Monday, January 24, 2011

Fern Siegel, January 24, 2011, 11:52 PM
  • NBC's Greenbatt OKs 4 PilotsVariety

    Bob Greenblatt is off to a fast start at the Peacock, ordering four pilots and shifting the network's commitments on two other high-profile projects. The newly appointed NBC Entertainment chairman's early picks include a fresh spin on "Wonder Woman" from David E. Kelley and an ambitious tuner from Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron called "Smash" about people putting together a Broadway musical. He also ordered an hourlong project from Michael Patrick King, "A Mann's World," and a laffer from "Will and Grace" alum Jhoni Marchinko.

    At the same time, NBC has backed away from its commitment to a WBTV drama project from Josh Schwartz, and it has rolled a pilot commitment to J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot banner into next year's development cycle. Read the whole story...

  • AT&T Rebrands VOD Service 'U-verse Movies'Multichannel News

    AT&T has relabeled its transactional video-on-demand service U-verse Movies, emphasizing the availability of new releases to fight rental competitors Netflix and Redbox. The telco, which previously marketed the service as U-verse On Demand, is touting that it offers titles up to 28 days before Netflix and that customers can watch many titles on TV, as well as online, on mobile devices and using a Microsoft Xbox 360.

    AT&T's U-verse Movies campaign kicked off Jan. 5 and will continue through the rest of the first quarter of 2011. Promotions include TV spots, direct mail, print and radio in certain markets. "We're focused on our member base, but we're also looking to play up these advantages for customer acquisition," he said.

    DirecTV and Blockbuster also have marketing strategies taking aim at Netflix's 28-day delay on new releases with several studios. Read the whole story...

  • 'New York Times' Readies Pay WallThe Wall Street Journal

    The New York Times is preparing to introduce multiple subscription packages for access to the paper's Web site and other digital content, kicking off the biggest test to date of consumers' willingness to pay for news they're accustomed to getting free. Online readers of the Times would get free access to a certain number of pages before being asked to pay.

    Under the new system, expected to be rolled out next month, the Times will sell an Internet-only subscription for unlimited access to its site, as well as a broader digital package that bundles the Times online with its application on the iPad. Subscribers to the print edition of the paper will get full online privileges at no additional cost, Times executives have said. The paper has considered charging around $20 a month for the digital bundle and less than half that for the Web-only offering. Executives have said that only about 15% of the paper's online readers are "heavy users," meaning the vast majority probably won't trigger a payment requirement. Read the whole story...

  • TeleFutura Debuts VOD ChannelTVNewsCheck

    Spanish-language network TeleFutura has launched TeleFutura On Demand with most U.S. distributors. The new VOD channel allows fans 24/7 access to their favorite programs, including primetime novelas available within 24 hours after linear air.

    New programming is being made available to viewers on a daily basis. Initial programs offered include India, Escandalo TV (Showbiz TV), Así es la Vida (That's Life), Delicioso and Cine de las Estrellas (All-Star Movies). In early 2009, Univision launched a VOD platform with an extensive library of Spanish-language content. It featured sports, news, movies and entertainment from Univision, TeleFutura and Galavisión. Read the whole story...

  • Foursquare Valued At $250 Million+Bloomberg

    Foursquare Labs, the wireless service that lets users broadcast their whereabouts to friends, is valued at more than $250 million and will probably hold another round of financing later this year. The service, with more than 6 million users, "pulls in some revenue from big brands," although it's not yet interested in offering shares to the public, co-founder Naveen Selvadurai said.

    Foursquare, which Selvadurai said will probably have 10 million users by June, faces increasing competition from location-based services now offered by social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Foursquare expects to profit by forming more partnership with local businesses and offering more recommendations, including places to have dinner or grab a drink after a music concert or show. Read the whole story...