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Time Warner Losses January 29, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The Time Warner numbers are ugly. Here’s what is important from an industry analysis point of view:

– AOL’s subscriber count appears to be down 0.3% sequentially in Q4, though up for the year (the shrinking appears to be mostly outside the US, but still…) – they have got to push BYOA for broadband. Non-subscription (ie ads) revenue was down 39% for the year.

– Ted Turner resigned (though he’s still on the board). CNN/ABC may actually happen

– Time Warner’s net worth decline will force continued asset sell-offs and probably totally eliminate any potential acquisitions

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Suing Google for Doing Its Job January 29, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Yet another reason why neither the courts nor the government is quite up to handling the Internet better than The Marketplace:

Slate on Google suit SearchKing tried to trick Google’s algorithm, and Google responded by manually overriding it, and lowering SearchKing’s network’s ranking.

By many ways of thinking, Google is the best general-purpose search engine. But it’s certainly not a monopoly. And its so-far remarkably unremarkable News offering proves the value of human editors.

Some Jupiter search research:

Web Site Search

Search Engine Optimization

Core search tech

Concept with Legs January 29, 2003

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Regular readers will know that, for profitable entertainment creation, I advise erring on the side of process rather than art. But let me be the first to admit that no market research would ever have predicted the success of TheSimpsons. Well done, Matt Groening. Well done, Fox.

News story Earlier this month, the network announced that it had renewed the series for two more years, through May 2005, meaning “The Simpsons” will stay on the air for at least 16 seasons. By then, they will have easily eclipsed the real-life Nelson family on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” as the longest-running weekly comedy series on TV. The Nelsons left ABC in 1966 after 14 seasons on the air.

Reality TV Forever? January 25, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Good NYTimes piece says the economics and ratings of reality shows are making networks re-think their lineups. Of course this will be a fad, but reality shows are very product-placement friendly, and, as true event programming, much more TiVo proof. Who wants to watch one after everybody knows the outcome?

On the other hand, that means they have little repeat viewing value, limiting second-run syndication and DVD sales. Another DVR countermeasure, but longer off, would be inserting instant on-screen polling into live reality shows. Jupiter said reality TV, live TV and iTV were made for each other – and that if the big networks were aggressive they could make a comeback – back in January 2001.

Entertainment Industry 101 Refresher January 23, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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As usual, The Economist gets it right. This piece pretty much nails the issue. I’m a little more cynical perhaps, and believe you can install an assembly line to produce entertainment cost-effectively, then jump on the hits as they emerge. But it’s all about balancing discipline and creativity.

Wearing a Blue Ribbon in My Lapel January 22, 2003

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Contrary to my Canadian colleague, I am not a big-government socialist, or a criminologist. And I’m certainly not a lawyer.

But I am terrified of the prospect of media companies reallocating resources away from biz dev toward lobbying and lawyers. It’s hackneyed but it’s true – every new medium has grown the total pie for content creators and distributors. Sure, some business models – or is it just pricing? – need adjusting. Sure, it will be bloody. Hey, that’s capitalism.

Plus, record labels have more to fear from ripping & burning than they do from file sharing. That goes double for movies. See our music survey report. and similar data on teens. Even so, 40% of 15-17 year olds who bought a CD in the past 12 months said downloading was a positive purchase influence. 28% said copying from a friend was. The figures were 11% and 10%, respectively, for adults.

Oh, and I’m half Canadian.

More “Journalism” Hooey January 22, 2003

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I just love it when media covers itself.

From the Buffalo News Journalistic standards weren’t a big part of the deal when the AOL crew took over the company that practically defined magazine news journalism with its flagship, Time magazine.

“Journalism as defined by AOL was nothing more than a chat session with Britney Spears,” said Nina Munk, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, who is writing a book on the AOL/Time Warner merger.

I can’t wait for Munk’s book. Time Inc is about 11-12% of Time Warner’s revenue, and many of its pubs are pure entertainment. The vast majority of Time Warner’s business is entertainment, not journalism. I should hope the merger wasn’t driven by journalism. And, Nina, Britney isn’t even on a Warner label.

CNN Sour Grapes? January 21, 2003

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This quote runs in a Chicago Trib story “Ratings are the greatest enemy of good journalism in television,” said Tom Johnson, Isaacson’s predecessor as chairman and CEO of CNN.

What kind of elitist tripe is that? Tell that to 60 Minutes or Edward R. Murrow!

The story goes on to say CNN’s last two years raise the question of whether or not CNN can be both financially successful and journalistically successful at the same time. (Or at least financially successful enough — the irony of all the changes made at CNN by Kellner is that he has been tinkering with a profitable network and managed to make it less so.) Johnson thinks it can.

“Provided,” he said, “AOL Time Warner does not set unreasonable profit targets. As the AOL team did.”

By most accounts CNN is profitable. I certainly hope Time Warner mgmt does not run it like the vanity exercise Johnson thinks it should be. That’s certainly not why the AOL mgmt is out.

Legitimacy Anniversary January 15, 2003

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It’s the anniversary of the event that legitimzed the Internet as a news medium. Five years ago today Drudge broke the Lewinsky story.

As shown by Jupiter’s News CORE, due to its reach and mind share, AOL News is the overall leader in online news…both The New York Times and Drudge Report appear to satisfy a more sophisticated news audience.

Another Good Yahoo Quarter January 15, 2003

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This Wall Street Journal story on Yahoo gets it right, in contrast to their last quarter’s write-up, which was overly focused on paid search. See Portal Revenues Yahoo is doing a great job of blending new paid content and services revenue streams with creating a digital marketing platform for its advertisers, all without major hiccups in delivering what its users want. Sure, it’s benefitting from anti AOL backlash – as is MSN – but this is a very competitive three-way race right now. That’s good for users and marketers, and bad for other online publishers, especially the ones without Big Three deals.