Monday, January 31, 2011

FCC approves "Super Wi-Fi" Initiative

The FCC has granted applications from nine firms, including Google, to begin building the databases needed to coordinate the use of broadcast "white space" to form "Super-WiFi" networks.
If you're not up with the jargon, "white space" refers to parts of the radio spectrum reserved for television broadcasting, but serve primarily as a buffer to reduce interference between TV signals, rather than carrying a usable television signal.  Because the frequencies available as white space depend on what broadcast television signals are nearby, and because WiFi is envisioned as a micro-local service (the low power reduces the chance of interference with broadcast television signals) with multiple service providers, there is a need to identify and coordinate WiFi outlets in order to provide a nationally networked "Super-WiFi" service.  This FCC ruling is just a first, and conditional, step in the process.
The future of "Super-WiFi" still faces a number of challenges.  First, two TV trade associations are suing to block the plan, arguing that there are insufficient protections against interference with local broadcast television signals.  Second, the development of "Super-WiFi" type networks in other frequency ranges has proved to be difficult and expensive when tried.  Third, with the growth in "free" WiFi access locations and the rise of 3G and 4G mobile services and their ability to handle data, there is less visible demand for pay WiFi networks - raising some questions about their ultimate commercial viability.
Information Week story on FCC action.

Is Local Broadcasting Undervalued?

A report by media investment firm MC Alcamo & Co. showed that the stock value of a number of broadcasting firms fell significantly, in the range of 20-25%.  This reflects some of the short-term uncertainties facing broadcasting; but the report also suggests that the broadcast sector as a whole is undervalued by about 15%, in view of future potential revenues from retransmission fees and upcoming political seasons (with the huge boost in demand for advertising that comes from political campaigns).
From a Broadcasting & Cable story.

Top Media Earnings Preview

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, analysts predict an advertising rebound to contribute to slightly better profit levels for major US media firms. They also generally see gains driven by broadcast and network assets.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Opportunity in Apps

An earlier post noted the dramatic growth in downloading and use of mobile apps.  A new report by Gartner predicts that app revenues will surpass $15 billion this year (2011), up from $5.2 billion in 2010.  With the continued diffusion of mobile and handheld devices, expect dramatic and rapid growth in both app downloads and revenues for the next few years. 
The question for media is how to tap that market; in particular, what kinds of apps can they create that people might be willing to buy?
Online Media Daily story

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 11 Mobile Predictions for 2011

Information Week's Eric Zeman assembles his list of predictions for wireless (cell & WiFi) for the coming year.
Among them:
  • The diffusion and rise of 4G
  • Smartphone dominance
  • Shift to metered data, prepaid plans
  • Video chat and tablets take off

Full article

Household media numbers

The Nielsen Company recently released some summary statistics on household media. Some fast facts from the report:

  • Average Number of TVs per U.S. Household: 2.5
  • Percentage of Americans with 4 or more TVs: 31%
  • Number of Mobile Phone Users (13+): 228M
  • Percentage of U.S. Mobile Subscribers with Smartphones: 31%
  • Number of mobile phone web users: 83.2M

Additional TV Findings
  • 115.9 million US homes have at least one TV.
  • 104.7 million US homes are satellite and/or cable TV-ready.
  • 100.2 million US homes have a DVD player.
  • 70.6 million US homes have a VCR.
  • 65 million US TVs are HD-compatible.
  • 55.6 million US homes have digital cable.
  • 43.1 million US homes have a DVR.
  • 34.7 million US homes have satellite TV.

Emerging Media Devices (Ownership and Purchase Intent; % of Connected Consumers)
Device % Owning % Definitely/Probably will Buy
Computer with HS Internet
Handheld multimedia device
TV with internet connection
Devices that connect TV to internet
EBook readers
Source: the Nielsen Company, January 2011

 See the link to the full report for more information.

Nielsen's State of the Media - U.S. Audiences and Devices 2010 report.

NPR seeks to silence competition

A story on Radio World notes that NPR (National Public Radio) has filed comments objecting to a move to allow local radio operators to utilize Low Power Television channels for what it argues is primarily audio broadcasting on channels neighboring the FM band..Those operating these stations respond that they provide additional opportunities for local and minority-focused services, and there is a history of audiences primarily utilizing audio feeds from television broadcasts.
But it does fit the model of traditional media outlets objecting to, and trying to shut down, innovative services taking advantage of technological advances.
(Edit - corrected typo in header)

Apple passes 10 billion apps.downloaded

Apple's three mobile devices, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad, have led to over 10 billion app downloads in just two and a half years (7 billion in 2010 alone).  With an estimated 160 million users of iOS, and over 350,000 apps available, Apple looks to continue leading in this market.  Moreover, the article points out that only Apple (as opposed to the Google, Microsoft, Palm, and RIM (Blackberry)) has a smoother, more integrated experience for users to discover and access apps.  Further, it's the only one that has the potential to sync apps across platforms.

Consolidation in Global Telecomms

One of the things making it somewhat difficult to keep track of things is the fairly constant merger & acquisition (M&A) activity in media and communication fields.  Here's an article giving an overview of some of the major activity among global carriers (telephony/cell), and the differing motivations.  One major shift from the 1990s is that much of the activity seems to be centered around consolidation and potential for cost-cutting, rather than just increasing corporate size.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Comcast/NBC Universal merger gets formal approval

The FCC and the U.S. Justice Dept. have now both given their approvals for the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, subject to a number of conditions.  Conditions include that Comcast must make NBC shows and movies available to rival online services, and that NBC's owned and operated local television stations produce and air an additional 1000 hours per year of local news and programming (collectively), expand Spanish-language programming, and the top O&Os will need to team with local non-profit news organizations to produce free, on-demand content.
Some initial coverage from Washington Post, The Politico, and TVNewsCheck.
The FCC press release

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Civic and social groups embrace the Net

A new report by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project suggests that technology use has become deeply embedded in group life.  Large proportions of the sample said that the Internet has had a major impact on how groups:
Communicate with members; Draw attention to issues; Connect with other groups; Organize activities; Raise money; and Recruit new members.
Full Pew report.

Online Video's Future

A post by Nate Pagel argues that online video has exploded as a result of three changes: broadband achieving critical mass, rise of easy to use distributions systems like YouTube, and big media's decision to put video content online. He suggests that this sector will continue to grow 25-45% a year globally for the next decade as improvements continue to be made in key areas: Search; Mobile; HTML5 (a new video-friendly format for websites); and Social media assisting in providing metadata and tags for video content (aiding search functions).

YouTube on Mobile booms

YouTube announced that video plays on mobile devices (smartphones and other handheld devices) tripled during 2010, and now exceeds 200 million plays a day.  They've added the Vevo music video catalog (good news), and announced that it's new Android app will add pre-roll advertising.(good news for YouTube, perhaps less so for viewers).

New Clear Channel Media Head on Future of Radio

Bloomberg Television has an interview with the new Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms for Clear Channel Communications, Bob Pittman.  He's bullish on the future of radio (what would you expect?), but notes that consumers care about content, not the platform.  Thus, he predicts a continued focus on building power brands and delivering them via multiple platforms.

Radio Business Report has links to the Bloomberg interview as well as audio from an earlier interview of theirs.

What to Count?

Arbitron, the principle ratings service for television, has been struggling with how to count viewing in the new digital media environment.  With viewers now having the opportunity to watch the initial broadcast live, often with a repeat broadcast on the same or related channel shortly afterward, the later viewing from DVRs, on Video-On-Demand, and off Internet sites, there has been increasing concern over the validity of ratings numbers.  That, combined with the networks concerns about continuing decline of their ratings and what impact that has on advertising dollars, has the industry trying to find ways to inflate ratings (or better count viewing).
However, there's been disagreement brewing between advertisers (who want to know who watched a particular ad at a particular time) and networks eager to increase ratings, if not viewing.
Anyway, the prompt for this thought was an announcement from Arbitron that they're once again delaying implementation of a new ratings system.  The article doesn't indicate whether this is because of problems with the new data, or because of disagreements on how to count or what to include in the new numbers.  Both have been issues in the past.
Arbitron delays new ratings

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Database of Digital News Outlets

The folks at Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) have been compiling a database of digital news outlets, which you can access at  They don't have TNJN yet, so they're woefully incomplete, but hopefully they'll keep building it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mixed Report on advertising sales for last quarter

A report by Kantar Media (go here for press release), shows some gains for television, buoyed by significant increases in spot advertising due to political ads, and continuing declines in newspapers.  Advertising spending in local newspapers has now declined for 20 straight quarters, and gains in the national newspaper category resulted primarily from strong growth by the Wall Street Journal.
Internet display advertising grew 7.7% Magazines continued a trend of slow growth, as did local radio.  National spot radio showed higher growth, again largely a result of political advertising.

Murdoch's Digital Newspaper for iPad to launch 19 Jan 2011

Reuters is reporting that the highly-touted digital newspaper "Daily" for tablets will be launched at a news event featuring both Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdock on 19 Jan 2011.

Generations 2010 - Pew Internet & American Life Project study

Pew Internet Center releases its report on generational differences in online use

Pew Internet Report - Generations 2010

Highlights of research on Future of Digital Home Entertainment

 From a report on "The Future of Digital Home Entertainment" by Business Insight (originally published 14 Apr 2010)



The future of digital home entertainment can be defined and analyzed using six key interrelating ‘meta-themes’: Convergence; specialization; portability and the porous home; simplification; and differentiation.
The number of households receiving digital TV globally is expected to grow from just over 211m in 2009 to reach 274m by 2012. Satellite and cable will remain the two largest delivery platforms for digital TV between now and 2012, however, IPTV will grow the fastest. The VOD market is expected to generate almost $9bn in revenues in 2012.
The global digital music market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 30% over the period 2009-2013, reaching $13.7bn. The online gaming market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.5% over the period 2008-2013 to reach $20.2bn.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Internship Opportunities

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation (the folks that bring you the Emmy) is taking applications for their 2011 Summer Internship Program.  Follow the link below for details. Applications are due 15 March 2011.

ARTS Internship Opportunity

Web changing TV viewing

A report from research group SNL Kagan suggests the rise of Net-ready TVs and devices are likely to change viewing habits.  (Report from USA Today)USA Today Story

NAB creates "Future of TV" website

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) has created a website touting "The Future of TV.".  The site emphasizes technology, and the new ways that digital broadcasting can reach viewers and serve local communities.
NAB - The Future of TV

Cash for Online Content?

A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that about two-thirds of Internet users have paid to access or download some form of online content.  Those who pay for subscriptions report spending an average of $12 a month, while those who download spend an average of $22 a month on content.
Pew Research Report

Internet now dominant news source among younger viewers

A recent report from the Pew Center for People & the Press reports that the Internet is now the most widely used source for news among the 18-29 age group, and is approaching top status among college grads.
Television still dominates, as those reporting using newspapers as a main source continues to decline
Pew Survey Report

Comcast to debut "TV Everywhere" on iPad

Last semester, guest speaker Jeff Behke from Turner Sports talked about their plans for "TV Everywhere" - letting you access their networks' programming on any digital device, anywhere (eventually).  Here's an update on Comcast's plans.
Comcast - TV Everywhere