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“i” Stands for Infomercials? June 29, 2005

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Ya gotta wonder. When a network has to do a press release denying they’re switching to an all-infomercial lineup, then says they’re changing their branding…well…you just gotta wonder. That “i” certainly can’t stand for “interactive” or “Internet-related.”

    May 25, 2005–Paxson Communications Corporation (AMEX:PAX) (the “Company” or “Paxson”), the owner and operator of the nation’s largest broadcast television station group reaching 87% of U.S. households (approximately 95 million homes), today issued a statement in response to recent media reports that the Company is switching its television network to all paid programming.

    Chairman and CEO Lowell “Bud” Paxson said, “There have been several reports in the press that the Company is dropping or reducing entertainment programming. Those reports are totally incorrect. The Company will continue to offer the same or an increased amount of entertainment programming than it has in the past. However, as we approach the new fall season, the entertainment programs on our schedule may change to allow the Company to give its shareholders a better return on their investment.”

    June 28, 2005–Paxson Communications Corporation (AMEX:PAX) (the “Company”), the owner and operator of the nation’s largest broadcast television station group, reaching 84% of U.S. households (approximately 91 million homes), today announced that it will be changing the brand name of its primary television network from PAX TV to “i.” The new “i” brand reflects the Company’s new network programming strategy – to provide an independent broadcast platform for producers and syndicators who desire to reach a national audience. The Company will begin using the “i” brand name on July 1, 2005, and during a transition period, will run on-screen identities featuring both the new and existing brands and on-air promotional spots informing viewers of the change.

    President and COO Dean Goodman said, “The change in brand names reflects our strategy to operate our primary network as independent television by offering a mix of original series, movies, specials, sports and news that appeals to a variety of interests. Supported by our broad distribution platform, we want to evolve our primary network as a strongly branded television destination for all viewers and for producers and syndicators seeking a national venue for their programs.”

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Why There Is No Paid Content Online June 29, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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“For (Caterina) Fake (co-founder) of Flickr, however, the business model is still secondary. “We’re creating a culture of generosity,” she said.”

Good to know. Bet she “does no evil,” either.

We’ll be updating our paid content and services forecast shortly. Jupiter had predicted a three-stage paid content/svcs packaging trend back in 2002. Phase I was every man for himself, then there’d be an aggregation/bundling phase, then back to 1:1 relationships between branded providers and consumers. We appear to be moving into Phase III.

An early tidbit from preliminary survey results: When asked about premium bundles for security, information, and entertainment, 13-17% of online adults said they’d prefer to buy any of the bundles from their ISP, 3-7% from a portal, and 8-10% from a dedicated provider. Except for security, where 31% said dedicated provider. And two thirds weren’t interested in info or entertainment bundles from anybody.

Which Product Looks Like a Sony II ? June 29, 2005

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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Or is it this?

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PS the Journal’s Page One on Sony trying to take on the iPod is not particularly enlightening. I’ll save you the trouble: the different divisions squabbled.

Which Product Looks Like a Sony? June 29, 2005

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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B0009GUE06.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Is it this?

More on iTunes Podcasting June 28, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Michael’s got the fundamentals and early review of iTunes 4.9’s podcasting support. Here are a few tidbits from our conversation with Apple:

– Apple claims about 3,000 entries in the podcast directory at launch

– Publishers and podcasters that want to be in the directory fill out submission forms. (Apple is recruiting premiere partners like NPR, ABC News, ESPN, etc.) Apple claims it won’t have much editorial judgement, other than no porn, no hate messages, no licensed music. It’s hoping the community will police itself for that kind of thing – its small editorial staff will look for highlights to promote rather than prevent. Top 20 lists are automatic.

– Podcasts are in AAC or MP3 (AAC required to support bookmarking and indexing) but not DRM-wrapped

– Music will be one of the 21 categories in the directory, but Apple’s not too excited about the opportunity to pay Webcasting royalties for mainstream music shows. It’s keener on music shows that are promotional, i.e. playing unlicensed, unsigned artists.

– Apple will produce its own weekly music show along the lines of New Music Tuesday or Top 20, but it will only include 30 second clips.

Bogus “Innovations” Under Threat from Grokster Decision June 27, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Okay. Now I’m riled up. My previous post made me sound like a Big Media apologist (what else is new?). But this kind of cr*p gets me going.

    …what today’s decision will kill is American innovation. Chinese and European firms can get funding and ship products based on plans that don’t have to comply with this decision’s fuzzy test, while their American counterparts will need to convince everyone from their bankers to the courts that they’ve taken all measures to avoid inducing infringement.

Good grief, man, why do you think people were using Grokster? Could it be – to steal music? Yeah, let’s fund a bunch of Amuhrican companies whose purpose in life is to steal intellectual property! (Only cr*ppy content wants to be free, pal.)

The crazy Euros are trying to regulate Microsoft product design. Bet you’re in favor of that, Cory, aren’t you? Because they’re big, they must be evil. (I won’t even touch the notion of Chinese “funding.”)

Bogus patents are one thing, but you either believe in protecting intellectual property – and paying its creators – or you don’t. Maybe US copyright law needs a few 21st century tweaks. But that’s not what this case is about. We’re all capitalists here. At least I think we are.

Yeah, the major labels move slower than dinosaurs stuck in tar pits. Yeah, Silicon Valley moves a little faster. (Until it begs Sugar Daddies in Congress for trade protection.) So put ’em out of business with real products. That’s what Apple’s working on. But before you do that, force all artists to make a living from live performance, while rich white college students can steal the fruit of their hard studio labor. Now, that’ll be popular with the creators and innovators.

Get a grip. Solve a customer need, innovate, move on to the next thing.

Oh, and apologies for not linking to Joe Laszlo’s thoughtful interpretation of the Supremes’ moves earlier. Credit where it’s due, and all that.

Grokster Ruling Won’t Stop Real Pirates June 27, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I suppose I’m obliged to have an opinion about the Grokster decision handed down by the Supreme Court. Frankly, I just can’t get excited over the Court’s unanimous decision that sends this case back down to a lower court, because the the defendants “took active steps to encourage infringement.” (Leaving some room for legitimate P2P use, and for a Betamax defense elsewhere.)

This is hardly a “big victory” for Big Media. All this means is that P2P networks that cater primarily to pirated music and movies will move farther offshore. That makes them harder to shut down, last I checked. Yeah, the decision also makes it easier for Big Media to go after a small handful of companies (Grokster and Morpheus, as powered by StreamCast).

And “The ruling, according to analysts, could provide a lift for legal music online businesses like Apple’s iStore, RealNetworks and Napster, and the emerging online movie services like Movielink, CinemaNow and Starz on RealNetworks.” Huh??? Not according to this analyst. I love digital music, especially subscription services – especially for music aficionados – but nothing competes with free.

Mother of Mercy, Is this the End of Public Broadcasting? June 25, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I wonder if any local PBS or NPR affiliated stations will attempt to abandon the mother ship.

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday appointed Patricia S. Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, to be its next president and chief executive.

CPB is only responsible for 15% of public broadcasting funding. Of course, spectrum-license renewals might be tricky.

Google Wallets = Micropayments? June 23, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I think Charlene Li is right, Google Wallet – assuming there is such a thing – is at least in part about micropayments. Maybe even superdistribution and affiliate systems, too. Various Jups can attest I was saying this a few days ago, but I didn’t post. So I’ll just humbly link to the competition.

Sensible Skepticism in Stats-Quotation June 23, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I can’t remember seeing so many source qualifications in a story before. The WSJ seems highly critical of General Mills’ claims that Cocoa Puffs are better than no breakfast at all:

    “…says Jeannie Moloo, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a professional group that gets funding from dieticians and the food industry… said Elizabeth Lascoutx, director of the group, which is partly funded by children’s advertisers, including General Mills…The study was written by three researchers in General Mills’s health and nutrition division. To calculate the statistic that 5% of the sugar in a child’s diet comes from sugar, General Mills used data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A spokeswoman for the agency said she couldn’t confirm the 5% figure.”

But the Journal also casts a little skeptical light on the counter argument:

    “…said Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition, food studies and public health who frequently is critical of the industry. Ms. Nestle hadn’t seen the General Mills ads.”

If only stats-quoting in general were treated this way.

And in case you’re wondering whether my own business is vulnerable, I’d attribute a JupiterResearch data point something along the lines of: “the widgets market will grow to $2 billion in 2005, according to analysis and advisory firm, JupiterResearch, whose clients include widget manufacturers.”