The International Academy of Web Television has announced nominees for the inaugural IAWTV awards, with Felicia Day's "The Guild" and drama series "RCVR" topping the list.
"RCVR" racked up a dozen nominations. The show focuses on covert government agents that try to suppress the truth about extraterrestrial encounters and hunt humans selected by an alien species to act as channels for advanced technologies. "The Guild," a long-running Web series that is arguably the field's most popular, picked up nine nominations.
The awards will be presented in Las Vegas on Jan. 12, alongside the Consumer Electronics Show.
A full list of the nominees can be found after the break.
The launch window has been a rocky one for Activision's Call of Duty Elite, but even with a few bugs remaining, the publisher is ready to start ramping things up.
This Friday, members of the subscription service will get the chance to see the first installment of Friday Night Fights, an original entertainment series that's produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott's RSA Films.
The show will let rivals settle their differences in multiplayer battles of "Modern Warfare 3," with the first episode pitting teams from the U.S. Army vs. U.S. Navy.
"From the beginning, our goal with Call of Duty Elite has been to bring the Call of Duty community together in new ways," says Eric Hirshberg, CEO, Activision Publishing.
"Fans of Call of Duty spend as much time playing the game, as sports fans spend following their favorite teams—if not more. So we figured, if sports fans get all kinds of shows outside of the games to feed their passion, why not do the same thing for Call of Duty fans?"
The show will premiere at noon and be available for replay via streaming.
With Steve Jobs first dropping hints about Apple's plans for a branded TV set in his conversations with biographer Walter Isaacson, others are a bit more comfortable discussing it now.
The latest to reveal details was CBS CEO Les Moonves in an earnings conference call this week.
Asked about the network's interest in striking deals with new streaming providers – particularly those where there's no upfront money - Moonves said "We - frankly, we don't believe in them...We've even been against joining Apple TV, which was an advertiser split."
The network instead prefers unfront licensing deals to syndicate its content and has struck bargains with Netflix and Amazon this year for catalog content.
Of course, since Moonves didn't delve deep into what he meant by Apple TV. He could have been referring to the company's existing set-top box, which toyed with renting episodes for a year – though that program was not set up as an ad split, which has raised speculation he had something else in mind.
Few, if any, in the Hollywood community have embraced the Web as passionately as Felicia Day.
Now, with the fifth season of her comedic web-series "The Guild" in her pocket, Day has weighed anchor on a new project, a six-part Web series tying in with Electronic Arts hit video game franchise "Dragon Age" – and it looks like she may have another hit on her hands.
"Dragon Age: Redemption" (embedded below) was written and conceived by Day, who's a big fan of the series (which is made by EA division BioWare, one of the most respected studios in the industry). EA owns the intellectual property, but gave the actress free reign on where the story goes.
Day also stars in the nine-minute episode as Tallis, an Elvish assassin. She recreated the role for a downloadable add-on for the game that also releases today.
"I believe this is the first time a project has taken a character from a web series into a video game as a playable character," she wrote on her blog. "As a big Dragon Age fan I am thrilled to be able to use their epic fantasy universe to tell a story I created, and then live IN their universe as the character. "
Part of what makes Day unique is her active online marketing of her work. Beyond discussing Redemption via her always active Twitter feed, Day is also utilizing a feature on Google+ known as Hangouts – group video chats about various topics. Day spent Tuesday visiting as many Hangouts as she could in a three-hour window, answering questions about the show and posing for pictures for fans.
It's an interactive and intimate promotional plan that could easily help the Redemption series go even more viral – and is part of the reason the actress has become a darling among the online community.
Microsoft, which tried unsuccessfully to acquire Yahoo in 2008, is thinking about making another run at the company. This time, though, a merger of the two companies could impact the entertainment landscape.
To be clear: There's no offer at this point and there's apparently a lot of internal debate about whether to make one at Microsoft headquarters these days. And, technically, Yahoo hasn't announced it's for sale – though it has been talking quietly with potential bidders.
Reuters, which initially reported Microsoft's renewed interest in Yahoo!, notes other bidders for the company include Providence Equity Partners, Hellman & Friedman and Silver Lake Partners, as well as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Russian technology investment firm DST Global.
Were Microsoft and Yahoo to come together, though, things are notably different than they were three years ago. Yahoo has invested heavily in original content in that time. Just this week, in fact, the company unveiled plans for eight new Web-based shows targeted at women. That will bring the count up to 26.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has been focusing on distributing content, especially through its Xbox 360 console. (Earlier today, the company announced its lineup of 40 programming partners to stream live TV and VOD programs through the system.)
Yahoo's original content might help the Xbox broaden its appeal to women and give it a leg up in original content for the Xbox, an area Sony has been exploring on the PlayStation 3 with reality fare such as The Tester.
Cambio isn't a household name amongst most adults, but your tween may be familiar with it. Now AOL's interactive entertainment site is hoping to boost its Q factor with some high profile partnerships and a warchest earmarked for original programming.
The site re-launched today, announcing partnerships with several industry heavyweights including Mark Burnett, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Dolphin Digital Media. And while the Burnett relationship might turn the most heads, it's the Dolphin Digital one that could have the biggest impact.
The company and Cambio have launched an exclusive content deal, which will result in 4-6 scripted Webisodic content programs per year, with an annual budget of $10-$12 million.
In the meantime, Burnett (best known as the creator of reality fare like Survivor and The Apprentice) will switch gears to develop a series of comedic video shorts based on CliffsNotes Literature Guides. "Charlie's Angels" director McG will exec. produce the first Dolphin Digital contribution, entitled "Aim High," a six-episode series about a high school student who's a spy on the side.
Cambio's traffic has been falling precipitously over the past year- losing more than half of its monthly visitors - but execs hope the infusion of talent and cash will help right the ship.
"With Dolphin Digital Media, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Mark Burnett's stellar reputations in providing quality entertainment content, we believe they'll help catapult us to become the eminent destination for teens and young adults," said Nathan Coyle, General Manager of Cambio and former digital media agent at Creative Artists Agency.
Looks like Dish Network could be looking to tackle Netflix on its own turf – and it's bringing a surprise player to the game.
Bloomberg reports the satellite service plans to offer a standalone subscription streaming service that will capitalize on the Blockbuster brand. And, to rub salt in Netflix's wounds: It might include titles from Starz.
The service could launch as early as next month, according to Bloomberg. Pricing has yet to be set, though it could be offered in conjuction with Blockbuster's DVD by mail and in-store rentals. That would likely be meant to capitalize on Netflix's recent price hike and separation of those services.
Starz, of course, said it had halted negotiations about renewing the online streaming deal with Netflix yesterday. Some analysts, including Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter, believe that was a negotiating ploy, meant to coincide with the price hike that went into effect yesterday and feel the two companies will reach a compromise before the current deal expires in February.
If they don't, however, and if the Bloomberg report is correct, it could propel Blockbuster into a much more viable competitor in the space.
The king of retail is launching a new digital service just as it throws in the towel on another.
Wal-Mart has brought its Vudu movie streaming service to the iPad in a move to expand its distribution. But as it dives deeper into video, the company has announce plans to shut down its MP3 download service by the end of the month.
It is, in many ways, a decision by the company to change battlefronts. The MP3 store was never a real competitor to Apple's iTunes product – and after eight years of trying to make a mark, the company is cutting its losses. (The increased footprint of Amazon in the digital music space didn't help matters, either.)
Even a price war, Wal-Mart's usual strength, didn't help – as 88 cents (the Wal-Mart price) vs. 99 cents on other services wasn't enough to steer consumers.
Vudu, meanwhile, is pushing hard to take a piece of the Netflix pie. Starting tomorrow, iPad owners can forego the App store and access streaming movies from the division directly from their browsers.
It's a unique strategy, but a risky one. Consumers have been trained to download apps and don't mind doing so. Browser-based streaming may not require constant updates, but it will also rob the company of an icon on the iPad's main screen – often the best reminder that the option is available to users.
When select TV manufacturers announced plans to include a Netflix button on their remote controls, it raised a few eyebrows, but wasn't exactly shocking, given the company's dominance in the streaming video space.
Now Vudu is getting the same treatment – and this time, people are shocked.
Vizio is leading the charge, announcing plans to add a Vudu button to its remotes for selected HDTVs, media players and Blu-ray players. Like the Netflix button, this will instantly launch the streaming site for users.
Wal-Mart owned Vudu obviously has the retail power behind it, but it also has a substantial film library, with more than 20,000 titles available to rent or purchase. While the service hasn't quite struggled, this is one of its biggest steps to achieving wider success – and perhaps be a viable threat to the Netflix model.
There's no word on exactly when the button will be added to the remotes.
Roughly three weeks after offering "The Dark Knight" for streaming via the social network, the studio has added five more films – including a trio of recent releases.
“Inception,” “Life as We Know It” and “Yogi Bear” are all available immediately, each carrying a $4 price tag. That's a buck higher than the catalog content the studio offers, which (in addition to "The Dark Knight") now includes “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets".
Warner's being selective with its rollouts, relying on the popularity of films with the Facebook audience guide its choices. Execs say the fan pages for Harry Potter and "Inception" are "two of the most popular and active communities on the site."
As with the first Facebook offering, Buyers will be able to watch the film through their Facebook account for up to 48 hours from purchase and pay with Facebook credits, rather than directly via a credit card.
Films can be viewed in full-screen and watched in segments (with the film resuming where left off the next time user log in). Users can also use other Facebook features while watching the film, such as posting comments or status updates.
Chris Morris reports on the the intersection of Hollywood and technology, as well as the latest must-have consumer technology gadgets.
Tips and feedback are encouraged at chris.r.morris-at-gmail-com