Category Archives: General

Post #23 – It’s official, Hulu is off the block. Now what?

It should come as no surprise, and a great relief, to faithful readers of Reinventing Media that Hulu has been taken off the market by its owners, Disney and Fox (NBC/Universal is a passive partner). You can read the story here.

Now it’s time for the networks to move ahead to use Hulu to help move TV in the right direction. First of all, Hulu’s commercial policy (usually not more than two at a time with a countdown clock) should be a model for ad-supported TV. Of course, this will require increasing the value of commercial slots by providing better targeting information. Ultimately this has to involve the cable MSOs (like Hulu’s part owner NBC) but Hulu could lead the way. And didn’t Time-Warner Cable express an interest in being a part-owner? They should be, and so should CBS.

Commercial inventory in network shows on Hulu should be sold right alongside ad sales of the shows on broadcast by the individual network sales teams. Note, that doesn’t mean “given away as bonus inventory”. The impressions on Hulu are arguably more valuable than those on regular TV because it can prevent commercial skipping and provide somewhat better targeting. Buttressing Hulu’s ad sales as part of regular network buys will help ease media buyers into accepting all inventory, including on-line, time-shifted and dynamically served slots, as part of the normal buying landscape. This will in turn increase the economic value of TV programming, which presumably will lead to more and better shows. That’s my theory, anyway.

An important part of the equation, as a Comcast exec recently pointed out in a Videonuze panel, is to develop a buyer/seller ad system that can support this complexity. Luckily enough, this comes just as two important ad technology companies have merged and announced their intention to create just such a system. Longtime agency suppliers Donovan Data Systems and Mediabank have merged to create Mediaocean, which says it aims to create a modern system for the new digital world. Given their long standing ad agency relationships, they are well-positioned to do this – if they invest the money.

But Hulu should be right there helping them do it.

Post #18 – Pandora buys a radio station. Now the fun begins.

Pandora has announced it’s buying KXMZ-FM in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their reasons are primarily to do with music licensing as explained by Pandora General Counsel Christopher Harrison (link to story). But the end of the article is the part that’s most interesting to me: “Pandora excels in personalizing discovery and terrestrial radio is experienced in integrating with a local community. We look forward to broadcasting our personalized experience to the community in Rapid City, an area where over 42,000 residents already use Pandora.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think the integration of Pandora (and maybe the coming Apple Radio or Spotify), with local radio personalities, news and information is the future of radio. Added to that will be smartphone, mapping and in-car integration to give listeners a complete experience that’s geo-aware and inherently social.

Sound like a lot? It’s all well within the reach of current technology and programming. Here in Boston, it could offer Matty in the Morning on KIIS-FM with whatever music you like and commercials targeted for the individual listener. Information like weather and news would be on-demand and traffic could be geo-aware so you’re only alerted to situations that relate to where you are driving.

It does require listening over an Internet stream, but that obviously hasn’t been an impediment to Pandora’s 70 million users. Car makers are falling over themselves to put wifi cellular Internet into their newest models. Mobile carriers are equally excited by an extra cell device in every car. You can see the benefits of connecting mobile users if you drive with Waze (which might get bought by Google if Apple or Yahoo! don’t wake up).

Waze tracks the speed and location of its users to produce increasingly accurate traffic condition reports. It also allows them to input things like accidents, construction and speed traps, which instantly show up on everyone else’s maps.

Connecting cars like this will raise the hackles of privacy advocates, but the flip side is the possibility of tremendous benefits in traffic management. How many times have you sat at a traffic light that wasn’t smart enough to know the no cars were coming the other way? Collectively, millions of times a day.

Pandora is also important because it does a really good job of exposing listeners to new artists and music, based on their existing favorites. This is not something radio does a good job at and hasn’t for decades.

All in all, the reinvention of radio will be good for everybody except those stations which don’t do it.

Post #17 – If you think on-screen promos are the work of the devil, raise your hand.

Ad-supported TV has a death wish. It wasn’t enough to overload programming with an unwatchable number of commercials. Now they are ruining good dramatic programs and movies with pop up animated graphics promoting other shows.

What moron decided that this was acceptable? What other morons decided the first moron was right? There seems to be nothing stupid that these people won’t do to convince us that the only TV worth watching is on HBO, Showtime, Starz and the other pay channels. Oh, and maybe PBS.

Now that consumers are skipping commercials, as well as promos, with their DVRs – and for good reason – programmers are desperate to put largely irrelevant promos right over dramatic programming. No thought is even given to where in the program it appears, not that there really is anywhere it should be.

Would they allow this in France? Where is the collective outrage from the creative community? Does J.J. Abrams like the fact that NBC is ruining Revolution with constant on-screen crap?

Viewers obviously have very little say in this or any other matters. They just keep voting with their channel changers, with more abandoning network TV every year. Three years ago AdAge quoted Adam Stotsky, president-marketing, NBC Entertainment as saying that consumers have developed a “capacity to accept multiple messaging all at once”. What a joke.

It’s one thing to scroll repetitive and often stupid news headlines across the bottom of a news program. It’s quite another to have sitcom characters marching along the bottom of a poignant dramatic scene.

It’s truly amazing to see a medium driving a nail into its own coffin.

Post #13 : www.handybook.com is exactly the kind of thing that newspapers should be doing. Why aren’t they?

While newspapers continue to bemoan their fate, innovative start-ups like www.handybook.com are doing the things that local media should be doing. It’s a site that helps you find and book a local handyman, cleaner, plumber, etc.

It’s backed by Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst, two VCs that generally know what they’re doing. But imagine if, in case of Boston, this was being promoted as a Boston Globe service?

Not only would it be known more widely and more quickly, the security of having the Globe behind it would enhance its attractiveness to sellers and buyers alike. One of the concerns about a service like this would be the trustworthiness of people you have come to your home. Handybook checks them out, but the Globe brand would be a huge asset, not to mention the promotion it could offer “for free”.

This is the sort of system (along with jobs, cars and real estate) that the defunct New Century Network should have created for its member newspapers. Instead you see newspapers forced to share revenues with www.Monster.com and www.cars.com.

One can only hope that perhaps newspapers will begin to acquire services like these, which I’m sure would make Handybook’s partners happy.