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Media & Technology in 2004 December 31, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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That’s the title of the Times’ special convergence section. While half of it is more like a 2003 year-in-review, the Times hits on some key themes for 2004 with Cable & Telco bundling and paid search .

It picks the wrong Murdoch angle, highlighting James’ role with BSkyB, when the real action will be at DirecTV. And 2004 won’t be the year DVRs matter; that will be 2005. The Times is correct to zero in on the studios’ efforts to outwit potential piracy via PR (the Journal is already blaming it for a mild box office slump!), and music DVDs are pretty hot, but the real story in ’04 will be digital music’s role in staving off the music industry’s collapse & paving the way for video. Unfortunately, iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and Wal-Mart won’t be enough.

My picks for the 2004 convergence stories:

– The return of sponsored media
– What’s the new business that critical mass (20% home penetration) broadband will engender? Is there really such thing as a home entertainment hub?
– Two backlash angles: paid search & media measurement
– Two “will they be successful enough to matter?” angles: digital music & paid online content
– Three management angles: DirecTV (what will Rupert do?), AOL (can it make up ground lost to Yahoo & MSN?), and discipline in entertainment company management (will there be any?)

I think:

– DVRs
– Local search/Yellow Pages showdown
– Online branding breakthroughs
– Sports rights & how to pay for them
– At-work audience exploitation

are still a year away. Tech industry recovery is farther off than that.
And programming and marketing that counters and takes advantage of fragmented, cross-media & multitasking audience behavior is a story that keeps on going.

Dumb Idea – Replicating Newspapers Digitally December 29, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The LA Times’ resident media curmudgeon, David Shaw, weighs in on newspaper Web sites. He likes the idea of digital facsimiles or on-demand printed versions of the actual print editions better than the Web implementations.

Well, like Shaw, I occasionally mourn the loss of the “serendipity” of print browsing, and I think he’s right on the money about most sites’ inability to deliver context to stories via headline weights, page placement, and juxtaposition. But I totally disagree with his solution.

We’re all still building a new medium here, but one thing that is clear is that while re-purposed content is fine, online presentation must be optimized for the medium. It’s no accident that sites like Yahoo News and AOL News outrank mainstream news media sites in Jupiter Research’s CORE metrics.

Web serendipity is done with links, Mr. Shaw. But I agree that most newspaper sites have blown the issue of context and promotion. Most are adequate – at best – at navigation. But check out AOL’s welcome screen, Discovery, Slate, Marketwatch, Eonline – hey, there are lessons to be learned from P&G’s Homemadesimple.com. All do fine jobs of story promotion.

Regular readers know I’m a fan of a heavy editorial hand online, one that’s balanced against navigation that should usually depend on effective search. Yes, it’s an on-demand medium, with empowered users. But viewers are still sheep – er, audiences – that need guides.

Timeshifting the Old Fashioned Way December 11, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Variety reports that Disney’s SoapNet has acquired the same-day retransmission rights for Sony’s Days of Our Lives, the number one soap that runs on NBC. SoapNet will run Days at 7PM, before its block of ABC soaps.

Variety thinks this means Sony won’t launch its own all-soaps network. (Sony downloads eps on SoapCity.com for $1.99 or $9.99/month.) We’ll see. It will also be interesting to see if Disney can work out a promotional strategy with NBC the way it does with its own network, ABC.

It’s also fun to observe, in this world of VoD and DVRs, that re-broadcasting is alive and well. Or maybe we don’t really have enough stuff for those mythical 500 channels after all….

Sex & Drugs & NY Times December 3, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Why does the Times equate ads for unlicensed pharmacies with ads for porn? The Grey Lady, in the form of Saul Hansell, harrumphs:

Yahoo and, most recently, Google have moved to restrict ads from unlicensed pharmacies in attempts to address concerns about illegal sales of drugs online. But those efforts to police drug advertisers do not carry over to restricting online sex ads. In fact, Yahoo and America Online have changed their policies to earn more money from Internet searches related to pornography.

Yes, and your point is…?