Tag Archives: paid

Free episodes to disappear from Hulu

Hulu is dropping free TV episode as it works on an online television service to rival cable TV.

Free episodes — typically the most recent four or five episodes from a show’s current season — will be gone from the site within a few weeks. Instead, Hulu is making free episodes available through Yahoo.

While Hulu started as a free site, supported by advertising, free video has become increasingly more difficult to find as Hulu tries to lure viewers into a subscription — $8 a month for a plan with ads, and $12 without. In recent months, visitors to Hulu.com have been presented with prominent links to subscribe, with links to free video buried in a menu after signing in.

And free episodes haven’t been available on Hulu’s mobile apps or streaming-TV devices, just on Hulu.com from a traditional computer. Now, they won’t be on Hulu.com at all.

Devotees of Hulu’s free on-demand videos will be able to find them by visiting the new Yahoo View site from a computer. The Yahoo site will not have free episodes of CW shows such as “Arrow” and “The Flash,” as Hulu has been offering, because CW has a broader deal with Netflix instead. Yahoo says it will have the past five episodes of ABC, NBC and Fox shows available. The Fox shows will appear eight days after their TV airing, as is the practice at Hulu.com now. Yahoo will also have some older CBS shows.

The episodes on Yahoo are not currently available on a phone, although Yahoo is working on a mobile web version and an app. Yahoo says the mobile version will be free, but it may not have all the same video as the desktop computer site because of content licensing restrictions.

Hulu says relatively few people watch the free videos. It now has about 12 million subscribers who pay for original shows, the entire current seasons of some network shows and access to Hulu’s library on mobile and streaming-TV devices like Roku.

Hulu also plans to launch a live online TV service next year. It would show broadcast and cable channels in real time, without making viewers wait until the next day for episodes. In a move that could make that service more appealing, Time Warner Inc. recently took a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining the TV and movie conglomerates — Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — that already owned it. Time Warner plans to contribute some of its channels, including TNT and TBS, to the new service.

Several other companies already offer live, paid TV over the internet, including Sony and Dish. DirecTV plans a service for later this year as well.

Yahoo also has broader ambitions for View. It wants to add video from other Yahoo properties and from other networks and studios. However, its previous attempt at an online video hub, Yahoo Screen, shut down in January, despite having new episodes of the cult comedy “Community” after its cancellation by NBC.

Verizon, which is buying Yahoo to help the phone company grow a digital advertising business , makes TV episodes and short videos available on its go90 mobile app. Phil Lynch, the head of media and content partnerships at Yahoo, says that as the deal gets closer to closing early next year, it “makes sense that we have integration discussions.”

Get paid for posts? A new twist in social networking

 Facebook and most other social networks are built on the premise that just about everything should be shared — except the money those posts produce.

At least two services are trying to change that. Bubblews, a social network that came out of out of an extended test phase last week, pays users for posts that attract traffic and advertisers. Another company, Bonzo Me, has been doing something similar since early July.

“I just feel like everyone on social networks has been taken advantage of for long enough,” says Michael Nusbaum, a Morristown, New Jersey surgeon who created Bonzo Me. “Facebook has been making a ton of money, and the people providing the content aren’t getting anything.”

Bonzo Me is paying its users up to 80 percent of its ad revenue for the most popular posts.

Bubblews’ compensation formula is more complex. It’s based on the number of times that each post is clicked on or provokes some other kind of networking activity. To start, the payments are expected to translate into just a penny per view, comment or like. Bubblews plans to pay its users in $50 increments, meaning it could take a while for most users to qualify for their first paycheck unless they post material that that goes viral.

“No one should come to our site in anticipation of being able to quit their day job,” Bubblews CEO Arvind Dixit says. “But we are trying to be fair with our users. Social networks don’t have to be places where you feel like you’re being exploited.”

Bubblews is also trying to make its service worthwhile for users by encouraging deeper, thoughtful posts instead of musings about trifling subjects. To do that, it requires each post to span at least 400 characters, or roughly the opening two paragraphs of this story.

Technology analyst Rob Enderle believes Bubblews, or something like it, eventually will catch on.

“I don’t think this free-content model is sustainable,” Enderle says. “You can’t sustain the quality of the product if you aren’t paying people for the content that they are creating. And you can’t pay your bills if all you are getting are ‘likes.””

Gerry Kelly of San Francisco has already earned nearly $100 from Bubblews since he began using a test version in January. His Bubblews feed serves as a journal about the lessons he has learned in life, as well as a forum for his clothing brand, Sonas Denim.

Though Facebook is by far the largest social network, it has a history of irking users. People have complained when Facebook changed privacy settings in ways that exposed posts to a wider audience. They have criticized Facebook for circulating ads containing endorsements from users who didn’t authorize the marketing messages.

More recently, people were upset over a 2012 experiment in which Facebook manipulated the accounts of about 700,000 users to analyze how their moods were affected by the emotional tenor of the posts flowing through their pages. Facebook apologized.

Kelly still regularly posts on his Facebook page to stay in touch with friends and family, but says he is more leery of the service.

“They just take all your information and make all the money for themselves. It’s insane,” Kelly says.

Despite the occasional uproar, Facebook Inc. has been thriving while feeding off the free content of its 1.3 billion users. The Menlo Park, California, company now has a market value of about $180 billion, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg ranks among the world’s wealthiest people with a fortune of about $30 billion, based on the latest estimates from Forbes magazine.

Advertisers, meanwhile, are pouring more money into social networks because that is where people are spending more time, particularly on smartphones. Facebook’s share of the $140 billion worldwide market for digital ads this year is expected to climb to nearly 8 percent, or $11 billion, up from a market share of roughly 6 percent, or $7 billion last year, according to the research firm eMarketer.

Although it still isn’t profitable, short-messaging service Twitter is also becoming a bigger advertising magnet, thanks largely to its 255 million users who also provide a steady flow of free content. Twitter’s digital ad revenue this year is expected to rise to $1.1 billion, nearly doubling from $600 million last year, according to eMarketer.

Facebook and Twitter have become such important marketing tools that celebrities and other users with large social-media followings are being paid by advertisers to mention and promote products on their accounts.

Bubblews wants to make money, too, but it also wants to ensure that everyone using it gets at least a small slice of the advertising pie.

Dixit, 26, who started Bubblews with his college buddy Jason Zuccari, says the service got about 200,000 users during a “beta” test phase that began in September 2012. The service unveiled a redesigned website last week as it finally moved out of testing.

Bonzo Me is even smaller, with just a few thousand users since the release of apps for the Web, iPhones and Android devices in early July. The service has paid about $30,000 in ad revenue to users so far, according to Nusbaum.

Sandy Youssef of New Brunswick, New Jersey, likes being on Facebook, but she also intends to start posting video on Bonzo Me just in case she shares something that becomes a big hit.

“We are living in an age when the things you post on the Internet can go viral, so you may as well get paid for it,” she says. “It’s time to spread the wealth.”

Celebs, others buy clicks for social media boost

Celebrities, businesses and even the U.S. State Department have bought bogus Facebook likes, Twitter followers or YouTube viewers from techies who run offshore “click farms,” where they tap, tap, tap the thumbs up button, view videos or retweet comments to artificially inflate social media numbers.

An Associated Press examination has found a growing global marketplace for fake clicks, by the billions, which tech companies struggle to police. Online records, industry studies and interviews show companies around the world are capitalizing on the opportunity to make millions of dollars by gaming the whole concept behind social media.

In cities including Jakarta, Indonesia, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, the AP found workers who click for cash. Hundreds of websites now market the clicks, which sell for as little as half a cent each.

Document: Charlie Crist allegedly paid two men to conceal affairs

A Florida investigative report contains allegations that former Gov. Charlie Crist paid two men to hide gay affairs.

The document obtained and published by TV station WTSP is part of an investigation of former Republican Party of Florida chair Jim Greer.

When Crist, who was a Republican when he served as governor, ran an independent campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010, which he last to Republican Marco Rubio. At the time, Greer already was under scrutiny and Crist denied any knowledge of Greer’s alleged use of state party funds to pay personal expenses. Greer’s attorney, however, said then that Crist approved the plan.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative report obtained by the TV station details communication between Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase, and John Morgan, whose firm employs Crist, according to the Huffington Post.

Chase, according to the report, thought Morgan represented Crist and wanted to schedule a deposition with the former governor. And, Chase cautioned, he would be asking Crist some “embarrassing things.”

Morgan, according to the report, asked what those things were and “Chase indicated that he would be forced to impeach Crist by addressing the following issues: 1. Charlie Crist was a homosexual and had homosexual relationships with at least two men who were paid to leave the state to avoid embarrassing then Governor Crist. 2. Governor Crist kissed or attempted to kiss Greer at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California, 3. Governor Crist’s drunken escapades, and how Governor Crist’s security detail had to cover for him 4. Governor Crist attempting to run people over while intoxicated and operating a golf cart.”

Morgan, in the report, called Chase’s remarks nothing more than inflammatory and intended to embarrass Crist.

According to the documents, Morgan then “stated that if Crist were homosexual why would he try to kiss Greer, specifically stating, ‘(Crist) would have to be a sick son of a bitch to try to kiss Porky the Pig’ in reference to Greer. Additionally, Morgan sent Chase an email indicating that it was his opinion that Greer was using Chase to extort Charlie (Crist) with embarrassing questions. Morgan indicated in his email that these types of questions were the same thing as asking, ‘when was the last time you fucked the neighbor’s sheep’ or ‘are you still beating your wife.’”

The reports have surfaced as new polling in Florida shows that if Crist ran as a Democrat in 2014, he could defeat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

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Male escort says Republican official paid him $500 for sex

A suburban New Jersey mayor who mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress has been accused by a male escort of paying him for sex and not following through on promises of gifts.

Medford, N.J., Mayor Chris Myers denies the accusation. The married father of two children, Myers came to national attention during his congressional campaign in 2008. Myers is a combat veteran who served in the Persian Gulf as a U.S. Naval officer.

His accuser, who refuses to identify himself, claims he met Myers on rentboy.com. He says the mayor paid him $500 for a sexual encounter that took place in Orange County, Calif., in October 2010.

The escort has created a website to embarrass Myers for allegedly reneging on promises he made. The website, which crashed due to traffic volume and is currently unavailable, shows photos of a man who appears to be Myers wearing blue underwear and lying on a bed. It also shows other photos of Myers and his personal IDs.

The escort’s story is that Myers identified himself as a mayor from New Jersey and offered his township identification card and gold ID shield as proof during their early-morning encounter at the Fairmount Hotel in Newport Beach.

“This is absolutely crazy. I have no idea who this person is,” Myers told the Burlington County Times on Thursday. “Obviously, we’re dealing with a crackpot and someone who is pissed off at me in some way. There are crazy people.”

Myers, who is serving his third elected term as mayor, told the newspaper that he learned of the photos and the website this month when an e-mail was sent to the township website.

While angry that the accusations have been posted on the Internet, Myers says his attorney has advised him that there is nothing he can do to get the site taken down.

“I will check again, but I’ve been told to ignore it and not investigate,” he says. “I’m thoroughly disgusted at the lengths people will go to.”