NBC's 'The Office' to air online-only episodes
Over the summer, the hit comedy will broadcast 10 original episodes on the Web. Plus: 'Godfather' whacks EA again.
SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0) - NBC is getting the Internet in a big way. Spurred by a prime-time ratings boost that followed the sale of episodes of "The Office" on iTunes, the network now plans to stream 10 original, Web-only episodes of the hit show this summer. The move comes after NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeffrey Zucker told producers to come up with pitches for shows that included Internet components.
Godfather whacks EA again
When Electronic Arts (Research) announced last year that its "Godfather" game based on the famed movie trilogy was delayed, investors knocked $800 million off its market capitalization. Now it's looking less likely that "Godfather" will pay off.
The delay pushed the game's release date from last November, during the lucrative holiday season, to this month, a traditionally slow season for videogame sales. Including upcoming versions for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation Portable still in development, the total bill for producing the game will add up to somewhere between $30 million and $40 million, Wedbush Morgan Securities estimates. EA has now cut the game's suggested price from $49.95 to $39.95, lowering its potential revenues further.
Top VC funds Skype competitor
Business 2.0 senior writer Om Malik is taking a second look at VOIP startup Jajah, now that Sequoia Capital has put its money behind it. Sequoia, the venture-capital firm behind Cisco, Yahoo, and Google, among others, invested an undisclosed amount in Jajah.
The startup's service lets users initiate a phone call over the Web between two regular landline or cell phones. Using VOIP to connect the call saves money over regular phone rates, and Jajah doesn't require the use of a PC headset and microphone to talk, as Skype does. But existing calling-card services provide similar discounts, Malik points out, without needing a PC at all.
Broadband TV not coming anytime soon
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban throws cold water on the current enthusiasm for television over the Internet, pointing out that vast parts of the country won't have fiber-optic connections for years to come. (Cuban is also the owner of HDNet, which produces high-definition programming for cable and satellite TV providers.) Use of video online is growing faster than users' home Internet connections can support, says Cuban, but after seven years, 60 percent of U.S. homes still won't have anything faster than DSL. Cuban's conclusion? Expect bandwidth rationing, soon.
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