Digital Power Sector Showcases
EmptyAgents of Change
By Andrew Wallenstein
Hollywood's top agencies are putting their packaging skills to use in new media, developing healthy consulting businesses with major brands on digital opportunities and playing matchmaker between tech companies and Hollywood.
At CAA, Michael Yanover and his team are behind high-profile content forays, incubating FunnyOrDie and packaging "quarterlife." CAA has also shepherded sales of LX.tv to NBC Universal and Wallstrip to CBS Corp.
Jason Nadler runs UTA Online as a separate division tasked with managing online breakouts like "Lonelygirl15" star Jessica Rose and CollegeHumor. UTA's Christopher Pappas is tasked with corporate clients Buzznet and Vuze.
WMA's Lewis Henderson has been brokering new-media deals since 1992, with current clients like Habbo, MyWaves and Hiro Media.
At ICM, George Ruiz put leading blog BoingBoing in the online video business and is taking Image Comics online. He also has an eye for up-and-coming Internet video talent, including Alex Albrecht of "Diggnation" and Veronica Belmont of "Tekzilla."
Chris Jacquemin at Endeavor leads a digital-focused team comprised of one agent from every department, servicing clients like "Family Guy" (Fox) creator Seth McFarlane and "Heroes" (NBC) creator Tim Kring. The team also works with Endeavor Marketing, which advises blue-chip brands like AT&T and Revlon.
Paradigm's Joel Wright has connected top talent both inside and outside the agency -- including Michael Cera and Aaron McGruder -- to online programming. Wright also works the digital side for showrunners Neal Baer, Bruce Nash and Joel Surnow.
Film and television pioneers are gravitating to broadband content. The most successful of them are behind today's biggest online hits.
--60Frames Entertainment, headed by former UTA Online topper Brent Weinstein, boasts content relationships with filmmakers such as Joel and Ethan Coen and key distribution ties to MySpace, iTunes and YouTube. The emphasis is on comedic shortform video, but its biggest hit to date is fashion show "WhoWhatWear."
--Generate is headed by former WB topper Jordan Levin, who is determined to repeat his success delivering young-skewing, buzzworthy programming on a whole new medium. A new slate of originals might deliver on that promise, including a second season of the cult hit "Pink: The Series."
--Safran Digital Group, the online arm of producer-manager Peter Safran, scored Microsoft Xbox Live's first original programming deal (launching in July). With former Fox Atomic vp Jake Zim at the helm, SDG is lining up content deals that tap Safran's large Rolodex of talent.
--Vuguru, Michael Eisner's indie studio, made a name for itself with "Prom Queen." It has since produced a spinoff and taken the Web series international, inking a deal with French company Cyber-Group Animation for wireless mobile, broadband, TV and home video, and another deal with Japan's Rights Entertainment to produce a localized version.
--Worldwide Biggie excels at producing new-media extensions to old-media franchises, which is apt considering its founder is former Nickelodeon chief Albie Hecht. A deal with Act III Licensing allows the studio to develop downloadable games based on 1987's "The Princess Bride" and Webisodes based on the Nick hit "The Naked Brothers Band."
Broadband Production Companies
Crafting shortform programs with viral appeal isn't as simple as slicing footage together and throwing it on YouTube.
--Big Fantastic is the powerhouse behind high-profile Web series "Sam Has 7 Friends" and "Prom Queen." Principals Douglas Cheney, Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb and Ryan Wise combine a background of writing, producing and directing short films in addition to working on Michael Mann features.
--Dinosaur Diorama posted its first Webisode of "The Burg" on YouTube in May 2006 and launched the show on its own site a month later. New York-based Kathleen Grace and Thom Woodley produce "The All-for Nots," a mockumentary about an indie rock band on an ill-fated tour.
--Electric Farm Entertainment created "Afterworld," a solid global hit for Sony Pictures Television International. The multiplatform series' first season is comprised of 130 short episodes that blend the look and feel of video games, anime and graphic novels into a post-apocalyptic tale.
--EQAL is the production company behind media sensation "Lonelygirl15" and its follow-up, "KateModern." Founders Miles Beckett and Gregg Goodfried are ready for the next phase, having signed a first-look with CBS. Investors include venture fund Spark Capital and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen.
--Iron Sink Media is a consortium of pioneers that includes Scott Zakarin (who created Web serial "The Spot" in 1995), Paul Camuso, Rob Cesternino and Tim Pilleri. These guys are behind the MySpace Webisode "Roommates" and partnered with William Shatner on ShatnerVision.com.
They're not quite as far-reaching or lucrative as NBC, CBS or Fox. Yet ...
--Heavy.com goes after the 18-34-year-old male demo with a combination of original programming and user-generated content. Originals include "Superficial Friends," and it recently launched the Heavy Men's Network, a premium male-focused online video network.
--ManiaTV is aimed at the 18-to-34-year-old demographic, with an eye on branded entertainment opportunities. Programs range from music (Dave Navarro's talk show "Spread TV") and comedy ("National
Lampoon's Lemmings") to drama, video games and action sports.
--MyDamnChannel is behind some of the funniest stuff on the Internet, including "You Suck at Photoshop," "Wainy Days" and Harry Shearer's Dick Cheney impersonation. With a host of Webby Award nominations, topper Rob Barnett says he has an "HBO strategy" for the Web.
--Revision3, founded by technologists Kevin Rose, Jay Adelson and David Prager and now led by Internet TV trailblazer Jim Louderback, boasts content like "Diggnation" and geek news series "The Totally Rad Show." Stream them from Revision3.com and iTunes, BitTorrent, DivX, YouTube and Pyro.tv.
--Ripe TV is not just about flesh, although girls abound. It's also about music (Flow.tv) and comedy (Pauly Shore as the new Michael Moore). HBO made its content available on an external portal for the first time with Ripe's "Max Effect," which showcases shortform Cinemax content, including "Sin City."
The leading software enabling millions to view video on their computers
--ABC Media Player uses the Move Media Player plug-in for full-screen and mini-mode viewing, with three ads per hourlong show, two per half-hour. But users must have a high-speed Internet connection and a well-equipped PC or Mac.
--Adobe Media Player is aimed directly at Internet TV, leveraging Flash technology and open standards for higher-quality playback, viewer-centric dynamic advertising and the ability to customize the player on the fly.
--QuickTime was first released in 1991 and now Apple's QuickTime 7 Player is based on H.264 video compression, which allows high-quality, economical compression to be applied across mobile multimedia, MPEG-4 and Blu-ray.
--RealPlayer comes from RealNetworks, which now has a suite of products addressing mobile, Helix servers for streaming media, slideshow software and enterprise software.
--Windows Media Player isn't just a PC thing, it's also available for Mac operating systems. Using Windows Media Player 11 and a digital media receiver (DMR), the user can listen to music stored on the computer anywhere in the home.
Creative types who just want to focus on content increasingly use an online video management company.
--Anystream has a "highly scalable suite" of solutions for production automation and encoding control for 700 media clients like CNN and AOL, and the company's Media Lifecycle platform is also integrated into the Cisco Content Delivery System.
--Brightcove's recent partnership with Showtime put all of that network's Emmy contenders online for viewing by academy members, a first. It has also partnered with social media net Bebo to allow content owners to distribute online video content while retaining control of ad revenues.
--Maven Networks was just acquired by Yahoo (for $160 million) to expand the portal's consumer video and advertising. It has experience managing and distributing online video for 30 media companies, including Fox News, Sony BMG, CBS Sports, Hearst and Gannett.
--PermissionTV recently rolled out a startup package for companies without their own media infrastructure. Its clients include the New York Philharmonic, Bob Vila, Activision and News Corp.'s MyNetworkTV.
--thePlatform framework is a collection of more than 45 companies that jointly provide a broadband video management and publishing system enhanced by its partnerships with the Cisco Content Delivery System and GlanceGuide's hosted service for video analytics, among other solutions.
Peer-to-peer gets a bad rap because of illegal file sharing. But they can also be used for video streaming, social networking and collaboration.
--Babelgum uses P2P technology for free on-demand TV content, supported by advertisers. Still in beta, Babelgum also launched the Babelgum Online Film Festival, with director Spike Lee as its honorary judge.
--BitTorrent licenses from more than 60 content providers, including some major studios. It has an installed base of 160 million clients worldwide.
--Joost's technology was created by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype and Kazaa. It signed 1 million beta testers before launching and now features more than 20,000 TV shows and content partners like Warner Bros., TBS, PBS and others.
--Pando has been installed by 18 million people in more than 150 countries since it launched in summer 2006. Channels include MTV, Comedy Central, Access Hollywood and Discovery Channel. The company is backed by Intel Capital, BRM and Wheatley Partners.
--Vuze boasted 18 million unique client downloads in its first year, with 500,000 new
downloads per week. Its 150 content partners supply video, music, anime and games. Formerly called Azureus, the company got an added $20 million infusion of funding in December.