Interactive TV News Round-Up (IX): YouTube, Zediva, Zong

--YouTube Fosters Content Development for its Platform via YouTube NextUp
--Zediva Believes It Has Found Loophole that Lets it Avoid Negotiating Streaming Rights with Studios
--Zong Expands Mobile Payments Platform to Interactive TV Apps

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been busy this week working on the TV of Tomorrow Show 2011, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. Once again, we anticipate that it will take us a few days to catch up with all the news we plan to cover: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • YouTube, which earlier this month announced the launch of the YouTube Creator Institute (see the article published on itvt.com, March 11th), has launched another initiative to foster development of content for its platform: "YouTube NextUp is about accelerating the growth of the next big YouTube stars," the company states on its blog. "Up to 25 Partners from around the United States will be selected for the development program, which offers: 1) $35,000 in funding to produce a new project, purchase new tools or advance their overall YouTube careers. 2) A spot at a four-day YouTube Creator Camp in which they'll benefit from 1:1 mentoring and learn an array of production techniques from leading industry and YouTube experts. 3) Promotion of their final work and channel. 4) The opportunity to become better connected with a special community of aspiring and talented content creators from around the world. We're asking existing YouTube Partners to apply with a short (up to three-minute) video that best represents their craft and the initiatives that they'd like to pursue on YouTube--whether it be a new brand of talk show, short film, or other type of new content. We're also asking for short written responses that explain how they'll use the $35,000, why they want to be part of the program, and what they hope to learn at the YouTube Creator Camp. Partners can apply at youtube.com/youtubenextup by midnight PT on March 27, 2011. Our Partners succeed thanks to the support and interest of the YouTube community, so we're encouraging the community to cast their votes on the long list of finalists from March 29 to April 8 at youtube.com/creators, to indicate who they want to see among the next generation of stars. And after this public voting ends, a final shortlist of Partners will go forward to the final round, judged by a panel of YouTube representatives. Final YouTube NextUp winners will be announced on April 20 at youtube.com/creators." To be eligible for the program, YouTube Partners must have fewer than 300,000 subscribers, and must not have already applied for the YouTube Creator Institute.
  • Zediva, a streaming video start-up that believes it has found a loophole that allows it to avoid negotiating streaming rights with studios and to offer streaming titles day-and-date with their DVD release, launched commercially last week, offering new-release movies for $2 each, and packages of 10 movie rentals for $10. The Hollywood reporter's Georg Szalai explains why the company believes that positioning itself as "a DVD rental and remote DVD playing and viewing service rather than a streaming service" allows it to offer new releases faster and more cheaply than mainstream streaming services such as Netflix.
  • Mobile payments platform provider, Zong, has announced the expansion of its platform to enable mobile payments to more application platforms (including TV apps) and remote devices. "Previously available for HTML and on Android, developers can now integrate Zong's simple mobile payments service in nearly any environment, including Flash, Unity, interactive TV, gaming consoles, and the mobile Web," the company states in its press materials. "To integrate Zong mobile payments into most any frontend technology, the developer only needs to collect the mobile number from the user. Zong verifies the phone number with a text message to the handset and completes the billing transaction on the consumer's mobile phone bill or prepaid mobile account." Said Zong CEO, David Marcus: "Mobile payments are gaining traction on all platforms and devices because the convenience is unrivaled. Zong's new platform enables merchants and developers to integrate mobile payment in virtually any environment, be it on a PC, a mobile phone, a tablet or a television."
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