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Good Television from CBS News February 20, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Goodness knows, CBS News needs a pat on the back these days. Last night’s “60 Minutes” did a really solid piece on the controversy surrounding the offensive-to-Muslims (and everybody else as well?) cartoons, and the controversy’s Danish origins. The story was called “The State of Denmark,” buried pun on “rotten” fully intentional.

It managed to illustrate the freedom of expression angle, while taking various newspapers, clerics, and politicos to task, pretty much for bad taste. It moralized withouth preaching, and even hewed more or less to American standards of telling all sides. I’m not saying Murrow would have wept, but it was good work, and compelling television.

How can you tell if “60 Minutes”‘ take on the affair is accurate? Well, the fact that just about everybody came out looking bad is a pretty fair indicator.

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Not Seeking Rocket Scientists, Just Inspiration February 17, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Time Warner’s Dick Parsons, who seems to have beaten back Carl Icahn’s break-up plan (greenmail payout is still unclear), maintains his image as big media’s coolest, most diplomatic, even-keeled CEO. But I gotta say, this Wall Street Journal interview isn’t particularly inspirational. And I’m “the AOL apologist;” the last believer in synergy.

Parsons is reasoned and wise about the risks of collapsing movie release windows:

    When you have to collapse windows, is that going to have a negative effect on the total revenues that a piece of content generates? You now have a window for the theatrical release, a window for home video, another window for premium HBO type, another one for broadcast, and then another one for cable. If that system collapses into one, can you generate the same amount of revenue? No one knows.

But then he uses that to justify vertical integration. Although the difference between horizontal and vertical integration in media can be pretty murky, I’m way more a fan of horizontal. In media you want multiple distribution channels competing for you if you’re a creator. And if you’re a distributor, you want multiple creators to spread the risk of hits creation. And anyway, Time Warner is better at horizontal than it is at vertical integration.

    We have the best assets in the media space. I think we have the best management. Shame on us if we can’t make this thing work. It is not rocket science.

Uh, but Dick, that’s the problem, it’s not working all that well. Yeah, Time Warner is paying down its debt, buying cable assets, and Warners is okay. But where’s the cross-media promotion? the integrated campaign platforms? the fragmented-audience solution delivered via big, broad scale? the magic to restore growth to Time Inc. and AOL?

True, it’s not like your bretheren at Disney, Viacoms I & II, NBC Universal, News Corp., or Sony are doing much better. But Time Warner’s the biggest, and the only one with serious Internet revenues.

It’s Thursday, So It Must Be Time for More Amazon Music Rumors February 16, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Journal and others are reporting that Amazon’s going to create a subscription music service, complete with branded device. This would be no surprise; Amazon has a great chance to lower the customer acquisition costs that are so crippling (Figure 10) to Napster et al.’s profits right now. Problem is, can Amazon learn how to do programming?

E-Book Madness February 15, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This is absurd.

    Sony Corp. has developed a reputation for being heavy-handed when it comes to placing controls on how the consumers use its digital content. In a few months, the company will get a chance to show the world that it has learned from those mistakes.

    This spring, Sony is planning to launch in the U.S. the Sony Reader, a portable device for digital books and documents, along with digitized titles from major publishers sold on a Sony online bookstore. Users can download these books and transfer them to the Reader, which is the size of a thin paperback. The screen uses a special technology that looks like real black print on paper.

E-book (hardware) success will have nothing to do with DRM. It’s about demand, not supply. The iPod was a success because:

– People listen to music on the go
– CDs are perceived as over-priced
– People had existing collections of music in MP3 form, and an easy way to rip their collections
– The iPod is a cool, must-have, status symbol

Regular old books are:

– Very portable. And the reading experience is better on them than on any device
– Cheap
– Very tedious to “rip,” especially given the two above points (i.e., it’s not worth the effort)
– Yeah, right

The initial opportunity for eBooks centers on places where those things aren’t true, where it’s not economical for Barnes & Noble or Amazon to stock them, where absolutely fresh content is desireable, or where consumer annotation/editing etc. is highly desirable.

Those conditions apply to textbooks, recipes, and encyclopedias. Not a heck of a lot more. And the reasons textbooks are “overpriced” is because they have a built-in gray market, i.e., re-sale, that the publishers would otherwise not share in (their distribution channel — college bookstores — do.)

And oh yeah, Adobe’s pdf is all you need in the way of DRM, and last I checked, laptops were ubiquitous among college students.

Sony’s device could be the best e-book every — and it most certainly is — and it still won’t create a mass market. The instant “is this the next iPod” analyis is just plain silly.

Sony, and Random House and Simon and Schuster, et al., please tell the world how you’ll address the demand-side issues.

Panic in the Streets of Wall February 14, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I wonder to myself, could life ever be sane again? Don’t worry. Google’s fine. We’ll be posting “Understanding Google” very soon. Barron’s thinks Starbucks is a goner, too.

Remember, I’m not doing stock analysis, just industry analysis. You know industries, right? The stuff that real companies do?

UPDATED: Link to Understanding Google.

Curses, Tagged Again February 14, 2006

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Tagged by Marissa. Because I’m a good “netizen,” I’ll continue the meme for the moment. Yes, on my corporate blog, because my other ones are, umm, under the radar.

Four Jobs I’ve Had in My Life:
Busch Gardens costumed character – it was “Sir George” in my day, with better armor
Wheelwright in training, well, not really, just a “costumed clown.”
Fast “food” Don’t eat the “cue”. Don’t ask.
Journalist

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
Mad Max
Duck Soup
His Girl Friday
King Kong

…and Chinatown, and Red Dust, and Clockwork Orange, and Bride of Frankenstein, and Casablanca, and LOTR I, and 2001, and Rio Bravo, and Nashville, and The Big Sleep, etc. etc. oh, come on.

Four Places Iíve Lived other than L.A. other than New York (with food memories from each):
LA – bad, great burritos on the pier (Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, it doesn’t matter)
SF – Cha Cha Cha
Boston – best you’ll find East Coast Mexican
Williamsburg, VA – Nick’s, sadly, is gone

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:
Veronica Mars
24
X-Files
Max Headroom

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
I don’t really “vacation,” so, four places I’ve traveled to under various circumstances that I’d visit again in a heartbeat:
Whiskey Trail in Scotland
South Africa
Tokyo
London, any time, any means

…and Rio, and Buenos Aires, and Milan, and KL, and Chicago, and Cartagena, and Paris, and Cornwall, and Dublin, etc. etc. oh, come on.

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
Wall Street Journal
NY Times
Yahoo Comics (and MyYahoo)
ESPN

…and WaPo, and AOL, and Google, and Slate, and Sportsline, and USAToday, hey, I’m an MSM kind of guy. The blogs and most of the pure-plays are regular, but non-essential.

Four of My Favorite Foods:
Pizza, that would be New York pizza
A good Reuben
Any good burrito west of the Rio Grande
Bagels, lox, cream cheese

Is it any wonder that this WASP lives in NYC?

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
This seems redundant, see previous “vacation” list.

Four Tags:
…sorry, this chainblog ends here. Most of my friends who blog have been tagged, and I’m not sticking the professionals.

What Ad Networks Do February 14, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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As usual, Organic’s Mark Kingdon makes good sense. Ad networks like Spot Runner and Google will democratize, then commodify, then bifurcate ad strategeries.

    Long term, more advertisers will pump out ads targeted at an already overwhelmed target audience. But these targets, who already feel hunted, will continue to build walls and use filters to avoid interruptive, irritating messaging. Over time, the market will bifurcate. Major advertisers will continue to up their game by creating richer, more engaging brand experiences. They will seek out placement opportunities that are exclusive, unique, and very relevant.

Now That’s Synergy, Baby February 13, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Take that, Carl Icahn. You can’t do this with four different companies! The Journal sketches out a Starwood-Time Warner cross-media, ultra-synergy, superduper integrated promotions deal. Actually, it’s kind of silly. But it kinda sorta hints at what a cross-media deal could look like.

Starwood spends more on ads, while Entertainment Weekly shoots celeb interviews in W Hotels, which are streamed on AOL to Starwood loyalty program participants. Plus, books and mags are available via in-room minibars. Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. may contribute content. Etc. etc. Why don’t you try letting the AOL folks fix People.com and Time.com, first, guys?

Product Placement Heaven February 13, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Is this the ultimate product placement? What would Angelina “Lara Croft” Jolie do?

Long-tail, My…Er, Well, You Know… February 10, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Gee, what a #$@%ing surprise. Popular songs are popular because they’re popular. Amazing the Boing-Boing crowd — especially Cory — acknowledges that this might actually be the case. Guess those dinosauars at the Big Labels aren’t quite as clueless as we thought, eh?