Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:
1. Raking in $1.6 billion in revenue this year, YouTube dominates as the top online video destination, with much of that audience coming from overseas. Given Disney’s global popularity, its new deal with YouTube might pay off richly then, especially if it can nab viewers via tablets, as a new study indicates that tablet viewing pays off more than desktop viewing of online video in terms of viewer engagement. Just imagine how engaged you’d be by a 52-inch tablet playing Maru videos.
2. Home video spending finally rose this summer for the first time since 2008, and the studios are looking to bolster it even more by considering a 60-day ban on DVD rentals, while Warner Bros. is hoping its Flixster service for the UltraViolet system will move digital product, with the new Harry Potter release as an early test (to mixed reviews thus far). Few in the indie film world seem to care when a movie is released on VOD and theatrically simultaneously, but Hollywood did care about Zediva’s remote DVD streaming service, and that’s accordingly been shut down.
3. Oscar made more changes than the ones you certainly heard about, including hiring a new talent producer and scrapping the ten nominee quota for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin has tossed its hat into the Best Animated Feature ring and is already playing overseas to big box office. Based on what Peter Knegt says, the upcoming Independent Spirit Award nominees (announced November 29) aren’t likely to also make the Oscar cut.
4. Alexander Payne finally has a new movie coming out next week after a seven-year absence from features, while the master of the long absence, Terrence Malick, is reportedly shooting two movies (!) back-to-back (!) next year. To ensure that studios can afford to make more movies without absences, Gavin Polone suggests that they should take some perks away from stars, but it appears that the logic of perk-removal is leading to an exodus of execs from Twentieth Century Fox.
5. The major studios are supportive of two Congressional bills to rewrite the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and record labels want to see the DMCA rewritten too, but technology groups and musicians are staunchly opposed to the proposed changes. But hey, I’m sure content providers are acting in good faith, right? Like Warner Bros., which admitted to demanding files be taken offline under DMCA rules without actually looking at what those files were, let alone knowing if it owned them (and one of them was actually a web comment, not a file: “A scraper apparently misidentified part of a web comment as an infringing URL, and no one at the studio noticed the mistake.” Ha! Oh, Warner Bros., silly studio.).
6. Reading tablet wars! Barnes & Noble is going after the Kindle with a new Nook, and Samsung is going after both of them with the updated Galaxy Tab, while Amazon is making the Kindle more attractive with the Lending Library, though major publishers aren’t on board. If publishers continue to drag their feet, it seems possible that self-publishing could come along to usurp them. The future might also bring e-textbooks and glowing screens.
7. The music industry just got smaller with Universal and Sony’s split purchase of EMI (Universal got the recording part, Sony the publishing part), though regulators still have to sign off. While Universal can celebrate that, it received bad news that a class action suit against them is moving forth; it accuses Universal of underpaying digital royalties, including on ringtones (which are still a big business). Sony, meanwhile, just has its eye on dominating the music industry.
8. Angry Birds has big sales and big influence, and now has its own store in Finland. And with physical game sales down (though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 certainly did alright), such phone games are showing dominance. A new study out of Michigan State says playing video games can make kids more creative. Indeed, when I play Angry Birds, I often end up formulating very creative scenarios for demolishing my iDevice.
9. Did you know the internet died last week? Only for a few seconds, and only for Time Warner Cable customers, but still. Most aren’t missing Internet Explorer, and Microsoft is basically reduced to paying users to download it. Wikipedia might need to start paying editors, because many articles are missing citations (this article also cites a German Wikipedia backlog clean-up competition called Wartungsbausteinwettbewerb, which is the coolest word that will ever appear in WAYM).
10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: All-American Muslim Preview, All My Children on Hold, Covering PSU, Escalating Sports Rights, EAS Glitches, Harmon Responds, Twitter Involvement, AMC’s Laziness, NBC’s Struggles, Streaming Challenge, Student Awards & Scholarship, A La Carte Experiment, Sitcoms in Syndication, Raking in Retrans, TV Set Struggles, Good Wife PSA.