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August 15 2012

20:28

The newsonomics of breakthrough digital TV, from Aereo to Dyle and MundoFox to Google Fiber

In 1998, when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought the Los Angeles Dodgers, the storied franchise was worth $380 million. News Corp. sold the team in 2003 for $430 million. After winning the ability to negotiate a new multi-billion sports TV contract this fall, they sold earlier this year for $2 billion, blowing the lid off sports property values.

In 1994, the San Diego Padres were worth $80 million. After recently signing a 20-year deal with Fox Sports for $1.2 billion, they sold (pending league approval) for $800 million.

Meanwhile, in 2000, the Los Angeles Times was worth at least $1.5 billion when it was sold as part of Times Mirror to Tribune Company. Today, as it is newly readied for market out of the Tribune bankruptcy, it would go for something less than $250 million. The San Diego Union-Tribune, once valued near a billion dollars, sold for about $35 million in 2009 and about $110 million in 2011.

It’s a reversal of fortune: Newspaper franchises that once outvalued baseball teams by 3-1 or 5-1 or 10-1 now see the inverse of that ratio. Why?

Two letters: TV.

Those numbers tell us a lot about the continuing power of television, in worth, in value creation, and in the news business itself. If we look just at recent events in the ongoing transformation of broadcast and cable to digital, we now see multiple breakthroughs on their path to digital. They give us indications of what the news business, video and text, will look like in the coming years. While we can argue endlessly about the relative virtues and vices of print and TV news, we must acknowledge the relative ascendance of TV and think about what that means for the news business overall.

TV’s revenues are holding up far better than newspaper companies’, and TV is better positioned to survive the great digital disruption.

TV has continued to have great audience. Nearly three in four Americans tune in to local TV news at least weekly, surpassing newspaper penetration, even as Pew Research points out they mainly do it for three topics: breaking news, weather, and traffic. Further, it retains great ad strength — 42 percent of national ad spending, matching the actual number of minutes Americans spend with the medium and making it the only medium still ahead of digital spending as digital has surpassed print (newspapers + magazines this year, both in the U.S. and globally). Yes, TV remains a gorilla. While Netflix won headlines when it announced it had streamed one billion hours of TV and movies in a single month, that huge number compared to about 43 billion hours of U.S. TV consumption, according to Nielsen’s 4Q 2011 Cross-Platform report.

In a nutshell, that’s the difference between TV and video, circa 2012. Video is the next wave — incorporating TV perhaps, but still the very young kid on the block.

Today, TV is no longer a box. Sure, even with all the Rokus, Boxees, and Apple TVs, it seems like TV isn’t yet an out-of-the-box experience. But with Hulu, Netflix, and Comcast’s Xfinity, it’s emerging quickly, escaping our fixed idea of what it once was — the boob tube in the living room. If it’s not just a box anymore, it’s a platform. From that platform, we see both the disruptors and the incumbents doubling down their bets. As in most things digital, few of these launches will be huge winners — but some will drive big breakthroughs. Some of the iconic legacy companies we’ve long known will be absorbed in the woodwork as new brands supplant them. Consider the spate of recent innovation, as we quickly assess the newsonomics going forward:

  • NBC, bashed up and down Twitter, nonetheless proved out a new business model with its multi-platform approach to Olympics coverage. Whatever you think of the tape delays or the suspended reality of Bob Costas’ gaze, NBC made the economics work, surprising itself and others. Its live streaming has ratified the development of cable- and satellite-authenticated, all-access digital delivery. That reinforces cable/satellite value. Further, it whetted prime-time viewing appetites, boosting ratings and earning NBC more ad revenue than it had projected. That’s icing on the cake for NBC, which, under Comcast ownership, has rocketed forward in digital strategy. The network has made a number of moves to transform itself into a global, video-forward, digital news company, joining the Digital Dozen global news pack. Recently, it bought out Microsoft’s share of msnbc.com, a leading Internet news portal. It immediately rechristened it NBCNews.com. In short order, it appointed Patricia Fili-Krushel as the new head of NBCUniversal News Group, an entity made up of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, and the Weather Channel. A former president of ABC, with 10 years of experience at Time Warner, she heads a growing news operation. Earlier this year, NBC combined its sports properties into a unified NBC Sports Group, merging NBC’s broadcast sports unit and Comcast’s regional sports networks. NBC is growing out of its digital adolescence. (See “One year after she was hired, Vivian Schiller’s ‘wild ride’ at NBC is just beginning.”)
  • Aereo, the TV startup funded by media magnate Barry Diller, is expanding its footprint from its current New York City base, and starting to offer multiple promotional deals. Diller’s in-your-face challenge to over-the-air broadcasters (CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, CW, PBS) takes their signals and delivers that programming via the Internet. It charges consumers $12 a month, or as little as a dollar a day. They can then watch those TV stations on up to five devices; in addition, they can deliver these signals to a TV via Apple TV or Roku. Aereo also offers DVR capability, with 40 hours of storage. It’s classic disruption, with Aereo upping the pressure on the cable bundle and messing with the “retrans” fees that broadcasters get from cable companies to run their programming. Is it really legal, as a court recently found? It may be as legal as Google presenting snippets from every publisher and directory provider.
  • Local broadcasters — representing a broad swath of ownership groups organized in a newer company called Pearl — are bringing local TV to our mobile devices themselves. Just a week ago, Metro PCS started selling a Samsung Galaxy S phone with a TV receiver chip in 12 markets. That’s just the first push of Mobile Content Ventures, a collection of Pearl, NBC, Fox, and others. Expect mobile TV, marketed as Dyle, to be available for other phones and tablets, either with built-in chips or after-market accessories — although price points are an issue, with $100-plus premiums likely over the next year. So what does this innovation mean? Simply, that broadcasters are going direct to mobile consumers — no Internet needed, no data charges applying, and maybe providing more consistent video connectivity — with live programming; whatever is on TV at that moment is also on your phone or tablet. Broadcasters just use part of their digital signal to, uh, broadcast to us on our phones. It’s that antenna, and its cost, that’s the issue. Business questions abound. Given the timing of the launch, Dyle seems like an aspiring Aereo killer, and certainly broadcasters would like to see it do that, if further court action doesn’t. More deeply, though, broadcasters want to maintain their direct-to-consumer brand identity as they do a balancing act and try to keep those retrans fees from cable and satellite companies. They don’t want to be left out of the digital party.
  • Social TV pulls up a chair. First it was startup Second Screen, matching tablet ads to real-time TV viewing. Now ConnecTV, partnered with Pearl, is trying to corner the activity as it takes off. Its promise: “synchronization of local news, weather, sports, and entertainment programming along with social polls.” Ah, synchronicity, a Holy Grail of our digital aspirations. Last week, Cory Bergman (a man of at least three full-time digital lives, with MSNBC, Next Door Media, and Lost Remote) sold his Last Remote social-TV site to Mediabistro.
  • Then there’s the disruptor of everything on planet Earth, Google. The company recently announced it is putting another $200 million into YouTube Channels, building on its initial $150 million investment. The move emphasizes how quickly YouTube is growing beyond its homegrown, user-generated roots. Now partnering with dozens of prime video producers, creating more than 100 new channels, it is trying to establish itself in viewers’ lives as a go-to video aggregation source. Major video producers are still wary of Google getting between them and their customers, both ad and viewer, but many others are signed on. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Google Fiber TV (TV that’s healthier for you?) launches. It’s a rocket shot at the cable, telco, and satellite incumbents. It’s also a demonstration project: providing more, cheaper. The more: interactive search for TV that combs your DVR and third-party services such as Netflix. (Yes, The Singularity ["The newsonomics of Google ad singularity"] marches on.) Google Fiber TV combines DVR and third-party (Netflix-plus) search. Its DVR holds 500 hours of storage of shows in 1080p and the ability to record eight TV shows simultaneously. Bandwidthpalooza. Google’s goal: Toss a hand grenade among the TV-as-usual business models, and pick up some of the pieces, adding new significant revenue lines.
  • CNN moves to break out of its identity funk, figuring out what that powerful global brand means in this fast-changing digital news world. CNN President Jim Walton recently stepped down, clearly acknowledging that his 10-year run had reached an end. “CNN needs new thinking,” he said in a farewell note. On TV, CNN has been beaten up badly both both Fox News and MSNBC. In 2Q, CNN showed its worst numbers in 20 years, down 35 percent year-over-year. On the web, it’a a top-three news player. But overall, it’s become the Rodney Dangerfield of news entities, getting little respect. Its cable fees — the strength of its revenues — could be challenged by low ratings. Going forward and competing against other global news brands — many of which are transitioning their own businesses to gain far greater digital reader revenue — it is, at this moment, caught betwixt and between. How it brings together a single — and global — digital/TV identity is at the core of its continuing journalistic importance and financial performance.

That’s a short list. We could easily add HuffPo’s streaming initiative and The Wall Street Journal’s wider video embrace. Or Les Moonves’ digital moves at CBS. And Fox’s new MundoFox, Spanish-language TV network, taking on Telemundo and Impremedia. The new network, at birth, offers a strong digital component, working at launch with advertisers along those lines. Let’s note some quick takeaways here, all of which we’ll be talking about in 2013:

  • Note how much you see the names News Corp. and Fox here. While segregating its text assets (and liabilities), News Corp. is investing greatly in the video future.
  • Cable bundling’s longevity is uncertain. There’s a lot of residual power here, but we know how quickly that can fade in legacy media. Yes, the unbundling of cable and satellite has been overestimated by some, as Peter Kafka pointed out recently. Yet, these multiple digital strategies may still push a tipping point. Clearly, legacy TV media, despite their public protestations, sees that potential and is acting in multiple ways to prepare for it.
  • Though broadcasters are making major digital pushes, they start from a lowly digital position. Many broadcasters can count no more than 5 percent of their total revenues coming from digital. That compares to 15-20 percent or more for newspaper companies. While there are other sources of revenue have been more stable than those of newspapers, they need to grow digital revenues quickly to make up for inevitable erosion of older money streams.
  • TV ≠ newspapers. Much of broadcasters’ revenues are made on non-news programming, as much as one-half to two-thirds for most local broadcasters. While learning from TV experience here is useful, given lots of differences, the learnings must be smartly applied. As news consumers and advertisers move increasingly digital, though, that thick line that separate local TV from local newspapers thins by the day.

The all-access, news-anywhere, entertainment-everywhere era has created a new massive business competition. Which brands will be top of mind? Who will consumers pay? How valuable is news itself in this contest?

Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T — pipes companies — are in one corner. CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, and other known-to-consumer brands in another. Aggregators like Netflix and Hulu over there. Media marketers like Amazon and Apple holding court. Google. The local broadcasters fighting for their place in this digital ring. This new battle of brands, in and around “TV,” is now joined.

September 17 2010

16:45

NearSay offers ‘neighbourhood news’ to New York

NearSay, a new local and hyperlocal news site, has been launched in Manhattan according to a report by Lost Remote.

The site reportedly uses both aggregated information chosen by editors as well as stories currently filed by around 80 contributors.

According to NearSay’s website, its mission is “high quality neighbourhood news”:

We:

  • Let you personalise the news.  You tell us what neighborhoods and topics you care about;
  • Manage a veteran newsroom that covers the stories from your favorite publications, so there is less clutter in your inbox;
  • Curate every story on the site for quality and feature just the best of NearSay;
  • Show you the influential local voices who tell the inside scoop of what’s happening.

Lost Remote says it believes the site will branch out beyond Manhatten soon.Similar Posts:



August 26 2010

18:05

10 Must-Read Sites for Hyper-Local Publishers

Here at NowSpots we're developing a new advertising platform that will let local publishers sell and publish real-time ads on their sites. In my last post here on MediaShift Idea Lab, I explained why real-time ads are a better business model for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers than AdSense or existing display ad solutions.

Since winning a 2010 Knight News Challenge award to kickstart development of our new platform, we've been busy meeting with publishers to learn more about their needs and problems. We've also been busy reading up on what's happening in the hyper-local publishing space. This week I'm going to share with you 10 sites I read on a regular basis for news, commentary, and context about business models for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers. At the end of the post are links to subscribe to them through RSS or to follow them on Twitter.

Top Ten

1. MediaGazer

MediaGazer is a semi-automated aggregator for media news. It's a dead-simple, one-page site that lists the day's top media headlines from around the web alongside links to related coverage. What's great about MediaGazer is that their algorithm makes sure they get just about everything interesting each day, while their editorial touch makes sure the front page is always interesting. Not every story on MediaGazer pertains to the local news game, but anything good that does will be there.

2. Nieman Journalism Lab

The Nieman Journalism Lab is a blog covering journalism's efforts to figure out its future. Moreso than any other blog on the web, they are squarely focused on introducing new examples of "the new news" and figuring out what they might lead to. My only complaint is that I wish they'd post more. Just about everything they run is in my wheelhouse as a news startup guy.

3. Lost Remote

Lost Remote is focused on "hyper-local news, neighborhood blogs, and local journalism startups." Originally started by MSNBC.com's Cory Bergman, it is now edited by Steve Safran. Anything interesting that happens in the local news space that could impact hyper-local bloggers shows up here. Lost Remote is the TechCrunch of hyper-local bloggers. A must read.

4. Local Onliner

Peter Krasilovsky's Local Onliner blog is a repository of analysis pieces on the future of local online publishing that he writes for the Kelsey Group blog. As a vice president at BIA/Kelsey, where he works on local online commerce, Krasilovsky's perspective on hyper-local news, geo-targeted advertising and the like is worth a look for anyone who wants to understand the business behind local publishing.

5. Mashable's local section

Uber-blog Mashable devotes a post or two each month to the local space, and its coverage is picking up with the rise of group-buying sites such as Groupon and location-based social networks such as Foursquare and GoWalla. I filter down to just posts tagged "local" to sidestep the never-ending onslaught of headlines about Twitter.

6. Local SEO Guide

Local SEO is a sharp blog from Andrew Shotland, an SEO consultant who specializes in local. Every hyper-local blogger needs to be aware of how findable their content is through search. Shotland's blog offers detailed rundowns of topics such as why sites like Yelp do so well in search that can help you better connect with readers through local search.

7. Hyperlocal Blogger

Matt McGee's Hyperlocal Blogger pulls together the latest news coverage of the hyper-local blogging space and publishes regular commentary on issues affecting neighborhood bloggers. For instance, McGee recently responded to the news that the city of Philadelphia is requiring city bloggers to buy a Business Privilege License for $300.

8. Chicago Art Magazine Transparency Pages

A bit of a hidden gem, this series of blog posts by Chicago Art Magazine's Kathryn Born covers a seven month period in late 2009 during which she launched a collection of websites focused on the Chicago art scene. In these posts, which carry a bit of a confessional tone, she discusses how hard it is to sell ads to local galleries, and her philosophy on creating quick content for the web. They're a great recounting of the trials and tribulations of starting a hyper-local web publication, and every hyper-local blogger should read them.

9. MediaShift Idea Lab

The blog you're reading right now has been a favorite of mine ever since I started Windy Citizen in 2008. I love the site for its great think-pieces about the future of news and updates from Knight News Challenge winners. We're excited to have a spot of our own now, and we still drop by regularly to see what's new. For hyper-local bloggers interested in new ideas about the space, this should be a regular stop.

10. eMedia Vitals

eMedia Vitals has an old-school name and takes an old-school approach to covering tactics and strategies for growing your digital business. Editor (and co-founder of TechicallyPhilly.com) Sean Blanda turned me onto the site at SXSW last year and I've since found their analysis to be relevant to people working in the local news space.

OPML File and Twitter List

These are the sites I'm reading on a regular basis to keep up with what's happening in the hyper-local space. I'm sure you may have a few favorites of your own that I omitted. If so, feel free to share them with me in the comments below or via Twitter (I'm @bradflora).

I've created an OPML file that you can import to add the feeds for all these sites to Google Reader. You can find it here.

And if you prefer reading your news through Twitter, I've created a list over on the NowSpots Twitter account that you can follow to add these folks to your Twitter feed. You can find it here.

Happy reading!

18:05

10 Must-Read Sites for Hyper-Local Publishers

Here at NowSpots we're developing a new advertising platform that will let local publishers sell and publish real-time ads on their sites. In my last post here on MediaShift Idea Lab, I explained why real-time ads are a better business model for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers than AdSense or existing display ad solutions.

Since winning a 2010 Knight News Challenge award to kickstart development of our new platform, we've been busy meeting with publishers to learn more about their needs and problems. We've also been busy reading up on what's happening in the hyper-local publishing space. This week I'm going to share with you 10 sites I read on a regular basis for news, commentary, and context about business models for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers. At the end of the post are links to subscribe to them through RSS or to follow them on Twitter.

Top Ten

1. MediaGazer

MediaGazer is a semi-automated aggregator for media news. It's a dead-simple, one-page site that lists the day's top media headlines from around the web alongside links to related coverage. What's great about MediaGazer is that their algorithm makes sure they get just about everything interesting each day, while their editorial touch makes sure the front page is always interesting. Not every story on MediaGazer pertains to the local news game, but anything good that does will be there.

2. Nieman Journalism Lab

The Nieman Journalism Lab is a blog covering journalism's efforts to figure out its future. Moreso than any other blog on the web, they are squarely focused on introducing new examples of "the new news" and figuring out what they might lead to. My only complaint is that I wish they'd post more. Just about everything they run is in my wheelhouse as a news startup guy.

3. Lost Remote

Lost Remote is focused on "hyper-local news, neighborhood blogs, and local journalism startups." Originally started by MSNBC.com's Cory Bergman, it is now edited by Steve Safran. Anything interesting that happens in the local news space that could impact hyper-local bloggers shows up here. Lost Remote is the TechCrunch of hyper-local bloggers. A must read.

4. Local Onliner

Peter Krasilovsky's Local Onliner blog is a repository of analysis pieces on the future of local online publishing that he writes for the Kelsey Group blog. As a vice president at BIA/Kelsey, where he works on local online commerce, Krasilovsky's perspective on hyper-local news, geo-targeted advertising and the like is worth a look for anyone who wants to understand the business behind local publishing.

5. Mashable's local section

Uber-blog Mashable devotes a post or two each month to the local space, and its coverage is picking up with the rise of group-buying sites such as Groupon and location-based social networks such as Foursquare and GoWalla. I filter down to just posts tagged "local" to sidestep the never-ending onslaught of headlines about Twitter.

6. Local SEO Guide

Local SEO is a sharp blog from Andrew Shotland, an SEO consultant who specializes in local. Every hyper-local blogger needs to be aware of how findable their content is through search. Shotland's blog offers detailed rundowns of topics such as why sites like Yelp do so well in search that can help you better connect with readers through local search.

7. Hyperlocal Blogger

Matt McGee's Hyperlocal Blogger pulls together the latest news coverage of the hyper-local blogging space and publishes regular commentary on issues affecting neighborhood bloggers. For instance, McGee recently responded to the news that the city of Philadelphia is requiring city bloggers to buy a Business Privilege License for $300.

8. Chicago Art Magazine Transparency Pages

A bit of a hidden gem, this series of blog posts by Chicago Art Magazine's Kathryn Born covers a seven month period in late 2009 during which she launched a collection of websites focused on the Chicago art scene. In these posts, which carry a bit of a confessional tone, she discusses how hard it is to sell ads to local galleries, and her philosophy on creating quick content for the web. They're a great recounting of the trials and tribulations of starting a hyper-local web publication, and every hyper-local blogger should read them.

9. MediaShift Idea Lab

The blog you're reading right now has been a favorite of mine ever since I started Windy Citizen in 2008. I love the site for its great think-pieces about the future of news and updates from Knight News Challenge winners. We're excited to have a spot of our own now, and we still drop by regularly to see what's new. For hyper-local bloggers interested in new ideas about the space, this should be a regular stop.

10. eMedia Vitals

eMedia Vitals has an old-school name and takes an old-school approach to covering tactics and strategies for growing your digital business. Editor (and co-founder of TechicallyPhilly.com) Sean Blanda turned me onto the site at SXSW last year and I've since found their analysis to be relevant to people working in the local news space.

OPML File and Twitter List

These are the sites I'm reading on a regular basis to keep up with what's happening in the hyper-local space. I'm sure you may have a few favorites of your own that I omitted. If so, feel free to share them with me in the comments below or via Twitter (I'm @bradflora).

I've created an OPML file that you can import to add the feeds for all these sites to Google Reader. You can find it here.

And if you prefer reading your news through Twitter, I've created a list over on the NowSpots Twitter account that you can follow to add these folks to your Twitter feed. You can find it here.

Happy reading!

August 09 2010

09:45

April 20 2010

15:50

Lost Remote: New journalism programme to mix digital storytelling and business

“Even with the state of journalism today,” claims Lost Remote’s Cory Bergman, “most university professors would be loath to meld a curriculum of storytelling with the business side of the equation”. This is not the case at the University of Washington digital media programme though, which aims to become the ‘Columbia Journalism School of digital media and communication’, and teach “a unique blend of digital storytelling, social media and the business of digital media”.

“The three go together,” says Hanson Hosein, the director of the Masters of Communication in Digital Media program and a former NBC News correspondent who covered the Iraq war as a one-man band. “We’re hearing from our applicants that there’s nothing else like our program.”

Full story at this link…

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January 27 2010

10:12

January 19 2010

10:24

Lost Remote’s new iPhone app

Local media blog Lost Remote has launched a free iPhone app. Journalism.co.uk will have a play with it today and let you know what we think. In the meantime, here’s the link. The site explains the process, below:

We used the company AppMakr to develop the app, and based upon the results, we recommend you give it a try. The company charges all of $199 for a basic app, and I set it up in minutes using the Lost Remote RSS feed. The process was simple. AppMakr submitted it to Apple, and within about it [sic] week, it went live. We’d love to get your feedback. Download the LR app, and tell us what you think.


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January 05 2010

09:35

TechFlash.com: US-based Mywedding.com plans expansion

Where publishing is hiring:

Mywedding.com, an online wedding planning site first set up in Seattle, is opening new headquarters in Colorado, with plans to add 17 jobs, reports TechFlash.com.

The company currently employs 33 people at its various offices, with CEO Woody Pastorious splitting his time between the offices. The new positions will help support the company’s growth, which McGarvey said has occurred through word-of-mouth.

Mywedding.com – which has been profitable since inception – now claims more than 30 million page views per month.

Full post at this link…

Hat-tip: Lost Remote.

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