December 6, 2023

After Weak Holiday Sales, Nook Tablets Will Add Google’s App and Media Store

Barnes Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, is seeking a lift in the highly competitive tablet market after a disappointing holiday season for the Nook.

“It opens up a whole world of content and really gives HD and HD Plus a unique position,” William J. Lynch Jr., the chief executive of Barnes Noble, said in an interview, referring to the company’s two color tablets. “There’s no question this is going to accelerate sales.”

Company executives said Nook owners would be able to choose from 700,000 apps, including Facebook, Twitter and Netflix — even Amazon’s Kindle app.

The bookseller has recently vowed to focus more on digital content, including books, movies and popular apps, while beginning to moderate its investment in its digital hardware division.

In the quarter that ended Jan. 26, Nook revenue declined to $316 million, from $427 million over the same period the year ago.

“Of all the things that Barnes Noble could do to expand its potential audience, running the features of Android that consumers like is a great step,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. “You can’t change the fundamentals of Barnes Noble’s brand and their customer footprint and the economics of their business, but adding more Android features makes this product more appealing to more customers.”

After the holiday season, Mr. Lynch said on Thursday, Barnes Noble learned that “the No. 1 reason for nonbuyers in the tablet market, as it related to Nook, was the lack of breadth and apps.” That was, he said, “the one area where we were deficient.”

Michael Norris, senior analyst for Simba Information, said the deal with Google would help Barnes Noble do what Amazon has done well: create a comprehensive online shopping center of nonbook media.

“I think Barnes Noble is learning a few lessons from Amazon,” Mr. Norris said. “And that has to do with sweetening the deal and adding value for the consumer. Amazon has always had a greater variety of movie and video content, and I think Barnes Noble is hoping to erase part of their entertainment deficit.”

Barnes Noble’s seven-inch Nook HD sells for $199, and the nine-inch Nook HD Plus for $269.

Mr. Lynch said that Barnes Noble executives had considered a deal with Google for two years, but stepped up those discussions in the last four months.

To date, Barnes Noble has sold more than 10 million Nooks in the United States; it introduced the product in 2009 as e-book sales took off.

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Advertising: Online Video Creators Focus on Spanish-Speaking Consumers

Among the participants during the Digital Content NewFronts in New York this week — 17 presentations, from Monday through Friday, under the aegis of the Interactive Advertising Bureau — was Univision Communications, which took part in the NewFronts for the first time.

Univision executives on Wednesday discussed initiatives like Uvideos, a digital video network that offers original Web series as well as clips about the popular telenovelas that are the mainstays of the Univision broadcast network. (The clips are said to be spoiler-free; telenovelas are all about the cliffhangers.)

Some general-market media companies devoted bits of their presentations to the original digital content being created for Hispanics. For instance, on Tuesday, Hulu touched on Hulu Latino and CBS Interactive, part of the CBS Corporation, previewed plans to introduce in the fall a version of CNET for Spanish-speaking consumers.

Many presenters from the media mainstream “actually have a decent to strong-and-growing multicultural strategy,” said Marla Skiko, executive vice president and director for digital innovation at SMG Multicultural, part of the Starcom MediaVest Group unit of the Publicis Groupe.

“But they have so much to announce during the NewFronts, it gets only a mention,” Ms. Skiko said. “I think they could blow it out and make it bigger; it’s a story waiting to be told.”

Randall Rothenberg, president and chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who attended the Univision presentation, said the Hispanic market is “indicative of the opportunity, and challenge, for digital.”

“Unlike other media, digital media can do everything because, by definition, you have global reach and theoretically unlimited programming and advertising inventory,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

At the same time, “the challenge is how to pick your shots,” he added, “and decide what to promote to whom at what time.”

Jim Lanzone, president of CBS Interactive, said in an interview that he was eager to introduce the Spanish-language version of CNET, which “will be its own distinct site” and offer Hispanics “a multimedia experience across all platforms.”

“It will not just be a machine translating our English content into Spanish,” he added, but rather will offer culturally specific content aimed at the 50 million person audience in the United States as well as Spanish-speakers in Latin America and elsewhere around the world.

And CBS Interactive is working on a Spanish-language version of GameSpot, Mr. Lanzone said, which is its Web site with content aimed at video game players.

The goal to beef up Spanish-language content at CBS Interactive is part of an ambitious agenda to add a variety of original content across its portfolio of more than two dozen disparate Web sites. For instance, the site devoted to CBS television shows,, will add online series meant to complement two of the network’s dramas: “Baker Street Irregulars,” based on “Elementary,” and “Person of Interest: Animated,” based on “Person of Interest.”

“Even our musical act was one of our shows,” Mr. Lanzone joked, referring to the performance by the rock band Phoenix that concluded the presentation at the Hudson Theater in Midtown Manhattan. The band’s 45-minute set doubled as a webcast of the original series “Live on Letterman,” which typically is streamed live from the Ed Sullivan Theater after that evening’s taping of “Late Show With David Letterman.”

At the Univision Communications presentation, at the Brasserie restaurant, the focus was on expansion. The company’s executives discussed original Web series, including “Salseras,” being introduced with the Web music company Vevo, about a fierce collegiate salsa-dancing competition; five channels being added to Uvideos, devoted to cooking, comedy, celebrities, fashion, beauty and lifestyle; and a new digital platform, to be called Flama, aimed at younger Hispanics who are part of the so-called millennial generation.

And Univision is opening an “idea lab,” said Cesar Conde, president of the Univision Networks division of the company, “dedicated to the creation of made-for-Web content, in Spanish and English.”

Univision will also offer advertisers opportunities at “transmedia storytelling that transcends platforms,” Mr. Conde said, combining content in genres like reality competition and sports that will be on television, on radio, online and in social media.

It was “very important for us” to take part in the NewFronts this year, Mr. Conde said in an interview after the presentation, to underline that “everything we’re thinking about, we’re thinking about with our digital hat on.”

“Univision, as a leader, has to be here,” he added, because “Hispanics overindex on everything technology.” His reference was to Nielsen research indicating that, for example, 72 percent of Hispanics own smartphones and they watch 62 percent more online video than white non-Hispanic Americans.

Ad spending for online video was estimated last year at $2.9 billion, a fraction of the $64.5 billion in ad spending on television, but it is growing at a far faster rate than its traditional counterpart. In 2013, according to eMarketer forecasts, the totals will increase to $4 billion for online video, up 41.1 percent from 2012, and $66.4 billion for television, up 2.8 percent from 2012.

The potential for online video was further underscored on Wednesday when, at the Condé Nast Entertainment presentation during the NewFronts, executives announced additions to their digital video network. The channels inspired by magazines like Glamour and GQ will be joined by channels suggested by Epicurious,, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired.

Also on Wednesday, AwesomenessTV, a YouTube-based video channel aimed at teenagers, agreed to be acquired by DreamWorks Animation SKG for about $33 million in cash and up to $117 million in possible additional payments.

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Scripps Networks Is Adding 52 New Series

How determined is one of the largest cable television companies, Scripps Networks Interactive, to increase the original programming it offers viewers and advertisers? For the 2013-14 season, the six channels operated by the company plan to add 52 new series.

Scripps Networks has long been devoted to original programming on its channels — Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, GAC, HGTV and Travel Channel. Still, as viewers and advertisers clamor for additional new shows instead of reruns of programs they already watched or sponsored on broadcast television, cable programmers are racing to beef up their original fare.

The count breaks down this way: Five new series on Travel Channel and GAC, also known as Great American Country; 20 new shows on Cooking Channel and Food Network; and 27 new series on DIY Network and HGTV.

Executives of Scripps Networks shared details of the channels’ plans at a briefing for reporters on Tuesday morning, ahead of an upfront presentation in the afternoon for advertisers and agencies. The presentation is one of eight that are scheduled before the start of the 2013-14 season; the other presentations are, or were, in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.

The executives discussed the company’s digital content in addition to the opportunities that advertisers have to reach readers of the two magazines based on two Scripps Networks channels, Food Network and HGTV, which are part of a joint venture with the Hearst Corporation.

And Scripps Networks is climbing aboard the so-called TV Everywhere bandwagon, its executives said. Starting in the summer they plan to offer mobile applications and Web sites that will give authenticated cable subscribers the ability to watch shows on devices like smartphones and tablets.

Many of the new series on the six channels are extensions of existing shows, using and reusing the hosts and cast members of other series on the channels. For instance, the hosts of “Property Brothers” and “Buying Selling” on HGTV, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will compete against each other in a new series, “Brother vs. Brother,” also for HGTV.

And the rapper Vanilla Ice, who has a hit series on DIY Network with “The Vanilla Ice Project,” will take his interest in homes to another show on the channel, “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish.”

(Really. Seriously. No kidding.)

In another way to minimize risk, some new series borrow the Vanilla Ice template in being centered on faded stars. Examples include new shows for DIY Network featuring the actor Bronson Pinchot; the rapper Joseph Ward Simmons, known as Rev. Run; and the singer Daryl Hall.

The Scripps Networks executives also talked about their continuing efforts to woo advertisers and agencies into working with the channels to develop and produce commercials that go beyond traditional 30-second spots and assume the trappings of content, a trend known as content marketing or native advertising. Advertisers that have already made deals with the channels include JPMorgan Chase, Land Rover, Pier One Imports, Walt Disney and Scotts.

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Media Decoder Blog: Barnes & Noble to Introduce New Video Service for Nook Devices

Barnes Noble said on Tuesday it would introduce a new video store for its Nook products this fall, the latest expansion of the bookseller’s digital content.

The service will allow customers to stream and download movies and television shows for a fee onto TV’s and mobile devices, while storing the content in the Nook cloud. The video catalog includes HBO shows, like “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood,” and movies including “The Artist” and “Toy Story 3.”

Barnes Noble has focused heavily on its digital offerings to compete with retailers like Amazon and Apple. In April, it received a boost when Microsoft said it would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the bookseller’s digital division.

Barnes Noble’s Nook enters a crowded market of digital rental services that let viewers download movies and television shows to mobile devices. The video streaming service would be similar to Apple’s iTunes in that viewers could rent single episodes, movies or whole TV seasons. Wal-Mart entered the streaming business in 2010 with its $100 million acquisition of Vudu, which allows viewers to rent high-definition movies on Internet-enabled televisions. Many new television sets now come with the Vudu and Netfix apps built in. Verizon and Redbox recently partnered to introduce their own streaming service.

Major studies have taken a blow in home video revenue in recent years as DVD sales and traditional rentals decline. Deals like the one with Barnes Noble help bring in additional rental revenue and offer viewers another outlet on which to find content. That’s in combination with home-grown streaming services like HBO Go, which requires users to authenticate that they pay for Time Warner’s HBO before accessing hundreds of episodes of past and current shows on tablets and mobile devices.

William J. Lynch, the chief executive of Barnes Noble, said in a statement, “As one of the world’s largest retailers of physical video discs and digital copyrighted content, our new Nook Video service will give our customers another way to be entertained with a vast and growing digital video collection, as part of our expansive Nook store.”

Barnes Noble currently has about 25 percent of the e-book market. In August, the company reported a loss of $41 million, or 78 cents a share, in the quarter ending July 28. Nook sales were flat over the previous year, at $192 million.

On Tuesday, Barnes Noble also signaled its intentions to build a bigger presence in Britain. It said the company Dixons Retail, which owns the electronics retailers PC World and Currys, would sell Nook products in 600 stores. Barnes Noble also named Patrick Nourvillois as a managing director responsible for building the Nook brand “outside the U.S. across the globe.”

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Amazon to Sell the Kindle Reader at a Lower Price, but With Advertising Added

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon is shaving another $25 off the price of its Kindle e-reader, this time with the help of advertisers.

The newest Kindle is $114. Amazon will sell its e-book reader at the lower price by showing ads as screen savers and at the bottom of the home screen, and by selling special offers, similar to Groupon and other daily deal sites.

The ads are the latest step in Amazon’s transition from e-commerce retailer to full-fledged digital media company. By selling ads that will show up next to digital content, Amazon is laying further groundwork that could enable it to someday sell tablet computers that would compete with Apple and Google Android tablets.

Amazon is also showing how far it is willing to go to remain a front-runner in the e-reader price wars. The new Kindle is $35 less than Barnes Noble’s least expensive Nook and $66 less than Sony’s least expensive Reader. It is also several hundred dollars cheaper than an Apple iPad.

“This is really about having a Kindle that’s more affordable,” said Jay Marine, director of Kindle at Amazon.

The device, known as “Kindle with Special Offers,” will have the same hardware as the most recent, $139 Kindle, with Wi-Fi, a one-month battery life and an 8.5-ounce body. But instead of the typical Kindle screen savers, like images of authors, Amazon will show ads from brands like Buick, Procter Gamble and Visa. The ads will also show up on the home screen, but they will not appear inside e-books.

Amazon will give users a say in which ads they see, borrowing a page from the playbooks of Hulu and People can vote, either online or on a Kindle app called AdMash, for their favorite of two ads, like a close-up of a model’s face versus a photo of a jar of cream for Olay. They can also tell Amazon whether they want to see more or fewer ads with landscapes or illustrations, for instance.

Readers will also be able to get discounts through their Kindles. Amazon will open the offers to advertisers, but to start, the deals are all from its site, like $10 for a $20 gift card or 50 percent off a Roku streaming player from Amazon. By entering the daily deal business, Amazon is competing with Groupon and with LivingSocial, the group-buying service in which it is an investor. Mr. Marine said that Amazon’s service was separate from LivingSocial’s.

The ads and offers appear to be another significant step toward Amazon building its own tablet and competing more directly with the iPad, said James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research who studies digital media and consumer electronics. Amazon opened an Android app store last month and has been hiring Android software developers.

An Amazon tablet could tie together the seemingly disparate parts of the company’s business, Mr. McQuivey said, including e-commerce, e-books, video and audio.

“I can so easily see them selling a tablet in the future at a dramatically reduced price,” he said. “To me, this is a way for them to test that out and to start talking to advertisers.”

When asked whether the new Kindle was a move toward a tablet, Mr. Marine said, “I don’t want to speculate.” He also declined to say when the Kindle would have a color or touch screen, both elements of the Apple iPad and Android tablets made by Motorola, Samsung and others.

By incorporating ads in the Kindle operating system — as screen savers and in the menu, where readers will find the list of offers — Amazon is also creating a new kind of ad that could be used for new business models. Publishers, who have been searching for new ways to market e-books to replace intriguing covers and bookstore displays, could give away sponsored e-books. Amazon could also build a group-buying service among Kindle owners.

Buick’s Kindle ads will show photographs of four of its cars and text that relates to reading, like a reference to a car owner’s manual, said Craig Bierley, director of advertising and promotions for General Motors’s Buick division. Because reading books is an intimate experience, he said he hoped people might pay more attention to the ads.

“The Kindle for many people is really a centerpiece of their entertainment, so their level of engagement with the device, and hopefully with the advertisers on it, will be higher,” Mr. Bierley said.

That type of engagement is the holy grail in advertising these days, said Bobby Calder, chairman of the marketing department at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Still, books are one of the last ad-free zones, and by showing ads on an e-reader, Amazon risks alienating some users, he said.

“There’s been research that shows that if you put an ad in an environment where people are highly engaged, that kind of intrusiveness can really backfire,” he said.

People could buy the less expensive Kindle and then avoid the ads by turning off Wi-Fi. Mr. Marine said Amazon did not think customers would do that because they would value the offers on the new Kindle, which is now available for order and expected to ship May 3.

“We think the response is going to be really positive because it doesn’t touch the reading experience,” he said.

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