Articles of the Day

Google TV Ads: The Uphill Struggle To Court Cable Providers, Marketers Continues — Google TV Ads, which exited out of beta earlier this summer, hasn’t moved much from where it started. For the past year, Google has sought to offer targeted ads through cable set-top boxes the way it has served ads online. Adweek checks in and finds Google TV Ads still working with only one pay TV provider, EchoStar (NSDQ: DISH) and a much smaller, local California cable company. That only gives Google access to the satellite TV company’s 14 million households out of a roughly 65 million basic cable subscribers, according to figures from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

ESPN Will Pay $2.25 Billion For Some SEC Rights; Live Streaming Included — As a former card-carrying member of the SEC, I can only look at these numbers in awe … ESPN will announce later today a major deal for the SEC TV rights not held by CBS (NYSE: CBS), according to Sports Business Journal. SBJ’s “industry sources” peg the price at $2.25 billion for 15 years, or roughly $150 million a year. The Southeastern Conference, one of the top athletic conferences, just announced a 15-year deal with CBS for a reported $825 million or $55 million a year. No details yet on the broadband and mobile rights but it would be surprising if ESPN didn’t have a lock on multi-platform rights for its games. SBJ also says to expect a deal that puts ESPNU on Comcast systems; Comcast has a major SEC presence and this would be the right lever. SEC schools include Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

High School Sports Site Launches Today — Another ESPN story worth mentioning … after 18 months of acquisitions and building, the Disney sports unit is launching its major online high school initiative aimed at 14-18 year olds. later today. (For now, it defaults to ESPNU’s football recruiting site.) represents significant inv*stm*nt and a basket full of all of the company’s high-school hopes. It’s designed as “a complete source for national high school sports and lifestyle coverage” and a community that connects athletes, teammates, friends and families. The name comes from the acquisition late last year of School Sports Inc, publisher of RISE (now ESPN RISE) magazine and, among others. Since 2006, ESPN also has acquired, Student Sports Inc., and what is now ESPN Scouts Inc.

Will A Strong Greenback Sap Internet Earnings? — Throughout the past several earnings periods, we’ve noted when companies were benefiting from the weak US dollar. Of late, the dollar has reversed course, firming against foreign currencies, and the effect this will have on earnings is becoming a big discussion point. A couple weeks ago, there was a report on what the changes meant to HP, one of several tech firms with significant international exposure. In a note today, Bernstein’s Jeff Lindsay specifically looks at what it all means to major internet firms. Under the most pessimistic scenario—the dollar gaining another 10 percent by the end of 2009—earnings could be whacked by 8 percent at a company like eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) and 13 percent at Yahoo.

Vudu Still Trying to Break the Voodoo: Does Some Layoffs, New CFO — Vudu is trying to break the voodoo curse of online-TV boxes, but is having a tough time: it has laid off about 16-18 of its employees out of 100, and is now trying to build on its retail presence. It has also hired a new CFO: Chris Watts, a former eBay executive, as the former CFO left for “personal reasons,” according to company rep, quoted in this story. Recently the company added adult movies within its portfolio, always a desperation move for most online video providers. It has $21 million in funding from Greylock and Benchmark. The company added Mark Jung, co-founder and former CEO of IGN and COO of Fox Interactive Media, as its CEO in fall last year, but still hasn’t gotten much traction in the industry. Competition is fierce, even though the market is still very nascent and small. Moviebeam, Akimbo and others are prime examples…there has been some positive reaction to the Netflix-Roku box but too early to make any trendlines out of that.

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