Category Archives: bad media

Getting tough at hanging onto things that should be rolled over

I’ve spent the past few years living in a Comcast cable market.  Coming back to Austin, TX meant coming back to Time Warner Cable, so I’ve only recently been exposed to rolloverorgettough.com.  This is TWC’s promise to fight hard for their subscribers in negotiating with those mean, old broadcast TV stations and cable networks.
I especially liked the following paragraph from the “How TV Works” section of the site:

“In addition, the growth of the Internet has brought countless new video options into consumers’ homes through services like Hulu, NetFlix, Amazon, and the programmers’ own websites. Right now, the broadcast TV networks generally offer that programming free over the Internet — and free over the air to any household with an antenna — but believe that customers who receive the exact same programming from their cable, satellite, or telephone company should pay a fee for it. That’s like putting a tax on the customers who get it from cable, in order to subsidize the viewers who get it for free online or over the air. We just don’t think that’s fair.” (TWC’s emphasis)

Checking my bill, it seems I’m paying my protector, Time Warner Cable, to get access to the Internet as well as cable TV.  So, I’m paying to get cable from TWC to subsidize the Internet that I’m also paying TWC for?  I’m a bit confused on what, exactly, is free here.
As it pertains to broadcast and cable networks feeling like people should pay a fee to get programming over TV but not over the Internet, is TWC saying they’d like to go to the model currently used on TV where those broadcast and cable networks charge TWC (and other cable, satellite and telcos) for the right to carry their programming – carriage fees, that 40% of their costs in the TV world?  I’m sure the broadcast and cable networks would be happy to have that discussion…
(Actually, they’d probably like to flip the model and have these “network hogs” – i.e. video providers on the Internet – pay extra to ensure better experiences – more on network neutrality soon, stay tuned.)
I’d posted over a year and a half ago on the issue that was brewing at that time between TWC and Viacom as it related to carriage fees and the “not fair”-ness TWC was claiming over video content Viacom was providing for “free” online.  There have been more than a few subsequent issues between cable companies and media companies since then, but the song remains the same.  Here was my summation then that still seems to be the case now:

“New distribution of programming doesn’t run so well under old monetization systems. In the process of improving the infrastructure of media delivery, access providers and media companies did a short-sighted job of determining the value of the shifts in media usage that they caused by improving the infrastructure. They never developed a model that appropriately valued media usage that is more driven by people’s schedules of desired use via two way cables than their schedules of distribution through one way cables.

So they are left to squabble over which antiquated levers and buttons they can pull and push to make a buck, ultimately, at the expense – in terms of money and, perhaps more importantly, time and convenience – of their most valuable assets: people who pay for access and are fans of programming (not pipes).

Kinda makes all the talk of “if the content is good, people will come” irrelevant, really. If the content is good and people come and no one makes sufficient money to produce more good content it really doesn’t matter.”


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Filed under bad media, digital distribution, future of media, monetizing media, TV, video

Unpacking Viacom’s and Time Warner’s Holiday Suitcases

As I’ve recently returned from a week’s holiday trip, I’m feeling the need to unpack Viacom’s and Time Warner’s suitcases and provide some thoughts on the content of their suitcases. Luckily, even though these would seem like heavy bags, this is light packing, won’t need to worry about comparing the rates of checking a bag vs. USPS/FedEx/UPS. Come next holiday season, though, they could very well have some heavier cargo.

Let’s hope they have separate seats or lots of free drinks coming to them in first class. They don’t seem to be copacetic traveling partners. I’ll assume they aren’t taking the corporate jets – Don’t most socialist governments realize that their is power in owning the media…Wow, Colbert would be so proud of me…thank goodness I’m a Comcast subscriber – so they can properly rattle the tin cup when the time comes.

On w/ it then…

Unpacking Suitcase #1
Viacom expects higher fees from Time Warner to carry Viacom networks on Time Warner cables to Time Warner subscribers.

Time Warner says Viacom’s network’s ratings aren’t all that great and they don’t deserve the increase they’re asking.

Viacom points out that 20% of all TV viewing is of Viacom programming, while fees for Viacom programming is only 2.5% of a typical cable bill. Thus, per Viacom, Time Warner has under-valued their programming.

Thoughts on Suitcase #1
I’m going to have to side w/ Viacom when it comes to looking at their share of the viewing market vs. TV ratings. It’s a fragmented media marketplace in these “mass” media and if value is still being derived by the most eyeballs, and if 1/5 of all Time Warner subs eyeballs are in front of Viacom programming, then only sharing 1/50 of revenue w/ them probably doesn’t make sense.

I wonder – do people consider themselves (more) Time Warner’s customers or fans of Viacom’s programming? Is the (most) value in the programming or the access to it? Try to recall, if you can, a case where someone (who isn’t a network engineer or some affiliated type of job) has more love for cables that carry digital packets of information – even if it’s always/usually reliable/redundant – than LC, Colbert, John Stewart, Dora or Sponge Bob.

I think it may be time to see what’s in the other suitcase.

Suitcase #2
Viacom is banking their revenue growth on increased carriage fees from cable operators in light of a slow ad market. 2/3 of Viacom’s revenue comes from media network revenue, which was up 6% in 3Q (while the ad market was down 2%) – primarily due to double digit growth in carriage fees (and Rock Band).

Time Warner isn’t pleased that Viacom takes their TV programming and runs it on their websites, where Viacom reaps all the ad revenue and doesn’t have to pay Time Warner one red cent for access to it’s cables and the customers on the other end of those cables. Time Warner “doesn’t think that’s fair”.

However, and not pointed out in this article, when people access Viacom programming via Internet service, more cables, provided by Time Warner, Viacom doesn’t share in revenues of that access w/ any sort of carriage fee. I’m pretty sure this would allow Viacom to call some sour grapes on the cry of “not fair” from Time Warner.

Thoughts on Suitcase #2
Ah, the nub of it. New distribution of programming doesn’t run so well under old monetization systems. In the process of improving the infrastructure of media delivery, access providers and media companies did a short-sighted job of determining the value of the shifts in media usage that they caused by improving the infrastructure. They never developed a model that appropriately valued media usage that is more driven by people’s schedules of desired use via two way cables than their schedules of distribution through one way cables.

So they are left to squabble over which antiquated levers and buttons they can pull and push to make a buck, ultimately, at the expense – in terms of money and, perhaps more importantly, time and convenience – of their most valuable assets: people who pay for access and are fans of programming.

Kinda makes all the talk of “if the content is good, people will come” irrelevant, really. If the content is good and people come and no one makes sufficient money to produce more good content it really doesn’t matter. Unfortunately for the suits, the infrastructure does a fabulous job of supporting people worn out from bad access provider service and an inability to find consistent, “good” content.

But, ah, the possibilities! I’ve riffed a number of times on monetizing a new media world. It’s one of the reasons I’m energized by the prospects before this industry in 2009. Looking forward to helping to figure it out!

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Filed under bad media, digital distribution, future of media, media usage, monetizing media

Old media mavens and their new media ways; media poorly covering media

If you’d like to read a well thought out piece about a variety of ways the news and media industry need to evolve to adapt in a digital world, read this from Jeff Jarvis (founder of Entertainment Weekly).

If you’d like to see in action some of those techniques in reporting a pretty major story in the media industry – did/is Google laying 10,000 people off – read this from John Battelle (co-founder of Wired).

If you’d like to read a not well thought out piece about finding meaning and making connections in trends around media usage and pandering to old media and their ability to crank out fox in the henhouse analysis of their own data, read this from MediaPost – or just read MediaPost everyday and let the confusion and swirl ensue.

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Filed under bad media, communication platforms, digital distribution, future of media, media coverage, media on media, media usage

Yonger demos are "watching" more commercials…while online at the same time?

I really, really, really need to stop even glancing at trade press headlines. I read the headlines and discount them way too quickly, yet give them a chance and read the story hoping for salvation, only to find my discounting was correct. To wit…

Ad-On: Uptick in young demos watching TV spots from MediaPost. That’s interesting, but as soon as I read the headline and when I clicked I was hoping to see some sort of reference to yesterday’s lead headline in MediaPost, i.e. that heavy TV watchers are also heavy Internet users and they tend to do both at the same time. So, extending that to this story, even if they are “watching” w/in the parameters of the much vaunted C3 style on DVR, they’re probably still multi-tasking and probably don’t pay all that much attention to the commercials (or the need to fast forward through them) the headline says they are “watching”.

Alas, this connection was not made. And this lack of connection is especially sad when you consider MediaPost covers, um, the media industry and their primary vehicle for covering the media industry is digital and if a media vehicle that covers media doesn’t realize that media usage isn’t linear anymore and that you can’t assume someone read yesterday’s lead headline and/or story then read today’s lead headline and/or story to put two and two together and think critically about both pieces who does?

Yeah, I get the sources in the story were different and though I didn’t and don’t plan to check if the reporters were different for each story, an editor somewhere should’ve caught that the lead headlines in subsequent days are somewhat relevant to each other yet take pretty different POVs. What a great opportunity for a digital media vehicle covering media to open up a conversation about the topic at hand – how much “watching” is really going on even if people aren’t fast forwarding through spots given the heaviest TV viewers show a habit of being heavy Internet users while “watching” TV?

Instead, depending on who saw which lead headline when you get people who are only half informed. And, frankly, today’s story is the kind of pandering to “old” media – it’s OK, young people are watching TV commercials – that drives me crazy. Read w/o yesterday’s story for context, it seems to advocate sticking to one’s guns vs. changing.

And, really, don’t we all need a little change?

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Filed under bad media, measurement, media on media, media usage

Nielsen says people who use Internet alot watch TV alot; Jerry says welcome to the late 20th century

I recently scolded some former team members of mine about their negative attitude towards people in this industry who are not technically inclined and thus suffer from minute cases of not understanding the digital media world in which we live. I quoted Gandhi. I reminded them this ignorance keeps those of us who are savvy in the digital media world in jobs. I will attempt to practice what I preach. I’m guessing I won’t be terribly successful. I expect a rebuke or two from those who know who they are…

When I saw this headline touted as if it’s new, ground-breaking news, all I can see pulsating in my brain is WTF?!?!?! Though I can’t quite put my finger on when I first saw this type of info reported, I’m relatively certain it was in the late 20th, or very early on 21st century.

Is this news because that holy grail of media measurement Nielsen is releasing this information because, obviously, their media measurement is the quintessential best (sarcasm, folks, pure and simple…how about a little more)? Yeah, that probably is news since, per Gandhi, Nielsen has done the ignore, laugh, fight and is now realizing in order to win (or at least reach parity) they need to change what they’re doing. Glad it took them roughly 10 years from the first time I saw this kind of data reported.

SERENITY NOW! (oh, look at me, quoting from a TV show even though I’m a heavy Internet user…Nielsen is so right…)

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Filed under analytics, bad media, future of media, measurement, video

(Lack of) Political Media Strategery

As mentioned, I’ve had more than five calls in five days from the Republican Party of Minnesota imploring me to vote for McCain/Palin and Norm Coleman (non-Minnesotans: the dude that was mayor of St. Paul, brought professional hockey back to MN, has been a senator for 6 years, and is running against Al Franken).

This fine Sunday morning, I had a wonderful flier in the handle of my storm door, not the first of those either in the past 5 days.

If I’m undecided and you call me five times in five days when my number is on the Do Not Call list (yeah, I know politicians get special status, but I’m in this industry…if I’m Joe Insert Name Here, I may not be as in the know w/ such things), then paper my front porch w/ your fliers when the “No Soliciting” sign is roughly a foot from my door handle, you’re not really getting credit for listening to my needs. And most likely not getting my vote as two things I remember vividly less than a week before voting are things that PISS ME OFF!

I guess the irony is that at this point in the game it’s usually the Dems reaching for high frequency desperation tactics. Regardless, do these people not have media/advertising strategists working for them? Or have they not learned from Dem failures of the past 8 years and the media strategies they used to get there. Oh, wait, they probably do and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

And let’s not forget 30 minute infomercials. Personally, I was asking myself where the foamboard charts were. “We’re in deep doo doo, folks.” Now that’s how you connect w/ Joe Insert Name Here.

My only comment is HRP used his own money to buy two 30 minute blocks of time, which came off as a bit pretentious and showy but he was a 3rd wheel looking to shake things up.

BHO, a major party candidate, used the funds he raised by not adhering to policies of fund raising that he said he would adhere to before he became the nominee. I get that he more than any other modern candidate accumulated a ridiculous amount of minimal contributions from a ridiculous number of people by activating the true base, in the trenches, part of the electorate to get the money. And I greatly applaud that because that is a sound use and activation of strategy that understands that all politics is indeed local.

However, he is now the candidate talking about spreading the wealth around who is buying 30 minutes on three major broadcast networks on the mass-est of mass media.

A thought: How about you finish strategically where you started? Produce the video for straight to digital distribution to re-ignite the base and get them passing said video around to their undecided friends vs. wasting dollars on the committed base and the competition’s committed base. Polls right now show a huge advantage in electoral votes, but most agree that the 10 million or so undecided voters are the key. If you buy into the promise of social media, as you seem to based on how you’ve used it throughout, then the best way to persuade the undecided is via their friends and family who aren’t undecided.

Just a thought. After all, you were the man who advocated using a scalpel vs. a hatchet in the 2nd debate. You can apply that analogy a bit more easily to media strategy than trillions of dollars of debt. At least I think so…

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Filed under advertising effectiveness, bad media, communication platforms, competition, election 08, media usage, push vs. pull, video

People don’t like telemarketers…or politicians

So why would politicians use telemarketing? The Republican Party of Minnesota has now called my home no less than 5 times. I’m sure the 20 percentage points McCain is trailing Obama by here in Minnesota is easily made up by continually pestering people by phone in their home. I like that the people who passed the Do Not Call List left a loophole open so they can bug me to vote for them.

These are the same people, i.e. those in government not Republicans vs. Democrats, who are trying to regulate away effective online advertising…unless, it would appear, they see the benefit in using it themselves. All politics is local, so hows about stopping calling me and perhaps reach out to me surgically via the cyberweb?

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