The San Francisco Chronicle has an amusing piece that simultaneously disputes the death of TV while acknowledging the encroachment of online video:
Are the Rumors of the Death of TV Greatly Exaggerated?
Conventional wisdom these days has it that television is dying. Like most conventional wisdom, it’s dead wrong.
By almost any measure, television is alive and well. The number of TV households keeps growing - particularly among Latino, African American and Asian Pacific American audiences. Household viewing remains near an all-time high of more than eight hours a day. And television consumption continues to eclipse any other medium by a wide margin; with 90 percent of it still done at home where, on average, there now are more TV sets than people to watch them.
This opening salvo, quoting the enormity of TV watching as part of America’s media landscape, is a typical tactic for those who are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
What they fail to realize is that we are now at the peak of TV. If Americans are already watching eight (!) hours a day, can anyone realistically believe that it will go up to nine hours a day? People are completely maxed out on TV. There is nowhere to go but down.
Your Computer is the TV… or is Your TV the Computer?
Some highly anticipated Web sites are being modeled on making the experience of watching video online more like watching television. These sites rely on software that enlarges the interface so that it fills your computer screen X from edge to edge.
“The early stages of video content on the Internet was a lot of user-generated stuff, stuff like my grandmother and her cat,” said Joost chief executive officer Mike Volpi. “What we’re trying to do is evolve that experience into something that the viewer doesn’t view just out of interest, but actually builds an affinity with that particular programming content.”
The Internet and television are increasingly being portrayed as on a collision course, the two destined to fuse within 10-20 years when TV could become just another form of high-speed data. But those visions remain relatively far in the future. Online video is still in its infancy, Shapiro said.
1. People prefer high-resolution, high quality video rather than tiny, blurry, postage stamp sized videos.
2. People prefer big-budget, high-production-value content rather than home videos.
3. Computers are just as capable of playing video in a TV-like fashion.
Sounds like they took a time machine into the future! What fucking year is it again? Where are our rocketpacks?
Adobe Adopts h.264 for Flash
In a major victory for open standards, and fast downloads, Adobe is now adopting the h.264 video codec into the latest version of flash:
Adobe today announced the latest version of its near ubiquitous Web video software, Adobe Flash Player 9. It’s codenamed Moviestar, because it includes H.264 standard video support V the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high definition video players. In other words, the quality of video has been substantially improved from the previous version of Flash Player 9.
You might be wondering why this is a big deal, but it means that any industry standard tool can be used to generate/play flash videos and that they will look much better and download quicker.
Now if only they could figure out how to manage the bloat that keeps flash from running efficiently…
Today’s Episode: Bad Idea vs. Good Idea
Bad idea: repackaging the ol’ “captured on home camera” clip shows as a new-fangled internet-social-media-thingy.
Amateur video will form the basis of the show’s segments, but ABC News correspondents will build news stories and features around video captured on cell phones or digicams and uploaded to a companion Web site.
Remember, blurry and shaky handheld footage is still boring after you watch that tornado caught on camera for the umpteenth time since the 80’s.
Good Idea: Turner seems to have a better idea of what to do with the web, put some good content online for everyone to watch. What a radical idea:
Turner Broadcasting System’s TNT and TBS plan to stream all seven of their combined original summer series on their respective Websites. For the most part, they will be available the morning after they premiere on TV.
Cable networks typically have had a harder time than their broadcast counterparts in streaming shows online because they have to get both the rights from studios and the go-ahead from cable operators.
“From the studio side, it’s becoming part of the package of rights you’re willing and able to buy,” says Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin. “We take the streaming piece very seriously, and when we’re looking to greenlight series, this is something we push with the studios.”
Sounds like Turner has ABC beat on how to take advantage of the net which is a bit of a role-reversal as the article points out about the rights situation. Maybe this is the start of a new trend, it was easy for the public networks to get out of the gate first but now the cable tortoises may beat out the broadcaster’s hares…
Cisco: Social networks will define media consumption
During his keynote address Wednesday at the Digital Living Connections Conference here, Scheinman talked about how digital media is disrupting the tech and entertainment industries. Usually that means talking about networking standards and media servers, but Scheinman’s recommendations, instead, were a bit more pop culture than geek culture.
“A lot of you should go spend time on Facebook and MySpace. Spend time to understand why social media really does matter,” he said. Social communities are the solution to some of the biggest problems facing Hollywood and other content providers in today’s Digital Era, Scheinman said.
(For the record, following a cursory search, Scheinman does not appear to have a Facebook account.)
Despite the clear hypocrisy that is typical of senior Silicon Valley executives (everyone remember the Friendster board members who never had a Friendster profile?) Scheinman does make an interesting point.
Where young people congregate is an excellent opportunity for them to share culture word-of-mouth and research done by danah boyd indicates that teens are quite frequently relegated to hanging out online since paranoid parents don’t let them out of the house.
Scheinman then went on to call Rupert Murdoch a “genius” for purchasing MySpace but of course he forgot to mention that Murdoch hasn’t yet managed to generate any massive profit.
Sony spins Web to pitch Spiderman3
An interesting piece in the LA Times on Sony’s web marketing efforts for Spiderman 3:
All the studios have been directing some of their marketing dollars away from traditional media outlets, primarily newspapers and to a lesser extent network television. Spending on Internet advertising rose from negligible amounts in 2002 to around 4% of promotional budgets last year, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
4% may not sound like very much but we have to keep in mind that the estimated marketing budget for Spiderman 3 is $100 Million (so although Sony did not give out how much they spent online, we can estimate it around $4 Million). Hollywood may be very slow about catching on to using the internet but this is following the exact same pattern that Hollywood followed when first using TV advertising. It took nearly 25 years of competition with television before the studios realized that TV was in fact the ideal medium to promote their films. Hopefully this time, they will embrace the internet a little bit faster.
Today is the last day for Analog TV!
Starting tomorrow, every new TV set will have to be able to decode over-the-air digital signals (in preparation for the 2009 switchover).
Starting Thursday, all new television sets designed to receive over-the-air signals must contain a tuner capable of receiving digital broadcasts, not just the old-style analog signals that we have relied on for the past half-century.
The March 1 mandate covers smaller sets, the last bastion of all-analog technology. Besides, most Americans have cable or satellite television service. Those video providers handle the digital signal through the adapter boxes they provide to customers.
This has nothing to do with HDTV which is a completely separate set of technologies. So hold onto your old analog sets, so you can tell your grandchildren what it was like in the ‘olden days.’
Online Advertisers Shun User-Generated Video
According to a study by media analysis firm Screen Digest, Web sites such as MySpace and YouTube will earn only a fraction of the advertising budgets available for more professional online programming.
“No single user-generated [video] site has really instilled a business model yet,” said Arash Amel, Screen Digest’s senior analyst. “The business model for user-generated sites has been ‘build it and sell it and let someone else worry about the business model’.”
With the recent shakeups at Revver and Guba it seems that the “someone else” has definitely been worrying about the business model. The question then becomes, why is user-generated video so hard to monetize? Didn’t Google just pay $1.65 Billion for YouTube?
Peter Chernin, News Corp president said at a recent conference: “We do not see big advertisers advertising with YouTube or MySpace. They have concerns about the content ... and there is no scarcity value for the content ... so there is very little ability to monetise video advertising on user-generated video.”
Now it all makes sense. Who knew that advertisers wouldn’t enjoy watching people’s cats dancing on tables as much as the rest of us?
Comcast Getting into the IPTV Game
Looks like Comcast is dipping their toe in the IPTV waters:
Don’t be afraid. It’s only the future.
On Halloween, something called FearNet is set to make its debut, offering scary movies and other horror programming on demand.
The video service will be available through not just a digital cable channel, but also online at FearNet.com and via mobile phones, suggesting a prototype for what TV networks will be in the years to come, if not sooner.
It’s a niche service set up to offer viewers its programming completely on the terms of their choosing--how, when and wherever they want it.
Starting with niche programming sounds like a great idea but is there enough of an audience to justify the new infrastructure?
Are they really that afraid that putting popular content will cannabilize their current viewership?
Why Upload Only the Bad TV Shows?
Marshall Kirkpatrick over at TechCrunch laments rather than welcomes Fox’s announced plan to put episodes of the O.C. on Myspace:
In some ways then, this is just a little toe being put in the water and the TV strategy remains the same it’s always been. We’ll know the web is being taken seriously as a platform when shows in high demand are put online and kept online.
Marshall is probably giving way too much credit to Fox. They probably have no idea what to do with the goldmine that is Myspace and therefore make only “toe-dipping” excursions into that large scary wormhole we call the internets. Fortunately for us, there are still plenty of illegitimate places to get the latest episodes of shows we’d never admit to enjoying in public.
Is the DVD Format War Already Over?
Just when you thought the battle would get really ugly:
The format war around next generation DVDs may be over before it has begun, thanks to a breakthrough from a British media technology company.
Britain-based New Medium Enterprises (NME) said on Tuesday it had solved a technical production problem that makes it possible to produce a cheap multiple-layer DVD disk containing one film in different, competing formats.
People who think that the slow uptake of HD-DVD and BluRay is only because of the format war are missing the big picture. High cost and high bandwidth means that the age of the expensive shiny disc are coming to a close.
Yahoo, Intel to pipe sports data to TV screens
After a decades of speculation it seems convergence is finally starting to appear:
The service, called Yahoo Sports for TV, will let users get detailed statistics for ongoing games through a menu overlaid on a television screen and operated with a remote control.
We’ve seen a demo of the system and its quite impressive but we’ll have to see what happens when it hits the real world. Menus are great on a computer but take on an entirely different feeling when you are relaxing on the couch with a simple remote.
The Myth of YouTube is Crushed
Whenever we pointed our sharp stick of wit at YouTube (a frequent target here on BBB) many people would criticize us saying that YouTube was the inevitable future of media.
Yesterday, for the first time, third party metrics on how many videos are being watched from these types of sites was released and the results may astound you:
According to a new video report that comScore Media Metrix will begin offering starting Tuesday morning, 37.4 million unique individuals watched a video on MySpace in July. All told, they collectively watched 1.4 billion videos.
By comparison, the audience on Yahoo watched 812 million video streams, making Yahoo the No. 2 most popular video site as measured by video streams. Yahoo ranks No. 1 as measured by unique streamers (similar to unique visitors), but barely beats out MySpace.
YouTube ranks No. 3, having generated 649 million video streams in July.
Not only is YouTube not number 1, it is actually number 3. As if to rub it in, the number 1 site is less than six months old (congrats Rupert).
Naturally YouTube will cry foul and argue that the methodology for measuring traffic was flawed but regardless of their protests, the myth that YouTube is an unassailable juggernaut is dead.
NBC embraces TV 2.0 part 2
He may be stating what has been obvious to everyone for years but at least he is admitting it:
NBC Universal Chief Executive Bob Wright on Monday predicted more advertising will occur within television shows in the coming years—through sponsorship or product placement—as ad-skipping devices become more popular.
“The skipping issue is going to have a lot of different dimensions,” said Wright, speaking at an Advertising Week event in New York. One outcome, he said, would be that “advertisements will move more into the program.”
He goes on to tout “event programming” just like the Olympics that NBC has the rights to this year (what a coincidence). It seems that NBC is on a tear to embrace the inevitable this week.
TV viewership hits record high?
Many of you have probably already heard about the new Nielsen stats out today:
The total average time per household in 2005-06 was eight hours and 14 minutes per day, a three-minute increase from 2004-05. Also resetting the record was total individual time, up three minutes from the previous year to four hours and 35 minutes.
Many have asked us if this is inconsistent with our death-of-tv point of view. What many fail to understand here is that TV is at its peak,and it is a long way down. Three minutes hardly the double and triple digit growth rates of the other media. Just plot out your graph for a couple years and see what happens. Still, some don’t get the message:
“These results demonstrate that television still holds its position as the most popular entertainment platform,” said Patricia McDonough, senior vp planning policy and analysis at Nielsen. “At this point, consumption of emerging forms of entertainment, including Internet television and video on personal devices, seems not to be making an impact on traditional television viewing.”
Even she is hedging her bets with “at this point.”
Then again, no one believed us when we said California would ban talking on cellphones while driving.
We Want Our Holographic TV
Hold on to your hats, 3D TV is here!
The heart of the system is the digital light processing micro-mirror chip, made by Texas Instruments and currently used in television, video and movie projectors.
These devices incorporate a computer that processes an incoming digital signal several thousand times a second, changing the angle of each micro-mirror to reflect light from a regular light bulb. The resulting image is a two-dimensional video projected onto a screen.
One of Garner’s innovations was to replace regular light with laser light. Such light is coherent, meaning that it comprise light of a single wavelength, with all light waves travelling ‘in phase’ with one another. Light from a white light bulb comprises many different wavelengths that are out of phase.
Interesting that essentially they are using off-the-shelf technology with some modifications. They still predict that we won’t see commercial 3D TVs until 2020 (and if the adoption of HDTV is used as a guide it will probably take 100 years longer than that).
More than 90 percent of British children have a cell phone
We know that we just got through trashing cellphones just in time for CTIA but this article should warm the hearts of our wireless industry readers:
Some 51 percent of all 10-year-olds in Britain own a mobile phone, but that figure rises to 91 percent by the time children hit the age of 12, according to a survey.
On average, 11- to 17-year-olds send 9.6 text messages a day, almost three times as many as their parents and makes or receives on average 3.5 calls a day. Adults make or receive 2.8 calls and send 3.6 texts on a daily basis.
While the U.S. cellphone market is always technologically stuck in the Paleozoic era it is always worth remembering that even the limeys have more advanced wireless tech than we do. One day we might eventually catch up but it is this kind of social upheaval that have many investors betting big on wireless. [via Unwired]
Watching TV Stocks Take a Dive
These graphs sure don’t look pretty but they get really ugly when you realize they are five year graphs:
Sinclair Broadcast Group and Granite Broadcasting continued the trend of broadcast companies reporting weak 2nd quarter revenues this week, due primarily to a drop in the big automotive advertising category and falling network compensation. While everybody tends to look at and write about trends in programming, distribution and advertising, underneath it all is the volatility of broadcast stock prices. Wall Street is plenty nervous, and here’s why.
They throw in a bunch of other media stocks as well, like the New York Times just so that your heart can be warmed by all media stocks tumbling simultaneously. [via Buzzmachine]
New Trend or Short-lived Gimmick?
It seems the latest Death-of-TV trend is to premiere programming online before TV:
Time Warner Inc.’s AOL on Monday plans to announce that it will offer two new NBC programs on its Web site a week before their broadcast TVpremiere.
AOL’s move follows on the heels of other experiments by U.S. television networks and show producers to promote new shows and lure new categories of viewers who may shun traditional TV viewing.
Earlier in September, CBS Corp. teamed up with digital video recorder pioneer TiVo Inc. in a similar experiment. TiVo subscribers will be able to watch the pilot episode of CBS’s “The Class” a week before the TV broadcast.
Interestingly the article makes no mention of network affiliates crying foul. They certainly can’t think web-first programming is a positive trend for their revenues. On the other hand, we have never heard of these “new catergories of viewers who shun traditional TV viewing.” That sounds like marketroid speak to soften the blow for the aforementioned network affiliates.
“We’re not cannibalizing our TV audience, we’re just luring internet-only TV viewers!”
Who’s gonna buy that claim?
Life after the 30-second spot
A piece in the CSMonitor talks about ”desperation marketing” arising from the decline in effectiveness for traditional ads:
In a recent episode of CBS’s “CSI: New York,” a cellphone rings with the song “Talk” by Coldplay, which the characters discuss. At the next commercial break, the audience is invited to download the ringtone for $2.49. Over on NBC’s “Las Vegas,” sports fans en route to the Winter Olympics join the story line. The episode, which aired just prior to the Turin Games, then follows the group to Italy.
In the Monitor
Welcome to life after the 30-second TV spot. These examples are a tiny glimpse of what one media pundit calls “desperation marketing” - advertisers going beyond simple product placement to capture the hearts and wallets of increasingly ad-wary consumers who are spending more time online and on cellphones and less watching TV.
Unfortunately the piece ends up rambling about the usual suspects: cellphones and video games for younger audiences who demand “interactivity.” There is one interesting note however:
Dollars spent on TV advertising have been declining since 2004, when revenue hit $9 billion. “We’ve witnessed the peaking of TV,” says Mr. Jaffe. “We’re incrementally dissipating that spending on TV as the number of viable alternatives and substitutions continue to proliferate.”
Welcome friends, to the death-of-TV. Long live TV.