Latest gadgets that are changing TV

Once upon a time, watching TV meant the entire family gathering around to see Ed Sullivan on a bulky black-and-white set. Today, the experience is markedly different: huge flat screens in the living room, teeny tiny screens in our hands, not to mention the remote control’s facelift. There’s a revolution under way, and it will indeed be televised in one form or another.


The phenomenon: cord cutting. The reason: Cable packages are expensive and cheaper Internet offerings, such as Netflix and Hulu, make for good substitutes. Roku helped lead the charge of cord cutters when it introduced its first Netflix-compatible set-top box in 2008. In the same vein, Simple.TV is being hailed as the next major device that could push people to say goodbye to pay TV. Its time-shifted controls can record over-the-air content and stream shows and movies to supported devices, such as the iPad, Boxee, Roku and Google TV. A premium subscription costs $5 a month, which includes automated recordings (like a season pass) and the ability to stream the device to five users on the home network. Simple.TV will be released in the spring and will retail for $150. Contine reading

Facebook to Release Timeline for Brands This Month

Facebook will bring its Timeline profile pages to brands this month in the U.S., according to executives briefed on the company’s plans.

At its F8 conference in September, Facebook introduced a dramatic transformation of profile pages for its more than 800 million users with the Timeline format, which generates picture-heavy, scrapbook-like collages spanning users’ entire history on the social network. It has been rolled out slowly, and users still have the choice to opt in.

At the time of the announcement, the company said it would wait to roll out the new feature for brands. Facebook VP-Marketing and Business Partnerships David Fischer said Timeline for brandswould be “consistent” with the Timeline look-and-feel, but not a carbon copy.

The new pages for brands will start in beta with a handful of partners and then be released to more marketers in stages, according to the sources. Facebook declined to comment on the product or the timing. Contine reading

NBC Is Looking for Big Payoff on Olympics

Two years ago, the Winter Games in Vancouver were just beginning. When they ended, NBC Universal reported a loss of $223 million.

Now, with the Summer Games in London five months away, NBC is hoping to avoid a big loss on its $1.18 billion rights fee, the most paid for the Olympics by a United States network.

So far, sales appear to be off to a strong start. Seth Winter, the senior vice president of the NBC Sports Group, said last week that national advertising sales for the London Games were just above $900 million.

“We’re in extraordinarily good shape,” he said. “This is my third Olympics overseeing sales for NBC Sports, and this is the first Olympic Games that we’ve had a healthy economy.” Contine reading

Youths Are Watching, but Less Often on TV

Television is America’s No. 1 pastime, with an average of four hours and 39 minutes consumed by every person every day.

But more and more young people are tuning in elsewhere.

Americans ages 12 to 34 are spending less time in front of TV sets, even as those 35 and older are spending more, according to research that will be released on Thursday by Nielsen, a company that tracks media use.

The divide along a demographic line reveals the effect of Internet videos, social networks, mobile phones and video games — in short, all the alternatives to the television set that are taking up growing slices of the American attention span. Young people are still watching the same shows, but they are streaming them on computers and phones to a greater degree than their parents or grandparents do.

It has long been predicted that these new media would challenge traditional television viewing, but this is the first significant evidence to emerge in research data. If the trends hold, the long-term implications for the media industry are huge, possibly causing billions of dollars in annual advertising spending to shift away from old-fashioned TV.

Read more in the NY Times

Comfortable Checking “In A Relationship With”

When asked the question, “Notice anything new on Facebook?” — besides the company’s  filing for an IPO, of course — my guess is you would answer it with gusto and say “Timeline” or “Ticker.” And you would be correct — at least for the most part. There was another large change that managed to fly quietly under the radar, one that’s incredibly important to marketers taking advantage of Facebook Ads: Featured Stories. In January, Facebook rolled out Sponsored Stories in users’ News Feeds and called themFeatured Stories. Contine reading

Why Facebook’s IPO Matters

Facebook’s initial public offering later this spring will create a billion-dollar windfall for its founders and early investors, so it’s easy to be cynical and view the IPO as another example of insiders cashing in on the latest web phenomenon. But the significance — and symbolism  — of Facebook’s IPO goes much deeper. Facebook’s astonishing rise is an apt metaphor for the emergence over the last two decades of the Internet itself as a tool for individual self-expression and collective organization. It’s also a dramatic example of a generational shift taking place among the entrepreneurial class, one that elevates social change as a priority along with commercial success. Perhaps most importantly, Facebook’s success is a powerful argument to the transformational impact that a free, open Internet can have on society and commerce.

Facebook’s IPO — the largest in Internet history — is a once-in-a-generation milestone in the evolution of the web. It represents a coming-of-age moment for the second major phase in the development of the Internet as a widespread platform: the rise of the social web. In the initial phase, large portals such as America Online and Yahoo established the web as a repository for vast amounts of information. It wasn’t until Google indexed the web with its search engine that this phase reached maturity, allowing users to quickly find information across the Internet, beyond the borders of these centralized communities. But even as Google democratized the web by enabling ordinary people to exercise their voices and become accessible to the broader online world, the Internet remained a largely individualized experience. Contine reading

Facebook Users to Put Political Views Up in Lights on Times Square

As the country prepares for this year’s presidential election, political devotees have been following the nuances of every debate, caucus, straw poll and primary. A new application for Facebook users, however, is intended to encourage those who are not as engaged to talk about the election issues that are most important to them.

The new app was created during a 24-hour “hackathon” this month with engineers from Facebook and representatives from the advertising agency R/GA, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, at Facebook’s Manhattan headquarters. The goal was to create a social application that could share users’ political views on digital billboards in Times Square. Contine reading