Archive for October, 2011

It was a little notice mention yesterday on YouTube’s own official blog. But with a dash of the obvious, Google is telling the world of television that it is about to have competition in every way for the hearts and minds of entertainment viewers. There is no attempt to sugarcoat this move with statements about how Google is here to help everyone find what they want. This move puts the company in direct competition with today’s media companies. The message is clear: We have a huge audience, and we are going after every possible minute of their time.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the blog:

“Wonderful things happen when cool technology meets great entertainment. Cable television expanded our viewing possibilities from just a handful of channels to hundreds, and brought us some of the most defining media experiences of the last few decades– think MTV, ESPN and CNN. Today, the web is bringing us entertainment from an even wider range of talented producers, and many of the defining channels of the next generation are being born, and watched, on YouTube.

“Today we’re announcing that even more talented creators and original entertainment will soon join YouTube’s existing channel lineup, including channels created by well-known personalities and content producers from the TV, film, music, news, and sports fields, as well as some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies in the world and some of YouTube’s own existing partners. These channels will have something for everyone, whether you’re a mom, a comedy fan, a sports nut, a music lover or a pop-culture maven.

“Our goal with this channels expansion, along with the grants and educational programs we’ve launched in the past year, is to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers.”

Google is funding all this new development with at least $100 million in advance payments to content creators. And at the same time the company has announced a new version of Google TV, which hastens the steps toward the holy grail: the single interface that brings you all video programming, no matter where it comes from: the web, cable, over-the-air, Netflix, etc. So when a viewer decides he wants to watch a movie, the same remote control can access that movie from any source. Your choice will be made based on the best deal you get. The end result will be the same…you will see what you want, when you want and where you want, only the price will be cheaper based on new competition between all distributors for the same viewer.

For a sneak peek at the scores of new “programs” that will be coming over the new “Channels” created by Goover over the coming months and years,click here. As more and more television sets are shipped internet-ready, these new channels will have equal and direct access to all consumers not only on computers, but on that 60 inch screen in their living rooms. Do you think they will care about exactly where that show is coming from? When you got cable tv for the first time, for those who remember it, how long did you care or even realize, if a show was coming to you from a broadcaster or from a cable-only provider?

Here are just a few of the programs coming from Google:




If you are an entertainment executive at a television media company, be afraid.

Don’t count out the continuing power of traditional media, especially when it comes to building a brand. And don’t be surprised when new Digital Brands start to move on to older platforms, like Print or Television.

At Conde Nast one of the more interesting decisions a decade ago was to build a fashion website that didn’t use its existing fashion brands, like Vogue or Glamour. The idea around Style.com was that while content from those brands could be helpful, the web actually represented a younger audience that might want to identify with its own brand rather than one that attracted older readers in print.

Despite criticism that they were “wasting” great brand value by not using their existing brand names on the web, what Conde Nast did was truly build a content platform that attracted a younger audience, one that was very loyal and remarkably engaged.

Now that Vogue and the other brands have begun to extend their brand on to the web, Style.com has become part of Conde-owned Fairchild Fashion Media and is free to go in the other direction. They have decided to leverage their brand and audience into a print product. They are going to start a new magazine, which is something its parent Conde Nast does as well as anyone else. It’s a logical step and is just as important to its brand as it is for Vogue to get into digital platforms. All media brands have to think about all platforms.

What is unique about this is that it is one of the first purely digital brands that is extending into print. It won’t be the last. Some topics, particularly those like fashion or design, lend themselves to print. Similarly, expect more Conde Nast extensions into television now that they have created a new division in California, under former UPN and CW head Dawn Ostroff, “for the development, creation, production and distribution of original television, film and digital initiatives based on Conde Nast’s diverse and renowned portfolio of brands.”

According to Ostroff, “The chance to create new consumer experiences for some of the world’s most admired brands is a tremendous opportunity.”

As new versions of digital operating systems are introduced (IOS5 on Ipads/Iphones last week for example) and Apps developers pick up the pace, we see the presentation of news on these platforms begin to mature and take shape.

Here are some interesting developments:

— The Apple Newsstand was introduced with IOS5 and the new Iphone4S this week. It makes the downloading process much easier and reduces the effort needed to update digital news and magazine products.
— The faster networks being introduced are cutting into the time it takes to download heavy content files, so apps like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Post get downloaded much more quickly.

CNBC.com's Real Time Stocks

— Video is picking up on all platforms. I now watch CNN live on my IPhone or IPad because of their new apps and agreements with cable operators to allow their existing customers to also view the network on portable devices. My CNBC realtime App now gives me real time stock quotes and news. I now see bulletins from both on my phone and IPad screens when they happen, so I’m alerted to big breaking news without their apps open or without my email on.
— Applications are becoming more flexible. Editions, the AOL Magazine that repackages my social network-driven news for me into a digital magazine format, now allows me to view horizontally on my IPad and pulls events from my calendar and integrates them into the presentation.
— The Daily has begun to embrace its position as something of a Daily Magazine (would we always have produced magazine style journalism daily if we COULD have before?). They have built on magazine presentation skills to enhance news for its readers and at the same time build in exceptional social tools to have those readers engaged in a digital way.

Newser.com's new presentation

— Sites that have been around a while have newly designed interfaces that begin to use art, video, etc. in a more regular way. Aggregator Newser’s new app mixes links and the actual stories in a much more functional way.

The sum total is this: Each new week is making it easier and better to get the content we want from our digital devices, whether that content comes from Newspapers, Magazines, Books, Radio or Television.

The good news is the content is being viewed, read or absorbed by more people in more ways than ever before. The bad news, for existing media companies, is that we may also be seeing an acceleration in the migration of consumers from our traditional delivery systems and business models.

What this means, of course, is that the industry’s ability to monetize their content is weakened until the digital platforms have figured out how to generate more revenue from the emerging platforms.

For the mainstream media companies, particularly those involved in news and current content, they simply must be developing content product across all platforms, not just the new emerging ones. They have to be producing words, video, audio, photos, interactive graphics, etc for all platforms.

Newspaper companies must think of themselves as news companies and leverage their news gathering across all platforms, including existing players like television and radio.

Video news operations need to be part of every digital platform on every distribution system.

Digital players, like Yahoo, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, must begin to build their brands using print, radio and television. The Daily Beast’s acquisition of Newsweek is a start down that path. Bloomberg’s foray into newspaper partnerships and the magazine world with Business Week are also great steps.

There is no avoiding the changes we are starting to see develop. Our ability as consumers to customize the many new devices and distribution systems to give us what we want, when we want it. News organizations need to make sure the content is ready and optimized for those experiences. It’s now easy. It’s a moving target.

But it’s essential to survival.

Several announcements in recent weeks indicate that mainstream media companies are beginning to see the future a bit more clearly, and are scrambling to get themselves ready for serious changes that are coming very quickly. The fact that distribution is being squeezed and the content continues to be valued highly is clearly emerging in many of these moves announced this week:

–Comcast and Verizon said that later this year they are going to let subscribers access their content through the Microsoft Xbox 360 game console. They follow AT&T’s U-verse product which has been selling its content through the Xbox for a year.

–In Japan, a venture founded by the country’s main broadcasters, announced it will launch a smartphone-only TV broadcast channel, which will also deliver games and magazines through the digital network.

–Amazon debuted the new eKindle Fire with a surprisingly low price. It will fight to be the portal through which millions of consumers buy almost anything. Again, the price of distribution drops in order to facilitate the sale of Content.

–Magazine Giant Conde Nast moves into video content, launching a video division that will be creating films, television shows and video for its digital platforms, hiring Hollywood veteran Dawn Ostroff (most recently head of The CW network) to head up the new division.

–The breakdown of our traditional distributions models does not come easy. The Movie industry is in an uproar over Universal Pictures’ controversial move to offer its upcoming Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller comedy on premium video-on-demand just three weeks after it opens in theaters. Several independent theater said they would not to play the movie “Tower Heist” in any of their locations if Universal follow through on its plans for the early release.

–Several TV shows in this new season found significant audience increases when they were able to measure delayed viewing numbers, ie. the number of times viewers watch the shows AFTER they originally aired.
Fox’s “New Girl” saw its audience jump 29% when it counted delayed view. NBC’s “Up All Night” was the big winner, seeing its ratings jump a stunning 46% when it included viewings in the week after airing. NBC’s “Community” also popped 40%, but on a lower base, while “The Office and Parenthood also jumped 37%.
Other shows are considered in trouble because they DIDN’T see significant viewership as the week went on, including NBC’s “Playboy Club” (since cancelled) and the NBC Comedy “Free Agents.”

There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Yahoo. While it is most likely to be sold, there is the distinct possibility that The Board could find the right CEO candidate and make another go of it. There is also the possibility that any company or person that does buy Yahoo will embrace the media strategy and try to make it happen.

So it’s worth taking a look at what Yahoo would look like if it did become a media company. The reason Yahoo has a shot at Media greatness has to do with it’s ability to mix content AND technology to create better, more relevant and more interesting content. Developing technologies are going to change storytelling as we know it. Text, Pictures, Audio and Video will are all converging on digital platforms, and the very best content will make use of all of those forms of media.

That’s something new for the media, which has in recent decades been siloed off into print, radio and television.
But the news and entertainment of the future will converge those mediums to tell the advantage of the consumer, who will get a story more richly and more efficiently told.

Newsrooms of the future will no longer be built around a form of media (newspaper newsroom, tv newsroom, etc.) but around the subject they cover: (Sports? San Francisco? Financial News? etc.). And the people who staff these newsrooms will increasingly become more knowledgable about every aspect of multi-media storytelling and know better how to deal out content over the various platforms.

Yahoo could be that truly digital media company, producing and distributing all forms of content over multiple platforms for emerging and merging audiences. Yahoo News would appear on ABC.com, in The Chicago Tribune, on CBS Radio and on the IPhone, among others. Yahoo Sports would appear on FoxNews.com, NBC-TV Sports Stations, Comcast Sports Nets, The Sports sections of hundreds of newspapers, on ESPN Sports Radio and TV and hundreds of other outlets. Yahoo TV-programs will run on web channels, linear cable TV channels and even broadcast television, not to mention mobile and tablet platforms.

Yahoo News, Sports and Finance on the web will contain headlines from every media company that covers those areas, with links back to the sites where the stories came from. The Yahoo content sites will contain its own content plus that of many partners.

When a Yahoo email account is opened and you get an email from someone, any news about that person or the company or even industry they work for, could show up under the mail window. A Yahoo page on Cable TV could suggest programs you might want to watch based on your previous viewing activity.

When you look at a stock chart, and notice the stock hit a peak six weeks ago, you could be able to run your cursor over the chart and up will come the headlines of the stories that day that might have impacted the stock, so you can possibly even see why the stock shot up.

When you watch the latest installment of you favorite TV show, you might be able to stop the show, and use the remote control to order the jewelry you see the star wearing from the Yahoo Shopping Channel. In fact, it will give you several alternative places, on line and off line but nearby, and you can pick where you want to order from.

When you are taking a walk in midtown Manhattan after work one Friday, you could possibly pull out your phone, check the Yahoo app, and find out which bars have a happy hour within 5 blocks.

At the San Francisco Giants baseball game at ATandT Park you might be able to pull out your phone, click open a Yahoo App and get the stats of the pitcher and the batter up right now.

Yahoo has the tech savvy and has the audience. It’s not easy, but it has the time to build the media brand. But building what could be a huge brand takes money and plenty of hard work on the part of an army of editors/producers/whatever we might call them.

But the prize is large…the first Techno-Media company in the world.