The San Francisco-based startup launched in 2012 and, as of June 2013, has raised $83 million from Andreesson Herowitz, Founders Fund, Mayfield Fund, K9 Ventures and Floodgate.
For the purposes of full-disclosure: I was recently hired by Lyft as a mentor in the State College, Pennsylvania market.
In ZimediaumPodcast 1 we discuss: New Facebook News Feed Coming March 7, Amazon Instant Video scores deal with Scripps Networks, Netflix House of Cards – Most-watched program on Netflix since launch, YouTube and Netflix eligible for Emmys, Yahoo changing work-from-home policy, Andrew Mason out at Groupon.
Some early Internet TV predictions and Trends to Watch in 2013.
1. Cloud Takes Off – Movies in the cloud in 2K13
2. Direct Access is King– Skipping the middle man
example: Louis CK, selling his special online and later tickets to his show
3. Original Programming for Web TV
example: Hulu’s Booth at the End. Netflix Lillyhammer, YouTube original programming, etc
4. HBO Breaks from Cable
example: First sign was HBO offering free premieres of Newsroom, Girls and Veep…. Later, deal with Hulu in Japan…consumers are pushing for it at takemymoneyHBO.com
5. Internet TV viewing surpasses cable and satellite
example: in June, Netflix subscribers watched 1 billion hours of video…more than cable, the first time web video surpassed cable. This will become the norm in 2013.
Editor’s Note: Eric Zimmett is a tech writer and small business consultant who works at StateCollege.com assisting businesses with how to navigate today’s difficult marketing and advertising landscape.
In his inaugural tech column for StateCollege.com, Eric Zimmett gives you five things small business owners should be doing. His “Tech Talk” column appears biweekly on StateCollege.com.
5. Social Media
Social Media is a great space to interact with customers on a variety of fun, engaging platforms.
Use social media as a conversation with your customers – to strengthen existing relationships, build new ones and give a little taste of your personality as a business owner.
Today, your customers will expect you to be using social media. Participate: launch a Facebook Page; use Twitter, Foursquare or Pinterest. Engage and interact with your audience.
Facebook is an excellent hub for conversations, news, comments, contests and photos. Facebook also offers a small-business advertising program. A good Facebook Page requires quality content and regular frequency. Update your Facebook Page every day and respond to comments and questions promptly.
Facebook rolled out its new Timeline layout to all brand pages Friday. Read more about the new brand pages at facebook.com/about/pages. Not on Facebook Pages? Get started at facebook.com/pages/create.php
Twitter announced last week, on its sixth birthday, that it has reached 140 million users (in tune with its 140-character limit). The micro-blogging platform serves as a way to alert followers of news, specials, changes or insight into the company.
Foursquare is a mobile application that rewards customers for visiting your business. Reward check-ins with a special discount or offer. Or award your most frequent customer – which Foursquare dubs Mayor – with the highest prize.
Foursquare requires minimal effort to keep going. Unlike Facebook Pages and Twitter profiles, Foursquare is user-generated. Users check-in on their own. Users unlock specials that you’ve created and compete with friends on their Leaderboard.
Is your business already on there? Claim your venue at foursquare.com/business.
Pinterest is a pin-board for interests. Launched just two years ago the site has already eclipsed 11 million users, according to a January report by comScore, becoming the fastest site in history to reach the 10-million mark. Businesses have found recent success on Pinterest by interacting with users and sharing company photos and/or products. The best part of Pinterest is the ease of sending visitors from a Pin to your website or product page, especially when it comes to e-commerce.
A blog is a great way to share your expertise in your field, to brand yourself as an expert.
It’s also a great way to stay on top of trends, new information and be connected with your industry. Start a blog and stick to a regular schedule to keep your posts fresh and relevant.
Three leading blog services are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
Keep your content focused. Don’t sell your business on your blog; that will happen organically after you’ve branded yourself as an expert in your industry.
The best part about YouTube – other than those funny cat videos – is that you can build your own online TV network free of charge.
Build a YouTube Channel and either link to videos in your industry (Informational Videos or How-To videos) or record them yourself. Creating the videos on your own allows the viewer to get to know your business.
A new feature introduced last week by YouTube allows for simplified video editing, making it even easier to get started with your own channel.
2. Get on the Street
Slow business day? Well don’t just sit there, hit the streets! Talk with your customers one-on-one. Offer samples, coupons, or ask questions. What better a way to get customer feedback than talking directly to them? Thinking of implementing a new menu item? Or changing your store layout? Ask people on the street. Some won’t want to talk to you. Focus on the ones who do.
Put your face in front of the business. Then your customers aren’t just shopping at the store on the corner, they’re shopping at your store on the corner: Bill’s office supplies, John’s book store, Wendy’s coffee shop. They’ll connect with your business on a more personal level.
Advertising isn’t just for national brands. Local businesses need it more than anyone. It isn’t enough to just open your doors and hope people come in. Advertising builds companies. It informs, sometimes entertains, and reminds customers that you’re there, and that you have the products they want and the expertise to service them.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to generate word-of-mouth. It’s called advertising. When you advertise your business, and advertise the same message often enough, you’re using word-of-mouth to build buzz about your business.
Search-engine marketing is an online super-highway where you can connect with customers who are searching for your products and/or services. Make sure your website is well optimized and contains information – skip on the fluff – that best portrays your business.
If you don’t know how to build an effective website or make it search-engine friendly, find someone who does. Being visible when customers are searching for you is an important step in acquiring new customers.
What are you waiting for?!
So get out there and talk with your customers; whether it’s in person, in the ads or on your blog. Be friendly. Be yourself. Have fun. Interaction is key. Show people how much you love your business. Because if you do it well enough, they will too.
See this original column on StateCollege.com.
Photo by Flickr user anniemole
Swapping pay-TV for Internet streaming services like Netflix is the latest trend for tech savvy consumers looking to cut rising cable costs in a tough economy. But for those new to Internet TV with little or no knowledge of the streaming landscape, things might look a little confusing.
That’s why most haven’t taken the leap. Too many options. And no clear way to get started. What are the best services? Is Netflix the only option? How do I get the content to my TV? How many TVs can I connect it to? Does the video content get old? How often do they add new content?
For all of those questions and more, I’m happy to introduce the first edition of Getting Started. Getting Started with Internet TV.
What you’ll need:
1. A streaming service.
Netflix is the top dog in on-demand movies for $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming (and no DVDs by mail). Netflix is also rapidly increasing the number of television shows on its roster and has even signed a deal to bring House of Cards exclusively to Netflix, beating out other bids from HBO and others.
Hulu Plus is to TV shows what Netflix is to movies. Hulu Plus is also $7.99 per month. Beyond Netflix and Hulu Plus, the competition drops off. Among the next tier of performers is Amazon Instant Video ($79/year) that also includes free two-day shipping on Amazon.com; Ustream (free); Crackle (free), PlayOn ($5 per month); among others. Most subscriptions are month-by-month and can be canceled at any time.
Once you’ve selected which service you’ll use, go to the website and sign up online. Most services offer a trial period of either one week or one month. Once you’ve signed up, just jot down your username and password. We’ll need that later when we connect it to your TV.
2. High-speed Internet.
At least 3 megabits per second (abbreviated 3 Mbps). The faster the better. You can connect your device to your TV through an Ethernet cable or wirelessly through your home network. To set up a home network, you’ll need a wireless router. However streaming quality is better if the connection is hard-wired with the Ethernet cable.
3. A streaming device.
Hundreds of available devices are ready to connect your TV to Internet video. Take your pick. Blu-ray players; Video-game systems including Xbox 360; Playstation 3; Nintendo Wii; and streaming boxes like Roku, Boxee, D-Link, WD, Apple TV and hundreds more. Just check the box — or online — to ensure it connects to Netflix, Hulu Plus or other Internet channels.
Everything will be clearly labeled. If it’s not on the box, look online. Just make sure your selected streaming service is available on the device. If we want Netflix, we’re good to go with the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player pictured below.
Most devices connect to at least Netflix and Hulu Plus. Some devices feature different channels, like Ustream or Crackle by Sony. Few channels are exclusive. Some TV sets also come with channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Crackle built-in. As well as Blu-ray players. Purchasing a Blu-ray player that connects to Netflix or Hulu Plus is a great way to bring high-quality Blu-ray content into your home as well as thousands of on-demand offerings.
Hooking it up
A step-by-step guide
1. Connect device to your TV.
HDMI is best but some devices allow RCA connection for older television sets. After the device is hooked up, then it’s as simple as changing the video input like you would for a video-game system or DVD player.
2. Connect to the Internet.
Connect your device using either a wireless network or wired setup using an Ethernet cable. Connecting your device via Ethernet is the quickest way to get set up and also offers the highest quality streaming. Once the cable is connected to both your modem and your Streaming Device you’ll be connected. For a wireless connection, you’ll need to search for the wireless network and sign in.
3. Sign in to your account.
Launch your Streaming Device and select your desired streaming service, i.e. Netflix. Use the username and password you selected when you signed up online.
You’ll need to verify your device with your streaming subscription. You’ll be given a code that you’ll need to enter online to link the device and service. You’ll only need to do this once. It’s used to verify your subscription and link the device to your account.
You’ll be able to use your streaming account on any number of televisions; the subscription is not tied to any single TV. If you’re adding a box to another TV in your house, you’ll use the same login info. You’ll just have to verify each streaming device with your subscription using a new code, supplied when you launch the service for the first time on each TV.
You can also connect multiple accounts to your streaming device, i.e. Netflix and Hulu Plus.
4. Enjoy your content.
The most compelling difference between content on pay-TV and Internet TV is cost-vs-content. With pay-TV, you pay more for additional content; with Internet TV, you get increasingly more content for the same low monthly price. Netflix is signing new deals and bringing new content to its service on a monthly basis. Same goes for Hulu Plus. The rest are playing catch-up. Which is a win for the Internet TV consumer and the competing services. Increased competition will only expand the amount of programming and the quality of content deals.
For more on Internet TV, check out related posts below.
Netflix gets all the hype when it comes to cable-killing Internet video, but Internet superchannel Ustream might be a better model for the next online cable network.
Founded in 2007, Ustream offers an array of shows, both live and recorded, as well as Internet channels from some of our favorite brands and celebrities. The company has offices Los Angeles, Tokyo and Budapest. Ustream Asia launched in 2010.
From CBS and TMZ to more specific interests like Campaign 2012 — or genre-specific channels like TechCrunch or Leo Leporte Live, a technology-focused show by popular tech reporter Leo Leporte of Tech TV fame — Ustream has a channel for every interest.
Ustream offers 12 categories on the dashboard including On Air — happening Live — News, Campaign 2012, Pets & Animals, Entertainment, Sports, Music, Tech, Gaming, Education, Spirituality and More.
Each category lists available channels. The Tech Category for example — one of my favorites — displays featured channels as well as Live channels In the below screenshot you’ll see three featured channels: Leo Leporte Live, Android Central as well as Space Vid Cast. NASA also offers a Ustream channels.
Ustream’s categories and channels are like networks and shows on a typical cable network. In fact, many popular network broadcasts, like the 2011 Emmy Awards, are simulcast on Ustream. After a show broadcasts live on Ustream, content can be archived. Though not all live shows offer this feature.
Users can view the channels live, view recorded programs or click “Join Crowd” which essentially adds the channel to the user’s favorites.
Ustream’s Mission: “to bring people together around shared interests for amazing live, interactive experiences that build and maintain relationships” (Ustream.tv/about).
When streaming on a computer, users can communicate with both the show and other Ustreamers during a live stream. Some televisions are now incorporating a Twitter feed to foster interactivity through social media.
On Ustream, social media interactivity is intrinsic to its design. On pay-TV — not distributed through an Internet connection — social media can seem forced or out of place. Flip on ESPN on DirecTV for five minutes and see how many times they drop “Twitter.” It feels forced almost every time. When video content is distributed via the Internet –whether on a computer or on a television — social media chatter is second nature; it’s a part of the experience. And the possibilities for advertisers are obvious. Purchases and more information are only one click away.
It’s tie-in with social media like Facebook and Twitter also allows for instantaneous updates on what’s streaming Live and what’s upcoming.
Users can get in on the fun, too, as Ustream allows anyone to start an Internet channel and “Go Live!” by broadcasting via webcam. Even Anderson Cooper has a Ustream Channel.
Closing comments & my experience with Ustream
I’m kind of a newbie to Ustream. I first checked it out a year ago and added the channel to my Roku player, where it sat unused. But then last week, I dove right in when I spotted a post on the Facebook Newsfeed concerning F8. Ustream was offering a Live Broadcast complete with commentary from Leo Leporte. F8 is the Facebook Developers Conference, which brings together developers, entrepreneurs and innovators “who are building a more social web.”
Thanks to Ustream’s connectivity, I watched portions of F8 on three different devices. Started on my Droid smartphone, then switched to my TV via Roku, and finished up on my laptop on http:ustream.tv
In less than four years, Ustream has successfully incorporated everything pay-TV is still trying to perfect: content, connectivity — across an array of devices — and completely natural interactivity.