5 Questions With…Barely Political’s Ben Relles

We’re starting a new feature for NewTeeVee today, where every week we ask a noted figure from the online video world five questions about the industry and their work in it. First up is Ben Relles, founder and creative director of NextNewNetworks’ Barely Political. According to Relles’s official bio, “Ben Relles is the creator of Barely Political and Barely Digital. Combined his videos have been seen over 200 million times and viewed on news programs and television networks around the world. Ben received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 2004, and was a founding partner of MarketVision, Inc.”

He also, as you’ll learn below, used to own a Sony Watchman.

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

Maybe oldteevee. They’re just so big and flat and awesome these days.

From an ad dollars perspective though, I’d say it is a need for better online video measurement. Read More about 5 Questions With…Barely Political’s Ben Relles

Doctor Who Getting Early Online Debut in Australia, Thanks to iView

Good news for online Australian sci-fi fans: The upcoming fifth season of British Doctor Who, which will premiere Sunday, April 18 on ABC1, will actually make its first Down Under appearance two days earlier on iView, the Australian Broadcasting Company’s iPlayer equivalent.
The one-day head start that online Aussie fans are getting probably won’t do much in the way of preventing piracy, as episodes will premiere in Australia two weeks after the UK (in the United States, BBC America will be on a similar schedule). It’s a much improved delay, though, from the past, when fans outside Britain would wait for months after the UK premiere for their fix — or learn how to use torrents.
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Tribeca Film Fest to Offer Virtual Premium Access

The Tribeca Film Fest, the festival co-founded by Robert De Niro, is going virtual, according to a post on its blog, offering film fans around the country a chance to engage online with the films and filmmakers being feted.
Beginning April 23, those who purchase a Virtual Premium pass will get “full backstage access” to the festival goings-on, which means being able to watch eight or more of the feature films premiering at the festival and red carpet coverage, and to participate in live Q&As with the filmmakers (according to a representative for the fest, these chats will be text-based).
The Virtual Premium pass costs $45 — which isn’t too bad, given that you get to watch yet-to-premiere films like Edward Burns’s Nice Guy Johnny or opening night selection Shrek Forever After. The pass is not available to international audiences, though, and the red carpet live-streaming will be available to the general public, not just pass holders.
However, full passes to the physical fest cost $250-$450 (though you can buy tickets for individual films separately). That extra $200 might be worth the chance to touch Shrek star Cameron Diaz in person — something the Internet can’t currently replicate. But you’ll also probably have to get out of your pajamas.
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Will Felicia Day’s Online Success Transfer Offline?

Photo by The Bui Bros. (thebuibrothers.com)


Ah, the Sci-Fi Channel original movie. Even the channel’s recent name change to SyFy (s GE) can’t keep Saturday nights from being must-see TV for B-movie fans who like their snakes mega-sized and their spiders on ice.
A pretty wide range of actors have done their time fighting CGI-rendered monsters, and today the Internet’s own Felicia Day joins their ranks, taking the lead role in the Little Red Riding Hood-inspired Red, which is due to premiere in 2011. (She’s a werewolf hunter!)
Being famous on the Internet doesn’t necessarily translate to offline success, but Day is the rare star who might just pull it off — at least, by SyFy’s standards. Why? Let’s look at the numbers. Read More about Will Felicia Day’s Online Success Transfer Offline?

Cablevision and ABC Reach Deal During Academy Awards

And the Oscar for the industry’s best drama goes to… ABC. The Disney-owned (s DIS) broadcaster reached a tentative agreement with Cablevision (s CVC) minutes into the telecast of the Academy Awards, according to a New York Times report.
ABC and Cablevision had been embroiled in a very public dispute over the right to carry New York’s WABC-7 on the cable’s pay TV service. ABC had threatened to cut off Cablevision if the cable company didn’t agree to pay substantially higher retransmission fees; the network followed through in the wee hours of Sunday, and Cablevision’s New York-based customers were facing the very real possibility of missing Hollywood’s most prestigious awards show.
In fact, 3.1 million of the cable company’s customers did miss the first 14 minutes of the Oscars. WABC-7 returned to Cablevision at 8.44pm EST, and a news ticker scrolling through the bottom of the screen proclaimed that “ABC7 and Cablevision have made significant progress in negotiations and are pleased to announce that ABC7’s signal has returned to Cablevision customers as they try to finalize a deal,” according to a New York Daily News report.
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March Madness Comes to Hulu for “Best In Show” Showdown

Are you just chomping at the bit for everyone’s favorite college basketball tourney to kick off? Well, you got a week or two to wait yet, buddy. In the meantime, though, Hulu (s NWS) (s GE) is running its own bracket — one where you get to vote on the winners, even.

The five-week Best in Show campaign pairs up TV show contenders in eight different genres for a series of eliminations, which will lead to the declaration of an Ultimate Champion on April 5. Bud Light, which has sponsored the event, gets prominent brand placement, and Entertainment Weekly‘s Ken Tucker is weighing in on the 16 picks (which are accompanied by off-site links to EW.com content).
What do the winning shows get? No clue. Is this anything but a popularity contest? Nope. Is it a quick and fun way to kill five minutes of your Friday afternoon? Darn tootin.’
I did my first-round bracket just now, and there are definitely some tight match-ups — Chuck and Dollhouse are tied at 50 percent each. Personally, I’m not looking forward to round 2, when I’ll be forced to pick between current frontrunners 30 Rock and The Office.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Memo to Cable Cos: Cord Cutters Aren’t The Issue

Why Doesn’t Web Video Like the “C Word”?

Julia Allison, Meghan Asha and Mary Ramblin. Photo from the TMI Weekly blog.


It’s a quiet afternoon when my phone rings with an unknown number. I don’t get a lot of phone calls from unknown numbers, especially from people who have been the focus of both the New York Times and fierce reblogging sites, so it’s a bit surprising to discover that Julia Allison is on the line.
Allison was calling me because about half an hour earlier, I had emailed her about TMI Weekly, the show she co-hosted and produced for Next New Networks starting in the fall of 2008 — and I had used the word “cancellation” in doing so. So, before getting down to my real questions about the current state of the show, whose one-year contract was not renewed due to a mutual decision between the TMI team and NNN, we went back and forth briefly over whether or not the word is applicable.
The debate over using “the C word” didn’t surprise me. It’s not a pretty word, cancellation, so it’s not surprising that we tend to avoid it. In fact, as a community in general, we talk a lot more about the shows that are beginning than we do about the shows that are about to end. Which makes sense — for one thing, a lot of shows (especially scripted ones) have limited resources, and season finales are all-too-often series finales. For another, many creators and companies who are in the business of creating ongoing brands are still figuring out what this medium is capable of, and are constantly reinventing themselves and their projects. Read More about Why Doesn’t Web Video Like the “C Word”?

Vid-Biz: Apple, TiVo, ITV

Apple Wants to Store Your Video in the Cloud; the company’s representatives have spoken with some of the major film studios about enabling iTunes users to store their content on the company’s servers. (CNET)
Three TiVo Premiere Mysteries; a few images in the company’s press kit might reveal some interesting new features that have yet to be explained. (Zatz Not Funny)
ITV Devalues Its Online Business, Admits It’s Underperforming; the UK broadcaster placed a £30 million ($45 million) value on its online operations last year, significantly less than the £68 million it said they were worth just a year earlier. (paidContent:UK)
Sky Player Gets More Live TV; the online TV service provided by BSkyB continues to expand its content by adding three more new channels, bringing the total to 30. (Tech Watch)
Aflexi Launches CDN FlexiMart; CDN software management company launched the new Aflexi FlexiMart platform, enabling web hosts to share infrastructure and buy, sell and trade capacity in real time. (press release)
Blackwave Launches Video Delivery Platform; the Internet video storage and delivery infrastructure company announced a new video delivery system based on its enterprise-class Chorus software. (press release)
Univision Launches Video App for BlackBerry Users; the application will be the first to give BlackBerry users access to Univision’s TV programs. (press release)

ABC Threatens to Pull the Plug on Cablevision

Another day, another broadcaster headed for a showdown with the local cable company over retransmission fees. This time it’s Disney’s (s DIS) WABC-7 in New York, which is threatening to yank its signal from Cablevision’s (s CVC) pay-TV service. Like many battles that have come before it, this one will likely end in a last-minute compromise — but if not, TV viewers in the Greater New York City area may be forced to hook up antennas for over-the-air access or (*gasp*) miss the Oscars.
ABC has given Cablevision until midnight on March 7 to negotiate a retrans agreement or risk losing its broadcast programming, which includes popular TV shows like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, as well as live events like this weekend’s Academy Awards broadcast.
Both sides have set up web sites and plan to launch TV, radio and print ads to help “educate” consumers about where they stand on the issues — namely, who gets paid and how much. On its web site, www.saveabc7.com, ABC complains that Cablevision charges consumers $18 for its basic broadcast tier of TV stations, but then doesn’t pass any of that money on to the broadcaster. Meanwhile, Cablevision says Disney is seeking $40 million to continue airing its ABC broadcasts to cable subscribers, which it equates to a 20 percent “tax” on top of the $200 million it already pays for Disney programming.
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Inside the If I Can Dream House: 5 Aspiring Dreamers, 3 CDNs, 56 H.264 Cameras

Exterior of the house, with product placement by Ford.


Behind a tall, white gate on a quiet Beverly Hills cul-de-sac, a private mansion is about to become anything but. Starting tomorrow, when the live-streaming of 19 Entertainment’s If I Can Dream begins on Hulu, 56 cameras will be broadcasting the adventures of five attractive young people living together and pursuing their dreams of fame and fortune, 24/7.
Not only is the house itself is an interior decorator’s fantasy, it’s a camera-ready one. During today’s press event, I was shown around the house by cast member Giglianne, who’s joining the show to pursue her goal of becoming a high-fashion model. She’s a little shorter than the typical high-fashion model, but her dreams make up for that.
While the cameras are prominent and everywhere, according to Giglianne there are areas of the house that aren’t visible to the public eye. However, they can’t take advantage of those areas unless at least two other cast members are still on camera in the house. This also means that they all can’t leave the house at the same time to attend events or meetings, which might lead to some interesting conflict down the line. In addition, when they leave the house to attend a class or workshop or event, they’ll be accompanied by a camera crew — footage from which may be included in the half-hour weekly episodes (though it will not be live-streamed). Read More about Inside the If I Can Dream House: 5 Aspiring Dreamers, 3 CDNs, 56 H.264 Cameras