Category Archives: TV

Getting tough at hanging onto things that should be rolled over

I’ve spent the past few years living in a Comcast cable market.  Coming back to Austin, TX meant coming back to Time Warner Cable, so I’ve only recently been exposed to  This is TWC’s promise to fight hard for their subscribers in negotiating with those mean, old broadcast TV stations and cable networks.
I especially liked the following paragraph from the “How TV Works” section of the site:

“In addition, the growth of the Internet has brought countless new video options into consumers’ homes through services like Hulu, NetFlix, Amazon, and the programmers’ own websites. Right now, the broadcast TV networks generally offer that programming free over the Internet — and free over the air to any household with an antenna — but believe that customers who receive the exact same programming from their cable, satellite, or telephone company should pay a fee for it. That’s like putting a tax on the customers who get it from cable, in order to subsidize the viewers who get it for free online or over the air. We just don’t think that’s fair.” (TWC’s emphasis)

Checking my bill, it seems I’m paying my protector, Time Warner Cable, to get access to the Internet as well as cable TV.  So, I’m paying to get cable from TWC to subsidize the Internet that I’m also paying TWC for?  I’m a bit confused on what, exactly, is free here.
As it pertains to broadcast and cable networks feeling like people should pay a fee to get programming over TV but not over the Internet, is TWC saying they’d like to go to the model currently used on TV where those broadcast and cable networks charge TWC (and other cable, satellite and telcos) for the right to carry their programming – carriage fees, that 40% of their costs in the TV world?  I’m sure the broadcast and cable networks would be happy to have that discussion…
(Actually, they’d probably like to flip the model and have these “network hogs” – i.e. video providers on the Internet – pay extra to ensure better experiences – more on network neutrality soon, stay tuned.)
I’d posted over a year and a half ago on the issue that was brewing at that time between TWC and Viacom as it related to carriage fees and the “not fair”-ness TWC was claiming over video content Viacom was providing for “free” online.  There have been more than a few subsequent issues between cable companies and media companies since then, but the song remains the same.  Here was my summation then that still seems to be the case now:

“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 (not pipes).

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.”

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Filed under bad media, digital distribution, future of media, monetizing media, TV, video

Consumption (sumption) what’s your function?

To the two people who have requested in the past week that I write something, and you know who you are, this one’s for you. I must say, I do always feel better after some good ol‘ fashion word mincing. I feel like I’ve written something like this before, but don’t care to cross reference to see since the catharsis of writing it (again?) feels so good. Out w/ it, then.

It’s the week after upfronts. I’m shocked to hear that television viewing is (gasp!) on the rise. During a down economy when people desire escapism. While DVR penetration rises and C3 ratings are now standardized. With TV programming proliferating across many different screens to the ultimate benefit of the larger screens. Insert other factors for television viewing increasing here _________________.

But the word I heard used many times wasn’t “viewing”, it was “consuming”. And thus a pet peeve of mine burst from the pod: Do people “consume” or “use” media? Let’s review definitions from our friends at

con-sume [kuhn-soom] verb, –sumed, –sum ing
–verb (used with object)
1. to destroy or expend by use; use up.
2. to eat or drink up; devour.
3. to destroy, as by decomposition or burning.
4. to spend (money, time, etc.) wastefully.
5. to absorb; engross.
–verb (used without object)
6. to undergo destruction; waste away.
7. to use or use up consumer goods.

Hmm, I’m liking #5 a bit, at least “engross”, but all the others sound a bit dark and foreboding. A bit too Apocalyptic, a bit to Convenient Truth-ish. It seems the end game is ending the game, what’s done is done, and the benefit derived is the ending or the done-ness. That’s just no good when your talking about media these days.

use [yooz or, for past tense form of 9, yoost] verb, used, using

–verb (used with object)
1. to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of.
2. to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes.
3. to expend or consume in use.
4. to treat or behave toward.
5. to take unfair advantage of; exploit.
6. to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually.
7. to habituate or accustom.
8. Archaic. to practice habitually or customarily; make a practice of.
–verb (used without object)
9. to be accustomed, wont, or customarily found (used with an infinitive expressed or understood, and, except in archaic use, now only in the past): He used to go every day.
10. Archaic. to resort, stay, or dwell customarily.

OK, so “consume” shows up in #3, but the noun “use” does as well, which is defined as “the act of employing, using or putting into service”. So something is expended towards an end that isn’t just the expension (that’s not a word but stick w/ me here) of the thing.

Exploitation, substance abuse and gluttony are referenced in Nos. 5 and 6. But according to Dr. Phil, people do these things to fill some sort of void in their life, so the doing of such things isn’t just to do the things, and, frankly, they just need to “Git o-vur eeyet.”

The other inherent beauty in the verb “use” related to media are the references to habit and custom. Something is done habitually and customarily to further one’s purpose. If you could articulate a universal marketing/advertising/media objective, would that not be the one?

Frankly, when it comes to TV, my bias is towards the mindlessness implied with the word “consume”. But, alas, I cannot allow it. Though the networks very noticeably backed off their multi-media messages from the past couple of years this year, it is quite obvious that the proliferation of content written by fans about programming (OMG, Adam was soooo screwed by AT&T telling those Arkansas ppl how to send power texts…) means people actually do, indeed, use TV.

It’s just kinda ironic that the usefulness comes to life elsewhere.

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Filed under media usage, riffs, TV

TV’s got them all…

In my old job, I used to have this game I’d play w/ my team. I called it “Random Play All” because that’s the mode in which I tend to listen to my digital music player. The premise of the game was if you could guess the song and artist from which a lyric came that I’d heard at some point that day, you’d win something. Anyway…

So this morning on the bus, Jane’s Addiction’s “Ted, Just Admit It” pops to the top of random play all and suddenly I realized that Perry Farrell’s heroin habit set him up nicely as media critic. Witness the following lyric:

The TV’s got them images
TV’s got them all
It’s not shocking!
Every half an hour
Someone’s captured and
The cop moves them along…
It’s just like the show before
Now the news is just another show
With sex and violence…

I believe Nothing’s Shocking, the album from which this song came, was released in 1989. 20 years later and not much has changed (except Perry’s cleaned up and making crappy music now).

(Side note: Yes, I said digital music player and not iPod or iPhone. I’ve got a 16 gig Creative Zen if anyone wants to know and yes its fabulous and the size of a credit card and only slightly thicker than one w/ a crisp 16:9 screen that’s great on a plane for movies, and no I don’t like owning music, digitally or on discs, or products from Apple so I subscribe to Rhapsody and rent access to millions of songs for the price of one CD per month.)

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Filed under digital distribution, random play all, TV

Video Killed the (insert media and/or distribution model here) Star

If you’ve ever heard people talk about non-linear vs. linear media use (or distribution) and scratched your head, read this.

Then get used to the fact that all good and wonderful video does not have to flow from and/or through the channels that have been defined by studios and networks and executive producers and Steven Spielberg in the form of a “movie” or “television show”.

Get used to the fact that a lot of it can’t be found w/in your cable provider’s or Tivo’s channel line up or “at a theater near you” – and if it does end up at any of those places, it very well didn’t start there and then go into distribution in “other” media.

What to do when the “other” media become the places where trends develop w/o concern for what type of screen they show up on first?

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Filed under digital distribution, future of media, media usage, monetizing media, TV, video