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NBC unveiled a 65-week schedule of new programming during a new “infront” presentation, offering advertisers an early glimpse of spread-out premieres and a longer timeline to facilitate the planning of national ad campaigns. The schedule includes a new Office spin-off, a final ER season, the Summer Olympics and the SuperBowl. The network stressed an openness to collaborating with advertisers on content, unveiling the new creative partnership with Liberty Mutual. The network also released plans for online-only shows, including a sci-fi series, a UGC confessional show and a reality show about a hair salon.
MYSPACE has settled its litigation with Universal Music and will soon launch MySpace Music, a joint venture with Universal, Sony BMG and Warner Music. EMI is still negotiating. MySpace Music will allow users to stream music on-demand using an ad-supported business model. Downloadable DRM-free tracks will be offered in some form. The labels will receive equity in the JV (and possibly large upfront cash payments) in exchange for rights. An announcement is expected soon with a launch sometime this summer.
GOOGLE will layoff 25% of DoubleClick employees, cutting around 300 workers. It will also sell Performics, a DoubleClick-owned search engine marketing unit that conflicts with its dominant search engine business. In related news, AT&T expressed support for Google’s Android mobile phone platform.
COMCAST will launch “extreme” high-speed Internet access today in the Twin Cities using DOCSIS 3.0. The service will cost $150 a month and offer connection speeds of 50 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. The company expects the new service to reach 20% of its customers before the end of the year and its entire service area by mid-2010. It will compete with FiOS and other next-generation Internet services.
AMAZON has announced an innovative new service that lets consumers compare prices from anywhere in the world – including the aisle of a brick-and-mortar store. TextBuyIt allows users to send Amazon a text message containing the UPC or ISBN code of a product. In return, they will receive a message with prices and the chance to order it directly from Amazon using their cell phones. It’s a useful new service for consumers that extends the price-competitiveness of the web to the aisle of their local store. Of course, the stores may not be too happy about that. Amazon ruffled other feathers this week when it declared that all POD books sold on Amazon.com must be printed using its recently-acquired Booksurge subsidiary. Book publishers find the move monopolistic and downright scary. However, Amazon says it will allow for faster shipping times and better service for consumers.
J.D. POWER acquired UMBRIA, a company that monitors brand reputations on blogs and social media sites.