Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): Amazon, Viacom, Lovefilm, BBC Red Button, Blip
--Amazon in Instant Streaming Deal with Viacom
--Senior Management Changes at Amazon's Lovefilm
--BBC Releases Red-Button Programming Schedule through February 19th
--Blip Raises $12 Million, Loses ".tv"
Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.
- Amazon.com last week announced a licensing agreement with Viacom that will help significantly expand the programming line-up for the streaming video service it offers to subscribers to its Amazon Prime service (note: for more on Amazon Prime Instant Video, see the article published on itvt.com, February 23rd, 2011). The new deal "will allow Amazon Prime members to instantly stream TV shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo," the company states in its press materials. "This deal will bring the total number of Prime Instant Videos to more than 15,000. Amazon Prime members can enjoy this selection on over 300 different devices, including Kindle Fire--the Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more. Right out of the box, Kindle Fire users experience the benefits that millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy--unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video and the convenience of free two-day shipping on millions of items from Amazon.com. Prime members will have access to thousands of episodes from Viacom through Prime Instant Video over the next several months. Titles will include kids' favorites, stand-up comedy, and reality TV. Amazon will offer MTV shows including 'The Hills,' 'Jersey Shore,' 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger,' several seasons of 'The Real World,' and Comedy Central shows such as 'Chappelle's Show' and 'The Sarah Silverman Program.' For kids, Amazon brings Nickelodeon episodes of 'iCarly,' 'Dora the Explorer,' 'SpongeBob SquarePants,' 'Yo Gabba Gabba,' along with TV Land favorite, 'Hot in Cleveland.'"
- In other Amazon.com news: 1) Simon Calver and Leslie MacKenzie, CEO and group digital officer respectively of the company's UK instant-streaming and DVD's-by-mail subsidiary, Lovefilm, are both stepping down--the former to become CEO of retailer Mothercare. Calver will be replaced by COO Jeff Buckle, though the latter will hold the title, managing director. C21 Media has more. 2) In an interview with NewTeeVee's Ryan Lawler last week, Amazon's head of digital video content acquisition, Brad Beale, played down speculation that Amazon will launch a subscription video service that is unbundled from its Amazon Prime service (note: the latter was originally a $79-per-year all-you-can-eat two-day shipping package; it began offering streaming video last February--see the article published on itvt.com, February 23rd, 2010). "The bundle of benefits that come with Amazon Prime make perfect sense to offer to customers," Beale stated. "The way that Prime Instant Video is offered today--we're going to continue that approach at least into the near future."
- The BBC has released the schedule of programming and interactive content that will be available via the BBC Red Button service through February 19th.
Blip (formerly Blip.tv), a company that provides a range of distribution and marketing services for independent producers of Web-TV series, and that claims to receive over 13 million unique US viewers and around 30 million global viewers each month, last week announced that it has secured over $12 million in venture capital from existing investors, including Bain Capital Ventures and Canaan Partners, and debt from Silicon Valley Bank. The company says it will use the new funding to develop new tools and services for producers of independent Web series, further invest in its advertising and distribution platforms, and significantly expand its syndication relationships. "In addition," the company's press materials continue, "Blip today officially debuts a new logo that jettisons '.tv.' This was done to distinguish the network's content from that of traditional TV. The logo was designed by Chermayeff & Geismar, the world-class design firm that created the signature logos for iconographic brands including NBC, PBS, Showtime and Time Warner." Said Blip COO, Steve Brookstein: "Blip continues to aggressively grow its revenues, with 2011 revenues 100% higher than a year ago, which is very positive momentum for both our producers and for the company. In 2012, we will further commit to our producer base by offering exclusive arrangements that will continue to drive our common goals."