Friday, January 12, 2007

Mobile TV: Who Knew?

Just a couple of shorts today to get your weekend off to a rip roaring start. TelecomWeb reports that mobile TV is starting to catch on. Things are far from standardized in terms of mobile devices, capabilities and offerings, but the quality is much better. US and UK providers are much more likely to offer mainstream channels. Asian operators, Maxis and Mobile One, are providing content geared more specifically to local interests.

A new study by Bivings reports that newspaper websites (54%) are much more likely to offer mobile content than blogs (24%). Based on earlier studies that show newspapers by and large are lagging far behind other forms of media in web availability, this would indicate that those that are on the web are going for it. But what the study also indicated that there is no uniform way to access the mobile information available. Some requires going through third party services, others charge a fee.

At this point, the overall conclusion that mobile still has a way to go. We'll follow what develops over the year, and I'd like to hear any and all observations.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eye Care

CBS' Les Moonves is getting with the program, tearing it up at CES in Vegas....

"There's no such thing as old or new media anymore; we're just media.... Whether 'programming' means 'CSI' or 'C++,' we're all playing on the same big digital field."

Among the initiatives he's announcing is bringing Star Trek to Second Life, where there will be some sort of Entreprise mock-up. OK. Hoping to catch the viral buzz that amateur videos are finding through YouTube, CBS has also teamed up with Sling Box to create a "Clip and Sling" product that will enable viewers to send network clips far and wide.

Moonves also introduced YouTube's Chad Hurley. They announced a joint contest in which viewers will be invited to make a 15 second video on any subject. They winning entry will be shown during the Superbowl.

Some of this will work, some won't. But CBS is certainly in there pitching.

Colbert Reporting

Comedy Central's Steve Colbert gets it. He is quickly turning his phenomenal television show into a media brand. In a column in Mediapost's TV Board, Manning Field gives a rundown...

For those who don't know, here is what TV host Stephen Colbert has done:

1) Understanding his audience and the You Tube creative community, Colbert filmed an action sequence behind a green screen, and then issued a challenge to his viewers to edit in a background. I don't know how many entries there were in this challenge, but it was huge. Colbert understood his audience and engaged with them on their terms. Go check it out in You Tube or

2) Colbert has created an alternate set of "facts," repurposing the "Wiki" idea. Just Google it. It's both hysterical and extremely smart.

3) Some central European country was having an Internet vote to determine whom to name a bridge after. After Colbert asked his viewers to vote for him, he got the largest number--millions--of entries. He lost the rights to the bridge name on a technicality, but he was very effective at using his television show to drive online behavior.

The Collapase of Paper, Continued

In a stunning announcement, E.W. Scripps has announced that it may spin of its newspaper operations -- it currently owns newspapers in 18 markets -- in an effort to unlock what it sees as the true value in the company's stock. Joseph NeCastro, Scripps EVP of finance and administration, said that, "Newspapers are much more troubled.... It's hard to call the bottom." Newspapers now account for just 29% of Scripps revenues. Growth in recent years has come from cable properties like HGTV and the Food Network.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Media Convergence 2.0

OK. We were all wrong the first time. Things did not converge in the mid-90s. Your phone did not become your TV, your computer did not walk your dog, etc. But technology finally appears to be catching up with big ideas, and it looks like it may actually happen this time. iPhone and Apple TV are two, big examples. I suspect, though, that the phone will be a tougher sell than was the iPod. The early adopters will do it. That's a gimme. I think the problem will be widespread adoption among folks who already have phones AND already have mobile contracts. All of sudden you could be talking about $750 to buy a new phone.

Another example of convergence a-coming is today's announcement that Meredith, the old school publisher of titles like Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, has acquired Genex and New Media Strategies. The former a digital ad agency; the latter a word of mouth agency. This would seem to be a sign of a traditional content company diversifying (i.e. spreading the brand) into marketing services. Time will tell if a content company getting into the ad game is the wisest way to go.

The WSJ take on it....

“The acquisitions follow Meredith’s purchase of LA-based interactive-marketing agency O’Grady Meyers ... The latest deals are the strongest signal to date that Meredith—confronting slowing growth in its core publishing and television businesses—is broadening its focus to include marketing services, one of the fastest-growing parts of the advertising industry. Even after these purchases, the Des Moines, Iowa, company is still on the prowl for other acquisitions to round out its marketing-services offerings, says Stephen Lacy, Meredith’s CEO.

I had an opportunity to speak with my friend Aaron Brown last night. No, not the deposed CNN anchor, a former producer. For the last couple of years, he has been with an outfit called The company provides info on travel deals and links to providers of travel services. Aaron has been at the forefront of getting the company to make a commitment to new media initiatives. They now host a videocast (while you're watching the video you can actually link to the deals) on their site, and there's more in the works. He believes that travel is an area where there are numerous multi-platform opportunities that have not even begun to be tapped.

But Will You Pay for It?

I didn't realize that the has more subscribers than all but three print newspapers in the country -- The New York Times, USA Today and the print version of the Wall Street Journal. WSJ publisher had this to say about it in Romanesko....

"I am very concerned that many other publishers with high-quality news brands have devalued their brands by trying to charge in one medium (print) while giving away access to brands and content in another medium (online)," he says. "But I understand that it's very hard to change strategies."

Interesting thought, but numerous publications, including the NYT, have found it exceedingly difficult to find an online model that readers will pay for.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

MySpace RIP?

That headline should grab your attention. While it's obviously much too early to sound the death knell for MySpace -- and that day may never come -- it is no longer the social networking choice of those in the know. I am not a hipster (as my wife informs me on a regular basis, and I actually agree), but my friend Spyro Poulos is. Spyro is the advertising director for Tokion Magazine. It is a decidedly hip pub and Spyro is a decidedly hip guy, and he tells me that those in the know are moving on. I have felt for some time that the next big thing in social networking will be proprietary social networks, those delineated by niche or those inviting membership. These are the new places to be, and the places to find early adapters.

Politics Online

It will be interesting to see what happens later this month with the launch of The Politico, the primarily online political publication, financed by Allbritton Communications. These guys are cutting the papaer out of newspaper almost entirely, as reported by The Times.

As many newspapers across the country are cutting their staffs and trimming back on Washington coverage, The Politico is finding younger journalists and some veterans — including John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei from The Washington Post, Mike Allen from Time magazine and Roger Simon from Bloomberg News — who are willing to leave the once-secure confines of traditional print to join a start-up.

The content will be first rate. What remains to be seen is whether The Politico will be able to attract readers -- and profits -- in a niche where there is so much already available for free. I think a lot of it is going to depend how quickly the pub can establish a brand and demonstrate multi-platform chops, meaning incorporating video, perhaps social networks and other forms of media into the mix.

Monday, January 8, 2007

When Worlds Collide

Merrill Lynch reports that VOD and DVD rentals are headed for a death match. As reported earlier today in Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen says that VOD is coming into its own, offering better quality films and gaining a foothold in consumer homes with the wider adoption of digital. VOD releases are now timed closer to theatrical release windows, leaving less time alone for DVDs on rental shelves. The two big winners: Comcast, the country's leading provider of VOD, epxected to have 40% of VOD subscribers by 2011 and to capture 40-50% of total VOD revenue (projected to be $2.8 billion) at that time; and, the studios who have not fared well by rentals over the last few years. Rental revenues will rise 10% in the next few years, due to VOD.

Funky Media

Crain's New York Business reports that poor local radio and television revenue figures for 2006 have left broadcasters "glad that 2006 is over."

Unfortunately, 2007 isn't looking much better. Television insiders are predicting a low single-digit drop in ad billings this year as the Internet continues to steal advertisers.

Stay tuned....

Good News, Bad News

The good news, according to Forrester Research is that mobile consumers are beginning to adopt other services, creating audiences for mobile marketing. The bad news is that 79% of consumers find the idea of mobile ads annoying.

As reported in the Boston Globe....

To avoid the perception of mobile spam, marketers must work with the unique elements of the mobile channel itself and the relevance of their message," Forrester Research principal analyst Christine Spivey Overby said in a statement. "In contrast to other channels, mobile is highly integrated into people's daily activities and physical environment. This means marketers can embrace the real-world connections with relevant location-based services and campaigns that tie mobile and on-premise advertising."

One Nation Under a Groove

At the risk of losing whatever credibility I may have, I suggest you check out Bootsy Collins. Bootsy helped to redefine the James Brown sound ... Do you promise to funk, the whole funk?