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Today on ESPN: US Open, World Cup 2014, NBA Finals

Today is one of those special days at ESPN: live on our networks and our digital suite of applications you'll find the US Open at Pinehurst, the opening game of the 2014 World Cup (Brazil vs. Croatia) and then Game 4 of the NBA Finals (Spurs at Heat). And that's in addition to a roster of other sporting events, news and happenings. It's a magical sports day and you can follow it all live and live-streamed on ESPN and ESPN apps. Everything will be available on Watch ESPN - which you can access on web, iPhone & iPad, Android phones & tablets, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, and more.

And you can follow along with the SportsCenter App (on iOS and Android) and the new ESPN FC App for World Cup and soccer (on iOS and Android).

You can also listen live via ESPN Radio, which is now available on iTunes Music, and of course via web, iOS, and Android.

It's a fun, unique day to be a sports fan - enjoy!

Schedule: US Open - 9am EST on ESPN, ESPN Radio & Watch ESPN App World Cup - 4pm EST on ESPN, ESPN Radio & Watch ESPN App NBA Finals - 9pm EST on ABC, ESPN Radio & Watch ESPN App SportsCenter - 11pm EST on ESPN & Watch ESPN App


ESPN on Xbox

I wanted to share Xbox's Facebook post from this weekend (see here). If you have an Xbox, checkout ESPN on Xbox (more here). It's a phenomenal experience and merges our scores, alerts, ESPN3, kinect, etc. Terrific experience and excited and Xbox is equally excited & proud of it: "College football is Back! ESPN on Xbox has an all-new look, giving you the best college football has to offer. Check out Washington State at UNLV tonight at 6pm PT, and games all day Saturday, including Idaho at LSU at 5pm PT."

Netflix's Fascinating Cancellation Questionnaire

I love Netflix. - They have revolutionized the way we think about movies and media - They have created a slew of new company ideas and models: "the Netflix for XYZ" - They have defined streaming content and challenged a traditional, massive industry - They should be credited with making new platforms and devices desirable: iPhone, Android, Google TV, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, etc - And they are brilliant marketers with a terrific recurring model ... but after years of being a Netflix subscriber, I recently canceled my account. The reason is very simple: Netflix Instant doesn't have enough depth / inventory. We have watched the handful of documentaries that Netflix has (by far their most impressive category) and I even wrote a semi-popular Quora answer to which Instant movies are best: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Man on Wire, The Modernism of Julius Shulman, The King of Kong, The Universe of Keith Haring, Beer Wars, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Food, Inc., Bigger, Stronger, Faster.

But the catalog hasn't expanded. Meanwhile, Comcast and Redbox have delivered great products / experiences (Redbox is a short-term business - but as a consumer it is absolutely delightful, cheap and easy). The future is clearly the Netflix Instant / streaming model - but it requires a worthy catalog to justify ~$100-$175 / year.

So I canceled my account.... with the hope that I will return as the catalog grows. Good news: Netflix keeps your queue and preferences in tact so that restarting is easy. Maybe they shouldn't do that - but I appreciate it and it certainly helps conversions for re-started memberships.

The most interesting part of the cancellation was the questionnaire (shown below in full). The attention to competition is fascinating: Comcast, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, bit torrents, piracy, etc are all mentioned. Also noteworthy are the answers to the question "why are you canceling?" One answer is "I have an Internet usage cap (or monthly download limit) and using Netflix puts me close to or over the limit." Unfortunately, over the next few years, I worry this will be an increasingly selected answer...

It is absolutely worth browsing the questions and available answers:

Facebook Featured in Xbox's "It's More Fun Time" Commercials

Microsoft clearly understands that the platform element of Xbox is as much a selling point as its game titles: in just the first week of being live, 10% of Microsoft's Xbox Live subscribers connected their accounts to Facebook. The platform represents new online content (such as Netflix) and the ability to make console gaming more social and viral. Furthermore, the association with big brand names like Facebook, Netflix, and Pandora is an effective sales tool that is appealing to all console owners (whereas games and their audiences vary dramatically: Madden Football vs. Call of Duty vs. Little Big Planet).

facebook xbox live

So in Microsoft's most recent Xbox advertising campaign, the 'platform' is a major theme: "more games, more entertainment and more fun" and "plugin to the endless entertainment of Xbox Live".

10% of Xbox Live Users Connected with Facebook in First Week

Last night I posted that over 650 million downloads have occurred on the Playstation Store. Today, a related and significant milestone was achieved on Xbox Live: 2 million users used Microsoft's Facebook integration in the first week since its release. That represents 10% of the 20 million active Xbox Live users.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I believe this represents the collision of console gaming and social gaming (what we see on Facebook), where games: - Become inherently social both during and between game play (Facebook Connect is an example) - Feature in-game micro-payments (a greater percentage of those 650m downloads will shift to small, paid orders) - Live across platform (and I do not mean Xbox vs. PS3 vs. Wii: game play to some degree will exist between the game itself, site’s like Facebook and the community – via the online stores and Facebook Connect enabled micro-sites)

xbox live facebook connect

650,000,000 Downloads via Playstation Store; Facebook Connect Goes Live

Facebook and Zynga in particular have become the center pieces for micro-transactions, social gaming and in-game purchasing habits... so much so that the activity on Microsoft's Xbox Live and Playstation's Playstation Store are often overlooked.

Tied to the recent price break on the Playstation 3 system (which moved nearly 500,000 units in September - 2x their August number), they announced that 650 million pieces of content have been downloaded to date via the Playstation Store.

That is a very big number considering that: - there are 31 million registered Playstation Network accounts ... an average of 20+ downloads per user - the time online for the Playstation is significantly different than a Facebook user (and more costly) This was also announced before Playstation's Facebook Connect integration went live (November 16th).

Whether you believe that Farmville is the future of gaming, it is tough to argue that it doesn't represent key elements of what traditional gaming has and will become:

- Inherently social both during and between game play (Facebook Connect is an example) - Featuring in-game micro-payments (a greater percentage of those 650m downloads will shift to small, paid orders) - Cross platform (and I do not mean Xbox vs. PS3 vs. Wii: game play to some degree will exist between the game itself, site's like Facebook and the community - via the online stores and Facebook Connect enabled micro-sites)


Techmeme: Now Gadgets, Page A1. Watch Out Engadget!

Yesterday, I wrote about how Techmeme's Leaderboard is shifting dramatically and both the analysis and reader feedback suggested that the biggest risers on Techmeme have been gadget blogs - specifically Apple and mobile blogs.

Robert Scoble left a great comment:

"I think some of that is rubbing off on Techmeme, too, but really, it’s due to the lack of interesting stories. Honestly, tell me three stories that have come out in the past month that got you excited. iPhone? Yes. What else?"

Susan Mernit then chimed in:

"I’m still a techmeme fan, though I bemoan that 60% of it is device and product news that I can get elsewhere and don’t find as interesting as the more narrow world of structured and unstructured data, search, community, social media, and so on…Seeing people like Louis Gray hit the list is thrilling because my own interest is in going beyond breaking news to analysis and reflection and Louis does that so well."

So here's Techmeme's current homepage. I've shaded gadget articles in red and tech news in blue. Sure the timing (namely iPhone's recent launch) might tilt the results here, but Apple doesn't dominate the page. News from XBox, Blackberry, and Google fill up much of the homepage.

So is Techmeme, whose current tagline is "Tech Web, Page A1", becoming Techmeme: "Gadgets, Page A1"? Watch out Engadget!