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June 05 2011


MTV trying a Twitter TV first for Movie Awards

Lost Remote :: MTV has led the way with social TV integration during live events, and this Sunday’s Movie Awards will be no different. In fact, MTV believes its Twitter trend use will be a first for TV.

[Kristin Frank, GM of MTV Digital:] Twitter’s allowing us to switch the promoted trend in real time. So if there is a huge Kanye/Taylor moment, we have the ability to switch the trend up to amplify it directly linking right out to whatever content we have clipped from the show for MTV.com in real-time.

Continue to read Cory Bergman, www.lostremote.com

June 02 2011


MTV added Tumblr to its social (sharing) media strategy

Mashable :: MTV has just added another social media tool to its roster in the form of a new Tumblr blog featuring original and reblogged content. In an ongoing effort to expand its platform into all areas of the digital sphere — the most recent push being the introduction of its new digital music awards show, the OMAs — MTV has finally broken into the realm of that social sharing community, Tumblr.

Continue to read Brenna Ehrlich, mashable.com

February 10 2011


Jason E. Klein: Print newspapers have a place in a tablet-heavy future

Editor’s Note: In the increasingly competitive world of journalism, it’s easy to start declaring winners and losers. The reality will likely be somewhere in between; just as television didn’t kill radio, there’ll be room for lots of different kinds of news outlets in the Internet age.

So today, we’re going to feature two pieces by people whose medium of choice some have recently forecast to come up short: print newspapers (facing threats from tablets) and homegrown local news sites (facing threats from national networks).

Here, Jason E. Klein — president and CEO of the Newspaper National Network — argues that tablets aren’t going to sweep away the print newspaper business any time soon. NNN describes itself as the “primary nationwide sales and marketing network for newspapers, both print and digital” and counts nearly all American newspaper companies as shareholders.

In 1979, an English new wave band called The Buggles hit No. 1 on the singles chart in 16 different countries with its debut single “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Two years later, it was the first music video to be shown on the new network MTV just after midnight on August 1, 1981. After almost thirty years have passed, The Buggles are largely forgotten, and radio is still around.

The new rage is tablets, and many believe tablets mean the death of print, and especially newspapers. Not in 30 years, but very soon. Forrester CEO George Colony recently told a gathering of media leaders that tablets were “the nexus of media” and would overtake e-readers, and ultimately the web. Wow!

Even the most hard-core newspaper junkies envision a world when tablets replace print, but they see that world far off. Maybe thirty years or so, maybe a hundred, give or take. So George and the newspaper junkies see a similar fate — it’s just a question of timing. I’m not sure when George thinks the last tree will go down for newspaper pulp, but I’d guess that he thinks the tipping point is soon, in the next two to four years. Maybe he’ll read this and weigh in.

Let me define what I mean by tipping point. There are still almost 1,400 daily print U.S. newspapers. While circulation and revenue has contracted, very few print newspapers have gone out of business. Since 1980, the number of print newspapers has declined at a fairly steady rate of about one percent per year — far fewer than the number of magazines to fold over that time. At the moment, newspaper companies are coping with the changes to their business. To me, the tipping point is when print newspapers are shutting at a rapid clip and the number of papers drops by half from today. When will the tipping point be?

The most predictable underlying trend is generational. Print readers are dying off, and younger adults read print at half the rate of older adults. But people are living longer, and 60 is the new 50. If the aging of the population is the dominant driver of the demise of print, you can model the numbers to show that print will be around for 30 years, or 50, or more, and George will be wrong.

But print junkies are changing their habits, even if their anti-aging creams, whole grains, and yoga are halting the ageing process. If the tipping point is at hand, as George seems to believe, it will be driven by the conversion of print junkies to tablets and not by Gen Y.

Tablets — which right now really mean just the iPad — are a delightful way to read newspapers. Ask most anyone who is not a luddite, has an interest in current events, and is a regular iPad user and you’ll get the same response. I am in that camp; I even hugged my iPad last week, once. However, there are still many print junkies who see the advantages of print newspapers, and relish their time with newspapers spread out in front of them, a cup of coffee at their side, and a smile on their face. I am in that camp too. From a usage standpoint, each fills a need, and the formats each have reason to coexist. I am a happy camper in both worlds. Even in a pre-tablet world, paid print newspaper circulation is over 40 million at the same time as 100 million people can and do read the same newspaper content on the web — for free.

Keep in mind that the forecast for tablet penetration is explosive, even more so than expectations for MTV in 1981. Tablet prices will come down, and people will have tablets in different rooms, in different colors and flavors. Corning makes the glass for tablets (now that’s a business!) and recently forecast 180 million tablet sales by 2014. With all those tablets around, it’s reasonable to expect that millions of print junkies will hug their iPads and use their newspaper apps. This means opportunities for newspaper publishers for new advertising and subscription revenues. Unfortunately for publishers, newspaper content engines depend on the economics of print since digital dimes don’t replace print dollars.

Will the print junkies jump ship as tablets multiply like rabbits? Is it a foregone conclusion that the tipping point of 700 closed newspapers follows right after Corning sells 180 million sheets of glass?

I don’t think it has to be. Just as radio has found its niche, print has its place as well. As Clay Shirky notes in his recent book, citing research by Clay Christensen and Gerald Berstell, you need to ask: What job are customers hiring your product to do? Print fills a different need; the experience of handling and reading a print newspaper provides an intellectual and leisure experience that offers an alternative to the hours spent on digital devices. With its broadsheet format, print is an ideal vehicle for both scanning and in-depth reading, and reading a newspaper from front-to-back is a complete experience a tablet environment finds hard to duplicate. Our research with dual print/digital newspaper consumers also suggests that consumers still trust print more than digital. While the tablet has invaded print’s turf, it’s not filling all the needs that print does.

How newspapers are marketed will make an enormous difference. It will control (a) the rate at which print junkies adopt the tablet format of newspapers and (b) the rate print at which junkies abandon print. The net of those rates will determine if the tipping point is imminent or a generation away.

Newspaper publishers seem to be headed to a paid model for tablet newspapers. Publishers realize that if tablet newspapers are free, their adoption rate by print junkies is constrained only by tablet sales, which will go through the roof. If tablet newspapers are free, and print newspapers cost $30-40 per month and up, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? As the music industry learned, it’s very difficult to compete with free. Nonetheless, some publishers are planning for free tablet newspapers, banking that advertisers’ current infatuation with tablet ads — and premium pricing — continues, and hoping that the print junkies don’t notice.

Most newspaper marketers are sweating the details. To bundle or not to bundle? Pursue a clever mix of free and paid? Extract a premium price at first from early adopters, then lower — or price low at first to encourage adoption, then raise? Vary price by geography, or usage, or time of day, or news cycle? Some publishers favor a bundled pricing plan: one price for access across all formats. Apple is not making the choices any easier as it looks to embed the App Store in all transactions.

So will tablets kill the newspaper star? Tablets are clearly invading the world of newspaper print junkies with long term consequences. But from a consumer standpoint, print and tablet formats can coexist for as long as generational factors allow. Each fills a different set of needs. Print clearly has its core of enthusiasts. It’s up to the marketers — at newspaper publishing companies, and at Apple and other intermediaries — to find the right value equation for each format.

June 25 2010


This Week in Review: YouTube scores a win over Viacom, Rolling Stone learns and reveals media lessons, iPad resurrects Gourmet

[Every Friday, we sum up the week's top stories about the future of news and the debates that grew up around them. Mark Coddington is off this week. —Josh]

Victory over Viacom for YouTube: This week a U.S. District Court judge sided with Google in a high-profile case that could shape how content (or at least Jon Stewart and SpongeBob clips) get consumed on the web.

In the $1 billion lawsuit, Viacom, which owns MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, claimed that YouTube’s business model attracts users who want to see entertainment for free, including its protected material. YouTube claimed it’s not responsible for checking every video before a user uploads to ensure it doesn’t violate copyright law. (Users now post 24 hours of footage to YouTube every minute.) The judge sided with YouTube, citing the “safe harbor” clause of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which frees sites from checking user-generated content for legal concerns before posting, noting that simply knowing that users are violating copyright law is not enough to make the site liable.

How are media companies taking the news? Not well. It’s a blow to companies that have been trying to crack down on sites that distribute their content for free. But whether that actually means they are losing out financially is unclear. The Wall Street Journal puts the loss in some perspective, saying “media executives say they expect companies like YouTube will continue to automatically filter for copyrighted content, however, as the companies jockey for licensing agreements with media producers.” The New York Times reports that tensions between Internet companies and television producers has “improved” since the lawsuit was first filed. And Viacom has its own video-sharing site now with its own piracy issues.

Two media stories in one Rolling Stone scoop: The rock magazine’s in-depth profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal made a splash before it was even published, thanks to a promotional version they sent to outlets like Politico, which hosted a pdf copy, and the Associated Press, which ran its own version. Rolling Stone’s strategy, which allowed other organizations to get the bounce from its work, seemed to hope that by creating online buzz, they’d enjoy a boost at the newsstands. That doesn’t account for how stories spread across the Internet. When the story was already huge (McChrystal had already been summoned to the White House to be fired), they posted the story in full. A day later, only 16 readers had left comments. The delay resulted in the online conversation around the story taking place elsewhere.

Then there was the matter of beat reporter vs. freelancer on access. Freelance journalist Michael Hastings wrote the piece for Rolling Stone, a fact Politico said meant the Pentagon should have “considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.” First CJR and then Jay Rosen caught the line, with Rosen using it to highlight an underlying media truth: “Think about what the Politico is saying: an experienced beat reporter is less of a risk for a powerful figure like McChrystal because an experienced beat reporter would probably not want to ‘burn bridges’ with key sources by telling the world what happens when those sources let their guard down.” A Politico editor later pulled that part of the story, saying it was just an edit, nothing more. More broadly, cable news picked up on the same issue (freelancer vs. beat reporter), which earned them a segment on Viacom’s The Daily Show.

Magazines and the iPad: The promise of the iPad was in full swing this week, with two announcements from Condé Nast that it’s planning apps for two of its titles. (Its Wired app has surpassed newsstand sales, although we’ll see whether that can survive or whether it’s a one-time bounce for people eager to try out the app.) For one of the apps, Condé Nast is resurrecting the brand of Gourmet, the magazine it shuttered last year. Ex-editor Ruth Reichl didn’t think much of it. Condé Nast is also planning an app for The New Yorker, using Adobe’s Digital Magazine Studio, the route Adobe has taken to get around Apple’s restrictions on Adobe’s Flash. Sports Illustrated had iPad news this week, too, unveiling its app. SI will charge readers $4.99 for each weekly issue, the same as the newsstand price. Will charging newsstand prices instead of home-subscriber prices work for the iPad? We’ll see.

Link roundup: This week we’re going newsy. First up, this thing called the iPhone 4 came out. Many, many people (estimated 1.5 million) purchased one on the first day it went on sale. But is it great? Gizmodo crowdsourced its reviews and focused on isolated reports of problems; the site’s Apple coverage has taken a markedly negative turn since Apple pursued the site legally for Gizmodo’s purchase of a stolen iPhone prototype.

It’s long been rumored that CNN was setting itself up to operate without the help of the AP wire service. This week it announced the official break, though it’ll keep a Reuters contract. The question is: Is CNN making a purely financial decision to operate without AP, or is it a bigger move to actually compete with it?

The last story I’ll note is today’s resignation of blogger-reporter Dave Weigel from The Washington Post after some negative remarks about conservatives that he sent to an off-the-record listserv surfaced online. [Full disclosure: I used to be Dave's boss at The Washington Independent and am his friend.] We’ll see lots of conversation about this in the coming days, but it’s already raising questions. Is there a safe space journalists can be allowed to express their opinions? Do the old rules about journalists not having opinions — or at least not sharing them — still make sense in an online age? Does a newspaper like the Post, which has recently hired three reporter-bloggers, have room for people who can report but also have a point of view? And if newspapers define themselves as having the view from nowhere, will they be able to compete with all the online outlets that don’t feel bound by those same rules?

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