TiVo wants to be the Google of TV

I’ve talked about this before: the way we watch TV is changing.  I watch some TV shows live (LOST), and I watch some online after they’ve aired (Glee).  I watch other TV shows after they’re no longer on air – either on DVD (Six Feet Under) or streaming through Netflix (Dexter).  Now Netflix allows customers to watch streaming videos through their Wii console, which is much more convenient than hooking up your computer to your TV.  I don’t have a DVR, but I know a lot of people who do and use them to record shows and watch them when it fits into their schedule.

A few weeks ago, as I was driving to work, I heard a story on NPR about TiVo.  You know TiVo.  In fact, if you have a DVR, you might say you TiVo’d something, even if your DVR is not a TiVo.  Well, it turns out that Tivo wants to streamline all of our TV-watching options:

Joe Miller, TiVo’s senior vice president for retail sales and marketing, touts the new box as the “Google of television.” .

Take a popular show like House. Right now, you can watch it live on Fox, record it on your DVR, stream it on your computer or even download it from a service like iTunes. It’s possible to do all this from home if you have the tech savvy, money and patience — plus a bunch of wires and remote controls.

Miller says the new box, dubbed the TiVo Premiere, can do all of that: “Your TiVo would find you House that’s on broadcast, House that’s in syndication, all of the past seasons that might be on Amazon or another service.”

Also, the TiVo Premiere, which starts at $299 plus service charges, will find any House episode that’s on YouTube and let you listen to the soundtrack through a music service. And, Miller says, it will play on your TV with one box, one set of wires and one remote.

It will be interesting to see if TiVo Premiere becomes the phenomenon that the company is hoping for.  And although I like the idea of using just one device to watch online videos and TV, I don’t think I’ll be getting a TiVo Premiere.

(If you’ve read my previous post, In a Flash, you might be interested in reading Steve Jobs’ open letter regarding Adobe Flash.  I don’t know if Adobe has responded, but if it does, I will link to their response here.)

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Using SEO Video to increase traffic to your website

For years, many companies have been using simple keywords as their main Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technique to increase website traffic and their rankings in search engine results.  But there’s been a lot of talk lately about how Google and other search engines are increasing their use of blended media types (articles, pictures, video, & other content) to provide more relevant search results.  The importance of video in those search engine algorithms is helping many websites that have video content increase their traffic and wind up on the first page of those search results.  In fact, according to a recent study by Forrester Research, the use of SEO Video makes you 53 times more likely to end up with a “Page One” ranking on Google.

Right now, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack, because many competing businesses are all using the exact same keywords within traditional SEO.  But adding SEO Video to your website helps set you apart from your competitors and increases your likelihood of being ranked above them in search results.  Posting non-SEO video to your website, or to YouTube, or to a YouTube embedded player on your site is good start, but it won’t necessarily increase the search engine rank results for your website.  In fact, that strategy may actually just create search engine results for YouTube and ultimately send people directly to YouTube instead of your website.

But posting SEO Video to your website is the best scenario of all… Using keywords and key phrases in your video’s file name, the captions, etc. as well as incorporating other traditional SEO techniques along with your video is the best strategy to bring people directly to your website and generate additional traffic.

Also, USAToday.com small business columnist Steven Strauss recently wrote an article citing “research indicates that if you have video on your homepage, up to 80% of your visitors will click that first.”

That’s right:  If it’s an option, 80% of your visitors will be drawn directly to the video on your website as the first thing they want to click on.  So if you plan to add video to your website in 2010, you want to make sure that 80% of your visitors are seeing a high quality, professionally produced video that accurately portrays the message of your business, organization, etc.  Of course, that’s one of the most important things to remember as you develop your ideas for incorporating video into your website.

Mac Chorlton

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch!”

For me, part of getting into the Christmas spirit involves watching the animated Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I remember, as a kid, lying on our living room floor surrounded by my sister, brother, and parents as we all watched.  As an adult, I usually miss it when it airs on TV, but I make sure I take the time to revisit it sometime before Christmas.

With the incredible computer-generated animation by the likes of Pixar, the hand-drawn animation of The Grinch seems so boring.  So flat.  Why, then, do we return to it year after year?  How does this short video gain a new audience with each generation?  It’s because Dr. Seuss knew how to write a good story.  The story draws us in.  And that’s true of all good videos.

At Tweedee Productions, we are storytellers.  What story do you want to tell?

TV Online on TV

Amy's looking for something good to watch

I don’t know about you, but I find myself watching more and more TV on my computer.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m a big fan of Glee.  However, I am usually not home when it airs.  And even if I were, I couldn’t watch it because we don’t get FOX.  (We don’t have cable or satellite TV, and FOX’s over-the-air signal doesn’t get to us, for some reason.)  In order to get my Glee fix, I have to watch it online.

Last week, CSI did a trilogy that started on CSI: Miami, continued on CSI: NY, and concluded on CSI.  I was intrigued and wanted to check it out.  But I knew I wasn’t going to be home to see all of them.  So what did I do?  I watched them online.

My husband also wanted to watch these shows, and watching them on one of our laptops is far from ideal.  Fortunately, we are able to connect a laptop to our television, allowing us to watch the online episodes on our TV.  It’s not a perfect situation, but it beats watching them on a 15″ laptop screen.

And in the past year, online video quality has improved.  Last week, YouTube announced that it would have videos in full HD 1080p.  A lot of the networks already post their shows in HD.

On my way home last night, I heard a story on NPR about watching TV on your computer on your TV.  They talked about how easy it is to hook up your computer to your television, and they also talked about some products that can be a permanent addition to your entertainment system.  It was good timing, because I knew I’d be watching the final installment of the CSI trilogy later in the evening.

But it also got me thinking about the increasing importance of the quality of online videos.  As more and more people watch videos online and as more and more people watch those online videos on their televisions, the videos need to look good.  That starts with the format used in the shooting of the video and ends with how the video is encoded for the web.  That sounds very technical, I know, and it can be easily overwhelming.  When clients come to Tweedee Productions, we start by asking them what the video is going to be used for, how it’s going to be used, and where it’s going to be viewed, and with that information, we can make sure the finished product will look great, no matter where it’s viewed.

The Blog Police

When you read a blog post with a glowing review about a certain product or service, do you ever wonder if the blogger who posted that was getting paid by someone to provide that glowing review?  Well, that problem has actually become an epidemic on the web and it’s gotten so bad that the federal government has stepped in to provide some oversight.  When you’re on-line, it’s often very difficult to determine if the content (blogs, customer reviews, etc.) you are seeing is a paid endorsement or an independent review.  So the FTC recently announced that bloggers who receive compensation must disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties.  The changes are aimed at de-blurring the line between editorial and advertising on blogs, social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter), etc.

A study by Nielsen Online showed 78 percent of online users view recommendations from other consumers as trustworthy so the concept of policing pay-for-play bloggers sounds like a good idea.  But  the devil is in the details and this new regulation could create a myriad of problems.  For example, in previous blog posts, I’ve talked about videos we’ve produced for several different companies who have paid us to produce those videos.  But I’ve also referenced other videos that we have not produced.  So would future posts like that put me in jeopardy of being fined by the FTC if I don’t make that paid-or-not-paid distinction for every video I reference?  You can probably see how this problem would translate to any company, group, or organization that provides a blog or editorial content on social media sites.

As a production company, we are always creating videos that help a business or organization tell their story, connect with their customers or members, and market their services or sell their products.  In a previous Tweedee blog post, my colleague Steve Donovan provided links to six different videos to show further examples of what he was talking about that week.  Those videos were a collection of movie trailers and other videos that Steve produced himself.  So if Steve or I mention videos or provide links to videos in a blog posting to enhance our message, do we really need to distinguish for each and every one whether or not we were paid to produced that content?

It has been 30 years since the FTC revised its policy on endorsements so this new regulation is probably long overdue since these types of pay-for-play endorsements have become a rampant force in the internet world for shaping consumer decisions.  Of course, this new regulation will be very hard to enforce due to the overwhelming number of blogs, podcasts, social media outlets, etc. out there on the World Wide Web and we could have a Pandora’s Box on our hands.  It seems to make sense that a blogger should not be able to promote themselves as an independent reviewer providing their opinion as opposed to what they really are:  A paid spokesperson.  So this new ruling will hopefully provide some transparency among these pay-for-play folks.  But once again, monitoring and enforcing these new regulations seem like a real nightmare.

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

Glee!

Have you heard of the Fox show Glee?  It’s my new favorite!  Sure, it’s cheesy, what with the singing and dancing and earnestness of the characters.  But it is also entertaining, funny, and heartfelt.

I’ve told several people in the past week about this show.  And I’ve said pretty much what I just wrote.  Glee offers an hour of escape from reality TV, crime procedurals, and the news.  It is an example of successful counter-programming.  As cited on Wikipedia, “Mary McNamara for the Los Angeles Times wrote that the show had a wide audience appeal, calling it: ‘the first show in a long time that’s just plain full-throttle, no-guilty-pleasure-rationalizations-necessary fun’.”

Glee doesn’t rely just on the quality of the show.  When the pilot aired after American Idol, people on social media sites spread the word. “Glee was the top ranked topic on social networking site Twitter on the night of its initial airing.”  And there is an official Facebook page where behind-the-scenes videos and photos are posted as well as sneak peeks of upcoming episodes.  On the official Fox site, you can watch full episodes and “Behind the Glee” videos about each episode.

So even a big company like Fox, with deep pockets, uses social media and online videos in addition to broadcast television to market its products.  All these marketing outlets can be a lot to keep up with, but there are products, like Shoutlet, that make keeping up easy.  Tweedee Productions recently used Shoutlet and StreamPilot to help us get the word out about our latest sitcom newsletter.  Check it out!

Glee is so funny!

Glee is so funny!

How do people discover video online?

Blogs are actually one of the most popular ways to discover video on the web.  In fact, a recent study by TubeMogul found that 44% of all online video is viewed after initially being discovered through a blog.  The study also found that 45% of video views are the result of a direct navigation to a video site (i.e. going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos).  So really, unless someone is specifically looking for your particular video, or a specific video category, then one of the best ways to get exposure for your video is to get coverage in the blogosphere.

A video interview with David Burch from TubeMogul further explains the results of the study (Hey I just provided a link to online video in my own blog.  How ’bout that!!!).

But basically, the study shows that blogs are the biggest referrer of on-line video views.  So if I include a link in this blog to our recent video of the baby falcons nesting in the Madison Gas & Electric generating station then more people are likely to see that video.

Or if I blog about the video we produced for the innovative FlameDisk product as an alternative to traditional charcoal then that video should also get more exposure.

Come to think of it, if I blog about the video we created for Thrive that promotes the incredible regional advantages making the Greater Madison area a great location for business and pleasure, then the video should be seen by more people.

Then again, maybe I should blog about the public service announcement we created to help educate the public about the new simplified method of compression-only CPR so more people can learn about this new procedure.

Hmmm… Maybe there’s something too this blog thing.  Hopefully, it will catch on someday.

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

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