Netflix Adds CBS and Disney to Watch Now Service

netflix watch nowIn the movies, “if you build it they will come.” In reality, customer acquisition isn’t so easy. You’ve got to build your theater (or stadium) before you can fill the seats with customers.  Then you have to let your customers know there’s a show to see.  Once they’re aware, you need to make sure you give them something good enough to get them to come and keep coming back.  Slowly but surely, Netflix is working through this process with digital delivery.

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Gaming Gold: Trion World Network Raises $70m

trion-financing-c.jpgBe it a bubble or a breakthrough, investors are sure loving games. Not two weeks ago, Seattle based Big Fish Games, a maker of downloadable games, drew down an $83m round; a number likely big enough to put them on the podium for the largest gaming venture financing of all time.  Today, Redwood City, CA based Trion World Network, a “server based” game developer and publishing platform company, turned in a medal worthy performance of their own.

In a series C round, Trion raised $70m. 

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Musical Experiments: Meet Slot Music

slot musicEfforts by the major music labels to find new revenue sources that will replace eroding CD sales often have the feeling of things being thrown at the wall to see what sticks.  Today, the Big 4 (Sony BMG, Universal, Vivendi and Warner Music Group) threw a flash memory card with a little help from a hardware maker.

SanDisk, the world’s leading supplier of flash memory cards announced the new initiative to sell the tiny memory chips preloaded with full albums of MP3 music.  Plug the card into your MP3 capable phone, or portable player and it’s ready to go.  It’s near instantly accessible tunes in the palm of your hand. 

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Joost in the Browser: Relevant or Redundant

joost beta 2On September 5th reports circulated the IPTV startup Joost was preparing to abandon their application-based delivery mechanism in favor a new, more accessible browser based solution.  The new launch was promised shortly.  Today, it arrived.

At the Joost website, the company began serving a browser based solution to stream its collected library of licensed video content.  The launch was characterized as “soft” meaning the company is not promoting it and is using it as a live beta test to work out bugs.

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Venture Wrap Up: Challenge Games and WEBook

fundedFrom the venture wires, two startups closed new financings this week: Austin, Texas based game company, Challenge Games, and Bethesda, Maryland based online book publishing community WEbook.

Challenge Games
Based in Austin, Challenge Games was founded in 2006 with the aim of building short-form (playable in short term increments) multiplayer games.  To date, the company has launched two free browser based games: Duels (released Aug. 07) and Baseball Boss (released July ’08). 

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By the Numbers: Video Games, DVD erosion and Smartphones

stats imageAre video games the MTV of a new generation? Are DVD’s really on the road to becoming obsolete? Are smartphones being accepted as fast as the hype suggests?   New research from NPD Group and the Pew Foundation sheds a little light on each of these questions.   This edition of the Metue “By the Numbers Report” recaps some of their findings

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Best Buy Opens Napsters Third Act

napster best buy

It would probably be entirely reasonable if all the financial news published on Monday focused solely on the banking world: the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch, the ongoing saga of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Books will be written about these events.  Analysts and academics will probe the “why’s” and “where’s” of what happened and try to lay out a map of how to avoid repetition.  Policy makers may even push legislation to prevent recurrence (as was the case with Sarbanes-Oxley following the scandals at Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, Worldcom and others). 

Compared to these big headlines, the rest of Monday’s business news was small to the point of seeming irrelevance, still there was plenty going on of merit within other markets.  As one analyst’s comments suggested, the collapse of Lehman Brothers doesn’t stop Microsoft from selling software or consumers from shopping at Wal-mart.  Life, and business, will adjust and move forward.

One piece of interesting news in the media, entertainment and technology sector was an announcement by retail giant, Best Buy, that they were purchasing digital music service Napster (press release). Comparatively tiny, in scale and scope, the news could be more significant that it might otherwise appear.  

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