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Music Format Mojo February 25, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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According to CBS Marketwatch:

Roxio shares gained as much as 12 percent Wednesday after a story in the New York Post’s online edition said Microsoft has been “quietly shifting some of its marketing muscle” to Roxio’s Napster digital music service.

Uh, what’s the point of “quietly” shifting marketing muscle?

Oh, and Marketwatch doesn’t even link to the Post story it cites in its lead. I can understand newsroom competiveness, but for Pete’s sake, Marketwatch is an online pure-play. It of all companies, should think of its readers first, and use the common online etiquette.

Apple’s iPod dominance is certainly making Micrososft’s Windows Media technology look like an also-ran in music right now. It’s too easy to say the more “open” and “standard” – well, widely licensed – WMA will win in the long run. There’s no sign of Apple losing share right now, and no reason to think it will for 12-24 months. Sony’s got a screwy DRM/format story and Amazon has yet to be heard from. My colleague Joe Wilcox is deep into some WMA analysis.

But unfortunately, the format that counts is still unprotected MP3.

Sponsorship Overkill? February 24, 2004

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This has to be some kind of record. By my count, this Fox Searchlight movie promo site for Club Dread has sweepstakes sponsored by

– Lycos
– Maxim
– Yahoo

This morning at least, there’s a photo that hints Captain Morgan Rum has a hand in, though I can’t prove it. As for the form & content, one has to ask: Are blogs so mainstream they’re over? And finally, I found the site via a banner link off the front page of the NY Times site. Whoulda thunk?

Disney Comcast Madness February 11, 2004

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I’ve ranted before about my preference for horizontal versus vertical integration in media businesses. And as my colleague Todd Chanko reminds me, all these deals come down to money – not synergy. But the financial implications of the merger are beyond me and I won’t comment on them, other than to observe that in most cases cable is the cash generator, not content.

Some of my Pro arguments are similar to those for NBC Universal:

– Much as I dislike vertical integration of studios and distribution, given today’s market conditions, it may be necessary for negotiation leverage
– Comcast is running well & has smart management; Disney has plenty of smart managers under Eisner, but isn’t running that well right now & has huge turmoil surrounding the board
– Comcast has a billing relationship with its customers, which might help Disney with on-demand content strategies
– Disney is one of the few media companies whose brand means anything, but what that does for Comcast Cable escapes me
– In contrast to Time Warner and Sony, both Disney and Comcast are centrally managed companies, so if a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” strategy ever made sense, they could probably enforce it

Cons (that outweigh the pros)
– I can’t see any of those RPTPP strategies that couldn’t be done better with a win-win deal between partners
– Most content needs maximum distribution: Comcast doesn’t have a national footprint so Disney/ESPN et al will still have to do deals. Unless Disney’s datacasting Moviebeam is the secret plan
– Most distributors can’t afford to put all their eggs in one (studio) basket: ABC has not thrived because of Disney content while Warners (a studio without a major network parent) is the most successful TV studio these days
– Size is rarely a good thing, except for negotiations, and for “efficiencies” of which I see precious few
– Although they’d have a general-purpose TV network, the combo still lacks a general-purpose online network or portal. Now if together they bought Yahoo…

Brian Roberts’ letter to Eisner outlines the usual merger platitudes, and specifically calls out technology and on-demand content potentials:

…As you have expressed on several occasions, one of Disney’s top priorities involves the aggressive pursuit of technological innovation that enhances how Disney’s content is created and delivered. We believe this combination helps accelerate the realization of that goal-whether through existing distribution channels and technologies such as video-on-demand and broadband video streaming or through emerging technologies still in development-to the benefit of all our shareholders, customers and employees…

What Ever Happened to the $10B Online Porn Market? February 10, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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It never existed. US online adult paid content is about a $300M business (see Figure 10). The total market was somewhat bigger when there was a lot of advertising – though much of that was barter – but now that the links are all pay for conversion, that additial revenue stream has shrunk.

Many people raise their eyebrows at our conservative numbers. But here’s some more evidence. Whitehouse.com is for sale.

Whitehouse.com owner Daniel Parisi claims he’s got a million dollar a year business but he’s probably fibbing. If it’s so great, why does he want to sell, and why is the only interested buyer National Fruit Product, that owns White House applesauce?

What’s the Download? February 8, 2004

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It took till 11.30 PM eastern time for the Grammys show to mention music downloading. They finally did, and launched a site with an accompanying TV ad.

What’s the Download

Hey, I’ve defended the RIAA lawsuits. I’m practically an industry apologist. But this is four years too late. And there’s a typo on the front page. In a reference to the URL, no less.

We all love music. We listen to it at home. We bring it with us on the run. We share experiences through it. But lately there’s been lots of noise about music, how we get it and what we do with it. That’s why you’re here. WhatsTheDownlaod.com is a place for music lovers to visit. To learn. To chat. To get info. To be heard. To get answers. To understand that there’s so much more to music than meets our ears

The site links to pressplay (which redirects to Napster, of course). And to mp3.com, which displays a message that says CNET is still working on the acquisition. Groan. Get the first team on the Website, guys.

On the plus side, the first postings seem articulate, even open-minded, and with a range of views. With 2,430 votes in, 68% feel that file-swapping “rules” aren’t clear or easy to understand.

Sooperbowl part V February 2, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Apparently, my taste is not mainstream. I just voted on AOL’s Superbowl site for my favorite commercials during The Game:

Pepsi’s I fought the law
Bud donkey
Chevy soap
Staples mafiosi
Monster ready for work

The current leaders are
Bud donkey
Bud light sleighride
Bud light dogs fetching
Bud light spa
Bud light chimp

But only the first two have 10% of the 648,000+ votes.

Final results of the AOL poll are here.

Sooperbowl part IV February 1, 2004

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The Pepsi ad with young “Jimi Hendrix” was…well…brazen, if impious. I laughed. Pepsi looking good for best sooperbowl investments, though I’m liking the Cadillac ads, too. AOL’s dial-up promotions aren’t doing it for me.

Sooperbowl part III February 1, 2004

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Someone has to explain to me just who, exactly, the Sooperbowl halftime, etc. “entertainment” is aimed at. Justin and Beyonce are pretty current, yeah, but Janet Jackson? And does Aerosmith have some embarassing photos of Paul Tagliabue? Why are they still around? It’s not even just ABC anymore! For goodness’ sake, they’re still playing Walk This Way….

The NFL is painfully un-hip – even when produced by MTV and with exposed flesh – especially compared to the NBA, but that’s just fine. I’d vote for cheerleaders and marching bands myself. This half-@ssed mix of pop, Willie Nelson, and inoffensive, whitebread “hip-hop” is painful. Let’s go back to patriotism and wholesome T&A, please. And where’s Bruce?

Sooperbowl part II February 1, 2004

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IBM’s Linux “Shake up the World” with Muhammad Ali is bringing tears to my eyes. But what’s up with the Pepsi overload? And Busch leading the league in bad taste?

Sooperbowl part I February 1, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The Pepsi/iTunes ad is brilliant. But for shame! Too bad they didn’t use a cooler version of “I Fought the Law.” Bobby Fuller? the Clash, perhaps? But Green Day????? for pete’s sake…