Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Popular Wisdom: Wrong Again

The commentators and critics were wrong about vcr's in late '70s. The popular wisdom then, at least in Hollywood, was that videotapes would put the studios out of business. Doom and gloom abounded. That proved wrong. Videos delivered a much needed boost in the arm to the "industry."

Until recently, the popular wisdom has been that the Internet would put the television nets out of business. OK, it's an exaggeration, but cut me some slack, I'm working on a larger point. That point is that Nielsen is now reporting that the number of people watching television shows is actually up.

The conclusion is rather dramatic according to the Nielsen press release...

Video on PCs and iPods actually is expanding the audience of traditional TV programs, supported by the fact that total TV usage was at a record high in U.S. households at 8 hours, 14 minutes a day during the 2005-2006 TV season according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The study also reports that television advertisers and programmers are finding new and lucrative markets in broadband television. Nielsen also reports on advertising models, saying that 15-30 second pre-rolls work best and should demand a higher CPM than traditional television advertising due to the level of interactivity. There is debate, however, regarding whether pre-rolls will emerge as the favored ad model in broadband tv. Some critics argue for the potential of post-rolls. Others say that subscription models will rule.

Newspapers Pull Back
The Boston Globe has announced that it will be closing its three remaining overseas bureaus, Jerusalem, Berlin and Bogota. The WSJ comments that this reflects a "painful" issue for major metropolitan dailies. In the face of mounting losses and budget cuts, do they concentrate heavily on local reporting?

Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor stringer in Iraq and one-time kidnapping victim, who was a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center notes that the number of U.S. newspaper correspondents stationed abroad had dropped 12% between 2000 and 2006, dropping to 249 from 282.

Last week, Jack Welch on CNBC said, "I'm not sure local papers need to cover Iraq, need to cover global events." I'm not going to get into whether Jack Welch is the commentator most qualified to talk about the state of journalism (although he is trying to buy the Globe), but what he said makes a lot of sense. There is so much timely coverage of major issues across the board 24/7 that local newspaper dollars are perhaps best spent on local coverage and enterprise or investigative reporting. Those are things that readers aren't going to get elsewhere.

Advertising Age's Madison + Vine reports that OfficeMax totally rocked the house in its aggressive Holiday campaign. On one of the 20 websites they launched,, where people pasted their faces on a singing and dancing pixie, 11 million people turned themselves into elves. That's not me btw.

The site was splashed across "Good Morning America," CNN, ESPN and national print pubs, and more than 100 user-generated videos were posted on YouTube. Elf Yourself generated 79,000 MySpace hits and 2 million Google queries, all in about five weeks. Consumers spent 300 million minutes on all 20 sites, which pulled in $2.5 million in media exposure.

Multi-platform rules!