Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Myspace — Yes, Myspace — Says It’s Going to Sell You Web TV

Lots of folks are waiting for Google, or Apple, or Verizon or someone to offer a Web video subscription service that would rival cable TV.

None of those guys have announced their plans for that, yet. But Myspace has: It says it will offer an “over the top” service in the first half of this year.

Wait. Myspace?

Right, Myspace: The once-hot, then very un-hot social network that News Corp. (which also owns this Web site) sold for a bag of chips last year. Its new owners, Specific Media, have made general murmurs about reviving the site, but other than rounding up an endorsement from Justin Timberlake, they haven’t spelled out what they’re doing.

So here’s the idea: Offer a full suite of TV programming — the same stuff you’re paying for via cable or satellite, and sell that bundled up with all sorts of cool interactive goodies. Pricing? TBD.

So that’s a plan, at least. No idea if it’s going to be a reality. Specific CEO Tim Vanderhook says he’s talking to TV programmers about the deals he’ll need to launch the service, but doesn’t have them yet and won’t go into details. And bear in mind that the Consumer Electronics Show, where Specific/Myspace is making the announcement, is ground zero for vaporware announcements.

If nothing else, though, Specific’s announcement points out how plausible the idea of a Web-based pay TV service now seems to lots of sober people. Many cable programmers are just fine with the idea, as long as: 1) the new services pay full freight, and 2) the new services don’t want to break up their bundles. That is, if you want Viacom’s Comedy Channel, you’re also going to have to get VH1. Etc.

But if you’re ok with that, and if you your money is good, the programmers are happy to take it. In their mind, this is like the ’80s and ’90s, when the satellite guys bought their way into pay TV, or more recently when AT&T and Verizon did: More outlets for them equals more money.

Here’s Specific’s press release, which is quite confusing, because it plays up music and a connection with Panasonic and “social TV” — which is usually a fancy way of saying you watch TV just like you always do, but Tweet about it. And someone will pay us for it, maybe.

But I spoke with Vanderhook earlier, and he insists that the real thrust here is a full package of TV programming, delivered over the Web, to any device with a broadband connection.

I’ll believe it when I see it. But it’s sure fun to speculate about in the meantime.

MYSPACE AND PANASONIC PARTNER TO UNVEIL NEW SOCIAL TV SERVICE

Delivers social experience through over-the-top platform across 2012 Panasonic VIERA Connect-enabled HDTVs

CES 2012 – LAS VEGAS (January 9, 2012) Myspace (www.myspace.com), a leading social entertainment destination that lets artists and fans share and discover content, today announced the launch of Myspace TV, a new service that makes the television experience social. Available on the next generation of Panasonic VIERA Connect™-enabled HDTVs, Myspace TV puts viewers in control by allowing them to discover, share and comment on the programs they’re viewing.

Initial channels on Myspace TV will be music-focused, leveraging Myspace’s unparalleled music rights and leading library of 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs. Myspace TV will expand beyond music, however, to encompass movies, news, sports and reality channels, with a growing lineup of today’s most popular broadcast and on-demand content. Audiences will not only be able to view their favorite television programs, but Myspace TV will also allow them to chat about what they’re viewing while they’re viewing it and invite friends to watch with them virtually. The platform fully integrates social and television in new ways that add a dimension to content discovery and evolve the traditional television experience. A companion app will be available on tablets and smartphones, providing instant sync capabilities for a seamless experience.

“Myspace was the first successful social network because it allowed individuals to share their interests, listen to music, express their creativity and connect around the things they love,” said Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook. “Historically, TV has been a shared experience, as people gathered together to watch their favorite programs. Our belief was that we could enhance the TV experience by increasing viewers’ ability to connect to both content and each other. By partnering with Panasonic, we’re bringing together the content that people love and a social experience in one service: Myspace TV.”
Myspace co-owner Justin Timberlake added, “We’re ready to take television and entertainment to the next step by upgrading it to the social networking experience. Why text or email your friends to talk about your favorite programs after they’ve aired when you could be sharing the experience with real-time interactivity from anywhere across the globe? As the plot of your favorite drama unfolds, the joke of your favorite SNL character plays, or even the last second shot of your favorite team swishes the net, we’re giving you the opportunity to connect your friends to your moments as they’re actually occurring. This is the evolution of one of our greatest inventions, the television. And, we no longer have to crowd around the same one to experience it together.”

Myspace TV intends to return the diminishing social element of television by connecting viewers around content, simplifying discovery by creating fan communities empowered to comment, rate, chat and invite friends to view programming together in real-time.

Launching in the first half of 2012, Myspace TV’s over-the-top television service will be offered across the Panasonic VIERA Connect platform. VIERA Connect is Panasonic’s connected TV platform, which offers access to Internet-based video-on-demand content and applications, ranging from news and fitness, to social networking and online gaming. VIERA Connect requires no external box or PC1 and is accessed via a single button on the television remote control.

“Year after year, Panasonic’s VIERA Connect Smart VIERA TV platform has continued to expand rapidly but with a singular focus to deliver to our consumers an extremely robust and interactive connected TV experience that can be customized and enjoyed on their large-screen HDTVs,” said Joseph Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Panasonic Corporation of North America. “We are proud to partner with the new Myspace on the debut of Myspace TV on our VIERA Connect Smart TV platform. By partnering with a brand like Myspace on the VIERA Connect Smart TV platform, we’re taking connected TV to a whole new level of engaging, interactive experiences for consumers.”

Myspace is currently inviting a select audience to participate in the beta launch of its TV service through a fully integrated experience on laptop devices. To be considered for invitation, entertainment fans can submit their information at http://www.myspace.com/tv.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work