Thursday, January 25, 2007

Decision 2008

A few short observations today. I want to start looking at what the different presidential campaigns are starting to do online. The early multi-platform results are not good. Fred Wilson reports his disappointment at what the candidates are offering. He says that it looks closer to 1995 than 2007. No real blogging or grassroots efforts. Screened questions answered by email.

I had lunch today with a friend who's become very involved with creating the King's Academy in Jordan. It's been termed by the New Yorker, CBS and the NYT as Deerfield in the Desert. King Abdallah has modeled it after his alma mater, the centuries old Massachusetts prep school. But it strikes me that he's really on to something. The idea is to deliver a secular education to kids in the Middle East. True, there will be a lot of rich kids, but 15% of the tuition is geared toward providing scholarships to kids from the region. There are also scholarships being put into place for kids from Israel. If there's anything that can be done to broaden the horizons of smart and ambitious kids from the Middle East that does not entail sending them to radical madrasses or religious schools, I'm all for it.

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!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mochila: Syndication for a New Generation

Welcome to today's column. I begin what will be a regular feature on Multi-Platform Media, company profiles of ventures in this multi-platform space, or just companies that I want to write about.

Today it's Mochila, a company that has come strong out of the gates and is creating a new paradigm for syndication in our fragmented media world. Mochila reaches syndication agreements with various media partners -- a slew of them so far -- and offers the material to other media sources for use other plans and on other platforms. Unlike other syndication companies, Mochila does not require that those use the material sign long term subscription deals or anything like that. You like it. You use it, for a fee, of course.

There's also a new offering that enables licensees to use material for free if you run it with ads embedded. So, I can run pages on this website with content provided by Mochila. You'll see the ads, and I'll get 30% of any revenues, Mochila will get 30% and the content owner will get 40%.

I had an opportunity to speak with CEO Keith McAllister yesterday -- he's a veteran of CNN -- and he was extremely encouraged by the media response since the company emerged from stealth mode last year. His strategy is to go after the biggest brands in the business, and their members include AP, , Hearst, Hachette, Washington Post/LA Times News Services. In all, 1542 media outlets and 139 organizations. They are planning to add still photos and video shortly.

Mochila has just received $8million in second round funding. The round was led by Charles River Ventures, and previous investors, Mission Ventures, The Greenspun Corporation and Jerry Colonna also participated.

It looks like a great service. The only variable I see are the scads of websites out there who are inclined just to lift stuff for free. Of course, it's not the right thing to do, but that hasn't stopped many people in the past. I think the most likely clients are corporations and "official" media companies who won't just lift stuff for free. McAllister offers that the opportunity to make money off the content will keep the small guys in line.

Keep an eye on these guys. If they can continue to line up name media brands as partners, they'll have a considerable advantage over others that follow.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Adult Entertainment Edition

A wise man once said, "As pornography goes, so goes the world." Well, maybe it wasn't a wise man. Maybe it was me about ten minutes ago. But, in any event, I think it's pretty well known that gambling and porn are early adapters in the world of tech and media. Everyone else follows the money.

The biggest news I heard over the weekend was that adult entertainment powerhouse, Vivid, would be beginning production on Blu Ray technology first, and possibly later on competing format HD-DVD. This is big news as the slug fest continues between the rival technologies.
Vivid CEO Steve Hirsch said to

"As of now, it (the first release) will just be Blu-ray. But that's not to say we won't release it in HD-DVD later. Blu-ray seems to have the momentum. But we're not in the business of picking winners. We will produce content for all formats."

However, as On the Media pointed out this weekend, the final adoption of one technology or the other as the successor to the standard DVD format is likely to have fewer ramifications than the Betamax/VHS war of the 1980's. There are now too many ways of delivering content for any one to be pervasive. BTW, Vivid's first Blu-Ray release will be Debbie Does Dallas... Again. It's a remake.

The Times wades into the subject today with the take that introducing HD into the world of porn could be asking for too much information.... "The biggest problem is razor burn," said Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director. She goes on to say that she's not too sure why anyone needs their porn in HD. The answer is provider by the director known as Robby D., "It puts you in the room." OK. Asked and answered.

The format status, according to the Times, seems uncertain. It reports that Sony, one of the major players behind Blu-Ray has been reluctant to give it's blessing to mass production of tapes for the adult industry. Digital Playground, a Vivid competitor, will begin releasing HD-DVD titles this month. Beginning now, there will be four new releases a month.

Let's put this in context. 7,000 new adult titles were distributed on DVD last year in the U.S. That's $3.6 billion.

Quote of the day, from actress Jesse Jane, "I'm having my breasts redone because of HD." In my house the adoption of HD has necessitated fewer changes. We're buying a new tv.

Last week Behr Entertainment was at NATPE trying to sell a video version of Naked News, the site on which women delivery the day's headlines while -- getting undressed. The program, dubbed, "All the news with nothing to hide," is available daily, weekly, with either men or women. There's even a non-nude version. I think that one's already pretty much around. I haven't been able to track any news on a sale.