Category Archives: media business

A vast wasteland revisited

Newton Minow was JFK’s Chairman of the FCC.   In a 1961 speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, he famously declared television’s programing was too often, “a procession of game shows, violence, sadism, murder, Western bad men, Western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons.” Television was a, “vast wasteland.”

We tend to agree that this is generally still the case and see the New Media Revolution as an opportunity to leave the wasteland behind and move to more worthwhile pursuits.   What does Minow think?   Check out this fascinating column at TheAtlantic.com to find out.

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YouTube Goes Pro

From The New York Times,

“YouTube, the video site owned by Google, formally announced on Monday that it had acquired Next New Networks, a Web video production company, in its biggest effort yet to move beyond short, quirky home videos to professionally produced content.”

The future gets closer every day….

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BBC.com looks at online video

From a recent BBC.co.uk article, ‘Corporate Video Conquers the Internet’:

“Quality video online used to be the preserve of media organisations, but technology research company Gartner says that take-up by non-media companies is expanding rapidly…”

Being big fans of both Gartner and the BBC, and we recommend reading the piece to get a good sense of trends, players and the road ahead for online video — with a distinct international POV.   Quoting an Ooyala executive, Bismarck Lepe, the article says:

“I think that building a business with online video in a more targeted fashion, it’s going to become more difficult as audiences become more fragmented. And that’s where we think we can add tremendous value.”

We agree.

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The revolution around the corner…

…is about a lot more than just “apps” and “smartphones.”   When buzzwords get to critical mass, it’s natural for people to start to tune them out.   In this case, the technology behind the terminology — more precisely, the implications of the technology — really are nothing short of astonishing.   It’s more than just “the internet on a phone,” and there’s a good reason media people like us are paying such close attention.   Printing presses, telegraphs, radios and televisions were all disruptive technologies in their day.

For a sense of what’s on the horizon (and for a sense of why this relevant to a lot more than the media business), check out this Wired writeup about Google’s thinking about Android.  An excerpt:

“I don’t think people figured out how much more powerful the mobile devices would become than desktops,” [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said, referring not to their processors, but for their ability to keep a user connected to the net everywhere and use location to customize the net.

 

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The big bright line between web and TV gets blurrier by the day…

From today’s New York Times, “Eisner’s Studio and AOL Pair Up for Web Series:”

In a deal to be announced Wednesday, Michael D. Eisner‘s Web studio, Vuguru, will produce half a dozen scripted Web video series for AOL.

The partnership is the latest attempt by AOL, which has been struggling, to infuse its home page and its Web sites with original video. “We feel like we are building the future of great high-quality video content,” said Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL.

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Some thoughts on The Future

Here’s your one-sentence media future forecast: Everything will be online, and online will be hand-held.

Of course, internecine battles between AT&T and Apple, embarrassingly backward US wireless infrastructure and the overall anti-competitive climate of the US mobile market are the first things people often mention when media types get excited about the wireless future.   Look at Korea or Japan if you want to see the media distribution platforms of the future.    “All fine and well,” say the non-media types, “But if the pipes don’t work, why supply the pipeline?”

Because the old rules are irrelevant.   We’ve made this comparison before, but look at what happened to legacy airlines once Southwest toppled the barriers to entry?   All it takes is for one viable game changer to get on the field, and everything gets shaken up.   Carriers prevented the paradigm shift as long as possible, but sooner or later an iPhone was going to arrive on the scene and pull the rug out on a system that was not responsive to market forces.   Once that process starts, it is impossible to contain.

All it takes is one breach for the fortress to come down, and when it does, things that seemed inconceivable previously become ordinary pretty quickly.   After generations of media production and consumption based on centralized, capital-intensive processes, the idea that a small team with cameras, laptops and expertise can produce and distribute media content more effectively than massive corporations is still anathema to most people — but that day is at hand, and the future is looking good.

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For whom the bell tolls…

Will subscription Hulu upend the cable and satellite industries’ raison d’être?  From Wired.com’s Epicenter:

Cable and satellite are classic middlemen. When the internet meets the middleman, the middleman tends to disappear — or at least be replaced by a thinner middleman. We’ve seen it with record stores, classified ad-dependent newspapers, video-rental stores, bookstores and any other business that delivers something that the internet can deliver more efficiently.

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