Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fun Olympics/Social Media Infographic

The infographic, provided by Pappas Group, illustrates the roughly 100-fold increase in the size and reach of social media between the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
"When we began to visualize the impact of the Summer Games on branded social media, each category we were looking at took on its own event-like stature. So the idea of using a traditional isometric style to create an Olympic arena of sorts seemed like a natural fit,” explains Art Director Spencer Slemenda. “We started thinking of different events and how they would affect the chart data. The integration of the cut-out athletes came quite easily from that.".

Source - Infographic: What's Different About The 2012 Olympics? Social Media, Of Course,   promaxbda daily brief

Slow economy leads to revised ad forecasts

With the rather bleak economic numbers released by the US government over the last weeks, and with the weak results posted by some big agency holding companies, many business analysts are revising their advertising revenues forecasts down.  The latest report puts US GDP growth at 1.5% for the second quarter.
On Thursday, IPG (Interpublic Group) reported organic growth of less than 1%, while earlier this month, Publicis Groupe reported 1.6% organic growth for the period.
Responding to the weak numbers, a Commerce Dept. spokesman blamed the slowdown in US ad spending on a decline in local and state government activity, and the global economic slowdown.  Since neither factor contributes much (if anything) to US ad revenues directly, the comments suggest more of a "pass-the-buck" political response, than a meaningful consideration of causality.

Source -  Slowed Economy Impacts Ad Growth, Agencies Revise ForecastsMediaDailyNews

The Future of TV - 10 Things to Know

KIT Digital recently provided some thoughts on the future of TV, and some of the more immediate questions, from its Global Lead Analyst, Alan Wolk - in the form of a slideshow.  The slides are available here if you want a copy, and I'll see if I can get an embed to work.
10 Things You Need To Know About The Future of Television from Alan Wolk

Among some of the key points -
  • Transition to TV Everywhere is being slowed by "Lawyers" (really about interpreting intellectual property rights in that new context)
  • Bandwidth caps by broadband providers (setting a limit on data transfers) is slowing diffusion of TV Everywhere and "cord-cutting" (people leaving MVPD for access to TV content via the Internet)
  • Rise of Smart TV currently slowed by lack of single standard, and difficulty in upgrading programming in TVs - suggests that small set-top boxes like AppleTV and Roku may be the future, as they are easily upgradable.
  • Content producers (esp. movies) most worried about drop in DVD sales (why buy when you can get most through Netflix and its kin), and the shrinking window between primary theatrical release and availability through pay VOD.
  • There's potentially big value in second screen apps - as a way to implement "click-to-buy" online purchases for goods shown in ads or within program content; and as a source of consumer data on viewing and impacts.
  • Who has the best user interface (combining simplicity with value) goes a long way in determining winners and losers.
Source -  10 things you need to know about the future of TVLostRemote

CNN's continued decline

The President of CNN Worldwide resigned last week as ratings for their primary news network and big shows continued their decline, reaching a 21-year low.  In a departing memo to CNN staff, he wrote that "CNN 'needs new thinking' and a 'new leader who brings a different perspective.'"
  The second quarter ratings for CNN showed a 35-41% decline from the year before (depending on demographic), reflecting a loss of nearly half a million viewers. Every major program at CNN saw significant declines from the previous year - Anderson Cooper 360 down 44% at 10pm and down 23% at 8pm; Piers Morgan down 33%; Erin Burnett Outfront down 45%; the Situation Room down 42%, and morning show Getting Started down 43%.  (These ratings are for the desirable 25-54 age demographic, the general audience metric (people aged 2 or older) also declined, but not as rapidly.).
  The NY Times blames the fall in a declining interest in breaking news,  However, while the overall viewing for the three major cable news networks all declined, the fall was marginal for Fox (down 1% in total viewing) and modest for MSNBC (down 13%) - so clearly that's not the only reason behind the decline.  Could its pretense of objective neutrality in coverage in an age of increased partisanship be a contributing factor?

Sources -  CNN Ratings Fall to 21 Year Low in Primetime During the Second Quarter of 2012, TVbythenNumbers
As Breaking News Fades, Ratings Fall at CNN, NY Times

Monday, July 30, 2012

TV viewing al "Fresco" (future displays)

At recent TV technology meetings in Washington, DC, NDS presented a demonstration of a new way of watching TV - its "Fresco" project.
(C)onsumers of tomorrow may have expansive video screens available, perhaps covering entire walls of their homes or workplaces. NDS and others feel that this future is not far away, given the progress in OLED development that could soon lead to large display arrays assembled from smaller elements. The OLED panels could be super-thin, frameless, and either transparent when off, or coupled with electrophoretic ink (“E-Ink”) panels – as used today in many e-book readers – to provide a static background pattern. “It could be like tiling your bathroom,” as NDS’s Simon Parnall described.
 The "Fresco" project envisions future displays as unobtrusive, ultra-High Definition (at least 4K), immersive, and ambient.
Parnall explained that such a display would “live with the viewer or family in the home,” displaying items that might today be presented by physical pictures on the wall, calendars, clocks, magnetic notes posted on the fridge, and the like. The display could also be used to present multiple simultaneous content elements (from broadcast, broadband or in-home sources), sized and arranged or the screen appropriately, or a single content element at a large size – so called “full immersion.”
 Parnall stressed the importance of including and utilizing metadata within video and data feeds, particularly in broadcast feeds.  The metadata (information about the content/app) could adjust display parameters automatically, and assist users' devices to make better choices on available viewing (or storage) options.  He also mentioned the opportunity for revenue generation from having such a large display canvas (putting ads, links, apps, etc. beside the primary broadcast feed, instead of overlaying them on top of the broadcast picture.
  What's slowing implementation is that direct-view screen sizes are nearing screen sizes that aren't viable in most consumer viewing contexts (too big for available wall space, too large to get through doors or around corners in stairs or hallways, and too heavy.  Today's largest plasma and LCD displays (and the demo in this case) use multiple smaller displays assembled together and linked to an external video driver that splits the video feeds among the component displays.  OLED technology offers the potential of thin and flexible screens that will eventually be ramped up to the kind of sizes and area coverage that "Fresco" envisions - but for now quality and manufacturing concerns have left large-screen OLEDs too expensive for general consumer use.
  Still, those attending the demo found it useful in terms of providing an idea about possible future viewing options, and the various opportunities for combining video and data in new, potentially profitable ways.

Source - NDS "Fresco" Demonstration Envisions a Bold Future of Television,  TV TechCheck

For somewhat similar visions of the future of displays, check GE's A Day Made of Glass, A Day Made of Glass 2, and Day 2 - Unpacked (discusses specifics of technology and current viability) videos.

Facebook for PR

A recent study of how nonprofits are using Facebook may offer some insights on the general impact and role of social media.  The study, a supplement to the annual eNonprofits Benchmark Study produced by M&R Strategic Services and NTEN Nonprofit Technologies, looks at how nonprofits have been using social media, the successes and failures, and makes some suggestions for the strategic use of Facebook and other social media outlets.
  First, some general results - the study found that the media nonprofit fan page had more than 30,000 "likes", and that wildlife and animal welfare related nonprofit sites were the most popular, with a median of more than 70,000 likes.  The use and popularity of nonprofit fan pages is showing significant growth. Between 2010 and 2011, the median growth rate for fan page users was 70%.  Churn (turnover in users) averaged 0.5% per month.  As for reach, the nonprofits examined reached an average of 20% of their fan base daily.
  The study also looked at several impact metrics. Using the People Talking About This (PTAT) measure, which measures how many people wrote about information on the fan page within a week, nonprofits averaged about 22 PTAT per 1000 fans.  About 9 per thousand "engaged" with the fan site on a daily basis (Daily Page Engaged Users).  Nonprofit fan pages had 2-3 "actions" (liking or commenting) per thousand fans (Daily Action Rate).  There were differences among the various nonprofit sectors in these "impact" measures.

Some of the recommendations -
  • "the key is to worry less about [the people who unsubscribe] and concentrate more on producing engaging content for the people who do want to hear from you."
  • "If your fan page is one-third the size of another group's page, but has three times the reach percentage, your message is reaching just as many people."
  • There are various ways to measure user involvement or impact, and nonprofits should focus on those that best match their missions and goals.

Sources -   Facebook Data Shows What WorksBrainyard News
You can access and download the main benchmark study, supplement, slides and webinar through http://www.e-benchmarksstudy.com/ 

Will Olympics drive mobile video?

A study commissioned by mobile marketing firm Velti found that 4 in 10 people who follow Olympic sports will do so on on multiple devices.  35% of tablet owners said they planned to use their tablets to get Olympics coverage, as did 37% of smartphone owners.  Of those thinking of using their smartphones, 77% said they anticipate using their devices' browser for Olympics info, and 63% would use an Olympics app.  Anticipated usage for tablets was about the same, with 80% reported likely browser use, and 58% using apps.  Tablet users, however, anticipated use of mobile video was quite high, due in part by both the NBC and BBC promising to stream all Olympic events live.  Half of tablet owners anticipated watching video clips accessed through browsers, and 45% indicating that they were likely to watch live streamed content.
Among other findings -:
*14% of U.S. adults will track the Olympics on three or more devices. 
*Of those who keep up with the Olympics this summer: 36% will watch on TV and a computer; 11% will use a TV and a smartphone; and 10% will use a computer and their smartphone.

*Almost four in 10 people using their smartphones to follow the Olympics will also do so by connecting with others by calling them or via texting.

*Among men 18-34, 83% plan to watch the Olympics compared to 71% of women in the same age group.
I'm "watching" a live women's water polo match on my iPad, using the NBC Olympics Live app, while I'm writing this - and I have to say there has been significant improvements in online video options and quality from previous Olympics.  (And remembering a discussion on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show this morning wondering when the first all-live Olympics coverage will be.  It's here, now, online - but it's likely that given the huge rights fees, the traditional TV broadcast network will still try to delay broadcasting popular events until prime (advertising) time.

Source -  Olympic Fans Screen Action on Multiple DevicesOnlineMediaDaily

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sorry State of Political Coverage

A recent NY Times report and some comments from the Washington Post's ombudsman suggest that the old professional journalism standards regarding political coverage are being abandoned.
  The Times report suggests that many top news organizations have agreed to give campaigns and politicians veto power over an important aspect of their reporting - what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.
Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president’s top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review.
The verdict from the campaign — an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script — is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message.
Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign's various operations, including most strategists and midlevel aides.  The same applies for many cabinet positions and Congressional staff.  As for the Romney campaign, they insist on quote approval for interviews with Romney's family members. 
  The Times piece suggests that despite concerns about the practice, most reporters and news organizations comply - major papers like the New York Times and Washington Post have publicly acknowledged their acquiescence, as have both Reuters and Bloomberg news agencies.  Many more reporters and organizations interviewed for the piece did not want their acceptance of the practice on the record.
“We don’t like the practice,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor for news at The New York Times. “We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”
  The report argues that
Under President Obama, the insistence on blanket anonymity has grown to new levels... Reporters who have covered the Obama presidency say the quote-approval process fits a pattern by this White House of finding new ways to limit its exposure in the news media. 
 The piece suggests that one reason for quote approval is that some senior Obama campaign representatives aren't always careful in their choice of words -
Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, can be foul-mouthed. But readers would not know it because he deletes the curse words before approving his quotes. Brevity is not a strong suit of David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser. So he tightens up his sentences before giving them the O.K.
The Obama campaign declined to make Mr. Plouffe or Mr. Messina available to explain their media practices. “We are not putting anyone on the record for this story,” said Katie Hogan, an Obama spokeswoman, without a hint of irony.
   At a time when candidates insist that "they didn't say that" or that they were quoted "out of context," giving them, or their representatives, the power to kill quotes, insert new (more 'correct') context into a quote, or remove attribution to hide their identity (and providing deniability) would seem to be a clear dereliction of journalistic duty.

  The other issue has emerged from a situation at the Washington Post.  It began with an article alleging that Romney may have "outsourced" jobs while at Bain Capital, and included several specific claims that were attributed to an Obama campaign spokesman.  The Post's in-house fact checker originally gave the story 3 out of 4 Pinnochio's - arguing that while every specific allegation included in the article was false, that Romney still might have outsourced jobs. (The Post did acknowledge that the specific claims were in fact not accurate, but still "stood by" their discredited story)  Later, the same "fact checker" gave a pass to an Obama PAC ad for repeating the discredited claims, by arguing that they had accurately reported the story's claims - which he knew to be false, having already "fact checked" them. 
  That's where the Post's ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, comes in.  A number of readers asked about the apparent ethical discrepancy between finding an article (and its "facts") to be misleading and false, but not finding a political ad using that story's claims to be equally false or misleading.  Following what seems to be normal practice for newspaper ombudsmen (who seem to see their job as defending their paper rather than applying some objective or ethical standard), Pexton acknowledged that the specific allegations did not support the "outsourcing" claims, but also defended the Fact Checker's autonomy in judging political ads and claims.  When criticism increased, the two jointly announced that the Washington Post's new official policy was that they would no longer 'Fact Check' Post articles, or any political ad or claim that cited a Post article as source.
  As might be expected (at least by anyone with a background in ethics or journalistic norms and practices), the new policy was not well received by critics.  The Post's supposed arbiters of accuracy and ethics in politics and political coverage decided to finesse a serious issue by purposely ignoring it.  Moreover, they did so in a way that provided campaigns (and reporters and editors) a blueprint for how to mislead and slander with (apparent) impunity.  Any claim, no matter how ridiculous or outrageous, that makes it into a Post article will purposely remain unexamined and unchallenged by the Post's self-proclaimed vaunted Fact-Checking operation.
  The policy may give campaigns and politicians the appearance of impunity, and it may prevent other cases of apparent double standards from happening - but in doing so, the policy puts the news organization at considerable risk. I hope the Post's lawyer gets to these two quickly, and explains how publicly proclaiming that possible falsehoods will not be checked for validity or accuracy, intentionally and as a matter of policy, can be argued in court as showing "a reckless disregard for truth" - one of the standards for actual malice that can place news organizations at risk for libel judgments, even against public figures.  It should be interesting, and enlightening, should someone pursue a libel claim against the Post for publishing one or more of the myriad slanders that emerge during political campaigns in an article, particularly if the "Fact Check" implicitly supports the slander by failing to challenge it then, and allows the damage to compound as others repeat the libel or slander as being under the imprimateur of the Washington Post

Sources -  Latest word on the Trail? I Take That BackNew York Times

Google Fiber Goes Live, Google Enters TV (MVPD) Biz

Google's first major fiber network overbuild went live in Kansas City Thursday, offering TV and internet service.  Google's stated intention is to compete with Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse services, and the initial offering looks to be competitive.
  The posted price for the TV/Internet bundle is $120 a month.  The Internet service ($70/month if separate) promises Gigabit data rates (1000 Mbps), and comes with 1 Terabyte of digital storage via Google Drive.  The Gigabit Google Fiber TV promises "hundreds of on-demand shows and channels", DVR storage space, and access to movies through Netflix and YouTube.  The kicker is that Gooble will throw in its new Nexus 7 tablet to serve as a remote (and offers a discounted Chromebook as an alternative0, AT&T's U-verse offers TV/Internet/Phone bundles from $89 to $166 per month - with more TV channels, but significantly slower data speeds (up to 12 Mbps); Verizon's FiOS TV/Internet bundles run from $80-$105 a month (with discount and 2-year commitment) and it also seems to offer more channels but slower Internet data speeds (25Mbps).
  For now, Google Fiber excels in Internet access - being one of the first to build and use a Gigabit fiber network.  Verizon seems to have shut down expansion of its FiOS service, and AT&T is focused on bringing its current network service to new areas.  As such, it looks like Google's network speeds are likely to leave its competitors in the dust for some time to come.  As Google brings its fiber network to more cities, it should be able to attract interest from more TV channels and programmers and continue to build up the TV side, making their service more desirable to all types of media consumers.

Source -  Google Enters TV Biz, Google Fiber Debuts in Kansas CityOnlineMediaDaily

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gannett/USA Today Talks Mobile

  There's an interesting interview with the Gannett Co.'s chief digital officer, David Paine, on the OnlineMediaDaily blog about their mobile strategy.  I'll recommend reading it in full, and provide a few teasers here.
  Payne indicates that their strategy is to get into mobile markets early, pushing out apps and products as quickly as possible, with development on a markets native platform rather than simply porting apps from one system to another. That strategy has resulting in 14.5 million downloads (primarily iPhones and iPads) and 4.7 million users.  "There are more people using our mobile products on a daily basis than looking at the [print] newspaper."
  As for advertising, Payne noted that the current plan is to maintain USA Today's digital efforts on an ad-supported rather than subscription-based business model. He indicated that the mobile ad contribution to total ad revenues was in the industry average range of 10-20%. As for their ad strategy, Payne  commented,
We’re definitely doing the cross-platform sell as a way to reach people at different times in different places. The industry is not quite there yet in selling different messages synchronized with behavior. We’re selling Olympic packages against all products and platforms now.
   Another key, Payne indicated, was to keep products and apps fresh, taking advantage of improvements in technology and innovations in operating systems.
We’re actually in the process of relaunching all of USA Today, about eight new products coming out in the next couple of months. We’ll push out a new iPad app, a Windows 8 product, a newly designed mobile Web product, a new release on the iPhone, and an update to the Kindle Fire.

Source: Gannett's Payne Shares 'USA Today' Vision For MobileOnlineMediaDaily

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Will Windows 8 be too pricy?

Microsoft is hoping to break into the tablet marketplace with the mobile version of Windows 8 (Windows 8 RT), along with its own announced tablet, called the Surface.  While the product announcement of the Surface included a couple of interesting hardware innovations, most analysts felt that that it wasn't quite up to iPad standards.  In fact, many saw the included keyboard (one of the interesting innovations) and with the announced OS being a version of the new Windows 8 operating system, the Surface would be more of a competitor for laptops and desktops, rather than pure tablets.
  This week, Microsoft made another announcement that's likely to put the Surface and other tablets running Windows 8 at a competitive disadvantage in the growing tablet market.  Microsoft has announced that when Windows 8 goes live, the minimum price for apps at the online Windows app store will be $1.49 (with Microsoft getting 30%, and forwarding payments only at $200 total sales increments).  That puts the minimum price for Windows 8 apps 50% higher than the minimum for paid apps in Apple's App Store or for Android OS apps at Google Play or Amazon's AppStore for its Kindle.  Further, studies are showing that most of the paid apps sold are at the minimum price (99 cents); that most tablet owners have dozens, if not hundreds of apps; and that which OS a tablet runs is a primary factor driving tablet purchases (often for presence of apps, or so that previously purchased apps are transferable).  Add to that the report that Microsoft is charging tablet manufacturers $80-90 a unit for the Windows 8 RT OS, compared to Android being a free OS, and Apple's iOS being effectively free, and you can see that Windows RT tablets are likely to be more costly to purchase, and more costly to stock with apps, than tablets running either of the two currently dominant mobile operating systems.  This places Windows 8 RT tablets at a considerable competitive disadvantage to start - at least in the tablet marketplace.
  Windows-based tablets might be able to overcome that disadvantage if the Windows 8 RT OS offers significant advantages over competing tablets and operating systems.  But looking at the rather dismal track record of Windows mobile operating systems, I'm doubtful that Microsoft will be able to offer anything that would give it a long-term competitive advantage for tablet users.  Windows may be the dominant OS for PCs and laptops, but that is due in large part to the huge amount of legacy software and the costs of conversion associated with shifting to another operating system.  It doesn't have that advantage in mobile.
  But it could be an advantage for those seeking a more portable replacement for desktops or laptops.

Sources -  Windows 8: No 99-cent Apps For YouInformationWeek
Windows 8 should NOT compete iPad priceWindowsMobile8.com
Making money with your apps through the Windows Store, Microsoft Developer Network document

Monday, July 23, 2012

Comcast-NBC Universal net moves

Comcast, the parent company of NBC-Universal has formerly purchased Microsoft's stake in MSNBC.com for a reported $300 million.  MSNBC will be rebranded as NBCNews.com.
  Comcast has signaled its intent to get out of other joint operations, whether by selling its stake, or buying out its former partners.  One of the first moves has been to sell its 15.8% stake in A&E Networks to Disney and Hearst for $3.03 billion in cash.

Sources -  Comcast Buts Microsoft's Shares in MSNBC, BroadcastNewsroom.com
Comcast Sells A&E Stake to Disney, Hearst for $3BBroadcastNewsroom.com

Diginets to the rescue?

Since digital TV in the U.S. was authorized, the FCC has allowed local TV broadcasters to use part of their digital signal for other applications, as long as their primary channel remained a free TV channel.  Part of the reasoning at the time was that stations could explore using any excess bandwidth to generate additional revenues to offset the cost of the switch to digital.  The problem has been that there didn't seem to be much demand for that bandwidth, and thus not much revenue generated.
  Research from BIA/Kelsey suggests that that may be about to change.  They suggest that D2 & D3 channels - which can operate in that additional bandwidth - currently accounts for 3% of TV stations' ad revenues.  That may not sound like much; the study indicates that not all stations that multicast are generating significant revenues - while more than 1300 stations were using their digital channels to also multicast diginets (multicast-only networks like This TV, Me-TV, and Antenna TV), only 277 currently earn more than $50,000 annually from multicast operations.  BIA/Kelsey VP Mark Fratrik talked about what stations were most likely to be successful:
“If you look over the past three or four years, where they have been able to get cable carriage and they’ve been able to get good programming, whether it’s an established network or an up-and-coming network, they’re seeing an increase in revenue.”
In short, while the individual station numbers may not be significant yet, they are growing and look to be able to continue to grow in the future.  While individual station numbers aren't huge, the aggregate revenues are beginning to be respectable.  According to the report, broadcast network affiliated stations were generally most profitable
CW (affiliates were) most lucrative, pulling in $27 million for its multicast affiliates, followed by Fox at $19.2 million. The other multicast majors: MNT ($12 million), ABC ($4.5 million), CBS ($3.7 million), Telemundo ($3.4 million) and NBC ($3 million).
(The report also indicated revenues for) three multicast-only networks or diginets: MGM and Weigel Broadcasting's This TV ($18. 4 million), Weigel's Me-TV ($10.7 million) and ABC Owned Television Stations' Live Well ($4.8 million).
The future of diginets and multicasting is aided by the growing interest from advertisers.  Diginets offer highly targeted audiences and rates that a significantly lower than those for the primary channel, and often lower than what local cable systems charge for similarly targeted channels.
“They have better CPMs than local cable,” says Lindy Sieker, senior broadcast specialist at media buying agency Empower MediaMarketing. “I have told cable providers that they need to come down in their rates because I can get the same ratings or better ratings than cable. And these networks cover the entire DMA, as opposed to just appearing in cable zones.”
Multicasting with diginets may not be the full solution to local broadcast station revenue concerns, but they do seem to be a viable strategy that can bring in additional revenues.  And as the programming choices and quality offered by these networks improve, they should be able to continue to grow audiences and revenues.

Source:  Diginets Delivering Dollars For More StationsTV NewsCheck

Goin' Live on Mobile

Results from the Dyle Mobile TV Data Report suggest that more than two-thirds of consumers would watch more TV if live programming was available on their mobile devices.  Using a sample of US consumers in the critical 18-54 age demographic, the study asked about their use of various media devices, as well as their viewing behaviour.
  The study found high penetration levels for many of the media/mobile devices considered - in fact, only 2% indicated that they had none of them. 86% reported owning a cell phone (56% owned a smartphone), 79% owned a laptop, and 71% owned a desktop computer.  One third of the sample reported owning an iPad or other tablet.
  The sample also reported that consumers in the sample used a wide variety of devices and sources when watching TV.  When asked about their viewing habits in the previous month, 85% reported watching live programming on their TV, 59% watched TV content streamed online, 56% watched recorded content on their TV, 32% watched streamed content via a gaming console, 26% watched streamed content on a mobile device, and 22% watched streamed content on an iPad/tablet.  When asked about their interest in watching live mobile TV if it were available, more than half the sample indicated they'd be interested in watching it on their smartphone or tablet.  Interestingly, the two-screen home option was not the mostly likely place that respondents said they would be likely to watch live mobile TV.  While 63% indicated that they'd use live mobile TV at home as an additional TV, 85% had an interest in watching live mobile TV while waiting, 76% would watch in transit, and 74% would use live mobile as a way to entertain kids in a car.  They also reported high likelihood of using live mobile in more intrusive locations (53% at a sporting event, 52% at the gym, and 44% at work).
  As for the types of programming they'd be likely to watch live mobile TV, local news & weather topped the list (81%), followed closely by movies (79%) and national news (75%), while about two-thirds also expressed interest in sitcoms (69%), sports (66%), children's cartoons (65%), and dramas (64%).

The research and report are in support of a joint venture of mobile TV providers from 12 major broadcast TV groups.  I would also note that the sample was not very large, and limited to US consumers in the 18-54 age bracket, so results are not generalizable to the general population, but reflect a core demographic of interest to advertisers and broadcasters.

Sources:  Dyle: Mobile Users Prefer Live TVTV Technology
Full Dyle Mobile TV Data Report

Thursday, July 19, 2012

FCC - Wireless broadband may take a while

Earlier this year, Congress gave the FCC part of what it wanted to set up a nationwide broadband WiFi service, setting aside a chunk of spectrum for wireless broadband from recovered TV broadcast spectrum.  However, the legislation also made the spectrum giveback voluntary for TV stations.  As a result, most experts foresaw difficulties in pulling together enough concentrated spectrum to generate the 80 megahertz sought.
  FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell outlined the problems at the Mobile Marketplace conference Monday.  Strong resistance from TV broadcasters make a quick, smooth, transition unlikely.  Likening the complexity of the situation to "three-level chess," McDowell outlined the FCC's current thinking on the process.
In the first phase, a “reverse auction"--in which multiple stations will compete to sell spectrum to the FCC -- those that want to turn over some or all of their spectrum can seek the price they want, but without any guarantee they'll get it.  If two or more stations in a market offer to sell spectrum, the FCC would be able to choose the lowest price. Then, in a regular “forward auction,” the FCC will resell the frequencies to wireless operators bidding for airwaves.
One problem with the current approach is that unless there is a rush by stations to give back valuable spectrum and/or tack on the costs of moving frequencies, there is no guarantee that the local 6 mHz TV channels returned will be either consistently available, or adjoining (to form coherent spectrum), on a national basis.  Thus, McDowell stressed the need to "design your apps as efficiently as possible," in order to provide the flexibility to deal with what is likely to be a piecemeal spectrum availability in the near term. 
“I don’t anticipate any major chunks of spectrum getting into the hands of consumers for the better part of a decade,” he concluded.

Source - FCC: Bandwidth Relief Not In Sight, Online Media Daily

Related posts - Congress approves TV Spectrum auction (sort of)
Spectrum Spat Continues - Will the Real Squatter Please Stand Up?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NAB - HD Radio Install Base Grows

A post on the NAB's TechCheck blog tries to make the argument that what has been a slow adoption of HD-Radio (formerly known as Digital Radio) is poised to take off, largely as a result of its inclusion in car radios.  The industry sees greater inclusion of HD-Radio recievers within the growing options of what the auto industry is now calling the "center console" (previously, car radio). iBiquity digital, the trade group behind HD-Radio, states that some 28 auto makes now offer HD Radio (9 only as an option, 13 as an option on some vehicles and standard equipment on others, and 6 hi-end brands include it on all vehicles sold in the U.S.).  The auto industry estimates that HD Radios will be installed on about 20% of the cars shipped this year.  In addition, a J.D. Power survey touts HD Radio as the most likely "emerging" technology that consumers will add when purchasing a new vehicle.
  There's a bit of hype in the post - 20% penetration in new models is not a huge number, particularly when looking at the entire number of autos consumers use.  In addition, most new models are replacements for older ones, with the result that the actual user base growth is likely to be significantly slower that what's suggested.  Then, consider that many of the new "center consoles" are likely to contact connections for digital music players and/or the Internet and you start to realize that you're adding direct competition (and for many consumers preferred substitutes) and its likely that the actual growth of HD Radio audiences from car installs is likely to be slower than the post and its accompanying graphic (see above) suggest.  (Another problem with the graphic is that it shows the number of "vehicle lines" and brands, not the number of vehicles sold, or audience for HD Radio).
  The post is right that it's a good sign that manufacturers are offering HD Radio in vehicles - you need the tech out there for people to sample and decide what value they place on HD Radio services, and whether it will have a role in their listening repertoire.  But in an increasingly competitive media environment, will their be enough additional value to HD Radio, compared to alternatives, to attract the audiences necessary to supplant FM or Satellite Radio, or challenge other digital music delivery systems for the dominant listening alternative?  A few years ago, many of the same arguments about availability in autos was made for Satellite Radio (Sirius/XM), and diffusion and adoption of that outlet has stalled.  I'm not ready to declare that HD Radio has hit critical mass yet.

Source -  HD Radio Automotive Penetration GrowsRadio TechCheck

Local Radio News Stable - But Limited Hiring

The first part of the RTNDA/Hofstra annual survey of broadcast news directors is out, and there are some interesting results concerning the state of local radio news.  All in all, the report shows that local radio news operations are more or less maintaining employment levels, budgets, and profitability.  The worst news for radio journalism students is that there seems there was very little hiring done in radio last year.
  • Local radio news operations remain small, and highly centralized when there are groups.  While the average staffing for radio newsrooms is 2-3 full-time and 2 part-timers, the median radio news staff size is 1 full-time and 1 part-time.  That means that more than half of all radio have only a single full time news person, aided by a single part-timer.  Furthermore, about 78% of all multi-station operations have a centralized newsroom providing news for multiple stations.
  • Employment levels and budgets in radio news are fairly static - three-quarters of local radio newsrooms had no change in staffing levels in the last year, and 62.9% reported that there was no change in the news budget.  Only 16% reported and increase in staffing levels, and only 15.7% saw and increase in newsroom budget.
  • Only have the sample responded to a direct question about how many hires they had made in the last year - and of those, more than half indicated they made none.
  • Interestingly, more than half the local radio news directors did not know whether their news operations were profitable or not. About 20% felt their newsrooms broke even, 14.5% felt they turned a profit, and 10.4% felt they ran a loss.  Those numbers are more or less in line with survey numbers going back to 2000.
  • There was and interesting relationship between market size and profitability - stations in the largest markets were the most likely to report profits, and the most likely to report losses
The radio results are based on responses to surveys sent to a random sample of 3000 radio stations.  A total of 260 surveys were completed from news directors or general managers representing a total of 743 stations.

Source -  Full study report - 2012 TV and Radio News Staffing and Profitability Survey, Part 1

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

China Moves to Censor Online Video

According to the AP, broadcast and internet regulators in China have told online video providers that all programs must be pre-screened before they are made publicly available, ostensibly in response to the growing number of online videos with "vulgar content, excessive violence, or pornography."  The regulatory agencies claimed that the new rules would protect young people and promote high-quality online programs.
  China has a long history of censoring content - from banning or limiting imports, setting standards for traditional media (and punishing perceived transgressions), to restricting access to a number of foreign Internet sites (including YouTube), and monitoring online content.  Still, China also relies heavily on self-censorship from outlets to make sure that only "appropriate" content is made available.
  In this case, someone in the PR office for a major online video provider in China, commented on her company's policy
"Nothing with vulgar or violent materials will pass," said the woman, who did not give her name because she said she was not authorized to speak on the record. "Political speech? If it is anti-party and anti-society, it definitely will not pass. No website will allow such content."
Source -  China wants to censor online video contentBroadcast Newsroom

Connected TV Penetration May Soon Surpass PC, TV levels

A report coming out from IHS Screen Digest on the TV marketplace in the U.S and Western Europe suggests that we'll soon be seeing a transformation of TV markets.  They start with the argument that while TV ad revenues remain significant, revenues are expected to remain flat in the near future, while online video advertising revenues will continue to grow.  The growth in online revenues will be fed by the increase in connected households and the increased penetration of mobile and connected devices.
  The report indicates that at the end of 2011, there were some 305 million TV houses in the U.S. and Western Europe, compared to 245 million homes with PCs, and 124 million homes with some kind of connected device in the living room.  The report suggests a rapid transformation of that market, predicting that by the end of 2014, the number of connected homes will surpass both the number of PC homes and the number of TV homes.  The report projects that by 2016, the primary way most subscribers receive TV won't be by broadcast or multichannel provider (DBS, cable, etc.), but through a mix of "multiscreen services" via IP streams and downloads.
  The study suggests the boom in such alternative paths for TV will drive content producers to make their content (and ads) available on these alternate outlets.  Ad management firm VideoPlaza (who commissioned the study) indicated that it's already seen a rise in the number of TV ads that are also delivered to connected devices (other than PCs) in Europe, growing from 2% to 16% in the last year.
  Joe Mandese, in a post on the TVWatch blog, suggests that this shift is more fundamental than when cable first challenged broadcast TV =
In fact, in its earliest days, cable was not defined as a distribution medium, but by its content. People didn’t “subscribe to cable,” they “got HBO” or they “wanted MTV.” The rest was just semantics, because fundamentally, they were experiencing television – more or less – the same way, regardless of whether it came from an antenna, a dish or a coaxial or fiber optic cable. Viewers watched it on screens that were in one or more rooms of their house, in the houses of their neighbors, or sometimes communally in a bar or student center, etc.Source -
But the shift that’s taking place now is different, because it significant alters how, when, where and why people experience television across a multitude of screens that can dramatically alter the context of what the medium means. And it’s not just time-shifting and place-shifting, though those are significant factors being enabled by the shift toward what Screen Digest calls “multiscreen services.” The bigger shift is what I would call “mind-shifting.” Or maybe a better term would be “state-of-mind-shifting.”
  Another way of looking at the transition is that the increased choice and control these devices enables a shift in how they approach and consume TV - with more active viewing activities supplementing (and perhaps even replacing some) traditional passive TV viewing. We've already seen evidence in the boom in the use of Netflix and other streaming services to deliver traditional TV content (movies and programs), and analysts predict that the widespread online coverage of the London Olympics will see sports fans shift from traditional TV channels to online streams when events they want to see aren't broadcast live.  There are growing numbers of studies showing a shift in connected households from solely passive, to engaging in connected activities while watching TV - even to the extent of suggesting that viewers are more engaged in the program when watching on mobile or connected screens.
  These are shifts, or transformations in TV content markets, that content producers and media outlets need to start planning for, so that they'll be better positioned to compete in the new market reality.

Sources - Connected TV Homes to Surpass PC Homes by 2014, Report SaysVidBlog
From Channel-Surfing To State-Of-Mind-Shifting,  TV Watch blog

Local TV News Gains

The latest version of the RTNDA/Hofstra annual survey of broadcast news operations in the U.S. contains good news on several fronts.  Here's some employment highlights from the first part of the study.
  • Local TV news employment reached the second highest level recorded - with more than a thousand new jobs added, bringing total full time employment to 27, 653.  Total employment was higher in 2000, but there were also more stations doing local news then.  As a result, 2011 saw the highest average staffing levels for TV news in the history of the survey.
  • 725 stations had newsrooms that engaged in original local news reporting for those stations as well as for an additional 242 stations that did not have an independent newsroom.
  • TV newsroom employment increased 4.3%, while newspaper news employment fell 2.4%.  According to an ASNE report, newspaper staffing levels were at their lowest in the 35 years that ASNE has tracked newspaper news staffing levels.  In 2011, newsroom staffing was down 38.6% from it highest level in 1990.
  • In 2011, stations averaged 5.4 replacement hires, and 1.5 new hires.
  • Top job categories for new hires - producers, reporters, web
  • Staffing levels continued to vary by market size - Local TV newsrooms in top-25 markets had and average staff of about 76 (68 full-time, 7.3 part-time), while in the smallest markets (151+), Local TV newsrooms had an average staff of 23 (20 full-time)
The economic news for local TV was also fairly positive.
  •  About 38% of stations reported that their news budgets increased in 2011, and another 39% reported that their budgets were about the same.  Only 17% indicated that their news budgets decreased
  • Almost 60% of stations reported that their local news operations returned a profit (the highest proportion since 1998).  Less than 4% indicated that news was generating a financial loss.
  • Profitable news operations occurred most frequently in the middle markets. The study reported that 68% of local newsrooms in markets 51-100 were profitable, as were 61% in markets 101-150.  Only 54% of newsrooms in markets 1-50 reported that they were profitable, and just less than half of newsrooms in the smallest markets (151+) earned profits.
  • The proportion of total station revenues generated by local news operations remained about the same as last year, ranging from just under 40% in Top-25 markets, to 57% in the smallest markets.
One explanation for the better employment and financial numbers was the finding that local TV newscasts increased by an average of about an hour. Local TV outlets averaged roughly 5 1/2 hours of local newscasts per day in 2011.  Most of the increase in news are in the early morning, with local news starting as early as 4 a.m.  Most news directors reported audience growth in the morning, while only 3% reported a decline in morning news audience.  Another place for expanded news was in the afternoon, often replacing Oprah or other talk shows - with stations finding that news audiences are more stable, and that they can control their own costs with better.  A number of news directors also indicated that the longer newscasts helped to generate additional advertising slots for the expected deluge of political advertising in 2012.
 I'll do the radio findings tomorrow.

Sources -  Station News Staffing Soared in 2011TV NewsCheck
Average time for news keeps jumping for local television680News.com
Full study report - 2012 TV and Radio News Staffing and Profitability Survey, Part 1

Monday, July 16, 2012

PC Market Shrinks

The market for PCs (personal computers) has been in a decline recently, and analysts fear that the slump will continue.
"Consumers are less interested in spending on PCs as there are other technology product and services, such as the latest smartphones and media tablets that they are purchasing. This is more of a trend in the mature market as PCs are highly saturated in these markets," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

David Daoud, research director for personal computing at IDC, said the troubles besetting the PC industry are numerous, particularly in the United States.

"The U.S. market suffered a double-digit contraction in the second quarter as market saturation and economic factors combine with anticipation of Windows 8 and other changes later in the year," Daoud said in a statement. "In this context, consumers are delaying purchases, and vendors and retailers are slowing down their PC activities to clear existing inventories. The situation is exacerbated by consumer notebook saturation, a slowing replacement cycle in the commercial sector, and the big macro-economic and political events affecting confidence and spending."
I'm not sure that Windows 8 will be the answer for the U.S. market - or an economic recovery.  In the U.S., the market is saturated, and processing power has been high enough for years to do the kinds of things that the vast bulk of users are interested in.  For most, improving you computing set-up is focused more on portability (accessibility and connectivity), network connection speeds, and storage capacity.  With terrabyte-capacity portable hard drives falling well under $100, and a plethora of connected devices, I think those looking to upgrade are looking in other directions.  I also haven't heard anything about Windows 8 that's likely to drive replacement demand, although knowledge that it's coming soon may well encourage some purchasers to delay their purchases so that they don't have to pay for updating their OS.

The boom has shifted to mobile computing - PCs still serve a major role, particularly in business sectors, and that should keep overall demand steady, or at least slow down the decline.  At least in the absence of some major improvement in technology to drive wholesale replacement of existing devices.

Source  -  Slumping PC Sales Ripple Through Tech IndustryCIO Insight

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tracking Social Media chatter over News Events

  One of the fun things for researchers is the huge amount of public data available online, and particularly the ability to capture snippets of public opinion and reactions through social media.  (Although the methodologist in me needs to remind everyone that social media content is not necessarily representative of general public opinion.)  For example, here's some summaries of reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

  In addition to tracking social media, many search engines provide the capacity to track trends in the use of search terms.  Google, for instance, provides access to current trends as well as the ability to track term usage over time (or at least back to 2004) for general usage, as well as in terms of news references.  Yahoo, Bing, AOL, Twitter, and YouTube all offer similar services.  Many of these also can provide user information in aggregate, and can be further broken down by geographic location.

Online metrics firm Crimson Hexagon recently provided a demonstration of some of its Online traffic tracking services though an analysis of the reaction to the Supreme Court's health care ruling.  They posted some screenshots of their real-time analytic platform ForSight that provided both descriptive summaries and more qualitative analysis of themes expressed through social media.  

   As I said at the beginning, the online world's providing a lot of interesting ways to quickly capture and analyse public opinion, comments, and reactions.  Get to work, folks.

Source - Healthcare Ruling Sparks 12,000 Tweets Per Minute, Mashable
What People Search For - Most Popular Keywords, Search Engine Watch
Obamacare: Online Reaction to SCOTUS Ruling (Update)  Crimson Hexagon press release

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wireless Surveillance On Rise

In response to a Congressional inquiry, nine US wireless carriers indicated that they had received more than 1.3 million requests for user data from U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2011.

  Most carriers provided only a aggregated total of requests, although there was enough information to suggest that the number of requests had been increasing between 12% and 16% per year.  MetroPCS, a small carrier emphasizing prepaid service, revealed it received about 12,000 requests a month between the start of 2006 and May, 2012.  AT&T provided more details on the requests they had received -
Of the 131,400 subpoenas and 49,700 warrants it received in 2011, only 965 were rejected. (For reference: AT&T had 103,200,000 customers that year. On average, that makes more than one subpoena for every thousand AT&T customers (although it's just possible that one very naughty customer got all the subpoenas.))
AT&T indicated that it has a staff of 100 people dedicated full-time to dealing with such requests.  Other carriers indicated that while federal law indicates that should reimburse carriers for the cost of collecting the requested user data, law enforcement agencies rarely do.
  While most requests require a warrant or subpoena, there is also a class of requests that can be classed as emergency (for example, getting address for a customer calling 911 but unable to provide their location).  The study also revealed another class of requests that worry privacy advocates - cell tower dumps.  Instead of focusing on a particular user or phone number, a tower dump requests information from all users whose calls passes through a particular tower over some period of time.  Tower dumps can include hundreds or even thousands of users, most of whom would not be the target of investigations, and whose private information would still end up in the hands of authorities.

Look for this to continue to be an issue.

Sources - In First U.S. Accounting of Wireless Phone Surveillance, Carriers Reveal 1.3 Million Requests for User Data, PopSci
More Demand on Cell Carriers in SurveillanceNY Times
Congressman Markey's office has posted the Carrier responses (reports).

NBC to acquire Microsoft share of MSNBC.com

Howard Kurtz is reporting that NBC and Microsoft are planning to end their joint participation in MSNBC.
  MSNBC was originally formed in 2005 as a joint operation designed to create both a cable news channel and a major online news outlet.  Later than year, NBC took over operations of the cable channel, while MSNBC.com remained a joint venture.  MSNBC.com used content from the various NBC news operations, but also did its own original reporting as well as aggregating news content from the AP, Reuters, the NY Times and other news outlets.  Most of the aggregator content comes through Microsoft's deals with content creators in support of its search engines and various other gateways (like MSNBC.com). Currently about half of MSNBC.com's traffic from Microsoft's MSN networks.  While any deal is likely to include some effort from Microsoft to continue to steer users to MSNBC.com, the story doesn't say whether NBC will continue to have access to content created or licensed by Microsoft.
  Kurtz reported that NBC executives have been frustrated that it didn't control the online site, and thus didn't have a separate location to promoting the personalities of the cable network.  One plan would have MSNBC,com chief Charlie Tillghast would continue to run the site, but that operations would move from its current location on Microsoft's Washington state campus.  That plan would also cut the sites staff in half, with no initial indication of new hires once NBC's online news efforts are consolidated.  There are also indications that NBC wants to rename and rebrand both the online news site and the cable channel.
  Kurtz is reporting that while NBC maintains that no deal is in place, employees of MSNBC.com have already been briefed on the plan and how it will affect them.

Source  -  NBC, Microsoft Getting Online DivorceThe Daily Beast

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bleak future for Salon.com, RIM?

A business blog, 24/7 Wall St., recently published an article on the "10 Brands Likely to Disappear in 2013."  Among some of the higher-profile predictions (Oakland Raiders (likely to move), American Airlines) are the online news and commentary site Slate.com, and mobile operator Research in Motion (RIM), the company behind the Blackberry mobile devices and service.
  The article indicates that Salon.com has been eclipsed by larger and better-funded competition.  The article notes that during the last quarter of 2011, Salon posted operating losses of $997,000 against revenues of $1.03 million, and had a mere $149,000 in the bank - against short-term liabilities of more than $12.7 million.  The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CFO (Chief Financial Officer) both left, leaving the Chief Technology Officer in charge.
  Research in Motion once owned the smartphone market, and having a Blackberry was de rigueur for 'smart' business types.  RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market has fallen from 44% in 2009 to 10% in 2011, and the price of its stock has fallen from $144/share just four years ago to around $11.
In just the past year ... the company has warned twice that it would miss its earnings forecast, replaced its long-time CEO, warned a third time about its first-quarter loss, and disclosed plans for layoffs of thousands of employees. The company’s board said it was reviewing “strategic options,” which would include a sale.
It seems increasingly unikely that RIM can survive the rapidly evolving mobile market on its own.  Analysts predict that its likely to be sold, either to an equipment maker looking to jump into mobile services, or a service-focused company (like Amazon or Facebook), looking for an entry into the mainstream mobile market.

Sources -  Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 201324/7 Wall St.
A Future for RIM?  Media Business and Future of Journalism blog (earlier post)

Court Rules Copyright Royalty Board Unconstitutional

A Federal Appeals Court has ruled that the basic structure of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) - which sets default royalty rates for webcasters, college radio stations, and a range of other media outlets - was unconstitutional. 
  Specifically, webcaster Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) challenged the legitimacy of the CRB structure and authority, as the process for appointing the judges comprising the board violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The authorizing statute called for the board's three permanent copyright royalty judges to be appointed by the Librarian of Congress.  IBS argued in its appeal that since the judges "exercise significant authority with limited supervision" they qualified as "principal officers" which the Appointment Clause says must be appointed by the President with Senate confirmation.  The appeals court panel agreed -
"Billions of dollars and the fates of entire industries can ride on the Copyright Royalty Board's decisions," Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams wrote for panel.
Rather than nullifying the whole CRB structure and opening its previous actions to challenge, the panel struck down the section of the authorizing statute that said that the Librarian of Congress could only remove the CRB judges "for cause." That would allow the appointed judges to be considered "inferior officers" rather than "principal officers," and thus for the CRB to be considered constitutional - at least going forward. This still leaves previous CRB actions in doubt, but at least allows future decisions and actions to be considered as constitutional.

Source - Appeals court rejects Copyright Royalty Board structure, redefines judges' roles, Fierce Online Video

Google drops Google Video, iGoogle, others

  Google started some serious house=cleaning last fall, dropping some 30 projects and services that it felt were outdated or could be replaced by more recent acquisitions.  Last week it announced five more.  Three were specific services or apps that it felt could be easily replaced by improved versions.
  Google Video, originally intended as competition for YouTube, was originally closed to any new submissions in 2009, after Google acquired YouTube.  Users are being notified that they have until mid-August to migrate, download, or delete their videos from the site.  Any remaining videos will be moved to YouTube as private videos, and then the site and service will be purged.
  More controversial is the announced closure of iGoogle this fall.  The iGoogle service offered users a personalizable home page, and was launched in 2007.  A large number of users have responded critically to Google support pages, challenging Google's assertions that the availability of apps for Google's Chrome browser, or Android operating system has "eroded" the need for iGoogle.
"I don't understand the rationale," wrote an iGoogle user identified as Mark. "Chrome runs apps, so that make iGoogle outdated? That is like saying my TV shows movies, so we should close the grocery store. iGoogle is my home page, full of bookmarks, news, weather, and customized info that I have lovingly developed and improve on every day. Whenever my browsers open at home or at work, they open to iGoogle. And you think it would be good if I changed this to Yahoo? I hope you can be persuaded to change your minds."

Source -  Google Plans End of iGoogleInformation Week

Confidence in TV News hits new low

The latest in Gallup's annual tracking poll of confidence in U.S. institutions showed that only 21% of Americans have either "a great deal of confidence in" or "quite a lot of confidence in" TV news - the lowest level since Gallup added TV news to its tracking poll in 1993.  The decline in confidence in TV news was the highest decline expressed this year (falling from 27%).  The poll showed that Americans have a bit more confidence in newspapers - 25%.  Confidence in newspapers declined slightly in the last year, but was still a bit higher than the 2007 level of 22%.  Still, it was half the level of confidence in newspapers at their peak in 1979 (51%).  While all of the annual declines are within the poll's sampling error, the trend is fairly obvious.

What's more interesting in this year's results are some of the demographic breakdowns, particularly for the TV news question.  This year's decline is fed by significant drops in confidence in TV news for self-identified liberals and moderates, who actually expressed less confidence in TV news that did conservatives.  Republicans and Independents shared the same level of confidence (17%), which was half of that indicated by Democrats (34%) - a result that could further fuel the debate about bias in TV news.  (One would expect that a truly unbiased news would have the same level of confidence across groups)  Perhaps more worrisome for TV news is that there appears to be a clear education effect - the more educated the respondent, the lower the amount of confidence expressed.  Of the demographic breakdowns presented, the lowest level of confidence in TV news (10%) was among those with postgraduate education.
In contrast, the decline in confidence in newspapers seemed to be more general, with just about every provided demographic breakdown showing a small decline in confidence.  The only significant declines in the last year were among men (fell from 30% to 23%), and self-identified liberals (fell from 37% to 30%).
  And in case you wondered, the survey was conducted in early June - well before CNN and Fox blew the initial call on the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare - so was not influenced by that very public error.  Also, yes, there's a general drop in the level of confidence shown in the 16 American institutions included in the survey (newspapers ranked 10th, TV news ranked 11th) - and once again Congress was the institution, of the 16 included in the survey, that Americans had the least confidence in (13%).

Source -  Americans' Confidence in Television News Drops to New Low, Gallup press release

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nielsen Sees Changes in TV Audiences

Nielsen indicated, at its recent Consumer 360 Conference, that three key consumer demographics were shifting in numbers, with potentially serious implications for marketers.
  The company indicated that  today's 100 million "Baby Boomers" would grow by a third by 2030, as those in the 18-49 demographic age.  More importantly from a marketing perspective, Nielsen said that while they currently account for about half of current sales, within five years "Baby Boomers" (which Nielsen defines as those 50 or older, rather than a specific generation) will account for over 70% of total U.S. disposable income.  Nielsen suggested that TV advertising is particularly effective with this group, and that advertiser dollars moving to other outlets represent "wasted opportunity."
  Another shift is occurring with the the portion of the audience that includes mothers with children under six.  Nielsen notes that this group are heavy media multitaskers, with two thirds of them using the Internet while watching TV on any given day, and 20% are already experimenting with mobile shopping.  This suggests opportunities for integrated cross-media marketing.
  The third demographic to watch are families with incomes of less than $30,000 a year.  This group currently includes around 30% of US families today, are heavy users of Facebook and the Internet generally, and watch more television than consumers with higher incomes.  While individual buying power may be limited, Nielsen noted that, collectively, they still represent a big segment of spending, and many should see incomes (and disposable income) rise over time.  They represent an opportunity to establish baseline brand relationships cheaply.

  With TV advertising losing out to online advertising (at least relatively), you can see this as a case of encouraging marketer and advertisers to see greater value in TV advertising, at least for reaching certain types of audiences.

Source -  Ad Dollars Shift As Boomers AgeMedia Daily News

Study claims Live TV piracy growing (wrongly)

A study by Google and PRS for Music is suggesting that live TV streams is currently the fastest-growing aspect of online piracy.  The study identified 153 sites "believed to be significantly infringing copyright" to see the kinds of content and services offered, and the business models used.  Researchers identified six basic types of core activities on the sites - Live TV Gateway, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Community, Subscription Community, Music Transaction, Rewarded Freemium, and Embedded Streaming.  They then examined a further 104 sites to validate the appropriateness of the six core activities.
  The study found that Live TV Gateways (sites offering links to streams of live free-to-air or pay-TV channels) accounted for roughly a third of the sample, and was the fastest growing areas of core activity.  Advertising support was the primary business model for two thirds of those sites in the sample, although the report claimed that the majority of ads were for companies "outside of the mainstream."  The report suggested that many of these sites also solicited donations from users as part of their business model.
  It should be noted that if these sites only offered links to legally licensed TV streams (say to network, station, or program sites) and not links to unlicensed sites or unlicensed content, that activity does not fit current definitions of online piracy.  As such, statements or inferences that such activity is piracy, or that all TV streaming gateways are illicit or an area of online piracy is not necessarily accurate.
  Peer-to-Peer Communities were identified as the second fastest growing segment, and relied even more heavily on advertising for revenues.  Of the websites in the sample with P2P sharing as their core activity, 86% carried advertising.  In contrast, subscription and download sites used user payment systems as a revenue source.  Some 69% of such sites featured credit card logos, and 39% had separate payment pages. The sites in the sample offered a wide range of of digital content, from films and music to games and ebooks.
Google's Theo Bertram said that "The evidence suggests that one of the most effective ways to do this is to follow the money, targeting the advertisers who choose to make money from these sites and working with payment providers to ensure they know where their services are being used."
PRS for Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft added: "This groundbreaking research tells us two things. Firstly sites involved in copyright infringement are businesses with real costs and revenue sources. They receive subscription or advertising revenue, pay their server or hosting costs but fail to pay the creators of content on which their businesses depend.
"Secondly, not all of these business models are the same, and the government now has the evidence to understand which policy levers to apply to deal with these different businesses effectively."
  You have to be careful with a lot of these "rampant piracy" studies, as they tend to overestimate both the frequency and impact of the alleged piracy.  So I took a look at the actual study and methodology, and will toss in my own warnings about the validity of some of the claims.
  First, I could find no indication that the researchers actually checked to see if the content and services offered by the sites were illicit. They only measured if content of a certain type of content was present on the site or not, and for some content types how many of the top ten examples of that content were available.  There was no measure of whether the content was offered legally, or whether content owners were paid for access to their content by the sites.
  Second, the study did not directly observe business models of site owners, but rather looked for evidence of features assumed to be associated with certain types of business models.  That is, they did not directly measure a site's commercial motives or choice of business models (or the success of any such models).  Rather, the choice and relative importance of a business model to a site is inferred.  The study thus can not validly claim that these are the models, or which are predominant - only that sites seem to be employing some aspects of particular business models.
  Third, all revenues and costs were derived indirectly from specific formulas, and in many cases, from assumed values.  For example, revenues were estimated by multiplying the number of page views times the lowest listed price for that type of content.  The formula assumes all page visits result in sales, and that there is no "free" content available - both highly unlikely assumptions.
  Fourth, this was a self-selected sample of sites identified by UK "experts" and is not generalizable, either as sites "involved in copyright infringement," or more broadly as digital content access sites.  The study methodology explicitly assumes the sites engage in online piracy, but offers no evidence in support for that assumption.  Any "finding" involving piracy is thus not a valid finding of the study, but merely an assumption.  And the purposive sampling method precludes the randomness needed for generalization to wider populations.  Any study findings are valid only as descriptions of that particular sample.

  These issues don't necessarily invalidate the first parts of the study - identifying the types of site content and services offered on the sampled sites, and the range of business models they seem to be employing.  The study can and does validly claim that there seem to be differences in the types of business models  the sampled sites seem to be using, and that the segmenting of content and services for the sampled sites are a reasonable way of distinguishing types of content/services (if not the only possible way).  However, any specific measures and proportions aren't generalizable to the larger population of websites (either legal or pirate), and the actual commercial motives business models are inferred rather than observed. In addition, any revenues or cost estimates derived must be considered to be unreliable and imprecise (at best).  But most important from a validity perspective is the fact that the sites are only suspected of being online content pirates (or even of being commercial).  The study did not directly confirm either presumption.  Specifically, the first key "finding" identified by Roger Ashcroft above is not valid findings of the study, and would have been roundly rejected as valid conclusions by any serious peer review.
  In particular, the definition and description of the "TV Gateway" type sites make it clear that these are quite different from other content-sharing or downloading sites - and in fact, sites that only link to other places where content is legally available aren't necessarily violating copyright or engaged in piracy.  Any attempt to broadly label TV gateway services as pirates is misleading at best, and wrong and libelous at worst.  The number of such sites, and even their use, may be growing, but the study fails to demonstrate that such sites are engaged in online piracy.  Journalists should be very cautious of repeating such claims

Sources - Live-TV fastest-growing area of online piracy, says studyDigital Spy
The six business models for copyright infringement, PRS for Music/Google report


Monday, July 9, 2012

Facebook wants $$ for 'Likes'

 An article in the New York Post is claiming that Facebook has been approaching cable and network executives about payments from the networks for the additional exposure for, and interest in, their video content hosted on the popular social media site.  To date, Facebook has earned minimal advertising revenues from its online video offerings, but feels that growing that service is key to remaining competitive with YouTube.
(T)he companies would share the ad revenue gleaned from the increased exposure a piece of video content generates from “liking” the content on Facebook. The social network feels this would boost TV ratings and the company should therefore get a cut of TV ad revenues.
“If you have 2.6 million likes and Facebook drives that to 4.6 million, then they would share a piece of the additional likes,” one TV source told The Post.
  This move is one of many new potential revenue streams being explored by Facebook.  Earlier, Facebook reached a deal with cable net TBS to split ad revenues for some video content hosted online by Facebook, and distributed across TBS's TV and digital platforms.

So what's a 'Like' worth? Chompon, a daily deals online platform, suggested earlier this year that a Facebook 'like' was worth $8, while a Tweet was worth $5.

Sources -  Facebook wants to cash in on 'like' button, New York Post
Facebook, TBS Team Up to Distribute Branded ContentMediaPost News

UK Ad Revenue Forecasts: Press, TV down - Digital Up

  Analyst firm Group M has revised its forecast for the UK ad market in 2012 upward, now calling for it to reach a total of 13.2 billion pounds - in part due to expected windfalls from the Euro 2012 and London Olympics sporting events.  In their new forecast, though, the increase in projected ad revenues is not uniform across media.  The earlier forecast of 3% growth in TV ad revenues has been slashed to project minimal growth (0.1%).  Forecasts for the UK national newspaper ad revenues also dropped, shifting from a projected 3% decline in total ad revenues, to a 6.3% decline - a loss of 81 billion pounds from 2011 levels.  Advertising revenue forecasts for other print sectors also dropped - with regional newspaper revenues falling 11% (revised from 7.8% decline), consumer magazines dropping 8% (revised from 3% drop), and business magazines falling 10% (revised from 8%).
  The new projections showed modest gains for the radio (5% growth, up from 4.7%) and outdoor advertising (6%, up from 5.1%) sectors.  But the big gain was in digital advertising revenues, with an projected increase of 14.2% in digital/Internet ad spending, for a forecast of 5.35 billion pounds in digital ad revenues in 2012.  At that level, online advertising will account for more than 40% of all UK advertising revenues. 
Adam Smith, a director at Group M, said the overall market was sluggish. "UK advertising investment remains at maintenance levels, lagging even nominal GDP growth."  ... UK growth level was "robust" compared with levels expected in other European markets this year. "Germany and France are barely positive in 2012 while Italy and Spain are expected to contract by about 8%,."

Study: Social TV Promotes Engagement

  One of the side effects of the explosion of media choices is the new reality that unless you can keep the consumer's interest, they can easily switch their focus to alternatives.  One of the key issues for media outlets in the future will be how can they track and maintain people's interest in their product - that is, can they keep people engaged.
  It's been thought that engagement is a pressing problem for broadcasting - that viewing or listening behaviors are traditionally passive.  In an era when there were few outlets, differentiated product, and largely habitual viewing/listening, this wasn't a big issue - outlets could thrive on sharing largely habitual audiences.  But as channels and new media outlets joined the market, merely splitting that audience yielded fewer and fewer viewers and listeners and smaller revenues.  And then came online video, streaming services, connected devices, and mobile devices, which not only offered more choice, but facilitated a shift in consumption patterns from passive and habitual to a more active media content consumer.  Mobile and social media are showing themselves to be a disruptive entry in the media content marketplace, with many studies showing their widespread use during TV viewing in particular.
  The question is whether such "second screen" behavior complements TV viewing, or a substitute for it, pushing the TV signal into the viewer's background, or replaces traditional TV on the big screen.  My guess, and what early studies seem to suggest is that it's more likely to be a substitute, at least for traditional content designed for passive viewing.
  Some video broadcast channels and programmers, however, see an opportunity to take advantage of second screens and social media as complements to their programming that allow greater involvement and engagement of a growing active audience.  "Social TV" is the name for such efforts, where TV content purposely tries to incorporate added online content accessible through mobile devices or encourages viewer participation in social media related to the program.
  A new study released by the Time Warner Research Council suggested that, for Social TV programs at least, second screen and social media use while watching TV can result in a more engaged audience, augmenting their use of TV rather than distracting from it.
"The most important overall finding is to understand that people use media to optimize their levels of interest and excitement," said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting, a Time Warner unit that collaborated with the research council, sibling Warner Bros. and the research companies Innerscope and Ipsos. "When they find something engaging on the TV, they pay attention. When their interest wanes, in the absence of a second screen they could change the channel, get up, read a magazine, etc. With a second screen that allows live social engagement, they have more reason to stay on-channel with their friend."
 The study used biometric monitoring and eye-tracking to look at viewing interest and behaviors of a sample of 128 young adults in an experimental setting.  The experiment asked participants to watch specific TV programs under various viewing conditions (alone, watching with a friend, using various social media.  The study found a statistically significant increase (30%) in the level of viewer engagement when using social media or watching with a friend, than under the condition of watching alone with no access to social media.  The study also found a smaller, but still statistically significant, increase (20%) in engagement when people used connected devices to access co-viewing apps designed to deliver added content or a platform for real-time conversation.  The study also found that viewers tended to respond to audio cues in the TV program or commercials, even while online. This suggests a level of cognitive engagement with TV content even when viewers' primary focus is elsewhere.  There was also some evidence that study participants "appreciated" advertisers associated with co-viewing apps.

  The study and its results, while very limited, does suggest that TV outlets, channels, and programming sources can take some proactive steps to build audience involvement and engagement in an increasingly competitive media marketplace.  Steps that could make their content and channel more valuable to a potential audience, as well as to advertisers. 

Source -  Social TV Keeps Viewers Engaged When Minds Might Wander, Study Says, AdAge Media News