Viki is bringing social back to its global video service after it reintroduced its ‘timed comment’ feature that allows users to place real-time comments about movies and TV shows within its media player.
The company, which has offices in the US, Japan and Singapore, revamped its website of subtitled content from across the world with a more interactive design in April, as part of a focus to grow its 22 million monthly active viewers to 100 million. In doing so, it removed the comment system that allows viewers to leave their thoughts and reactions to TV and video scenes because it felt the setup was clunky and didn’t add value.
The change was significant, since Viki users have left more than 1.3 million comments, covering 30 percent of its TV and movie content library, which includes offerings from Korea, Japan, Latin America and US broadcasters like NBCUniversal (NBCU). Some shows even attracted more than 2,000 comments from users.
Following the removal, the comment system became “the most requested feature in Viki history”, according to Tammy H. Nam, Viki’s CMO and General Manager Americas. Though it had been successful, Nam explains that the previous system had “put barriers up but people blew them away” with incredible engagement levels.
Now Viki has reintroduced the feature, making it easier to leave and follow comments about content in real-time, and Nam expects that engagement around movies and TV shows to “skyrocket” going forward.
The comment system is a little like the Soundcloud system, which allows users to leave a comment at a specific moment in a song. Perhaps a character’s clothes caught your attention, or one of their comments? Viki’s timed comment features allow users to share their thoughts, and, importantly, others to watch the content while keeping an eye as the comments of others pop up during as it plays.
Comments can be shared to Twitter too — to broaden the engagement and sharing — while Viki is working on adding sharing to Facebook and other sites, as well as sorting comments by language and by those who are friends on Facebook.
Nam explains that users who value the comment system felt like they had been watching Viki alone when it was taken away.
“The engagement represents unbridled and immediate desire to be part of the conversation, users feel a need for self-expression online thanks to Twitter and Facebook. Now with our new platform, there’s no disconnect.”
The fact users can feel so connected to others — despite many of them being on the other side of the world and likely unknown to them — is quite something, and Viki is looking into ways it can use that level of engagement to draw revenue.
While no plans have been established, Nam explains that it is possible that contextual advertising could be inserted in to specific scenes — for example ‘happy ads’ for a ‘happy scene — to help companies connect with audiences.
Likewise, given that most content makers are keen to get feedback from their fans on their content, the data and sentiment could make for interesting analysis for those wanting to learn about what audiences like and don’t like.
For now, the service makes its money through ads, but a move towards sentiment-led models would bring it a unique revenue stream and help the service stand out from others in the crowded Web video space. Viki has raised nearly $25 million to date from a range of investors that include Andreessen Horwitz and Greylock.
Ultimately though, the commenting system is another example of how Viki is using its platform to foster a high-level of engagement with its users. Its crowdsourced subtitles — which are written and developed by its community — passed 300 million words across 156 different languages earlier this year.
Those subs are used by other services too — including Hulu – and they allow Viki to strike licensing deals with a range of different content makers from across with the world without the fear that they will only be relevant to a slither of its users.
Here’s a video example to show how the system works:
T-Mobile held a special event today to announce the death of the traditional cell phone pricing plan, with the carrier moving to a new model where customers purchase their own phone and are under no obligation to stick with their service over a long-term contract. It’s cute, but here’s the thing: smartphones are super expensive, so that either becomes an up-front cost, or one that’s helpfully defrayed by T-Mobile over the course of a multi-year monthly installment plan payback.
Before we go any further, here’s T-Mobile’s new plan concept in a nutshell. Rather than force would-be customers to pick out how many minutes and text messages they want, T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan gives everyone unlimited amounts of both. The real kicker here is how these new plans handle data — customers technically have an unlimited pool of data to tap into, but the basic $50 individual plan only lets people use 500MB of high-speed data before getting throttled. In case that’s not enough, heavy data users can shell out another $10 or $20 per line per month in exchange for 2GB or unlimited high-speed data respectively.
But what’s that? You have a family of would-be smartphone owners? That primary line still starts off at $50, but the second will run you an additional $30 per month and each subsequent line raises the bill by $10.
Leave early, and you owe T-Mobile the balance on that shiny new smartphone which can amount to a lot more than what you’d pay in terms of a maximum early termination fee on a similar contract from one of the other major U.S. carriers. ETFs are currently capped at around $350 for smartphones on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and had a maximum of $200 on T-Mobile prior to this shift. If you buy a $500 smartphone, but only pay $70 up front, you’re on the hook for the remaining $430 should you decide to leave after a week. But with a long-term contract device, regardless of the initial subsidy, your ETF is capped at $350 (and $200 at T-Mobile, before all this went down).
It’s not all bad: if you have a device that you own already and bring your own hardware, the monthly savings is significant at T-Mobile now, just as it was before when the company offered Value plans. There’s also the fact that you can trade-in a device if you leave T-Mobile, or continue to make monthly payments it instead of paying out the remaining balance. But once you add in the monthly installments to pay off that initial hardware loan, prices look a lot like they would for comparable services and data/talk limits on standard contract plans from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.
There are some significant long-term advantages to this kind of pricing approach. For one, it doesn’t continue to punish the consumer after they’ve already paid off the debt incurred by their hardware purchase; once you’ve paid off the initial hardware loan, your monthly rates automatically drop. With traditional contract pricing, that never happens, unless you’re smart enough to call and haggle with your carrier after the term of your contract ends for a customer retention bargain.
The death of contracts is a great marketing slogan, but when the smoke clears, that’s about all it is: minus a tiny amount of agency sliding back towards the consumer end of the scale away from carriers. In Canada, most major carriers also have “budget” subsidiaries that offer the exact same “no-contract” pricing with a device “tab” instead; their parent companies retain the lion’s share of subscribers, and having been a customer of both types of carrier, I can tell you that despite the hype there is no remarkable difference between the two. There’s a credit check, and there’s definitely a contract you have to sign. And if you’ve got iffy credit, you pay upfront, vs. at the end of the month if your score is okay.
That’s especially true if you plan on buying a new smartphone every two years or sooner, and don’t intend to pay for those outright at the contract outset. A subsidy and a multi-year agreement may sound a lot more shackling than a phone you “own” and no mandatory term, but if you like your smartphones brand new and fairly frequent, in practice both payment models are more alike than they are different. Of course, T-Mobile CEO John Legere doesn’t quite see it that way — at the carrier’s launch event in New York, he’s spent quite a bit of time railing against the other domestic carriers and went as far as imploring them to “stop the bullshit.” T-Mobile may have moved to simplify the process of picking out plans and this new offering is is considerably cheaper than what the carrier’s rivals are offering, but existing T-Mobile customers may not get a dramatic dip in what they shell out each month right out of the gate.
UPDATE: I realized after I made this video this is not the proper way of doing this. Please stay tuned for another video that will replace this one. My apologies. This tutorial shows you the few easy steps in installing a jQuery plugin into a WordPress theme or just a basic HTML site since its a very similar process. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. Thanks & enjoy!
Follow this link: Install jQuery Plugin into WordPress Theme
A changing of the guard at Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile and one of the world’s biggest telecoms carriers: René Obermann is stepping down as the CEO and will be replaced by the carrier’s current CFO, Timotheus Höttges. The change will take effect at the end of 2013, a decision that was approved by the Board today in a meeting, the carrier announced today.
The decision to leave was Obermann’s, the carrier said. He’d been with DT for 16 years, seven of which were spent as CEO, with a period before that running the company’s most high-profile division, T-Mobile.
While it may sound like a slow march to innovation death for a CFO to be taking the helm at DT, Höttges has actually cut his teeth in some of DT’s most strategic moves. He is said to have been instrumental in pioneering the carrier’s “Everything Everywhere” joint venture with France Telecom — a move that will, yes, help both carriers save some money, but also paves the way for how carriers can better collaborate to speed up their own ability to respond to technology changes and market demands. Although the UK is one of the most mobile-forward countries, it’s been a relative laggard when it’s come to LTE. EE, as the JV is now known, has pushed the agenda on that with an innovative spectrum plan, and now the country has finally moved into the 21st century of mobile communications.
He also played a large part in the prosposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T, and while that ultimately fell apart, it did result in Deutsche Telekom being paid a considerable break-up fee worth a total of $6 billion.
Obermann’s decision to leave was apparently met with regret by the Deutsche Telekom Supervisory Board. For his part, Obermann cited a desire to pursue activities which would allow him to have “more time for customers, for product development and for technology.” He hopes to focus on “entrepreneurial activities” that wouldn’t be possible for him to pursue in his role as CEO of the multinational telecommunications company, the statement says.
Deutsche Telekom expressed a belief that it could halt declining revenues by 2014 in the official release detailing the news, and return to growth, with plans to invest in network-building efforts in Germany and the U.S. to help kickstart that turnaround. Early in December, Deutsche Telekom was said to be considering further job cuts in Germany to help it meet its future financial targets and bump up profitability, according to a Bloomberg report. Planned cuts for 2013 include reductions in external service personnel, the report claims. Recently, the company reported flat revenue and an $8.8 billion loss owing to an accounting write-down resulting from its failed T-Mobile acquisition.
The management change isn’t exactly a huge shakeup – there will be a year’s worth of time to make the transition as smooth as possible, and Obermann’s replacement is an insider with whom Obermann worked closely for the last three years. Still, it’s a significant change for one of the largest players in the mobile wireless industry, and we’ll be watching to see what impact it has on Deutsche Telekom’s fortunes.
The acquisition apparently occurred back in the spring, but Zynga is only announcing it now, in part so that it can drop a few hints about the game that the November team is working on. Back in September, the company had already signaled its intention to move into mid-core gaming (which has a smaller but potentially more lucrative audience) with the acquisition of A Bit Lucky.
In a post on the Zynga blog, co-founder Szymon Swistun says his team formed November “to bring console gaming experiences to mobile by using our expertise from working at LucasArts on games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 1 and 2.” As for why he joined Zynga, Swistun writes:
Speaking with the folks at Zynga, we were immediately blown away with the conviction and energy they had about making kick-ass mobile games that leave a strong, memorable impression on players. We realized we could accelerate game development by combining our team’s expertise building blockbuster console games and Zynga’s strength in building social games on a massive scale.
Zynga still isn’t sharing too many details about the game, but Swistun did say that he’s been working with “the original team from Mafia Wars” and he revealed the name: Battlestone.