Archives for October 2003

The new word in Presidential politics — blog

The new word in Presidential politics — blog
According to Wired’s Lawrence Lessig, “Whether or not it elects the next President, the blog may be the first innovation from the Internet to make a real difference in election politics.” This wonderful
article contains some valuable insight from Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s campaign manager.

You will absolutely suffocate anything that you’re trying to do on the Internet by trying to command and control it.
The Dean campaign has built a community based on blogs, and this is entirely new in the world of presidential politics. Lessig writes, “The lesson of the Dean campaign so far is that community can’t be broadcast. It gets built not from slick commercials squeezed onto a Web page, but from tools that enable, and thus inspire, hundreds of thousands of people to something that American politics has not seen in many years: hundreds of thousands of people actually doing something.” This is the beauty of information via the Internet, and it’s very Postmodern. Dean’s campaign has empowered people to be a part of the process, and in the Age of Participation, this is critical. The idea of command and control is Modernist to the core, and whether Dean and Trippi ultimately succeed isn’t the point. They’ve broken the back of the political status quo, and anybody in the information business should be paying close attention.

Yahoo ends its paid video service

Yahoo ends its paid video service
In news that should come as no shock to those who regularly read this blog, Yahoo is reported to be dumping its paid video service. According to Reuters, outsiders briefed on Yahoo’s plans said the move reflects a broader shift away from a pure subscription model for Web video to one in which it is supported by a combination of advertising and other fees, such as broadband access. There are still many companies (ABC, RealNetworks) that cling to a subscription model for video and other content on the Web, and there will likely always be a limited market for such. But the advertiser-supported MSN Video concept announced just a few weeks ago is causing everybody to take a second look at the idea of paid content. In the video on demand world into which we’re headed, the market will determine what we’ll pay for and what we won’t, just as it does today. I think the idea of paying individual Web sites for their content will eventually give way to ISP-driven models. I don’t pay HBO directly. Why should I pay Yahoo? Moreover, it is newspapers, with their history of a subscription revenue base, that insist users will pay a subscriber fee for their online content. Television stations (and Networks), who’ve grown up with an entirely advertiser-driven revenue model, have long been envious of their print counterparts, but the truth is THEY are in the driver’s seat when it comes to online video, because they must know advertisers will pay to be a part of it.

The case for open standards for online streaming

The case for open standards for online streaming
Imagine how different the world would be if you had to purchase a different television set to view each channel. That’s the question posed by VBrick CEO, Rich Mavrogeanes, in a wonderful commentary in CNet’s “Streaming media can only thrive,” he says, “if there is one standard. It is now time to put an end to the “click here to view with this, that or the other player”–not just to eliminate viewer confusion but also to reduce costs by eliminating the need for each streaming media content provider to host multiple systems.” This is an important concept, and I think Mavrogeanes is right. As we’ve shown in the past, broadband allows anybody to be a TV station, but that idea won’t realize its potential unless and until a single standard is accepted and applied. This is why I so like the technology of EyeWonder, the Atlanta company specializing in playerless streaming.

Creating a new brand for young people

Creating a new brand for young people
As we’ve reported previously, the newspaper industry seems far ahead of local television in strategies to woo young people. The best so far is the creation of separate papers — and in some cases Websites — the target young people. They’re looking for revenue, of course, but the primary reason for the free daily tabloids launched by Gannett and Tribune is an attempt to bring the concept of newspapers to young readers. A Dow Jones Business News story on the subject yesterday contains a couple of compelling quotes by Fred Searby, who follows the newspaper industry for J.P. Morgan. As you read these quotes, think of the local television industry.

“The Achilles heel for the newspaper industry is that young people aren’t reading the newspaper. They get their (information) from somewhere else.”
Their small circulations mean the papers probably won’t add much to publishers’ earnings, but Searby says, “The upside is if they can get young people back to reading the paper. That’s the ultimate question mark for this business.”

A question I often hear from broadcasters is, “How do we reach out to these young people without alienating our core audience?” The answer is to diversify and compete with yourself. Newspapers have figured out that by competing with themselves, they’re not only able to help their market share, but they’re also planting the seeds for a newspaper-friendly future. We should be so smart.

Deutsch: "People like advertising."

Deutsch: “People like advertising.”
Donny Deutsch,advertising exec and host of upcoming CNBC specials about media, says that TiVo won’t kill off commercials. In an interview with I Want Media, Deutsch says that PVRs don’t mean an end to the 30-second commercial.

“There have been a lot of things that people over the years have said would kill off the 30-second commercial, including the Internet. I think people like advertising. It’s not going to go away. Even in the early research of TiVo, a lot of people were not zapping through the commercials — particularly beer commercials, which are entertaining, and pharmaceutical commercials, which are so informational. If anything, I think [PVR technology] will force advertisers and agencies to take their game up and make sure their messages are relevant, engaging and very informational.”
He also says product placement advertising has its place, but that it must be done well. “If we see Phoebe in an episode of “Friends” take a swig of a Snapple and say, “This tastes great,” consumers are going to say, “bull—-.” It has to be done in a relevant way. Consumers also want to be allowed in on the bit.” Deutsch notes that a generation is growing up that “understands about being marketed to,” and I think this is important lesson for TV News people and especially the promo boys. News marketing that is less than intelligent is one of the reasons young people are turned off by local news. We think we can force viewers from one time period to the next with our clever teases, but all we do is piss them off. (“We’re all going to die tonight, and we’ll tell you about it at eleven.”)

It's not just the programming, stupid!

It’s not just the programming, stupid!
The folks at A.C. Nielsen have responded to network allegations that sloppy research produced this year’s sharp decline young male viewers, and the networks aren’t happy. Interpublic’s Magna Global USA unit analyzed the Nielsen data and came to the conclusion that young men simply aren’t watching network TV as much as they used to. They cited video games, DVDs and the Internet. Steve Sternberg, senior vice president-audience research at Magna cut right to the chase, “It’s the programming, stupid.” Of course, our favorite ostrich, Alan Wurtzel, president-research at NBC, disagrees, “I do think we’ll find out there was something wrong in the methodology.” Isn’t his naiveté cute? The truth is it’s not just the programming. The culture is shifting to one where entertainment is interactive, not passive, and it strikes at the heart of the most passive medium of them all, television.