Friday, March 30, 2012

From One Laptop Per Child to One Tablet

The issue of computers in schools is an old one (I'm aware of research going back to the 1970s), and a while back, the declining cost curve in computing led to the rise of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program - to develop a cheap basic laptop that would be usable in primary schools throughout the world, and then to distribute those laptops throughout the Third World.  A few years ago, several manufacturers collaborated to develop a basic, rugged, low-power laptop that could be mass produced for under $200.  More than 1.8 million OLPC laptops have been distributed so far, and a tablet model is being developed and tested.
  Yesterday, the FCC and Dept. of Education hosted a roundtable with technology executives and leaders of education groups about creating a similar program in the U.S. Only in this case, the discussion was not on the importance of computing, or the ability to access knowledge and information from around the world, or of being creative and contributing to that content and knowledge base.  Rather, it was focused on the potential savings of using digital textbooks.
"Other nations like South Korea and Turkey are racing to seize the opportunities of digital textbooks," FCC Chair Genachowski said. "We need to step up our efforts to realize the promise of this new technology in the U.S."
  While there are significant advantages to digital textbooks from both a content perspective (easier, more rapid updating, ability to incorporate multimedia, integration with references, etc.) and on the cost end (savings in printing, distribution, storage, replacing damaged copies, etc.) - what will make American children globally competitive is not cheaper textbooks, but being digitally literate and innovative.  Tablets (or laptops) can be so much more than a textbook display device, and that's what the push to get them in students' hands should be about. Instead of focusing merely on stripped-down low-cost e-Readers for digital textbooks, we should aim higher and try to get more flexible and powerful devices (laptops, netbooks, or full-feature tablets) to students, and encourage their use across the board in schools and elsewhere - for reading textbooks, watching educational videos, accessing information, doing papers and projects, and even for recreation and ripping and mixing their own mash-ups.

Sources -  FCC pushes for tablet computers in schoolsThe Hill

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sony adds flexibility to PS3 platform

Basic post contributed by Rachel Cade: -

Photo Editing on PlayStation 3?

You read that right. Sony announced today that it will launch photo editing software for the PlayStation 3 this week.  The software, called “PlayMemories Studio,” is launched in anticipation of the cloud component called “PlayMemories Online” which will be launched in the upcoming months.  The software allows users to manipulate photo stills directly on their gaming console.
   The software will be launched Tuesday in the US at the PlayStation Store and will retail for $18. There is a 30-day free trial available.


With internet connectivity, significant processing power and storage capacity, top gaming platforms have the power to engage in a lot of computer activities.  Traditionally, two limitations have limited development in this regard: first, the lack of a recording output option (not included in most platforms to discourage piracy of gaming software; and second, the limitations of game controllers as an interface (instead of mouse and keyboard).  The combination of the photo suite with coming Cloud external storage for the manipulated images addresses the first issue.  Hopefully, some creative options for interface will help with the second.
  Still, this announcement reflects the continued convergence of digital media across platforms and uses.
--Ben Bates

Opaque Transparency at the FCC

During a recent Congressional hearing, it was noted that - according to publicly available information on the official FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) website ( - the FCC had denied 48% of recent FOIA requests.  In comparison, both the CIA and National Security Agency denied less than 1% of requests, and the average for the rest of the government was a 7.3% denial rate.
  Unsurprisingly, an FCC spokesman claimed that "the FCC is a government leader in transparency, including under the Freedom of Information Act."  Interestingly, the spokesman did not indicate in which direction the FCC was leading.  The spokesman added that only 3% of "complete, with fees paid" FOIA requests were denied.
  Here's a teaching moment for journalists - when official sources give you wildly different numbers, look carefully at how those results are defined.  The FCC spokesman limited his count to "complete" requests whose fees were fully paid.  As for the information, they counted all requests - including those rejected as incomplete, having errors, unable to pay fees and charges, or what seemed to be the FCC's favorite excuse, where the information requested was "not reasonably described," a nebulous standard at the best of times.  In 2010, the FCC rejected over 16% of all FOIA requests as seeking records that were "not reasonably described."
  The FCC spokesman also noted that the FCC had gotten an A from one oversight committee for it's "FOIA record-keeping;" not it's responsiveness or its transparency, but it's records. When asked about the FCC's response to FOIA and Congressional inquiries, one Senator replied, "The FCC gets an ‘F’ for its handling of requests from 99.6 percent of members of Congress."  And it's that wider perception that is keeping the Senate from acting on pending nominations to the Commission.

Sources - FOIA data suggests FCC more secretive than CIAThe Daily Caller
Genachowski to Hill: Repacking will leave room for Mobile DTV, Broadcasting & Cable

Update: CJR's Guide to Online News Start-ups

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has been tracking online news operations for a while, and a year or so ago, started compiling them into a database, which I had listed in the resource links to the right.  At some point, they renamed and restructured the site, and gave it a new URL.  It's now called CJR's Guide to Online News Start-ups - I've corrected the name and URL on my resource list to reflect the change.
  The list is by no means complete - it still doesn't have our own or several other Tennessee online news sites I'm aware of.  But it still is a searchable resource that provides information on a growing number of online news start-ups.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RED's new digital camera a "Celluloid Killer"?

Heath McKnight posted a review and analysis of the new RED EPIC-X digital movie camera at the Digital Facility blog.  The people at RED were the first to really break into the high-end movie production field with the RED ONE, a digital camera that rivaled the resolution of the industry standard Panavision 35mm film camera, and accepted the same lenses as the Panavision (which enabled cinematographers to capture more of the traditional film effects they wanted), at what was estimated as a cost 1/50th of that of a single Panavision film camera, without lenses (Panavisions weren't available for sale, only rental).
  The specs on RED's latest camera, the EPIC-X, simply blow away both the RED ONE and Panavision.  The EPIC-X captures images at a 5K resolution (higher than the current industry standard for digitizing older 70 mm films), can capture up to 120 frames per second at full resolution (film standard is 24), and has one of the best dynamic ranges of any camera, film or digital.  It's also half the weight of the RED ONE, and records images on SSD drives that can be popped out of the camera and into an editing station.  These features also suggest that the EPIC-X offers filmmakers a new degree of flexibility in how the capture scenes.  With the associated RED STATION, you can make non-destructive tweaks down to individual frames, and output files in virtually every format and standard.  Basically, the new RED equipment seems to exceed just about every industry standard for film production, at a mere fraction of the cost. 
  All this leads to McKnight's summation - "The RED EPIC-X is truly a celluloid killer, and it's being used on everything from mega-blockbusters like the upcoming Hobbit and Spider-Man films, to independent filmmakers and video producers."
  Between advances in digital film equipment and the rising cost of traditional film stock, I expect more and more of the movie production industry to go fully digital.  As that happens, look for more and more movie distributors and theaters to shift to digital formats as well.

Source -  RED EPIC-XL Jeremy Wiles and Creative LabDigital Facility

Billboard Hot 100 lists to count on-demand streaming

Billboard's been tracking the popularity of music for decades, first looking at sales, and then for some of their charts (like the Hot 100) adding in radio plays.  Now, in recognition of the growth of on-demand music streaming, its going to factor those choices into the mix.
  Specifically, Billboard is going to include information from the Nielsen BDS monitoring of streaming activity for its On-Demand Songs chart, and also factor those into its premium Hot 100 chart. With the rise of a number of subscription on-demand streaming services (like Spotify), and Cloud-based streaming from personal music collections, Billboard argues that this is a growing and significant component of the music market that can't be ignored if you're truly seeking to measure the popularity of songs and artists.
  Some numbers from the Nielsen BDS give an indication of how big music streaming is - in the first 70 days of 2012, more than 4.5 billion audio streams were tracked, growing to a record 625 million ilast week.  Compare that to the average 2.5-5 million online song purchases per week during 2011.
"The methodology behind all of the Billboard charts is ever-evolving to incorporate new technologies and the emerging ways consumers listen to and buy music" said Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard's director of charts. "Accounting for an interactive medium such as streaming, both in the Hot 100 chart and the On-Demand Songs chart, provides an even more accurate gauge of the songs that are truly the most popular in the country."
  Of course, not everyone is happy with the move - mostly feeling that on-demand metrics might dilute current radio plays and sales numbers with older favorites.  On the other hand, I'm old enough to remember that Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon remained on Billboard's weekly Top LP chart for 15 years, without much complaint from music companies or the radio industry.  Besides, Billboard's got lots of charts, and most don't include on-demand streaming... yet.
  Still, Billboard's creation of new focused charts and inclusion of on-demand streaming in its Hot 100 chart can be seen as a recognition of the growth and impact of this newer distribution system for music..

Source -  Hot 100 Impacted by New On-Demand Songs ChartBillboard

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pew Releases State of the News Media 2012 Report.

Just released, I'll pull a few highlights from the overview, and comment more on particular findings later.

Pew's announcing the arrival of "The Age of Mobile" in their State of the News Media 2012 Report:
New research released in this report finds that mobile devices are adding to people’s news consumption, strengthening the lure of traditional news brands and providing a boost to long-form journalism. Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets, for instance, get news on conventional computers as well. People are taking advantage, in other words, of having easier access to news throughout the day – in their pocket, on their desks and in their laps.
But it's not all good news - the report also suggests that fundamental changes in the nature of news and news media are continuing.  One aspect of that is that traditional news outlets are losing control of news distribution and gatekeeping functions.  And the major urban dailies continue their poor performance -
The problems of newspapers also became more acute in 2011. Even as online audiences grew, print circulation continued to decline. Even more critically, so did ad revenues. In 2011, losses in print advertising dollars outpaced gains in digital revenue by a factor of roughly 10 to 1, a ratio even worse than in 2010. When circulation and advertising revenue are combined, the newspaper industry has shrunk 43% since 2000.
People's patterns of news consumption also continue to shift, with online news site audiences growing at a rate almost 4 times it's nearest competitor, and declines in use of print media.
 And revenues have not always followed audience shifts - most news media saw revenues fall in 2011.

The transformation of media and news is continuing, although there are some positive trends identified by the report.  I'll look at some of the special reports and industry sections later.

Source - The State of the News Media 2012,  Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

Photographers concerned about Pinterest

In a New York Post article about Pinterest, the paper gave the wrong credit line to a photo used for illustration.  The credit was given to the blogger that used the photo, but was obtained indirectly through Pinterest.  This prompted a response from the photographer, Leela Cyd:
The reason I’m writing … is to let you know you’ve used my photograph to illustrate your story without proper photo crediting. That’s my image up there, of Samantha Hutchinson of the very popular lifestyle blog, Could I Have That?. The picture was created for Tory Burch’s blog, which was pinned as such by over 500 people, without crediting.
It is this notion of losing photo credit that makes Pinterest so incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking to us photographers and makers of original content. People pin images I’ve taken all the time without proper crediting. It’s not a new issue, but it is a new medium that has busted the digital media world wide open. …
I do not take pictures for fun. I create photographs for a living. I work hard as a photographer as I’m sure you do as a writer — How would you like it if someone reposted your story exactly and credited as simply “”?
Pinterest is a relatively new social media service that calls itself a "virtual pinboard" - a place where you can copy and paste photos and content, and organize them as reminders or interests.  And then opens those pinboards to sharing with others who can "repin", "like" or comment.  While the system does indicate where the original pinned material was obtained from, it does not seem to check whether the content is original to that site, or was obtained (or authored) elsewhere.
  As the photographer responding to the Post indicated, this may result in improper citation of credit, if the reporter or blogger doesn't make the extra effort to track down the original source or credit line.
  It may also be a copyright violation - because unless the copyright holder has given explicit permission to copy and use, the pinned content is technically an unauthorized (i.e. illegal) copy.  Pinterest does recognize this, and has implemented a process that allows copyright owners to request that their content be removed from the site, and developed a "nopin" html metatag that copyright owners can use to prevent tagged content from being pinned.  These actions may help Pinterest qualify for "safe harbor" status under the DMCA, but would not protect individual users from possible legal action for content piracy.  Nor would it protect journalists who use copyrighted content without permission or appropriate credit.

There's a moral lesson here - don't assume that you can reuse anything you find on the net, or that the site you grabbed content from owns it, has properly credited it, or has given permission for it's use in your context.  Journalists may have become a little lazy in this regard as they have traditionally created the content themselves, or gotten it from syndicators or sources with express permission to use.  At the very least, try to go back to the original source to check for the proper credit line and any permissions for use.  And for those thinking "fair use" or a news exemption - remember that only covers the use of portions of the original work.  If you're online in the first place grabbing the content, it shouldn't take that much longer to track down the original source and verify credit.
  And if you don't think this is serious, pay attention to the fine print that news organizations put in when they solicit viewer or reader contributions - at the very least they will say that sending content in gives them permission to use the content; more often, they'll indicated that contributing content transfers copyright ownership to the content.

Source -  NY Post scolded by blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brian Lamb stepping down from CSPAN

It's a bit off-topic, but I want to share a few thoughts about Brian Lamb and C-SPAN.
  Brian Lamb started C-SPAN, arranging to get access to the live camera feed of  the U.S. House of Representatives 33 years ago. In those early years, when the House was not in session, C-SPAN supplemented that coverage with interviews and call-in shows (often with guests).  Brian Lamb did many of them. In an era of increasing partisanship, when other cable news networks promoted shows with co-hosts yelling (figuratively) at one another, endlessly repeating the day's talking points, Brian Lamb was the epitome of what news interviewers should be: smart, polite, and non-ideological to an extreme.  Most importantly, Lamb felt that the role of the interviewer was to elicit understanding - with short, direct questions about simple facts.  And if the guest didn't provide an answer, then he'd politely ask the question again.  C-SPAN quickly became a staple of the cable industry- I think more due to the interviews and call-in shows than the live coverage of the House, which, for the most part, is unrelenting boredom.
  And C-SPAN's success in that area was more due to the high standard set by Brian Lamb for an interviewer/host.  It certainly wasn't the big name guests - you would see more scholars than star pundits or politicians.  (Probably because the latter knew Brian would keep focused on asking short, direct questions that would end up embarrassing them).  One of my favorites, often employed when a caller or guest said something outrageous, was a simple "Where did you get that information?"  It was never asked as a challenge or rebuke, just a simple inquiry, and always asked with the same calm neutral demeanor.  I recall multiple instances when the two guests would visibly react to caller statements, but the C-SPAN interviewer/host would maintain that neutral poker face, calmly ask a question or two, and then thank the caller for their contribution.
  The high standard established by Brian Lamb is regrettably becoming unique in the world of news and public affairs.  On cable,news and public affairs, the host is the star - and increasingly someone with little traditional news background, selected for their political connections or ability to be controversial.  And traditional network news has decided that emotions and story-telling is more important than facts in context.  We even have PBS helping to fund a database of people with "stories to tell" that news organizations can tap instead of "just reporting facts."
  David Brooks, in a piece for the Weekly Standard titled "Brian Lamb's America", summarized the unique role of C-SPAN:
C-SPAN is factual in a world grown theoretical. It is slow in a world growing more hyper. It is word-oriented in an era that is visually sophisticated. With its open phone lines, it is genuinely populist in a culture that preaches populism more than it practices it. And occupying its unique niche -- C-SPAN is funded by the cable industry to cover Congress and public events -- it has managed to perform feats of civic education that are unmatched by better-funded institutions, such as the History Channel, PBS, the Smithsonian, or the multi-billion-dollar foundations.
   If only this approach wasn't all that unique.  I'd say we'd all miss Brian Lamb, but he'll continue hosting a Sunday interview program, and will continue teaching at Purdue University.  And I will keep hoping that more in the news industry will pick up on the value of his interviewing style.  You may not make a name for yourself, but you'll have a chance to make the same kind of impact on society that Brian Lamb has.

Sources - C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb steps down after 34 years,  Washington Post
Brian Lamb's AmericaThe Weekly Standard

Monday, March 19, 2012

"America's Fastest Shrinking Industry" - Newspapers

LinkedIn created an interesting graphic on industry outlooks, based on the most recent Council of Economic Advisors' Economic Report of the President.
If you look at the bottom left, in last place, you'll find the Newspaper Industry, with a reported shrinkage (in percentage of jobs) of -28.4% from 2007-2011.  At the opposite end are Online Publishing (3rd at +24.3%) and Internet (2nd at 24.6%).  And the decline is consistent, occurring even after the recession officially ended.
  The recent Newspaper Association of America numbers show that newspaper revenues have fallen by about half since 2005 (the report is discussed in more detail in a previous post), and if you control for inflation, 2011 revenues are the lowest since 1951.  While part of the decline in recent years has been a result of the recession, and the loss of several key advertising markets to online competition (classified ad and employment ad revenues have both dropped by more than 90% in the last decade), there's a more critical long-term problem.  Advertising rates, and revenues, are based on readership.  Newspaper readership dropped from 80% in 1964 to below 50% in 2006.  Even with combining print and online edition readership, newspapers reached less than 45% of U.S. adults in 2011.  Furthermore, the decline is generational, and so is likely to continue falling for a while.
  In the meantime, online advertising is booming, and is expected to pass total print advertising dollars this year in the U.S.  One market research firm even predicts that on a global basis, online advertising will surpass newspapers in advertising revenues in 2013.  And the growth in online revenues will continue to grow at a significantly higher rate than seen for other media; a wide variety of market forecasts has online advertising revenue approaching TV advertising (currently the highest) totals by 2020.
  Now one caution is that some of this depends on how you define "newspapers."  The largest urban dailies have the most revenues, subscribers, and employees - and they're the segment of the newspaper industry that is doing the poorest.  There are segments of the newspaper industry that are doing reasonably well (mostly smaller papers), and most of the industry remains profitable, although not at the levels experienced before 2000. 
  As in previous posts, I'll suggest that these results shouldn't spell the end for "newspapers."  At least not necessarily.  But between the higher revenue growth in online advertising, and recent research from Pew and others (see this earlier post)  suggesting that mobile devices might increase use of news sources, suggests that newspapers as news organizations may survive if they shift more of their focus to online news efforts, and do a better job of providing the kinds of information that people seek.

Sources: Newspapers America's Fastest Shrinking Industry, Breitbart Big Journalism blog
LinkedIn Industry Trends: Winners and Losers During the Great RecessionLinkIn Blog
US Online Spending to Surpass Print in 2012eMarketer

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Amazon looks to be video producer?

CNN Money is reporting that one of Amazon's next big moves will be into the production of original video programming.  For the last month or so, Amazon has reportedly been looking for executives to oversee a variety of creative products through development.  In particular, there have been job listings for people to oversee comedy and children's programming, and has reportedly hired Joe Lewis to a position that he first described as being Vice-President of Original Television at Amazon, before he changed it to Vice-President, Production at Amazon Studios.  Lewis' resume includes stints at 20th Century Fox (Director of Production) and Manager of Development at Comedy Central.
Regardless of what flavor of original content Amazon ends up pursuing exactly, analysts expect to see more from the company in this domain in the future. "I think there's a logic to it," says Gartner analyst Ray Valdes. Valdes points to Google, which is spending $100 million on new original content for YouTube. Streaming service Hulu, meanwhile, plans to spend $500 million -- some of which will likely come from investors -- on TV and movie programming this year to round out its offerings of traditional broadcast and cable programming. It is banking on shows like the political comedy Battlefield. And then there's Netflix, which has been spending profusely on original series like Lilyhammer, a show starring Sopranos actor Steven van Zandt.
If Amazon moves into the realm of original programming, it will follow last year's move into book publishing.  A large part of Amazon's dominance in online commerce has been the breadth of its offerings.  But recent moves by Apple and Google to expand their online retail offerings, there is a question of how long Amazon's dominance as a distributor/retailer will remain.  Moving into production not only provides another revenue stream, but also enables Amazon to have unique content that can maintain its competitive advantage over other online outlets.

Source -   Is Amazon getting into original TV?  CNNMoney blog

Friday, March 16, 2012

After AppleTV Announcement - New Business Model for Netflix?

One of the lesser announcements in Apple's recent presser was that the new AppleTV software would let users subscribe to Netflix (and MLB) through iTunes, instead of dealing directly with Netflix. 
It’s a win for users and content providers. One of the challenges that companies such as Netflix face is getting subscribers to follow through with the sign-up process. It’s one thing when the content is primarily consumed on the Internet. For more passive devices — like the television set — a user who has to go to a different device just to sign up may end up putting off the purchase.
  On its own, and interesting but not too significant added feature.  But then Reuters reported that Netflix was also in talks with major cable companies about offering Netflix streaming service through their Video-On-Demand service. This is what DBS operator Dish Network is trying with the remnants of its Blockbuster acquisition - and what Comcast is promising with its Streampix streaming service.  Already, there are several niche streaming services available via separate subscription through VOD.  But with the wider content options and on-demand service, this could prove competitive with general interest channels, and even pay channels.  Starz was the first to recognize the potential, and offered streaming access of a month's worth of content to subscribers, and recently HBO entered the market with HBO Go.  HBO's even making deals with TV and OTT manufacturers to incorporate HBO Go access as an app.
  The pay channels, and many cable channels, have also attempted to become more than a content packager by developing its own original programming - providing consumers with unique content that differentiates them from other options.  Netflix is also starting to move in that direction, with recent deals to develop original programming for its streaming service.
As Netflix starts to shift away from just licensing content and tries its hand at creating its own original programming, it makes sense that the company could see itself as a kind of HBO-alternative, especially to cable companies that are looking to hold on to customers.
Netflix looks to be countering the increased competition in its streaming market by taking advantage of the increasing convergence of delivery technologies to expand into the premium channel market, and by working through multichannel programmer's VOD offerings and shared billings it is expanding its market range beyond those with connected TV's or OTT devices.  These moves should at least offset some of the loss from the entry of new competition in its primary streaming market.  And Netflix also has the separate business line of video rentals to help cover initial declines until it can establish itself in these new markets.

Source -  Netflix's Aoole TV Deal Could Signal New Business ModelMashable Entertainment blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Research on Mobile

There have been several studies on the growth and impact of mobile devices that have come out in the last few weeks.
  Nielsen released it's State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report covering the last half of 2011, Among the basic findings: 274 million Americans have Internet Access, almost two-thirds of mobile phone time is spent on apps, there are more laptops than desktop computers in US TV households, and 42% of tablet owners use them daily while watching TV.  The last is one consequence of the increasing media options that people have; the report indicates that 44% of cell subscribers have a smartphone, 41% of TV homes have a DVR, 67% have HDTV, and that almost as many people watched video on a computer (165.9 million) as visited social networks or blogs (169.6 million). 
  The report also suggested that mobile use is impacting traditional media behaviors.  Online video viewing (in terms of time) grew by 7%, while TV viewing in the home increased slightly (0.9%).  Highest levels of online viewing were among younger people, and minorities. When using mobile devices while watching TV, the most frequently given uses were for checking email (57%), checking social media sites (44%), using downloaded apps (45%), general web surfing (44%).  Seeking for information related to what they were watching was a less frequent use - 29% reported looking for info related to the TV program, 19% for information related to an ad, and 16% looked up coupons or deals related to ads.  The study suggested that among mobile device users, tablets had a greater impact than smartphones in a variety of marketing applications.  As for higher quality video streaming, 33% of consumers reported streaming a movie or TV show through a subscription services (Netflix, Hulu+), and women were likely to watch more often (64% of all the time spent watching streamed content).  Interestingly, Nielsen found that Hispanics were much more likely to use Netflix for their streamed viewing, while Asians used Hulu+ more often.  In addition to subscription services, the report looked at Video-on-Demand use - 18% of consumers reported they had paid for a rental download, and 14% had paid for a download to own.
  An earlier Nielsen Cross-Platform Report had also provided some insights into the evolving media environment.  They reported that three-quarters of US TV households currently subscribe to broadband internet access.  The continued expansion of broadband access is one factor leading to the growing in watching video over the internet - a 21.7% gain in the number of users, and an almost 80% gain in time spent viewing, from 2008 to 2011.  The study showed several ongoing shifts in viewer behavior last year, with cable subscriptions down (-4.1%), satellite up (+2.1%), and telco video subscriptions booming (+21.1%).  The number of people watching timeshifted TV increased 65.9% from 2008-2011, as did the time spent viewing timeshifted TV (66.1%).  Even though there was a slight increase in traditional TV viewing, there was much greater growth in more active-viewing, or VOD, behaviors - timeshifted viewing, VOD and streaming use, watching TV on mobile and other personal media players, and online video use.  The greater growth in these areas suggests the beginning of a more fundamental shift in TV audience behaviors, to watching what they want, when they want, and where they want, rather than selecting from among the viewing options offered at that time.  This might partially explain the much higher levels of online and mobile video viewing among minorities - those seeking minority-focused programming have limited options among traditional TV programming choices.
  And it looks like tablet's impact is likely to be felt sooner, and with a broader impact.  A new Forrester report projects that by 2016, more than one in three adults in the U.S. will have a tablet.  The 112 million adult users they now project for 2016 is not just slightly up, it's an jump of 37% from previous estimates.  Forrester predicts that this year's expected annual tablet sales of 38 million units will grow to over 60 million units sold in 2016.  In looking at the factors driving adoption, while price was important, knowing (and valuing) what you can do with tablets is most important - one reason why Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble's tablet offerings have succeeded while "pure hardware plays" have failed.
  One study of the impact of mobile devices on TV viewing behavior by Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 63% of respondents who had watched TV content on a tablet device had done so even when a big-screen TV with access to the same content was available nearby.  This suggests that use of tablets for TV viewing is not seen as the last alternative, but is increasingly being seen as a close substitute to watching on the traditional TV set-up.  The study also found that more than half (54%) of their total sample had explored various OTT (Over-The-Top) alternatives to pay TV.  With OTT alternatives (like Netflix, AppleTV, Hulu+, Amazon, GooglePlay) available, 15% of the total sample said that they were likely going to reduce their pay-TV spending within the next year.
“These findings show every part of the consumer TV and movie watching experience is up for grabs,” says Jon Giegengack, director at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “In the digital music revolution, the primary shift was in how music was bought and stored. When it comes to TV and movies, everything has the potential to change: whom consumers buy from; how much they pay (if they pay at all); and the range of times and places offering viewing opportunities.”
 Another report by Nielsen suggests that families with tablets often allow their children to use tablets (70%).  Parents reported that the most common use of tablets by their kids was playing games (77%), followed by educational use (57%).  Keeping kids entertained at certain times was also common - parents often used tablets to keep kids entertained while traveling (55%), or at a restaurant or other event (41%).  Tablets were also frequently used (43%) to let children watch TV shows or movies.  Interestingly, only 15% of parents said that their children used tablets to communicate with family or friends.
 ComScore's Digital Omnivores study also looked at the impact of mobile and connected devices on media consumption habits in the U.S.  That report indicated that half of the total U.S. mobile population are using them for mobile media applications.  Among the tablet owners they surveyed, 58% reported using tablets for getting news or information, with a quarter of tablet users doing so on a daily basis. 
  Mobile devices are also used for other types of media content - while 51% reported reading print magazines, 30% reported reading magazines through computers, 16% via tablets, and 13% on mobile phones.  As for streaming music, almost half reported doing so on their desktops or laptops, and about a quarter streaming music on mobile phones (23%) and tablets (24%).  The study also reported that tablets were used for playing games (~67%),  listening to downloaded music (62%) and reading eBooks (56%).  Tablets were also widely used to watch both short videos (85% at least monthly, 19% daily), watching on-demand video or TV episodes (49% monthly, 16% daily), movies (48% monthly, 17% daily), and live broadcast TV programs (48% monthly, 16% daily).

 Nielsen is also tracking the exploding blogosphere for advertisers and market researchers.  At the end of 2011, they were tracking more than 181 million active blogs around the world, up from 38 million in 2006.  While many blogs are published by companies, their tracking pool includes almost 9 million individuals blogging on major blogging websites, and another 12 million who blog through their social networks.  They report that most bloggers are women, half are in the 18-34 age group, and more than two-thirds have at least some college education.  More than half of bloggers are parents (mostly moms).  Their research also suggests that bloggers are more active participants in social media generally.

  The common theme running through these reports is that we're adopting mobile, connected, devices at an increasing rate, and using them not only for basic communication, but for consumption of all types of digital media content.  In addition, that consumers are also using devices and consuming media in new ways - and these new uses are not only impacting traditional media, but enabling consumers to be more active and involved in their media consumption behaviors.  While many traditional media may see this initially as a threat, there is also significant opportunities for traditional media to adapt to, and take advantage, of the new opportunities mobile provides.

Sources - State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report, Nielsen
The Cross-Platform Report, Nielsen
Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U. S. Digital Media Consumption Habits, ComScore (available through ComScore website)
2012 Mobile Future in Focus, ComScore (available through ComScore website)
Tablet Demand Explodes, Creates Global Phenomenon, Online Media Daily
Study: 63% Who Watch Video on Tablet Did So With TV available,   HomeMedia Magazine
American Families See Tablets as Playmate, Teacher, and Babysitter,  Nielsenwire
Buzz in the Blogosphere: Millions More Bloggers and Blog Readers,  Nielsenwire

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

US Justice Dept. Looks at Price-Fixing in eBooks

Lawyers in the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice are threatening to bring a price-fixing lawsuit against Apple and top book publishers.  At issue is the deal between top publishers and Apple for access to their content for the iBooks market.  The Apple deal was different from previous book marketing and distribution arrangements, including previous deals with Amazon, in that it gave publishers not only the right to set suggested retail prices, but also to dictate (and limit) the retailer's ability to discount books.  In discussing the deal, Steve Jobs reportedly told his biographer that "Yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway."  Jobs also reportedly said that the publishers got together and approached Amazon with a "sign the same deal or we'll pull access to all our books" offer.
  The Justice Dept. lawyers contend that this shows collusion among book publishers, and Apple, to fix prices at a level above market value. 
  If Justice proceeds, there's a pretty good chance that they'd be successful against the book publishers, as there looks to be clear collusion among publishers to approach both Apple and Amazon with a uniform position, with what seems to be a clear intent to manipulate prices above market levels and to usurp the traditional ability of retailers to move from the suggested retail pricing in response to shifting market conditions and demand.  The case against Apple might be a bit weaker, as their position was essentially the same position it took with the music industry and other online content producers.  It'll be interesting to see how this proceeds,
  In addition, the position taken by the big publishers may backfire, with their determination to keep prices high driving readers to less expensive options from smaller publishers and self-publishing.  The eBook model already provides smaller publishers with expanded access to eBook markets, and exaggerating price differentials for close substitutes, economic theory suggests, will shift demand to the lower price goods.  By insisting on high-prices, and the high-demand authors that might justify such prices, they seem to be on track to making themselves niche players rather that big, general-interest publishers.

Source -  Steve Jobs, Price FixerWall Street Journal Information Age blog

Monday, March 12, 2012

Socail Demographics (infographic)

According to one study, 66% of adults in the U.S. use one or more social networks.  A new infographic from the folks at Online MBA gives a closer look at who they are, and what differences there are among users of the largest social networking services.  It's a tall, skinny one, so I'll recommend grabbing it yourselves for a better look, and I'll highlight some of the key results.
  Overalll, people who have at least some college constitute a majority on most every social metwork, and women users generally outnumber men.  The gender imbalance isn't consistent, however -  82% of Pinterest users are women, while 71% of Google+ users are men.  Facebook (57%)and Twitter (59%) attract more women, and LinkedIn users seem evenly split.
  The most cited uses for social media are to get in touch with friends (67%) and family (64%), or to reconnect with old friends (50%).  Social media is rarely used to try to make new friends (9%), find romantic partners (5%), or to follow people they don't personally know (5% report using social media to read comments from celebrities, athletes or politicians).

  • Facebook has 845 million active users, and reports averaging 200 million visits per day from mobile device.  The average Facebook user has 130 'friends' and checks the site about 40 times a month
  • Twitter has 127 million active users, 36% of whom Tweet daily.  Twitter users are also mobile - 54% will use Twitter from mobile devices.
  • One of the newer social media sites, Google+ has reported getting 90 million unique visitors to the site.  Google+ seems to be a more guy-friendly site (71% of users are male), and about 44% of Google+ users are single.  It's also at a stage where a lot of users are looking for friends (42%), possibly to see if there are enough on the Google+ social media system to justify it's continued use.
  • Pinterest, also relatively new, has 21 million unique visitors.  It's users tilt heavily female (82%), highly educated (86% have at least some college),  and higher-income (56% make $50,000/yr or more).
  • LinkedIn reports 150 million registered users, and is used heavily for business and professional growth.  75% of users indicate they use LinkedIn for business purposes.  In addition, more than 2 million companies are on the LinkedIn social network.
  • Social recommendation services are much less widely used.  Reddit reports 5.5 million unique visitors.  Top areas of user interest (or at least of ratings) are humor, politics, and tech.  Digg reports 4.6 million unique visitors, and the top areas of interest (ratings) are search engine optimization and marketing.
Not mentioned here, but also growing, is the idea of "social TV" - that is, of using social media to share comments and informations with friends about the programs you're watching.  In any case, it's pretty clear that social media has caught the attention of the American public, and primarily for the "social" aspects of the service.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Apple's News - iPad, AppleTV

There was a lot of chatter in the run-up to Apple's presser this week, mostly that there wasn't likely to be anything big, but rather important though incremental improvements.  And that's pretty much what happened, although I think that some of the AppleTV improvements may turn out to have a big impact on the TV-watching experience.
  Apple announced a better screen and faster processor for the iPad. and an upgrade to 4G cellular connectivity.  The processor and 4G will both have a noticeable impact on speed in some applications, but don't bring anything new to the tablet.  Apple improved the rear camera to the point where it's capable of recording 1080p video.  The potentially innovative feature was to add the voice-recognition component of Siri, in the form of a "voice dictation" option on the virtual keyboard; if that works well, it will make using iPads for writing easier.
  On the TV front, Apple announced an upgrade of the AppleTV box to be able to deliver 1080p content to your TV, a modest improvement needed to remain competitive with Roku and other net-video boxes and access points.  Apple also announced a software revision that they hope will offer an improved user experience, and announced plans to try to integrate the AppleTV more fully into the iCloud, which should provide users with better access to their content in the Cloud and on other devices.  The Apple TV, however, remains more of a "walled garden" than its competitors, in restricting connectivity to a very limited range of options, which is likely to continue to limit its overall impact.  Still the upgrade to full 1080p does make it more of a full competitor for HD viewing options, and will support the growing use of online video for entertainment-oriented TV viewing.

Source -  New iPad Revealed,

Joining the Cloud - GooglePlay

There's several ways you can look at the recently announced GooglePlay - as an amalgamation and re branding of Google's various media sites, as a move try to tap into the growing digital media content market and the success of iTunes and Amazon, or as a harbinger of the final shift in content from physical to virtual.'s Mike Isaac argues for the latter - that with Google's size and reach, GooglePlay may provide the critical mass for the Cloud.
  Specifically, GooglePlay combined the content and infrastructure of Google Music, Google eBookstore, and the Android Market (which recently also started serving as an access point for video streaming.  However, the integrated GooglePlay site is entirely cloud-based, so that all of the content is always available on any device that is Internet-connected.  As the press release touted:
“Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again,”
As with Apple's iCloud, a key feature of GooglePlay is the ability to not only have digital content available across your devices, but to automatically sync that content.  Early reports suggest that in terms of cloud storage space - free "storage" for digital content acquired from them (they don't actually have to put whole files in a separate area for you - just keep track of what you've paid for and let you access their main storage to stream or download), a limited amount of "free" storage for other files you choose to put in the Cloud, and opportunity to rent larger storage lockers.

Sources - With GooglePlay, the Cloud Goes Prime Time, Cloudline blog

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Contemplating the Future Through "Design Fiction"

Futurists like Bruce Sterling are talking about the importance of "design fiction" as a way of thinking about the future and the possible impacts of emerging technologies and ideas.  So what is design fiction?
  The term basically refers to the idea of using storytelling to speculate about new ideas, and then apply those insights into the design of prototypes and applications of  new ideas and technologies.  The underlying idea of design fiction has been an integral part of science fiction for decades - in books like John Brunner's Shockwave Rider (1975), which looked at a world where some had wider access to information than others, and computer worms and viruses were significant plot devices, Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (1995), in which a personalized interactive data device becomes a tutor and mentor to a young girl, William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984), where much of the action takes place within a globalized virtual world, Isaac Asimov's Robot novels (particularly The Naked Sun (1957)), which often explored societies where technology replaced human interactions, and Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net (1988), which explored the implications of a global information system much like today's Internet amidst growing efforts by states to control the system.
  In a recent interview for Slate, Bruce Sterling said he felt that the most effective design fictions to date have been videos imagining how technologies that are becoming feasible today could be used.  In some cases it's peripheral to the main story, such as the tablet used in the 1969 film 2001: A Space Odyssey that audiences today would recognize as an iPad.  In others, like Corning's A Day Made of Glass, it might be a vignette exploring what a w world of ubiquitous computers and screens (using Corning glass products) might look like.  It might even be more illustrative than speculatve, like Timo's Robot Readable World, which shows what "robot" eyes (really, any computer analysis of video input) can look at, and how it can analyze actions from video feeds.  In that case, it's the viewer who creates the fiction as they watch, thinking about how such systems might be used.
  Design fiction is increasingly useful, Sterling concludes, because
It’s really a new set of tools that, I think they’re giving futurism a second wind in some ways. Instead of talking about grand, overarching things like futurism in the 1960s—we need a new consciousness—it suits the tenor of our own period. What kind of business model would that work in? That’s the question people of our time can engage in. I’m not saying design fiction’s going to resolve our economic problems. On the other hand, if you’re an unemployed designer, it’s one of the coolest things you can do now.
  I'll add that I also think that it can be important because it can get us to actually think about how technologies and services might be used, and what might be the implications and ramifications of such use.  To often, today, we don't think about the later consequences of actions and choices.

Source -  Sci-Fi Writer Bruce Sterling Explains the Intriguing New Concept of Design FictionSlate Future Tense blog

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The U.S. as Internet Bully.

For the last decade or more, internet activists, organizations, and governments have expressed concerns about the possibility of the U.S being able to control the Internet, based on the location of the primary root files and governing Global Domain Name System in the U.S. (which funded the early system, and remains a primary source of operating funds).  Until 2009, the U.S. repeatedly and very publicly promised, at all levels and in every international meeting where "U.S. control of the internet" was discussed, that it would never interfere with the operations of the Interrnet's infrastructure, or the operation of the Global Domain Name System.
  That all changed with the Obama administration and a program run out of Customs Enforcement concerned with intellectual property theft (online IP piracy, and online trafficking in counterfeit products). "Operation In Our Sites" decided to combat IP theft by seizing the domain names of firms suspected of trafficking in counterfeit goods or pirated entertainment content.  That is, by actively and purposefully interfering in the operation of the Global Domain Name System and validating every fear about the big bad rogue U.S. manipulating the Internet for its own purposes.  And not once, but more than 700 times (so far).  All in spite of mounting evidence that those actions have been uniformly ineffective in actually stopping (or even slowing down) IP theft.
  The folks behind the program further raised the stakes with the high profile seizure last week of the domain name of, a Canadian sports-wagering site with no direct presence in the U.S.  Not only was it not a U.S. firm, and it's website not registered or operated in the U.S, but it was not alleged to have violated IP law, or to be engaged in IP theft actions.  The seizure seems to be the result of an arguement that it was engaged in online sports betting - activity that is legal in Canada and other countries where Bodog offers that service, but not in the U.S. (where it does not offer the services prohibited by U,S, law).  So it seems like the U.S. authorities felt it was proper to take action because a foreign firm offered services that were legal where offered (outside the U.S.), but not legal in the U.S., where the service was not available.  Further, in defending the action, a Customs Enforcement spokesman asserted that the U.S. had the right to seize any .com, .net, or .org domain name it wanted to, merely because the company that runs those servers is located in the U.S.
 An internet infrastructure watchdog group protested the cavalier attitude behind such an assertion, saying  that the “ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc. needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of U.S. federal and state lawmakers.”
  ICANN, an internet nonprofit charged with oversight of the Global Domain Name System has publicly limited its reaction to statements that they aren't involved, but have also acted in recent years to authorize a large number of additional domain names, which would be run by other organizations outside the U.S., and not subject to such actions.  Over the years, ICANN has been battling efforts to further remove the U.S. from any role in the oversight or control of Internet infrastructure.  There has been a concerted effort by the UN to shift Internet governance to a UN agency, beginning with a 2005 Working Group report concluding that "no single country should have a preeminent role in international internet governance."  A series of international meetings were held to develop proposals - efforts that were stalled in large part because of renewed promises by the U.S. that it would take a "hands-off" approach.  I was at some related meetings, and the concerns and threats to shift control are real and substantial.  With these actions by the U.S., with the blatant breaking of years of promises of benign intent, any credible opposition to removing U.S. involvement in Internet governance vanishes.  Look for a renewed movement to shift governance to a UN agency.
  In a piece, David Kravets wonders whether these recent seizures will encourage more Internet firms to move their sites and registrations offshore, or even encourage Internet firms to move themselves overseas - in a global Internet environment there is no real need to be in the U.S., and increasing risk to remain.  Or will
the U.S. government’s big-footing over dot-com domains in the name of fighting copyright ... add more weight to the arguments of those who want to put the U.N. in charge of the internet’s naming system. While that’s not inevitably a bad thing, it could lead to a world where any .com might be seizable by any country, including Russia, Libya and Iran.
   Telecomm and online regulation and legal maneuvering tends to be short-sighted and problematic, because it is often done by people who don't consider the implications of their actions, and/or don't understand the technologies and markets they seek to control or influence.  Here, it's all in play - an incredibly and extremely short-sighted effort that will not only have virtually no shot at actually achieving its stated goals and purpose, but has a real chance of resulting in significant and long-lasting harm to the U.S. Internet industry - and a very real chance of destabilizing and perhaps even destroying the Internet as an open-access system.
  How can we let this happen?

Source -  If It Ends in .Com, It's

edit track - cleaned up some language in the early sections (7 March)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Social Media for Marketing

Budgets for social media efforts continue to rise, as more firms recognize the potential of social media to contribute to promotional activities, and to help build relationships with consumers.  But bottom-line managers wonder if those efforts are paying off.  Which leads to the question of how does one measure the impact or effectiveness of social media efforts.

In a post for the OnlineSpin blog, Jason Heller takes a look at this "Return on Investment" issue.
He starts with stating that there are four basic objectives for social media efforts - building relationships with customers, creating awareness and acquiring new customers, providing customer service, and monitoring customer input for better insights and research they can act on.  In the absence of industry-adopted specific metrics designed for social media arrive, Heller suggests that a combination of more generally accepted measures of impact and effectiveness can provide indications of effectiveness of at least those broad goals and objectives.  Specifically, he suggests looking at Reach & Growth, Engagement, and Traffic & Commerce.  Tracking Reach, particularly over time, reflects the ability to generate at least minimal interest and growth in reach reflects a growing potential customer base.  Engagement, or looking at repeat or regular use, or interactions with social media audiences, reflect the development of stronger relationships.  Traffic & Commerce metrics can be used to look at the impact of specific campaigns or efforts. You can track the insights and research efforts generated. While these aren't likely to confirm that social media efforts paid for themselves (what traditional business ROI looks for), they can provide at least some objective indicator of the effectiveness and impact of both general social media efforts, and the impacts of specific strategies and campaigns.  As Heller concludes -
Focus on modeling the economic impact of engagement, scale and insights over time. Continue to demonstrate an increase in actively engaged consumers over time, and you will continue to gain executive support, which is a vital component of social media success. Just remember that eventually you will need to be able to support the economic argument.
Source -  A Push Toward Social Media ROIOnlineSpin, a MediaPost blog

Any chance TV Statiions will voluntarily reliquish channels?

I recently posted that Congress has given the FCC permission to take back some TV channels and auction them of, but only if TV stations voluntarily give back channels.  A recent story in the LA Times suggests there's not much interest from TV broadcasters in doing that.  Talking to a number of station owners and building on previous public statements, there seems to be almost no interest in the FCC plan, at least among network affiliated stations.  The one station owner on record (testimony at a Congressional hearing) as being willing to even consider "selling" some of its spectrum was a small independent station in a highly competitive market. A spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) provided a good summary of the industry perspective -
“The stations likely to sell — if any — are the ones that offer truly niche programming serving a melting pot of immigrant populations...  The notion that an ABC or CBS affiliate would voluntarily choose to go out of business to help solve an alleged spectrum crunch is ludicrous.”
A former telecommunications adviser for the Obama administration outlined a possible scenario for stations to "voluntarily relinquish" spectrum in return for a share of the $1.75 billion set aside for compensation.  A niche-targeted station (broadcasting in standard definition preferably) could partner with another station to shift its programming to a secondary channel (FCC rules allow stations to split their digital spectrum into as many as 4 standard definition channels, or one HD channel and one SD channel).  For marginally profitable stations, the windfall from the compensation program might be enticing, particularly if they can find an alternative distribution outlet for their programming (as a secondary channel, or via cable/satellite or other multichannel distribution system).
  The problem for the FCC in trying to recover a block of 40% of the remaining spectrum allocated to television broadcasting is that there aren't a lot of those kinds of stations around.  It's going to take time to find "volunteers" (unless the TV market collapses), and even then, the FCC will have to force some stations to change frequencies in order to provide the contiguous, nation-wide, blocks of spectrum needed for the envisioned service to be viable.  And that's likely to be a long process, with a high likelihood of court challenges.

Source -  FCC can auction spectrum, but will broadcasters sell?  L.A.Times Business blog

edit track - fixed typo in title (7 March)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Goin' Mobile - Content

Some quick news items -

The Smithsonian Channel is launching an iPad app as part of an effort to "better serve existing viewers and attract new ones."  The app will provide users with access to hundreds of videos, including a rotating selection of full episodes and specials and a constantly updated archive of short-form videos.  The app will include social media integration, AirPlay integration, tools for building custom playlists, and the ability to receive notifications about the Smithsonian Channel schedule and the availability of new content.

Facebook announced that it will stream multiple FA Cup soccer matches this year.  Last year, FA Cup sponsor Budweiser streamed one match through its Facebook page.  More than 30,000 people watched the live stream of an early rounds match between Ascot United and Wembley FC.  They hope to feature five preliminary round games this year.

Google has begun a YouTube Developer Program to bridge the gap between brand channels and viewers.  The program will emphasize developing templates and applications that channels can use to facilitate video production, and help users find and access content.

The latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report shows a 36% increase in the number of mobile video users.

A new app called Are You Watching This? constantly analyzes streams of sports data to let users know what games are on and where to find them.  Behind the app is an algorithm that rates games according to the number of exciting things going on, as well as social media ratings by fans.

ZEE Network's digital division is launching a new app that will stream TV and other video channels from India.  Ditto TV is currently available in India, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the UAE.  It's expected to be available in the US within several months.  The app currently offers 21 channels, and has partnered with a number of other streaming channels and content providers.

A study from Knowledge Networks finds that the online availability of TV shows increases their viewing, and likeability.  Over 40% of respondents said having programs available online makes them think "more highly of a TV network."  And 20% said that they spend more time watching a network's content after it became available online.

Sources -  Smithsonian Channel Lands on iPadBroadcasting & Cable
Facebook to broadcast more live FA Cup matches next
YouTube Begins to Form Developer Channel ProgramOnlineMediaDaily
TV Sourcing and Viewing Continues to Change, Research Brief from the Center for Media Research
How one sports geek wants to save cable TV with dataGigaOM
ZEE launches app to stream channels from
TV Shows With Online Access Improve ReachMediaDailyNews

Linking TV Content to Ads Increase Value

Bravo released findings from a commissioned study that suggests that advertising for products related to the content of the program it's shown in are more likely to "resonate" with audiences.
The research looked at the live brain response of 150 people who saw various combinations of ads and program content.  Researchers found that brain activity in the region where long-term memory is stored was, on average, 15% higher when ads were contextually relevant to the program content, than when they weren't.
A “stronger impact” comes when the creative content has a certain appeal -- even if it is in a somewhat unrelated category -- such as when a car ad highlights the “beauty and glamour of the driving experience” airs during a fashion program.
The Bravo network sales team often pitches the use of vignettes that can blend elements of a program with a brand.  They claim that such "hybrid" spots have the highest recall, and average an increase of 19% in neuro-activity.

Source -  Study Links TV Content To Ad ValueMediaDailyNews

Thoughts on Content Strategy

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, CEO of, shared some thoughts on whether a Horizontal or Vertical content strategy was more valuable in a post on the OnlineVideoInsider blog.  A horizontal strategy is one that emphasizes multiple categories or multiple outlets.  A vertical strategy is one that emphasizes a focus on providing multiple levels or stages within a specific category.  Horizontal is breadth, vertical depth - in terms of networks, major general-interest broadcast networks like NBC or CBS are horizontal, niche networks like ESPN, SyFy, or the Military Channel are vertical. In some cases, like Disney, you have both horizontal and vertical strategies within a firm.
  Karbasfrooshan makes the point that the question of what strategy to pursue is becoming more important as a variety of tech firms, distribution channels, and ad networks are beginning to actively move into content creation.  Should they pursue a more horizontal strategy to broaden their reach, or should they go vertical in hopes of developing more focused, engaged, and passionate audiences?
  In terms of producing video content, he suggests that there are three things to consider in today's media environment - the challenge of scale, the problem with passionate audiences, and the challenge of video.
The Challenge of Scale - Karbasfrooshan argues that the scale in content that's important doesn't come from producing more content, but from distributing it in more places.  Today, scale economies in video kick in very, very quickly, so scale in terms of multiple simultaneous productions isn't critical.  But scale, in terms of maintaining IP ownership and gaining multiple revenue streams from distributing in multiple outlets, is increasingly critical.
The Problem with Passionate Audiences is that they keep wanting more. Karbasfrooshan argues that "if you decide to produce videos with a vertical strategy, you run the risk of hitting a wall by running out of topics to produce."  If your vertical is something that is continually renewing, such as sports, or lifestyle, or if your audience is just as happy watching reruns (Kids and cartoons), it may work.  Otherwise, as with Star Trek franchise, you'll often find yourself recycling storylines.
The Challenge of Video is that it's not always the best format for content. Karbasfrooshan states that "you cannot produce a video on any topic; it boils down to visuals," and notes that search engines still aren't doing a good job indexing video.  Noting that very few video producers maintain their own sites for direct distribution to audiences, he suggests video is focused more on distribution than "destination."  And that to maximize distribution, "you need to have as many content pieces in as many categories" as possible, because the largest aggregators and distributors are all horizontally-focused.
  In the end, Karbasfrooshan notes that both strategies have advantages and disadvantages, and that producers, distributors, audiences, and advertisers are all looking for different things - "Ultimately what advertisers prefer is different from what users like and distributors need."

For a video producer, it really boils down to what your purpose is, where your strengths are, and what you're interested in.  And in reality, what your opportunities are. Let the strategies develop over time, to meet circumstances and opportunities - and always remember that you can integrate aspects of either or both, and change as needed.

Source - Is A Horizontal Or Vertical Content Strategy More Valuable?OnlineVideo Insider

Who Gives a Tweet?

A recent academic research paper looked at the content of more than 40,000 tweets and the ratings they were given by users.  Tweets were organized into 8 broad content categories, labeled Questions to Followers, Information Sharing, Self-Promotion, Random Thought, Opinion/Complaint, Me Now, Conversation, and Presence Maintenance.  The primary rating system was whether a tweet was "Worth Reading", "OK", or "Not Worth Reading."  Raters could also indicate which of a set of 4 positive or 4 negative adjectives applied and leave more specific comments.
  • Only 36% of rated tweets were considered "Worth Reading".  25% were rated "Not Worth Reading" and the remaining 39% were considered to be "OK".
  • Questions to Followers, Information Sharing, and Self Promotion were the content types most likely to receive "Worth Reading" ratings.
  • Presence Maintenance (brief, salutary postings), Conversation, and Me Now (the tweeter’s current status) were the content categories most likely to receive "Not Worth Reading" ratings
  • Raters almost universally disliked overuse of location check-in tweets from services like Foursquare, inclusion of @mentions in tweets when a direct reply would have worked, and presence of multiple hashtags that obscured content
  • "Informative" was the most widely selected positive adjective, although both "Funny" and "Useful" were also frequently selected.  On the negative side, "Boring" seemed to be the reason behind most "Not Worth Reading" ratings (81%)

The researchers concluded that the raters in their study valued Twitter as an information medium -
Tweets worth reading were often informative (48%) or funny (24%), as seen in (the figure above). These tags had very little overlap: a tweet was often one or the other, but not both. Information links were valued for novelty or an appealing description: “interesting perspective on something I know nothing about”, “makes you want to know more.” Humor was a successful way to share random thoughts or opinions especially: “it’s witty and snarky. worth the read.” In keeping with Twitter’s focus on short messages, followers appreciated conciseness: “few words to say much, very clear.” A human aspect was also appreciated: “personal, honest and transparent.”
Sources - Who Gives a Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value, report at Journalist's Resource blog.
Who Gives a Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value, research paper by Paul Andre, Michael S. Bernstein, and Kurt Luther.