Tag Archives: internet-television

Creating a Shortcode for the Organize Series WordPress Plugin

Insert this code into your WordPress functions.php file (or custom_functions.php if you’re using Thesis like I am) to enable a quick way to display a series of articles created with the Organize Series plugin.

function get_thumb_series( $atts ) {
	extract( shortcode_atts( array(
		'ser_id' => false
	), $atts ) );
	if ('ser_id' == false){
		return false;
 	global $post, $orgseries;
	$series_post = array();
	$posts_in_series = array();
	$settings = $orgseries->settings;
	$ser = $atts['ser_id'];
	$result = '<div class="episode-list">';
		$series_post = get_objects_in_term($ser, 'series'); 
		$posts_in_series = get_series_order($series_post, 0, $ser, FALSE);
		foreach($posts_in_series as $seriespost) { 
				$result .= token_replace(stripslashes($settings['series_post_list_post_template']), 'other', $seriespost['id'], $ser_ID);
		$result .= '</div>';
		return $result;
add_shortcode( 'get-ts', 'get_thumb_series' );


On any post or page (and possibly anywhere else) where you want to list a particular series, enter the following shortcode:

[get-ts ser_id='n']

where n is the ID of the series you want to display (you can find this in the Manage Series admin page).

So, for instance, if you want to display a list of posts contained in a series with ID=10, you’d enter the following in the text of the post or page:

[get-ts ser_id='10']

Why and How did I do this

I’m using the wonderful Organize Series plugin on a site I’m working on to display hundreds of TV episodes together in a logical arrangement. As part of my CMS strategy, I needed a way to display the content of a series on a page that is not a part of the series.

Suppose you have all the episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” organized in a series so that you can jump from one to the next in a logical order and not be constrained by a blog’s chronological ordering system. If you want to create a page with additional info about the show, there’s no clear way to add the episode list to the page. This Shortcode will allow you to do just that.

The Organize Series plugin includes a file filled with useful functions (orgSeries-template-tags.php in the plugin’s folder). Figuring out how to put all that info to good use was a bit harder, since Organize Series now keeps all their support forums behind a pay-wall. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine solved that by letting me look at some older pages from back when the support forums where open.

Further help came from Aaron Jorbin’s post on WordPress Shortcodes – A how to by example.

The nice thing about this Shortcode is that you can edit the output to suit your needs. The reason I called the function get_thumb_series is that I originally wanted to generate a list of episodes with a thumbnail next to each one. I still haven’t done that, but there’s nothing keeping you from changing the function to return whatever it is you need. I’m currently using the default functions within orgSeries-template-tags.php (and the function itself is an abridged version of get_series_posts()), but will eventually add my own to return just the information I need about every episode (thumbnails, air dates, duration, etc).

I’ll add links to example pages once the site goes live. In the meantime, let me know if this article was helpful to you and feel free to post any fixes or updates.

Google TV is coming (and we told you so)

The New York Times (Google and Partners Seek TV Foothold) and Web TV Wire (Google TV On Way – Search Giant Teams With Intel & Sony For Android-Based Set-Top Box) are reporting that…

Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes. (NYT)

RED66 readers (yes, all three of you) got a glimpse of the future and already knew about this development four years ago, when I wrote about “Google Media.” Some choice quotes from that article:

Google has been quietly getting ready to bring the power of its brand and technology to the way you experience music, television and media in general.

Google has the equipment and expertise necessary to set up a massive media distribution and tracking network, integrated into their existing search and advertising technologies.

Google is also making inroads into the set-top box business, hoping to bring television media straight into your television (whether it’s in your living room or your mobile phone).

At the time I wrote that article (April, 2006) I made a mock-up of what a Google Media Dashboard could look like, based on their Google Finance interface. What do you think?

Google TV Dashboard

Read the original article here: Google Media.

And, as always, feel free to comment below and share it with your friends (hint: use the retweet button at the end of the article).

5 Observations on the State of Digital Media

I wrote this as the introduction to a report I presented a year ago, after attending the Forbes MEET conference, and was surprised at how relevant it still was… so I decided to share it with my blog readers.

1. Universal access to media distribution.

The traditional media outlets were used to managing an industry of scarce resources, which they owned. Acting like toll booths, they decided what got published and what didn’t. The Internet put an end to this system, giving everyone an effective distribution channel. The bottlenecks have disappeared. Anyone can post their opinion to a blog, a video on YouTube, and even distribute their band’s songs. MediaSnackers are an example of the way users are adapting to this new way of creating and consuming content.

2. Time-Shifting: The future of media consumption is when you want it, how you want it, where you want it.

Although traditional television will continue being relevant for a while, an ever growing number of users will opt for the freedom of deciding how, when and where to consume media. The need for watching live television will still exist, given people’s need to socialize around shows (the so called water cooler effect), but users will increasingly satisfy this need with their online friends (via Twitter, for instance).

3. A need for more -and better- editors.

In a world of easily accessible, unlimited content, the role of editors is ever more important. We need trustworthy recommendations in order to find quality, relevant content. As the value of our time increases, so does the need for editors or editorial systems we trust. This applies for all kinds of content: news, software, music, games, videos, etc. Services like Digg, even with all their faults and growing pains, are a possible solution.

4. Go Local: news will be closer to home than ever.

When agencies like Reuters can distribute their content to every news show in the world, the value of those news falls (as they’re no longer exclusive to any one show). Newscasts and newspapers need to take advantage of their local presence and knowledge to cover events of real relevance to local consumers. The tendency is towards hyperlocal: the neighborhood, the county, the municipality. The Internet is the ideal medium to distribute this localized content. Likewise, users have begun to engage in Citizen Journalism, using blogs, videos, podcasts and any other distribution technology to give their opinions, make their complaints public and comment on the latest events.

5. The Internet will compete with television on the television.

In the next couple of years the Internet will be connected to the rest of our homes. Already, content that’s available on the Internet competes with television shows, and soon watching an Internet-available show on our television sets will be a simple matter of pushing a button on our remotes. YouTube, CurrentTV, Google Video, to name a few, will have a permanent home in our high-definition televisions. Traditional media networks need to make an effort to distribute their content through the Internet (see Hulu), create Internet content that supports and extends their TV offerings (see Heroes) and, more importantly, begin to compete against themselves in this new arena.

What do you see as the future of digital media?

A Spanish-language version of this article is available at Technosailor.com, where I write a regular column. Disponible en español en Technosailor.com, donde escribo una columna regularmente.

New Tools for Tracking NBC vs. CBS at YouTube

TubeMogul, the awesome online video traffic analysis tool, now (finally guys! 😉 ) offers embeddable charts, as well as a number of new social features.

Here’s the latest month of YouTube data for NBC and CBS, showing NBC’s continuous lead over rival CBS.

I’ve set the chart to show data from May 13 to Jun 12, 2007 – but you could just as easily set it to continuously auto-update and show the last thirty days.

TubeMogul – Empowering Online Video.

San Francisco Updates

Just a quick update from San Francisco.

Tomorrow is my last day in San Francisco. In just a couple of days I’ve really gotten a nice feel for this town and really like it. There’s so much happening in the tech front… you could actually say they’re building the future here. Classes, conferences, companies… you name it, it’s here.

I went to the Exploratorium today and had a wonderful time. It’s great to see such a big museum built expressly to awaken the children’s imagination, curiosity and aspirations. And it’s not just for kids…

And now on to more blog related stuff…

The Forbes MEET 2006 conference was great. The panel format they used is simply outstanding and lends itself to very insightful conversations among the participants. The Forbes editors did a very good job of guiding the conversation and keeping things on track. I’m really glad there were zero powerpoint presentations (which usually end up being self-serving company ads). I’ll be posting details and observations of each panel as soon as I get back home.

Apparently, Comedy Central has asked YouTube to remove all of their material from their servers. Interesting. No talk yet of a Comedy Central YouTube Channel, a la CBS, although they are already selling their content on Google Video.

To wrap things up, it seems Google’s AdSense audio version is almost ready for release, which should give a nice boost to the podcast industry.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Rethinking Ratings

Summary: An analysis of current television ratings methods, why they’re inappropriate for the timeless internet and digital video recorder era, and suggestions for improving them.

Traditional television ratings reports let TV executives and analysts study the behavior of a particular show or series, displaying the number of viewers each show had, broken down by demographic targets. This allows the television industry to determine which show won a particular time slot (e.g., Friday 9pm to 10pm), how it performed among a particular demographic (e.g., Males 18-34yrs) and how it has evolved (in the case of serials) over time (e.g., Are there more or less people watching it).

But what happens when viewers can watch any show at any time? When viewers don’t have to choose one show over another on a rival network? What happens when you can’t tell for sure who your viewers are?

The internet and TiVos give the viewer unprecedented freedom over when, where and what to watch. Soon it won’t be possible to tell for sure how many people are watching any given show, using traditional ratings tools such as AGB/Nielsen‘s Peoplemeters. Programming executives won’t have to worry about what the rival networks are showing at the same time as their new hit show. And ratings analysts won’t be able to track a new series’ behavior by simply looking at how each episode did on its air date.

Two hit shows going head-to-head on rival networks? Not a problem: watch one and record the other for later viewing (or get it from the Net). Missed last week’s premiere episode? No problem there either: watch it online, download it off bit torrent or pay for it on iTunes. Some of this you can easily track, but some you can’t.

Analysts will need to track each episode over time and then track the series as a whole. A VERY SIMPLIFIED graphic might look something like this, with a running total for each episode over the time of the series:

VERY simple ratings graphic

Any viewer can watch any episode from its air date to the end of the series (and beyond). This allows viewers to catch-up after the series has started or to catch any episode they may have missed. Of course, the whole concept of missing an episode disappears in the TiVo/Internet model. But in addition to tracking how many times a particular episode was watched or downloaded, you should also be tracking what’s happening with the rest of the show’s internet presence. Are viewers reading the characters’ blogs? Are they discussing the show in the forums? Are they setting up fan websites? Linking to the Myspace profiles? Uploading mashups of show clips? Not only must you track the show’s behavior over time and over several distribution methods, but you must also track and measure the user experience surrounding the show.

And finally, how do you solve the demographic problem: if you don’t know who your viewers are, how do you target them? The answer is both simple and complex. I believe that traditional demographic targets are on the way out. Social networks and special interest groups are the new targets… and these are much easier to track via the Internet than the old ones. You may not be able to tell whether a particular viewer is male or female, young or old, wealthy or not, but you can tell what news s/he reads, what games s/he plays and which people s/he hangs out with (to a certain degree, of course). One minor detail… you can’t (or shouldn’t) add apples and oranges. Traditional television ratings data categorizes viewers by demographic targets such as age, sex, location and income (because someone takes the time to visit each household in the sample and verify this information). And whereas traditional ratings analysis has always relied on a sample set of data subjects, internet traffic and behavior analysis has always examined the whole dataset. Eventually it shouldn’t be too hard to homogenize both sets of data, either by linking traditional television viewers to their online behaviors, or simply by expanding their interviews to include enough data to categorize them.

Currently, Google and YouTube limit their video data to a traditional web-traffic analysis mindset: most viewed, most recent, most subscribed. Coming from an Internet world, they fail to see the need (or maybe even the possibility) of better, more detailed reports (Yes, it could also be that they keep these reports hidden from the outside world).

As for me, I’d love to know how the most watched videos on YouTube evolved over time. Have they peaked? Are they growing? Who watches them? How about a Google Finance like chart, linking views to blog/news mentions? Which video has been linked-to the most (this one is actually on YouTube)? Which videos have been dugg and how many diggs did they get? Actually… I’d just love to work there and get it done myself!

CBS Launches YouTube Channel

CBS, one of the US leading television networks, has launched a YouTube channel. So far the content is limited to short clips from late night television, sports highlights, program promos and news items.

CBS Launches YouTube ChannelI’m not particularly impressed with the available content (no full length shows yet) but I really like the fact that CBS has taken this initiative. Late-night clips were already showing up on YouTube, so why not offer them straight from the source?

As of this writing, CBS’s YouTube channel has about one thousand subscribers and 33,000 views. As more -and better- content from traditional networks goes online, it’ll be interesting to see how they compare with user generated content. Will they reach the 37 million views attributed to smosh or surpass lonelygirl15‘s fifty thousand subscribers?

It’s great to see the traditional networks embrace their fears and venture online. CBS already has content distribution deals with iTunes (Lost is sold on iTunes for US$1.99 per episode), but I’m guessing they’ll release their shows for free on YouTube under a Google advertising supported model.

Interesting times, indeed.

Why Google Should Buy YouTube

Google and  YouTube LogosThere’s been a lot of speculation lately about a possible Google buyout of Internet video website YouTube for US$1.6B. A lot has been said about the potential value (or lack thereof) of YouTube and its future success (or demise).

But why, exactly, would Google drop one-and-a-half billion dollars on YouTube? After all, Google already operates a similar service, Google Video, complete with money-making functions such as advertising and pay-per-view/download.

What value can YouTube bring to Google?

The first obvious answer is market share. According to some estimates, YouTube serves up 60% of the online video market… more than 100 million videos per day. But you’d think with $1.6B Google can boost their own market share (estimated at 10%).

Content would be the other possible answer, but I don’t think YouTube’s collection of user generated content is worth that much, even if you manage to place advertising on them.

Some people have gone as far as suggesting Google simply needs to invest some of their war chest money and somehow came upon YouTube as an acquisition target. If that’s the case, then let me suggest Google should buy lottery tickets instead.

The rest of the theories revolve around Google buying a YouTube to eliminate competition. While a valid point, Google hasn’t normally resorted to gobbling up competitors, usually preferring to buy companies offering services that complement rather than compete with Google.

So, what does Google see in YouTube?

I like to think Google is a smart company with big plans, so I analyze them with this in mind. Think Big. Think Smart.

Google wants to dominate online video distribution and with it, online video ratings. Without ratings you can’t really sell highly-profitable advertising. And without a majority of distribution market share, you can’t really accurately measure ratings.

Google is allegedly interested in competing with Nielsen in the ratings market and in collaborating with Apple on their upcoming iTV product. I’ve written previously about Google’s potential as a Universal Personal Video Recorder (Tivo on steroids). And just recently Google held a think tank with the top US media executives (YouTube was also present). Something’s definitely cooking.

YouTube offers a quick ticket to this online media distribution empire, because YouTube has the market share but, more importantly, the data.

YouTube has over a year of extensive viewership data, detailing how / where / when and what people like to watch. Make no mistake, this is VERY valuable data. In a country with an estimated 110 million television households, YouTube’s 100 million videos served daily provide a treasure trove of data, ready to be mined, analyzed and monetized.

Buying YouTube would give Google a majority share of the Internet video market, along with the important rating’s data to monetize these videos via Google Ads.

More importantly, owning a majority share of the video market would allow Google to collect and commercialize CREDIBLE ratings data, which it could then share with the major networks and content owners, distribute their videos online, and get a cut of the ad revenue.

The Copyright Issue

A favorite argument of late is that as soon as a big player buys YouTube, said player would be sued into oblivion by copyright holders. While that may hold a grain of truth, YouTube has actively policed the website for copyright violators when alerted by the rightful copyright owner. YouTube has also signed agreements with major players, such as the one recently signed by my good friend Alex Zubillaga of Warner Music, for content distribution and revenue sharing via YouTube.

I believe Google has even better relations with these major players and with credible and comprehensive ratings data to share could easily sign distribution and revenue sharing agreements with them.

The Big Picture

All of this won’t certainly come together over night. Too many loose ends need to be tied, agreements need to be made and signed, and technology needs to be put in place. But I can certainly see a road map outlining the steps ahead for Google.

1. The first stage involves the acquisition of YouTube and its integration into Google Video. Agreements with the major networks and content producers will allow the distribution of videos via Google. Most of these players already distribute their videos online for free, so a bigger potential audience combined with ratings data would certainly be appetizing.

2. Stage two would involve integration with services such as Apple’s iTV, allowing viewers to play downloaded content (along with ads) on their televisions. Google could combine viewing history with search history to further finetune the ads displayed.

3. Stage three would allow viewers to record programs on Google’s servers and watch them at a later time. Additionally Google would have the capacity to allow revenue sharing agreements with local network affiliates, according to the viewer’s geographical location.

Of course all this depends on whether Google is indeed interested in taking a shortcut by buying YouTube. And if YouTube is not yet aware of these ramifications, if I were them, I’d certainly start raising the price.

Comments are always welcome. I’d love to discuss these ideas.

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this article, Google did indeed proceed with the purchase of YouTube for US$1.65 Billion in stock… which I actually think is a bargain. Stay tuned for a post-buyout article.

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 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?