention of Peter Petrelli’s brother political campaign.

Coming Soon?* Incomplete website. Even though we’re past the second episode of Heroes (and the lengthy ad campaign), some areas of the official website are still not ready. Try clicking on the Games or Downloads links and you get a “Coming Soon!” message. And if you cheat and enter the urls yourself, you get half-finished placeholder pages.

Is it too late?

NBC still has time to fix these problems. The show is young and the audience large. And there’s always the remote possibility that these materials are out there, but still haven’t been discovered or made it to the top of the search results… And user generated content (maps, theories, connections, etc.) will eventually surface.

But this has all been done before, and it’s been done right (see Lost and The Blair Witch Project), so what, exactly, are we waiting for?

Mark Cuban says Only a moron would buy YouTube

It seems Mark Cuban has no love for video sharing website YouTube. According to this Reuters article, Cuban told a group of advertisers in New York that “anyone who buys YouTube is a moron.”

Cuban, who sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo for several billion dollars back in the dot com era, feels that the potential for lawsuits against a wealthy YouTube owner is too high. He added that “the only reason it hasn’t been sued yet is because there is nobody with big money to sue.”

Though I agree with Cuban about the legal issues surrounding YouTube, I still feel YouTube has a fighting chance.

What I don’t like about YouTube is that since they don’t own a lot of the really good content, any of the big players could simply decide to clone them and keep control of their content. It would certainly cost less than the rumored $1.5Billion YouTube thinks it’s worth. But this doesn’t seem to be the case anyway, as YouTube has been signing distribution deals left and right. Big networks that had at first been put-off by YouTube, have now embraced the easy reach and distribution it has given them. The way I see it, if you can watch a show on TV (or HDTV), you won’t be watching it on YouTube’s poor quality versions. So for big shows (24, Lost, Heroes, etc.), YouTube acts like advertising: you get hooked on YouTube but then watch it on your regular TV/Cable.

As for advertising, Cuban also had harsh words for YouTube, asking advertiser if they really wanted to spend money to reach limited viewers (while at the same time offering opportunities to advertise on his own network, HDNet).

While it’s true that any one video gets fewer viewers than a single television show, it’s also true that it costs much less. What YouTube needs is to leverage their infrastructure to create more flexible advertising schemes.

While no big-time client would like their spots airing on unknown videos, YouTube could certainly create plans for ads to show whenever a video surpases a given number of views. So if a video gets viewed, shared or downloaded more than average, more expensive ads would start showing on them. Additionally YouTube could match certain advertisers with certain shows (so that in a video of Treasure Hunters, you’d still be show ads from MasterCard or Ask.com).

So there are several content distribution and advertising opportunities still to explore on YouTube. It’s up to them to show who the “moron” ultimately is.

Revision3 finally goes live

Revision3After several days of server errors, it seems Revision3 is finally live, sporting a brand new and very cool look. Gone is the “Sign Up” page… which is interesting, but more on that later. According to their own About page,

Revision3 is the first media company that gets it, born from the Internet, on-demand generation. Unlike aggregators, mash-ups, clients and web sites, Revision3 is an actual TV network for the web, creating, producing its own original entertainment and content.

They also mention that their “content is designed for a new audience. This audience, like television, expects dependability and quality, but unlike television, wants a more gritty, edgy, highly-targeted and in-depth form of entertainment,” and offer to make their shows available on as many platforms and through as many distribution methods as possible.

So far, so good… even the content is entertaining (Ctrl-Alt-Chicken, Diggnation, NotMTV, thebroken, etc…). The quality of the videos is very good and they are available, as promised, in a variety of formats (quicktime, wmv, xvid, theora).

Founded in part by some of the Digg boys, Revision3 is sure to make a lot of noise in the internet television scene. The lack of a sign up page (which was available, though not working, in the previous iteration) really caught my attention. While Revision3 is certainly no YouTube (content is generated by Revision3, not uploaded by users), I was expecting a certain level of personalization, viral marketing and social networking – particularly because of Revision3’s ties to Digg. I’d certainly like to be able to bookmark my favorite shows, share my playlists, see what everyone else thinks about any particular show, see a show’s ratings, and share my favorite shows with my friends. But, hard as I looked, I could not even find any mention of signing up as a regular user. I’d love to know the reasons behind this.

For more on a user-centric, internet TV experience, read Google Media: How Google will change the way you experience music, television and media in general. On that article, I explained what I envisioned Google doing on the internet television front, complete with an interface mock-up of what the user experience could be like. The same concept could apply to Revision3 as well.

Tech wise, Revision3 seems to be running on CherryPy (“a pythonic, object-oriented HTTP framework”) and their Flash video containers are done by BitGravity.