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In his own words

In his own words

Alanis Morissette Interview

Great interview I Produced with Peter Crowley just after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Don’t beleive everything you read on the Internet

Common Sense

Common Sense

Joe Bretz’s Video Production Reel


Defining “Social Television”

Social TV, I wrote an article entitled “2014 Social TV Predictions,” which, I am happy to report, received great response, although I should have titled it, “2014 Battle of the Set Top Boxes!”

2014 Social Television Predictions

In my last article, I neglected to address any of the actual social aspects of set top boxes… whoops, sorry… Unfortunately, there aren’t any. Nope, no real social components to a set top box. You’re still on your own with that one. These boxes are merely the conduits for individually created “apps” for their particular delivery method. That said, at the end of the day it really all comes down to what box is offering the sleekest, coolest design on the surface, amount of potential content channels, and, most importantly, the UI or user interface, which, as we all know, there is nothing more painful than typing in your email and passwords into, yet, another APP!

Now… before I get into the dynamics of what makes a content application a social viewing experience via Netflix, Hulu, Vevo, Youtube, et al (ahhh, so we are getting social, after all), you should have a grasp, if you don’t already (unlike my father!) on what exactly “OTT” or Over The Top Television is.

The statistic is hovering between 70-80% of all US homes having a broadband or high speed Internet connection, and according to Parks & Associates recently released report, almost 50% of those homes use “OTT” or Over The Top video services.

So… in the simplest of all definitions what exactly is Over The Top Video?

Wikipedia defines “OTT”

Over-the-top content (OTT) refers to delivery of video and audio over the Internet without a multiple system operator being involved in the control or distribution of the content. The provider may be aware of the contents of the Internet Protocol packets but is not responsible for, nor able to control, the viewing abilities, copyrights, and/or other redistribution of the content. This is in contrast to purchase or rental of video or audio content from an Internet service provider (ISP), such as pay television video on demand or an IPTV video service, like AT&T U-Verse. OTT in particular refers to content that arrives from a third party, such as NowTV, Netflix, WhereverTV, Hulu, WWE Network, RPI TV or myTV, and is delivered to an end user device, leaving the ISP responsible only for transporting IP packets.

If you’re like me, and lets hope you’re not, you will already have an Internet enabled TV (or two or three), need to test the various applications from different manufacturers and will have a connection via a 5-HDMI port, an Apple TV, Roku (all models), Boxee (the cool looking cube and the last iteration which, in my opinion, was a step down from the cube), a western digital media player and server, a tivo, a smart blue ray player, just in case you decide to rent a DVD (hell, may as well get ya a cassette player too while you’re at it!), and for whatever other boxes I may have neglected to mention, I truly apologize, but by now, I do have my favorites. Of course the multiple remotes are another matter entirely, unless you manage to find an all-encompassing app for your iphone/ipad, regardless, you still end up with ten to fifteen different virtual remotes. On that note, you’ll just have to bite the bullet old school and have four remotes to do the job of what should be one, but, for now, you’re stuck doing it the way I have to do it!… This too shall change!

So, getting back to the moral of the story, what is social television exactly?

Again, only my opinion, but I would posture this question with a two tiered answer:

Social TV is when a bunch of your friends or family or co-workers are all sitting around together in the same room – yes, I said the same room – watching say, your crazy aunt falling down the stairs, or short clips from  Eddie Murphy “Raw” (Cause you can watch that as an adult finally!).  There you are, all engaged, watching content using an “OTT” box (Apple, Roku etc.) and an application such as youtube, involved in short periods of engagement with short form content that’s easily attainable. Not to suggest, of course, that watching a full length feature film from the Netflix app en-group is not socially engaging, but I find short bursts of content, like watching the latest Taylor Swift video (yep a guy in his 30s can like Taylor Swift… can you say John Mayer?), or watching the ever-popular, Charlie Bit, his finger part 12.  Quite frankly, I have never found the TV of my youth to be anything other than a bunch of us sitting in a room eating grilled cheese and staring at another episode of “You Cant Do That On Television,” and not one of us saying a single word to one another.

The other form of Social Television is the general idea that you can be sitting alone at home and watching a video with a bunch of random people or friends who are in other states or countries.  All of whom could include your basic Tweet “Hey did you just see what Miley Cyrus just did at the awards show?” And to get even more complicated, you could just have your ipad /iphone open while interacting in a chat room of dedicated fans of “Breaking Bad” (considered the second screen of TV – that will come in a whole other article about the simple definition of Second Screen TV).

Lets not forget the “imbedding” of a ton of useful and useless applications within the video player itself, including “interactive” advertising IE: “Wanna learn more about the Charmin challenge?  Click here now and find out how you can win a lifetime of toilet paper!” They should just say, “Thanks for the click idiot and your personal information. READ THE FINE PRINT!”  (Haha… get it?)

I am not certain how to classify the actual “Share” features within videos, the networking sites seem to change on a quarterly basis, so to make it really simple, here we go:

There are new and useful sites like and other companies that provide great analytics and insight on social TV engagement, such as  There is a ton of great information out there, you just have to find it, like try this…

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell – Social TV, semi-simply put…

Any questions?!!!

By: Joe Bretz


Follow me on Twitter: @josephqbretz

Special thanks to Kerrigan Mahan for his editorial genius.

“Social TV” for 2014

Social-TV“Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.” T. S. Eliot

Quite a quote by the late great poet, also very true. Does it still remain true given the latest in Social Networking/Sharing? IMHO, the advent of the Facebook’s, Tweets etc. has made us all even more alienated, and that is of course a statement made not only regarding the consumption of media content along with normal human contact in general. For those of us whom were early adopters of the “OTT” technology, (remember the USB Boxee hack?) we were on the verge of a new frontier of creating a unique medium for social engagement (well before Facebook took over from Myspace) thereby allowing the average “Joe” tools to create their own TV Network.

It started as a true unique underground movement with guys like Avner Ronen at the helm. ’07/08′ My partners and I were on our tenth or fifteenth “Dot Com” venture (who was counting back then in San Francisco/Silicon Valley?) Incubating a few interactive content companies, Producing a feature film and attempting a $90M acquisition for a major content library from a nsdq listed public company, which led to a few embarrassing  and educational failures. For those of us in the thick of things during 2007 and 08′, we all thought the end of the world was near.  With our financing cut off along with the majority of America’s AMEX accounts we took the time to re-focus our efforts to what is now called “Social Television” using “OTT” or Over The Top technologies, and the race began.

So whats next and my personal predictions for 2014 and “Social TV”?

– “TV is an APP”- TV will rapidly become an APP like every other APP.  Niche’ content is key, giving consumers exactly what they want and how they want, this may cause more fragmentation, but in return search will become more better and less “exhaustive.”

– Set Top Box Integration- The people over at Boxee got to it first. (Although I was disappointed Avner, I understand!)

-Roku- What will happen to all of those 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation boxes?  Roku is following in Boxee’s footsteps.

-APPLE TV - Who really knows what they are up to?  Rumors galore regarding an all inclusive APPLE TV have yet to really become a reality.  But with their latest acquisition, it seems they are still betting on being a big player in the space, if only they can convince content owners to come along for the ride!

-Gaming Consoles (XBOX, Playstation, Nintendo) - Although I am not a “gamer” I have to say I love the idea of ONE box to fit the entire family.  As we gravitate to all things “cloud” based, we could see a major shift in the actual hardware of these consoles and a step towards partnerships with Smart TV manufacturers to create an all inclusive gaming, browsing, and TV integrated APPS, less boxes please!

- Smarter than “Smart” TV’s - With the advent of 4k video and imbedded OS within TV’s, we will begin to see more and more  fully integrated browsers and APP variations within SAMSUNG, LG to name a few.

 What does this all mean?  For the basic consumer it will become a confusing and frustrating thing,  Just when you got use to that “wii” looking remote controller for your smart TV it will become full of frustrating updates and confusing APPS within APPS. Who will win? It comes down to a simple user interface that will include a clean search tool for all of your TV APPS, gaming and recommendation software that actually recommends programming that fits your specific desires.

All in all I believe that 2014 will be by far the most exciting year for consumers and content producers alike.  We will all continue to have our own unique and specific tastes and without the consumer demand their would be no more innovations.

So please keep watching!  But for the sake of your overall health and well being, get out of the living room as much as possible and enjoy the real world.(and please stop using the term TV everywhere)

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year.


itemprop=”name”>Joe Bretz is the co-founder and technical advisor to, and a speaker/analyst for a variety of organizations. He has been involved in the media business for over 17-years with a multi-faceted resume that includes a TV and Feature film Producer, Music Producer and new media entrepreneur.

To reach Mr. Bretz for speaking engagements or consulting.

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Cutting the cord for Xmas?

Check out this great tool and decide what is the best choice for you and or a gift and save some money by cutting the cord!


DigiDev’s Joe Q. Bretz Inducted into Worldwide Whos Who for Excellence in the Entertainment Industry

LOS ANGELES, CA. November 14, 2012, Joe Q. Bretz, Co-Founder, President and Director of The Digital Development Group, Corp. (OTCBB) DIDG, has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in the entertainment and new media industry throughout his over 15-year’s of career experience…

Twitter: Bluefin Labs acquisition ‘reflects our commitment to the social TV market’

It’s a done deal. Twitter confirmed reports of its Bluefin Labs acquisition on Tuesday night, doubling down on the company’s efforts to own the social TV space.

“This acquisition reflects our commitment to the social TV market, and builds on our exclusive partnership with Nielsen announced in December to develop the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, the centerpiece of social TV measurement,” explained Twitter COO Ali Rowghani. “We believe that Bluefin’s data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV.”

The acquisition price was not disclosed, but the NY Times reported that the price tag was just short of $100 million, according to an anonymous source. Not only is it the biggest acquisition in social TV history, but Twitter’s biggest as well.

“It’s a big day for social television and for us at Bluefin Labs,” explained Michael Fleischman, Jean-Philippe Maheu and Deb Roy in a blog post. “While our products have always included data from multiple social media services, the reality is that Twitter is the platform where the overwhelming majority ­– about 95% – of public real-time engagement with TV happens. So we couldn’t be more excited to join Twitter.”

Twitter said that Bluefin’s current clients will be supported, “but we will not continue to sell Bluefin’s product suite beyond the existing contracts.” In other words, Bluefin is now on Twitter’s advertising sales team. “Now as part of Twitter, we look forward to working closely with Nielsen, TV networks, advertisers, agencies, and the rest of the TV ecosystem to help shape the future of social TV,” Bluefin executives explained.

As we wrote on Monday, the addition of Bluefin’s analytics technology gives Twitter much-needed data to reinforce with TV advertisers that a Twitter media buy amplifies their TV buy. In the early days of a social ad product, clients pay to experiment. But as the product matures, there’s an increasing need for hard data to justify the ROI. Combined with the credibility of the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, Twitter is beefing up its sales story to move beyond experimental buys of promoted tweets and trends and grow its share among the biggest advertisers of all.

This is far from Twitter’s last play in social TV. Back in December, Twitter’s TV guy Fred Graver explained there are three goals. “One, developing Twitter as the live TV companion. Two, developing Twitter as a kind of live TV guide. And three, beginning to think about the Twitter rating as a new kind of TV rating,” he said.

Since then, Twitter teamed with Nielsen to create the rating, and acquiring Bluefin Labs will help drive Twitter’s second screen business. But there’s much more to go to meet those goals, especially on the product side. We’ve speculated before on some features they could add, and it will be exciting to see what they do next.

“As millions of people around the world experienced during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast, Twitter is an amazing complement to live television viewing,” explained Rowghani. “We look forward to working with Bluefin and our partners in the television industry to make the experience of Twitter and television even better.”

Dijit Media Acquires GoMiso

Dijit Media, the company behind interactive TV guide NextGuide, has acquired GoMiso, the company which owns the popular TV check-in engine Miso, as well as social TV products SideShows and Quips. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a press release, Dijit said that it planned to leverage Miso’s technology to deliver even more customized social experiences to users.

“Miso was the first to define the burgeoning social TV space and became a major contributor to where the industry is today, and we’re excited to be able to continue their vision,” said Jeremy Toeman, CEO of Dijit Media in a statement. “We’ve built the most powerful TV guide and discovery platform for consumers and the TV industry alike, and this acquisition will give us more tools to give our users a guide experience that redefines how people discover content.”

Miso secured $4 million in venture financing from Khosla Ventures in December, 2011, and has been rolling out new products, like the SideShows, since then.

Dijit, which started with a universal remote control app for iOS, added a check-in service in late 2011,launched NextGuide in September of 2012.

The full press release is below.

Dijit Acquiring Miso

Dijit Media, Inc., makers of the popular NextGuide and Dijit Remote TV discovery and control applications, announced today that the company is in the process of acquiring GoMiso, Inc, makers of the Miso, SideShows, and Quips social TV products. Dijit will continue to support Miso and Sideshow users, but intends to shut down the Quips app and service. Somrat Niyogi, founder of GoMiso, Inc, will join Dijit as an advisor.

“Miso was the first to define the burgeoning social TV space and became a major contributor to where the industry is today, and we’re excited to be able to continue their vision,” said Jeremy Toeman, CEO of Dijit Media, Inc. “We’ve built the most powerful TV guide and discovery platform for consumers and the TV industry alike, and this acquisition will give us more tools to give our users a guide experience that redefines how people discover content.”

Dijit Media’s flagship app is NextGuide, a “hyper-personalized” TV guide that brings together live TV with results from Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, iTunes, and Netflix. The app combines Dijit’s recommendations and discovery technology with social features and a unique mosaic-style interface for a modernized re-interpretation of the classic guide.

“We began the journey of inventing Social TV over three years ago, and think Dijit’s the right home for our users and the platforms we’ve built,” said Somrat Niyogi, founder of GoMiso, Inc. “There’s a lot we’ve learned about consumers and the ever-changing nature of TV, and believe that the NextGuide platform is poised for huge growth ahead.”

“As the use of streaming TV services increases, so does the need for cross-platform discovery solutions that aid consumers in identifying preferred content,” said Andy Tarczon, Founding Partner of TDG Research. “By adding Miso’s offerings to it’s platform, Dijit strongly positions themselves as a leader in the evolving entertainment discovery category.”