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Monday, January 22, 2007

Three from the NY Times: Sundance, Veoh, and High-def Porn

- David Carr of the NY Times writes about filmmaker M dot Strange (aka Michael Belmont), who cultivated a fan base on YouTube prior to coming to Sundance with his movie `We are the Strange.' (Here's the YouTube trailer.)

- Michael Eisner is betting that Net viewers are hungry to watch celebs online, not just unknown teens rambling in front of their bedroom Webcams. Eisner is an investor in the video service Veoh, and has just engineered a deal, according to the Times, to bring celeb content from US Weekly onto Veoh. Maria Aspan writes:

    The partnership follows the success of celebrity-focused Web sites like TMZ.com, as well as the YouTube phenomenon and the popularity of user-generated content. Veoh remains a very small participant in the market, with 500,000 unique visitors in August, according to Nielsen/NetRatings (although the company says the figure should actually be four million).

    Us Weekly, which had circulation of 1.8 million in August, already has a built-in audience. (Usmagazine.com had almost a million unique users in December, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, and 1.8 million, according to Wenner.)


- Finally, the Times covers pornography in high-def. (Most actresses in the industry don't seem to appreciate the technological progress... and some are even reportedly having more surgery to conceal flaws that they think will show up in high-def imagery.) Matt Richtel writes:

    The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers.

    The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.

    The movie makers assert that it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread.

    “When you’re introducing a new format, it would seem like the adult guys can help,” said Steven Hirsch, co-chief executive officer of Vivid Entertainment Group, a big player in the industry. Mr. Hirsch added that high definition, regardless of format, “is the future.”

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