What Are You Missing? June 6-June 19
1. There were a number of stories this fortnight about online media and corporate commerce: Ann Taylor responded proactively to Facebook comments, Nike and Pepsi have hijacked World Cup marketing, product placement on blogs is increasing, Gatorade has a command center called Mission Control to oversee social media marketing, Disney/Pixar bought into Twitter trending, and Fox News has started a social media site (related: a Pew Center study finds a huge gap between social web news and traditional news news). Meanwhile, Henry Jenkins wants us to consider the difference between viral and spreadable, and even if they know the definitions, no one is really sure if Bros Icing Bros originated via viral or spreadable means.
2. A Nielsen study says about 22% of the world’s time online is consumed with social networking. We’ve also spent a lot of time looking up World Cup stuff, posting ruthless comments on articles anonymously, and checking out the latest I Can Has Cheezburger entries (seriously, tell me this isn’t awesome), while the Chinese apparently spend a lot of time just waiting for websites to load up. The Japanese are spending increasingly more time Twittering (the Japanese word for “tweet” translates back as “mumble,” which is perfect), but Iranians might not be Twittering as much as we would hope.
3. Hollywood is looking toward the international box office to help cover early summer losses, though the World Cup could slow things down a bit for non-Sex and the City-type films. Avatar is the gift that keeps on giving (though watch out for those glasses), while theaters are drawing more revenue from advertising. Great.
4. With even Pixar falling prey to it, many are lamenting Hollywood’s sequel and remake obsession: Anne Thompson, A.O. Scott, top producers, some guy in Austin who organized a protest. Claude Brodesser-Akner claims Hollywood is responding to some of the reboot bombs by seeking more originals, but Thompson is doubtful and points to the marketing challenge of originals like Knight and Day as a reason why Hollywood will continue turning to pre-sold ideas.
5. Carl Icahn appears even closer to Lions Gate Entertainment control thanks to Mark Cuban, but there’s still an ugly fight ahead. Cuban also suggests that studios should be buying up theater chains (like he’s done with Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theaters), which sounds like a resurrection of classical-era Hollywood, but it’s for a digital-era reason: to exploit simultaneous VOD and theatrical releases. Of course, theater owners will certainly object, while R. Thomas Umstead says the viability of the day-and-date release is more complicated than many think, and the travails of the film Unthinkable show that piracy makes distribution plans even more complicated.
6. States are increasingly requiring filmmakers to showcase their regions in a favorable light if they want to receive valuable tax credits and subsidies (in response, the NYT had a little fun with the idea of cleaning up the cinematic image of New York), though this is probably more a requirement of independent productions, not major studio films. Similarly worried about negative depictions, conservative factions in Japan oppose the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove and have prevented domestic theatrical screenings of the film, but it will be streamed online via a Japanese video sharing site.
7. Redbox is going Blu-ray; Paramount is going rogue with Redbox, giving the service its new release DVDs right away rather than after a month window like most of the other studios, a decision that MG Siegler supports but David Poland says is a terrible mistake; and Netflix’s stock is going down thanks to a analyst’s claim that Hulu is a future threat, but Dan Rayburn says that projection is a terrible mistake.
8. The annual video game expo E3 took place last week: Bitmob fills us in on the best and worst of the major presentations – Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Konami, Ubisoft – Stephen C. Webster has more bests and worsts, and Dan Ackerman says hardware trumped software at the show, while Daniel Felt says no matter who won at E3, consumers lose in the end. Win or lose, consumers can look forward to the motion control war, more 3D games, and Rock Banding with the keytar.
9. Sasha Frere-Jones assesses some current online music listening options. One of them, the European subscription service Spotify, is being blocked from an American arrival by US labels due to its free music component. No matter the service, there’s a big challenge in convincing smartphone users to actually pay to listen to music on their handsets. Further, Jeremy Helligar points out that while singles are selling well, that’s not translating into album sales, which doesn’t bode well long-term for artists. Then there’s the web service that actually pays you for sharing music.
10. One thing you likely missed this fortnight was my birthday, but you can give me a belated gift by hitting one of my favorite News for TV Majors posts from the last two weeks: Gender in Televised Sport, Changing TV Culture, Cord Cutting Trends, ESPN Screens, TV Twitterers, DVR Boost, Nevins Profile, Actors Not Shows, Three Screen Report, Inside the Writers Room, The Genius of NewsRadio.