Category Archives: media usage

Unpacking Viacom’s and Time Warner’s Holiday Suitcases

As I’ve recently returned from a week’s holiday trip, I’m feeling the need to unpack Viacom’s and Time Warner’s suitcases and provide some thoughts on the content of their suitcases. Luckily, even though these would seem like heavy bags, this is light packing, won’t need to worry about comparing the rates of checking a bag vs. USPS/FedEx/UPS. Come next holiday season, though, they could very well have some heavier cargo.

Let’s hope they have separate seats or lots of free drinks coming to them in first class. They don’t seem to be copacetic traveling partners. I’ll assume they aren’t taking the corporate jets – Don’t most socialist governments realize that their is power in owning the media…Wow, Colbert would be so proud of me…thank goodness I’m a Comcast subscriber – so they can properly rattle the tin cup when the time comes.

On w/ it then…

Unpacking Suitcase #1
Viacom expects higher fees from Time Warner to carry Viacom networks on Time Warner cables to Time Warner subscribers.

Time Warner says Viacom’s network’s ratings aren’t all that great and they don’t deserve the increase they’re asking.

Viacom points out that 20% of all TV viewing is of Viacom programming, while fees for Viacom programming is only 2.5% of a typical cable bill. Thus, per Viacom, Time Warner has under-valued their programming.

Thoughts on Suitcase #1
I’m going to have to side w/ Viacom when it comes to looking at their share of the viewing market vs. TV ratings. It’s a fragmented media marketplace in these “mass” media and if value is still being derived by the most eyeballs, and if 1/5 of all Time Warner subs eyeballs are in front of Viacom programming, then only sharing 1/50 of revenue w/ them probably doesn’t make sense.

I wonder – do people consider themselves (more) Time Warner’s customers or fans of Viacom’s programming? Is the (most) value in the programming or the access to it? Try to recall, if you can, a case where someone (who isn’t a network engineer or some affiliated type of job) has more love for cables that carry digital packets of information – even if it’s always/usually reliable/redundant – than LC, Colbert, John Stewart, Dora or Sponge Bob.

I think it may be time to see what’s in the other suitcase.

Suitcase #2
Viacom is banking their revenue growth on increased carriage fees from cable operators in light of a slow ad market. 2/3 of Viacom’s revenue comes from media network revenue, which was up 6% in 3Q (while the ad market was down 2%) – primarily due to double digit growth in carriage fees (and Rock Band).

Time Warner isn’t pleased that Viacom takes their TV programming and runs it on their websites, where Viacom reaps all the ad revenue and doesn’t have to pay Time Warner one red cent for access to it’s cables and the customers on the other end of those cables. Time Warner “doesn’t think that’s fair”.

However, and not pointed out in this article, when people access Viacom programming via Internet service, more cables, provided by Time Warner, Viacom doesn’t share in revenues of that access w/ any sort of carriage fee. I’m pretty sure this would allow Viacom to call some sour grapes on the cry of “not fair” from Time Warner.

Thoughts on Suitcase #2
Ah, the nub of it. New distribution of programming doesn’t run so well under old monetization systems. In the process of improving the infrastructure of media delivery, access providers and media companies did a short-sighted job of determining the value of the shifts in media usage that they caused by improving the infrastructure. They never developed a model that appropriately valued media usage that is more driven by people’s schedules of desired use via two way cables than their schedules of distribution through one way cables.

So they are left to squabble over which antiquated levers and buttons they can pull and push to make a buck, ultimately, at the expense – in terms of money and, perhaps more importantly, time and convenience – of their most valuable assets: people who pay for access and are fans of programming.

Kinda makes all the talk of “if the content is good, people will come” irrelevant, really. If the content is good and people come and no one makes sufficient money to produce more good content it really doesn’t matter. Unfortunately for the suits, the infrastructure does a fabulous job of supporting people worn out from bad access provider service and an inability to find consistent, “good” content.

But, ah, the possibilities! I’ve riffed a number of times on monetizing a new media world. It’s one of the reasons I’m energized by the prospects before this industry in 2009. Looking forward to helping to figure it out!


Filed under bad media, digital distribution, future of media, media usage, monetizing media

Old media mavens and their new media ways; media poorly covering media

If you’d like to read a well thought out piece about a variety of ways the news and media industry need to evolve to adapt in a digital world, read this from Jeff Jarvis (founder of Entertainment Weekly).

If you’d like to see in action some of those techniques in reporting a pretty major story in the media industry – did/is Google laying 10,000 people off – read this from John Battelle (co-founder of Wired).

If you’d like to read a not well thought out piece about finding meaning and making connections in trends around media usage and pandering to old media and their ability to crank out fox in the henhouse analysis of their own data, read this from MediaPost – or just read MediaPost everyday and let the confusion and swirl ensue.

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Filed under bad media, communication platforms, digital distribution, future of media, media coverage, media on media, media usage

If Content is King, Access (or LeAnn) Must be Queen

I’ve been wondering lately why I bother paying for content when what I really want is ease of access any way I see fit and, in some cases am willing to pay for if needed, to that content. I want the ends. I don’t want to deal w/ the means the media industry has been historically built on to encumber me in fulfilling my wants and needs. I’d rather pay for access than content – and the more digital and portable, the better.

Isn’t it nice when life provides the context needed to articulate stuff that’s been kicking around in your head? The following dramatization is not entirely real. However, the characters and drama are…

Setting: A typical Wednesday night in the Courtney home in the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. TV is on. Jerry is catching up on tweets and Facebook status updates in the recliner. LeAnn, his wife, is flipping channels on the couch, waiting for Dirty Sexy Money to start. The Kids, Jackson, 8, and Addison, 2, have recently been put to bed. The Dog, Razzle, is curled up next to LeAnn.

Jerry: Hey, let’s take the kids to go see Madagascar 2.

LeAnn: OK. Jackson has mentioned he’d love to see it, and since Addison was able to make it through Kung Fu Panda so we can take her, too, and save money on a sitter. Check times and ticket prices for Friday…maybe you can come home a bit early.

Jerry, chooses not to comment on his continued disappointment that the family went to see Kung Fu Panda w/o him even though he’d mentioned a number of times his desire to see it, though makes that face his wife can’t stand, checks online: $10 apiece for us, $5 apiece for the kids. If we do a weekend matinee, it’s $5 apiece for all of us.

LeAnn, ponders: And that’s before popcorn and drinks. Why don’t we just wait since it’ll be on demand and DVD in a few months anyway? The kids won’t care, we can just stay home and watch something else on demand that we haven’t seen, or rent something, maybe even a game for the Wii. And, as I know you know, Kung Fu Panda will be out on DVD soon as well – at least that’s what Jackson says he saw on Yahooligans.

Jerry, impressed and bemused, smiling as he looks forward to Jackson getting Kung Fu Panda for Christmas and relatively confident LeAnn remebers he wants Tiger Woods golf for Wii: You should be in my line of work, you know it?

LeAnn, rolling eyes: Great, you’re going to put this on your blog, aren’t you?

Fade to black as Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland discuss how to get a Baldwin elected Senator from NY.

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Filed under digital distribution, entertainment industry, future of media, media usage, monetizing media

Yonger demos are "watching" more commercials…while online at the same time?

I really, really, really need to stop even glancing at trade press headlines. I read the headlines and discount them way too quickly, yet give them a chance and read the story hoping for salvation, only to find my discounting was correct. To wit…

Ad-On: Uptick in young demos watching TV spots from MediaPost. That’s interesting, but as soon as I read the headline and when I clicked I was hoping to see some sort of reference to yesterday’s lead headline in MediaPost, i.e. that heavy TV watchers are also heavy Internet users and they tend to do both at the same time. So, extending that to this story, even if they are “watching” w/in the parameters of the much vaunted C3 style on DVR, they’re probably still multi-tasking and probably don’t pay all that much attention to the commercials (or the need to fast forward through them) the headline says they are “watching”.

Alas, this connection was not made. And this lack of connection is especially sad when you consider MediaPost covers, um, the media industry and their primary vehicle for covering the media industry is digital and if a media vehicle that covers media doesn’t realize that media usage isn’t linear anymore and that you can’t assume someone read yesterday’s lead headline and/or story then read today’s lead headline and/or story to put two and two together and think critically about both pieces who does?

Yeah, I get the sources in the story were different and though I didn’t and don’t plan to check if the reporters were different for each story, an editor somewhere should’ve caught that the lead headlines in subsequent days are somewhat relevant to each other yet take pretty different POVs. What a great opportunity for a digital media vehicle covering media to open up a conversation about the topic at hand – how much “watching” is really going on even if people aren’t fast forwarding through spots given the heaviest TV viewers show a habit of being heavy Internet users while “watching” TV?

Instead, depending on who saw which lead headline when you get people who are only half informed. And, frankly, today’s story is the kind of pandering to “old” media – it’s OK, young people are watching TV commercials – that drives me crazy. Read w/o yesterday’s story for context, it seems to advocate sticking to one’s guns vs. changing.

And, really, don’t we all need a little change?


Filed under bad media, measurement, media on media, media usage

(Lack of) Political Media Strategery

As mentioned, I’ve had more than five calls in five days from the Republican Party of Minnesota imploring me to vote for McCain/Palin and Norm Coleman (non-Minnesotans: the dude that was mayor of St. Paul, brought professional hockey back to MN, has been a senator for 6 years, and is running against Al Franken).

This fine Sunday morning, I had a wonderful flier in the handle of my storm door, not the first of those either in the past 5 days.

If I’m undecided and you call me five times in five days when my number is on the Do Not Call list (yeah, I know politicians get special status, but I’m in this industry…if I’m Joe Insert Name Here, I may not be as in the know w/ such things), then paper my front porch w/ your fliers when the “No Soliciting” sign is roughly a foot from my door handle, you’re not really getting credit for listening to my needs. And most likely not getting my vote as two things I remember vividly less than a week before voting are things that PISS ME OFF!

I guess the irony is that at this point in the game it’s usually the Dems reaching for high frequency desperation tactics. Regardless, do these people not have media/advertising strategists working for them? Or have they not learned from Dem failures of the past 8 years and the media strategies they used to get there. Oh, wait, they probably do and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

And let’s not forget 30 minute infomercials. Personally, I was asking myself where the foamboard charts were. “We’re in deep doo doo, folks.” Now that’s how you connect w/ Joe Insert Name Here.

My only comment is HRP used his own money to buy two 30 minute blocks of time, which came off as a bit pretentious and showy but he was a 3rd wheel looking to shake things up.

BHO, a major party candidate, used the funds he raised by not adhering to policies of fund raising that he said he would adhere to before he became the nominee. I get that he more than any other modern candidate accumulated a ridiculous amount of minimal contributions from a ridiculous number of people by activating the true base, in the trenches, part of the electorate to get the money. And I greatly applaud that because that is a sound use and activation of strategy that understands that all politics is indeed local.

However, he is now the candidate talking about spreading the wealth around who is buying 30 minutes on three major broadcast networks on the mass-est of mass media.

A thought: How about you finish strategically where you started? Produce the video for straight to digital distribution to re-ignite the base and get them passing said video around to their undecided friends vs. wasting dollars on the committed base and the competition’s committed base. Polls right now show a huge advantage in electoral votes, but most agree that the 10 million or so undecided voters are the key. If you buy into the promise of social media, as you seem to based on how you’ve used it throughout, then the best way to persuade the undecided is via their friends and family who aren’t undecided.

Just a thought. After all, you were the man who advocated using a scalpel vs. a hatchet in the 2nd debate. You can apply that analogy a bit more easily to media strategy than trillions of dollars of debt. At least I think so…

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Filed under advertising effectiveness, bad media, communication platforms, competition, election 08, media usage, push vs. pull, video


CS Monitor folding (wakka wakka) paper edition, going all digital. In case you are unaware, this isn’t a publication for tween and teen girls (no link planted, those books keep folding, one of them did last week or the week before or something, and going all digital because they’re reaching out to those neat-o, digitally acclimated, don’t like paper, dealing w/ POS – and that’s not “point of sale” – “millenials” – OMG!).

FYI, I didn’t read the article and don’t intend to because I read Jarvis’ post on this yesterday. I’m assuming somewhere in the MediaPost piece is some sort of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, either directly or from reading b/t the lines about the demise of “traditional” media and the inability to “monetize” it etc. that ticks me off and makes you feel like hail and brimstone are about to reign forth and destroy Sodom – and Gomorrah, for that matter.

Look, maybe CS succeeds, maybe it doesn’t. But this is for sure – they’re not going down in some Revelational ring of fire beholden to their past, offering Lamentations about how they can’t do this or can’t do that. Whether it’s faith in the good Lord or in the media habits of their readership, they’re seeing some sort of prophecy and they’re committed to following it.

BTW, if you read the MediaPost piece and my assumption is incorrect, I’d love to know that so I can be redeemed. I may actually start reading MediaPost again vs. just scanning the headlines to see if anything worthwhile is in their besides curmudgeonly media exec laments, media special interests/bureaus imploring all to believe the sky is not falling on “their” medium, and agency execs continually rationalizing their existence. Seems like there are a lot of folks lost in the desert needing some guidance to the Promised Land.

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Filed under future of media, media on media, media usage, monetizing media

(Don’t) act your age

In case you hadn’t heard, demo doesn’t define youth. Thanks to Mr. McKinney for posting the link via Facebook.

I’ve been reading a few books lately about issues w/ young people not growing up and how media is encouraging them to not grow up. Personally, it comes off as odd from authors who were on the tail end of the “don’t trust anyone over 30” generation. Generational sour grapes.

This particular research, however, is somewhat sad when you read, “people worldwide delay the onset of adult responsibilities and stay emotionally and physically younger for longer, it is becoming more acceptable for older people to participate in youthful pursuits.”

Hmmm, maybe if “older people” paid attention to non-“youthful pursuits” like personal finance we’d be in a different place right now. Kinda snarky, perhaps, but in light of the books I’ve been reading about youth’s inability to accept personal responsibility, that would assume “older people” can, and from what I’ve been hearing, the “older people” are placing blame like it’s nobody’s business. Who knows better if someone can really afford something than the someone who’s spending the money? Anyway…

Regardless, often times as a marketer it feels like you have to make an intervention choice – being an enabler of behavior (in this example, capitalizing on delayed adult-hood) vs. a leader towards new behavior (building a foundation on which moving to adult-hood is okay and enjoyable). I often fret that we focus too much on the latter vs. the former and this feels like it’s one of those cases. I’m sure this is why the Dead Kennedy’s implored MTV to get off the air back in the day (BTW, research was done by a subsidiary of Viacom).

For levity’s sake, allow me to inject a lyric as I am wont to do. I feel my Creative Zen is appropriately named as it seems to push me toward Zen by providing timely songs as my mind turns over topics…

She said “I’m done with looking back, and you look your age
Which is 37, by the way, and not 28
F**king let them stare, ’cause at this point I don’t care”

– Okkervil River, You Can’t Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man

Sometimes you’ve gotta be the girl screaming at the Rock and Roll man, not caring what others think.

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Filed under media on media, media usage, pop culture, target audience