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Heavens to Betsy

12 Jan, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

I got a nifty little Christmas package this year — a 30 GB video iPod.

Yes there was a tiny bit of “squeeing” attached to the opening gift and I quickly but lovingly retired my wonderful, but rapidly filled iPod mini as I transferred my digital library over to my new best friend “Betsy.” (I like to name my belongings, and yes, I have had imaginary friends).

I'm sure I wasn't the only person delighted to see this gadget in his or her stocking this year. In fact, I personally know six people who got a video iPod for Christmas. And I know two more people who went out and bought one for themselves after seeing a friend or family member's new toy.

So hooray for Apple. Hooray for us.

I was excited to check out the video feature on my new baby — after all, I had a bunch of "Lost" episodes already purchased on my computer. The show looks surprisingly good on the small screen and the sound is awesome.

However, it's a real bummer that after watching only two episodes of “Lost,” my little Betsy was almost completely out of juice. Meanwhile, for music playback only I got 13 hours out of her.

Poor girl just gets pooped from the video playback.

Playing with her and getting to know her better over the last couple of weeks has made me think differently about the video feature on the snazzy device.

I think it's an interesting novelty.

Don't get me wrong, I love this girl, she's my constant companion. But she is that to me for the music she so craftily and snugly allows me access to, much more than the videos.

I currently have only three music videos on Betsy, and one episode of "Battlestar Galactica," which I will likely relieve her of shortly. I've already taken all the episodes of “Lost” off. Frankly, I'd rather use the space and power for music and save the TV viewing for my computer.

But, playing a couple of short music videos here and there still leaves plenty of battery left for music listening, I've discovered.

The iTunes store has daily updates of the top selling videos, songs and albums. I've been checking out the video side frequently just to keep up with what's hot.

As I sat down to write this I dove into the top 100 video sellers as of Wednesday afternoon to see if it might back up my “shorter is better” philosophy.

It does.

Yesterday, 37 percent of iTunes' top video sellers were music videos. Add to that “Saturday Night Live” shorts (10) and Pixar Shorts (3) and half of iTunes' video sales were for content that is less than 10 minutes long — that leaves plenty of juice for audio-playback after you watch it.

The numbers get even thicker if you add episodes of “The Office” to the mix. Yesterday, 17 of iTunes' top 100 video sellers were episodes of this hit sitcom. Two of the top 100 videos were from Disney's “The Adventures of Zach & Cody” sitcom.

Adding those together, it comes to 69 percent of the top 100 sellers as content that can be viewed in 20 minutes or so — you can watch at least twice as much of it as you can episodes from an hour-long series before losing battery power.

Sure, plenty of people are downloading longer content from iTunes — 11 of the remaining top 100 sellers of the day came from “Lost” alone, the rest split between “Desperate Housewives,” “Battlestar Galactica” and several “Best of Saturday Night Live” programs. (for Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken and John Belushi).

The recently announced-for-iTunes college football programming also was all there in the top sellers; in fact, the 2006 Rose Bowl was iTunes' No. 1 video-seller yesterday. The Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl made the grade too, even weeks after those games were decided.

But still, even if you add up sales of episodes, the two most popular TV-content downloads on iTunes — “the Office” (17) and “Lost” (11) — don't beat the numbers of music videos iPod lovers are buying.

To me, that spells out this device remaining, primarily, a music one. But we music-lovers are entertainment-lovers across the board; so we are obviously going to play with the content, see what works for us.

As for Betsy and I, I think we will stick mostly to music and short bursts of video — keeps us together longer.

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