ESPN Announce 7 New 30 for 30s

Having been highly critically-acclaimed since launching in 2009 to a level that it has enabled it to carry on beyond the anniversary year in the same branding, the ESPN Film series 30 for 30 have announced 7 more sports documentaries to arrive by the end of the year.

espn_30_for_30For fans of the series, in which professional film-makers create full-length documentaries on a sports topic close to them, there will be a chance to enjoy no less than 6 on consecutive Tuesday nights starting in October.

Beginning on 7 October (but led in a week beforehand on 30 September with It’s Time, of ESPN Films’ spin-off series SEC Storied), the batch will begin with Playing for the Mob (focusing on a game fixing scandal involving the 1970’s Boston college basketball team, followed by a new 30 for 30 short The Great Trade Robbery on american football player Herschel Walker and the Dallas Cowboys).

This will be followed in successive weeks by The Day The Series Stopped (where an earthquake delayed the 1989 World Series in San Francisco), When the Garden was Eden (the 1970’s New York Knicks), Brian and the Boz (the story of american football player Brian Bosworth), Brothers in Exile (Cuban baseball players Livan and Orlando Hernandez moving to the major league in the 1990’s), and Rand University (former NFL star Randy Moss retracing his roots).

Finally, there will be a month delay before the 7th and final part of the batch, (and 26th of the 30-part second season) with the series’ first-ever sequel episode, The U Part 2, focusing on the Miami Hurricanes college american football team rebuilding after 1990s sanctions, only to face fresh controversies amongst their success, set to air just over 5 years after the original, on 13 December following coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation. Airtimes for all upcoming documentaries will vary from 8-10pm ET across the run. The full descriptions of the films being made can be seen here.

ESPN‘s ‘vice president & executive producer’ of ESPN Films and Original Programming, Connor Schell, said of the new films: “Even though we have been at this for five years now, there is no shortage of incredible moments from the world of sports, so that enables us to continue making 30 for 30 films we’re proud of. The new slate takes a look at events and people that may be familiar to viewers, but our intent is to provide a totally different perspective through the visions of our various filmmakers.”

While the many spin-off series in the ESPN Films family makes it difficult to pin an exact figure on the number of documentaries that have been made since ESPN’s 30th anniversary in 2009 (although it is certainly over the original 30 planned, with 56 by the end of the year for the full-length 30 for 30 banner, and over 100 for all documentaries), but it is a series that can keep going a long time considering the vast number of stories around in American and global sport, even minor moments could be stretched out… maybe…

ESPN could even just take on the challenge of fictional stories if they want to, it’s all fine as long as they keep up the quality:

Dish Secures Scripps Content for Upcoming Internet TV service

Dish Network has signed a multi-year deal with Scripps Networks Interactive for the streaming rights to live and on-demand content from channels such as DIY Network, the Food Network, HGTV, and the Travel Channel.

Dish-Network-Internet-TVThe Dish over-the-top TV service which is due to launch later this year will offer around 20-30 channels for $30 per month. The service will be aimed at cord cutters who are becoming increasingly frustrated at high pay-TV bills for cable and satellite TV.

The content will add nicely to the already signed deals that Dish Network has secured. They signed a deal back in March with Disney owned ABC and ESPN for live and on-demand streaming, and they secured the rights to A+E Networks channels such as Lifetime, History, Crime & Investigation and Military History.

The news was revealed in a Dish press release where DISH president and CEO, Joseph P. Clayton said, “DISH is delighted to add Scripps Networks’ award-winning lifestyle content to our growing library of sports, family, educational and entertainment options that will create a redefined video experience for a new type of consumer. This wide-ranging agreement gives DISH customers dynamic access to Scripps Networks programming today and tomorrow.”

Speaking for Scripps, chairman, president and CEO, Kenneth W. Lowe said, “This agreement demonstrates the consistent strength and popularity of our portfolio of brands, and enables even more people to enjoy DIY Network and Cooking Channel in addition to our existing offering on DISH.”

He continued, “We are committed to making our lifestyle content available to consumers wherever and whenever they want it. This first-of-its-kind OTT deal for Scripps Networks Interactive enables us to reach even more people through DISH’s innovative services.”

The announcement follows on from the news that Sony has decided to enter the online streaming market with it’s own cloud based TV service, and has nabbed the rights to 20 Viacom channels including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

Washing Machines Live Longer When LG Aren’t Around

With the rivalry between technology companies sometimes pushing far into the ‘fierce’ territory, a trade show such as the recent IFA 2014 in Berlin (Germany) can be a key battle ground for competing with other market leaders and checking out their products in the flesh with little stigma or repercussions… unless physical damage occurs.

samsung_nextgen_washing_machineSouth Korean company Samsung have come out with accusations that native rivals LG have done this to them whilst in Germany, but not even on the demonstration models at the show, rather an act of ‘vandalising’ store models of a product elsewhere… and not even the connected mobile or TV devices the pair are more famous for.

Instead it is washing machines that are the centre of attention in this dispute (though as the picture demonstrates, South Korea has slightly higher standards of washing machine development than most of the world), as Samsung accuse a number of LG employees, in a delegation which included a ‘senior executive’, as intentionally damaging some of Samsung’s goods at a German appliance store prior to the IFA trade show.

LG has quickly moved to accept responsibility for the broken machines, with claims that it was not a deliberate but an accidental damage from when the delegation examined the in-store models on ‘market research’ purposes, stealth-insultingly explaining that ‘weak hinges’ were the cause of the items being broken.

They also announced their intention to cover the cost of four washing machines at the store in question but only admitted to causing damage on two, though Samsung have regardless of the response called German and South Korean police forces into the matter.

An official Samsung statement noted: “It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation’s legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident.”

LG responded to the issue with a statement of their own that singled out head of home appliances Jo Seong-jin as their leader in the guilty party, but continued to deny any deliberate damage to the machines, noting: “If our company had an intention to destroy products of a certain company to tarnish the image of the product, it would be common sense to not have our executives directly carry out such acts. We hope that this is not an attempt to damage our reputation.”

The question in this case is not on the end outcome, but whether or not LG deliberately caused damage in this unusual situation, and also whether hitting rivals through their products could become a way to dangerously live out technology feuds and increase mistrust when the industry turns up in the same place. Watch this space in the future, everyone knows that Apple will have their eyes on any rounded rectangular refrigerators that Samsung are selling…

iPhone 6 Pre-Orders Reach Record Numbers

Despite most people probably seeing that the item in question is only a few advancements on a product that was released at the same time last year (continuing a cycle that now generally passes each September), that has not stopped masses of Apple fans from putting their names (and soon to be money) down for pre-orders of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both released later this week.

apple-logo-fontIt was claimed by Apple that the take-up so far, even in the space of 24 hours since launching pre-orders, managed to surpass any other iPhone release process, with a total of over 4 million units committed to on day 1.

CEO Tim Cook notes of the record that has been set (and continuing to drag their internal bar higher until release day): “iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better in every way, and we are thrilled customers love them as much as we do. Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can’t wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday.”

However, additional comments this week from the company as a whole suggested that some customers may be left disappointed come Friday 19 September, stating: “Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October. Additional supply of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available to walk-in customers on Friday, September 19 at 8am local time at Apple retail stores.”

Given the sales figures so far, it is extremely likely to see the regular crowds of ‘devoted’ buyers ready to purchase lining up from Thursday afternoon onwards, so the question now is how far will the Apple sales records manage to end up stretching this month?

Roku Streamer Passes 10 Millionth Sale In US

They might not quite have theh Apple ‘cool factor’, or compete with Google and Amazon’s marketing muscle, but the Roku streaming players have still managed to pass the 10 million sales mark in the US, since launching in 2008.

Roku-streamingThe news comes from Roku CEO Anthony Wood, who writing in a blog post today said that since launching in 2008, they have sold 10 million streaming set-top boxes in the United States.

Although the figure is impressive it still looks a little tame compared to Apple’s sales of 20 million units for the Apple TV, revealed back in April.

But the Roku users are engaging more with their box say the company. Quoting an NPD survey, Roku say that users of it’s devices are streaming double what other users are with 37 million hours weekly compared to 15 million hours for Apple TV owners, 12 million for Chromecast, and just 6 million hours for Amazon Fire TV.

And their sales figures are mightily impressive with little marketing compared to big hitting rivals such as Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast. The future is looking bright for Roku with both the launch of their streaming stick, and a deal in place to integrate it’s platform in Hisense and TCL TV sets.

Netflix Releases In France

Looking to increase their presence around Europe, Netflix have launched the first of a new expansion drive by offering their subscription streaming services to the population of France.

netflix_france_conceptLaunched yesterday, the American company’s French franchise has had a more mixed reception than generally positive views elsewhere, with local companies not exactly taking a shine to the streaming platform.

Part of the problem stems from fears by state-subsidised local media that Netflix will not conform to traditional French culture by producing a set amount of original local-language content, which the service is looking to address with the announcement of co-producing new ‘House of Cards-esque’ original 8-episode political drama series Marseille.

Novelist Dan Franck, tasked with writing the screenplay, stated: “Netflix has given us a blank page to create a House of Cards in French that breaks through unspoken hypocrisy.”

Further complaints against Netflix, from the French film producers’ association, accused the company of partaking in ‘fiscal dumping’ by setting up European headquarters in Amsterdam (Netherlands), and therefore exempting themselves from cultural service taxes that help fund local original content in France, and waives a requirement that all French-based entertainment services must have 40% of French-origin content.

Pascal Rogard, leader of the ‘French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers’, noted: “Offering only American series would never work here.”

Frédéric Goldsmith, head of the national film producers’ association, added: “What is impressive with Netflix is its technological and marketing abilities, but its service isn’t new.”

It appears as though this poor first impression has already led some local carriers to vote with their feet when it comes to helping Netflix make their breakthroughs, with France Telecom (owners of Orange), SFR, and Free all refusing to host a Netflix app on their supported TV boxes as with existing French streaming services, though the official line is a lack of agreed financial terms for carriage. Netflix have so far found Bouygues as a set-top box carrier, though.

An anonymous senior manager from a non-carrying telecommunications company stated to newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche: “We receive between 20 and 35 per cent of the revenue to distribute a service but Netflix is offering us a ridiculously small share. No operator is interested in signing now.”

Having faced opposition both legally (with even national government getting involved in the debate on both sides) and on the air with equally new streaming competitors such as Numericable and Canal+ (who have forged a partnership with HBO), how many more will Netflix be able to add to their 50 million subscribers from a large but skeptical French market? Perhaps they’ll have better luck when they continue their expansion by sliding into Austria, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland…