RealTime IT News

At The Movies With NYTimes.com

For the 43rd consecutive year The New York Film Festival will feature works from countries around the world, yet this season's event will mark the first time organizers are attempting to deliver them to a truly a global audience.

The New York Times has teamed with several Internet companies, including The FeedRoom and Mirror Image, to offer a selection of short films from the 17-day festival on its Web site. The films will be hosted on Mirror Image's global network.

For the Times, the move signaled yet another step toward improving, as well as expanding, its content space -- both paid and free.

Earlier this month, the company announced TimesSelect, which offers subscribers exclusive online access to certain parts of its NYTimes.com Web site. The program provides limited access for columnists and other selected areas of the site for $49.95 a year.

As online advertising revenue continues to grow in 2005, news sites are looking to grab viewers' attention by offering services, such as free video, that can also act as a gateway to paid content. As the use of technology, and more specifically broadband, increases, viewers continue to demand greater access to higher-quality video.

"Our users will notice that the films we're offering are on a bigger-than-usual screen with superior quality than anything they're likely to find on a computer this side of a DVD," Leonard M. Apcar, editor in chief of NYTimes.com, said in a statement.

Online advertising revenues grew 26 percent during the second quarter of 2005, to $2.9 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). It's a 26 percent jump over the same period in 2004, and a 6.6 percent increase over first-quarter revenues. The total for the first half of the year was approximately $5.8 billion.

And the Times is not alone when it comes to reaching for this revenue.

The move makes sense for many media sites and is a trend likely to continue, said John Rozen, COO at Mirror Image.

Of the 67 percent of Americans already online, 53 percent are already connected through a broadband connection. The cost of serving up the videos to viewers drops. That change is leading the way in the booming online advertising market.

Earlier this year CNN.com returned to free video offerings on its Web site. In return for watching an advertisement, viewers were granted access to a host of content on the site.

Other companies leveraging their content assets this year were Microsoft with its expansion of the MSN Video portal, as well as AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo all offering subscription-based video service.

Because of the huge streaming demands associated with hosting videos, especially multiple short films, some as long as 17 minutes at 1MB per second, The New York Times, as well as other outlets, are reaching out to companies to help provide these services.

And that in turn is also helping change the way providers are charging companies for their services.

"Paying for content delivery services without getting the chance to use them has never made any sense," said Mirror Image's Rozen. "But this is exactly what CDN [content delivery network] vendors continue to do by not allowing their customers to carry over their unused contractual services from one month to the next. That is, until now."

Mirror Image's TotalValuePlan brings rollover pricing to the content delivery industry, Rozen said. It allows customers to roll over their unused contractual monthly services, much like wireless carriers have recently popularized.

Rozen expects the flexible pricing change to shape the market in an industry, he says, which has a tendency to over charge for services.