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iTV is Back! Kinda Sorta November 28, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I saw a pretty good pitch for iTV ads from Comcast and TV Guide yesterday. They sell banners on the on-screen program guide (EPG or IPG) that, if you click on them, give you extra info or let you play a trailer or order VOD. The ads are available in 17 million digital cable households, likely the most widely deployed iTV app in the US.

The pitch was totally aimed at programmers. I asked later, and there’s no interest from Comcast in doing Tivo Showcase-like infomercials, just tune-in promos and VOD. TV Guide might be a little more flexible, outside of Comcast DMAs. Neither would talk CPMs, and TV Guide said it was in the process of updating its rate card.

As I said, the pitch was pretty compelling. In a world where appointment viewing is fading (their survey said 2/3rds of people don’t know what they’re going to watch when they sit down in front of the set) and flow between shows is just about done (89% check the guide as a new show starts, and 3/4 do so when they’re bored), it’s a good scare tactic to demonstrate the power of on-guide promotions. They had pretty convincing case study data on the ability to promote shows (esp. beyond a premiere), increase the life of free VOD programming, and perk up VOD buy rates.

The slides are here, and worth checking out. Goodness knows, it’s tough to use the Internet alone for hit-making.

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I’m Pretty Sure Google Isn’t Enron November 27, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m at least as cynical as the next guy, but I have to say Google’s renewable energy initiative feels both noble and sensibly self-serving. Tidbits from the press conference that may not be in the announcement:

– Near-term objective: produce 1 gigawatt of energy (enough to power San Francisco) for cheaper than coal
– Coal-powered electricity ranges from 4 cents/kilowatt hour for a new US plant to 2 to 2.5 cents for a depreciated plant. So they’re aiming for 1 to 3 cents from solar-thermal.
– Google won’t say what its own energy consumption is, but the way it’ll first deploy the technology will likely be for its own data center consumption. Also, the energy creation and consumption will likely be co-located. Basically, Google’s own consumption can fund the work they think is needed to kick-start current solar-thermal efforts into overdrive. (If that’s a metaphor.)
– Google will spend tens of $Ms initially. Hiring 20 to 30 people in the next year or two. Google has “hundreds” of people in its data centers that could contribute.
– Google sees reasonable payoff “in the hundreds of $Ms in the near term.” Beyond that, whether it’s technology licensing, renting out its people to build plants, or getting a piece of other companies’ power spending is an open question. It doesn’t sound like Google wants to build plants or broker energy itself, though.
– Other opinions on energy tech: hydro is cheaper than coal but there’s nowhere to build any more significant capacity; nuclear might be okay but there doesn’t seem to be a way to finance it privately.

Sobered Sports Fan November 27, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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On television and at the movies, a gunshot wound in the leg doesn’t kill, and an athlete doesn’t die young without a moral to the story. Sadly, this is real life.

(Advertising) Armageddon? November 26, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This reminds me of the Cramer rant below, which is always worth a re-listen.

The U.S. media industry is on the brink of a second downturn in a decade, one that could accelerate the divisions between fast-growing targeted advertising and traditional formats aimed at mass audiences.

Note how much internal contradiction follows. Nobody knows anything, as usual. Silicon Alley Insider’s been on this one for a while. Updated Jupiter online ad forecasts are imminent.

What Ever Happened to Podcasts? November 26, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Doonesbury link.

What, no podcasts? Link to Jupiter report on ad opportunities in podcasting, such as they are.

    Twenty-six percent of advertisers plan to create a podcast in the coming year, and 17 percent of advertisers plan to place advertising in a podcast. However, only 13 percent of online users have downloaded or listened a podcast, and while they’re a valuable audience, they have complex reactions to advertising, requiring careful campaign planning and management.

Heading for New Raneles One of these Days November 21, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Kinda cute. I like the TV campaign, but part of the fun of the real ads is how they combine more than three cities…

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You can buy the goods, courtesy of Zazzle. Consumer-paid advertising — I love it!

Ibiza Defense November 21, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Colleague Michael Gartenberg did tell. I like the idea of always-on mobile connectivity, too. Unfortunately, the best benefit would be jukebox in the sky streaming and downloading, and I’m not sure that the way the mobile operators charge for minutes & data in this country — i.e., bundles they hope you don’t use — would support such a thing.

Not a Fan of Overpriced, Under-Featured iPod Competitors November 20, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Gotta disagree with colleague Michael Gartenberg’s fairly positive review of the Haier ibiza MP3 player that supports Rhapsody’s on-demand music service. Even though Michael is Jupiter’s lead gadget guy. Okay, sure, it does support a cool music service. But it’s, umm, not aggressively priced — 30GB for $300 — right now Apple, for pete’s sake, has an 80GB iPod for $250. And it’s “un-branded.” Haier makes refrigerators.

Michael, do tell why you think an overpriced device has a chance, and yet you dis Zune, which at least is priced close (unlike Haier’s), looks good (unlike Haier’s), has a slick UI (unlike Haier’s) and has some features Apple doesn’t (WiFi, on-demand service support, though the wrong one…ie not Rhapsody or Napster).

Device manufacturers are going to have to underprice and outfeature Apple to gain share. And regular readers know I’m the biggest fan of subscription services there is.

Latest US Digital Music Forecast November 19, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Jupiter’s latest digital music forecast is live. Digital is where the growth is, but it won’t be enough to “save the industry.” That is, sales of downloads, on-demand subscription services, and ring tones, won’t compensate for declining CD sales, and consumer spending overall will still wither. Some highlights:

Combined, spending on downloads and subscriptions — what we call “digital music” — will surpass $1.3 billion in 2007 and grow to $3.4 billion in 2012. That means digital music, which accounted for only 9% of consumer spending on music and ring tones in 2006, will total a whopping 34% in 2012. That’s because the bottom continues to drop out of CD sales, and the overall pie ends up shrinking.

We’ve raised our downloads forecast, and there are some hints of substitution among (relatively) early adopters. Downloads will grow over 35% in 2007, to $1.1 billion. Downloads will continue at a very healthy 20% CAGR through 2012, when they’ll hit $2.8 billion.

On-demand services like Rhapsody and Napster look a little sluggish, but should cross $235 million in 2007. They’ll also show a 20% CAGR through 2012, growing to just under $600 million. They’ll remain a niche product for aficionados, at least for the next five years.

Overall, it’s not a pretty picture for some parts of the industry, and the forecast hammers home the idea that labels must act more like management companies, and tap into the broadest collection of revenue streams and licensing as possible. Advertising and creative packaging and bundling will have to play a bigger role than they have. And the $3 billion-plus touring business is not exactly up for grabs — it’s already competitive and not very profitable. Music companies of all types need to use the Internet for more cost-effective marketing, and A&R risk has to be spread more fairly.

Clients can check out the report here; the press release is here.

Dispatches 3 November 18, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Nokia is a platform playa. In devices, if not on the Web. At least, not yet, though it has ambitions. More on this later.