cloud services – Antenna Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Are You Missing? January 6-19 Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:27:41 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

1. China had a big box office year in 2012, though a good chunk of the revenue came from American studio imports, like Life of Pi. The Hangover-esque Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand has become the country’s biggest domestic hit ever, though, and some expect the rise of China to global number one movie market status to come courtesy of shallow blockbusters.

2. Hollywood studios are turning to outside funding to support its films that aren’t shallow blockbusters, while Disney is looking at budget cuts for everything. DreamWorks is still a great place to work, though. Video game makers want greater control over the films Hollywood makes from their properties, while Disney is meshing together gaming and its movies with the upcoming Disney Infinity game.

3. We’re getting more info about Redbox Instant, which is expected to launch in March, because a group of users have gotten to beta test it. We know that it will be focused on movies, not TV shows, and Redbox’s CEO also says the company won’t abandon DVDs. But Austin Carr isn’t impressed with the service.

4. Home video revenue finally rose a bit last year, halting a seven-year skid, with streaming getting most of the credit for the uptick. UltraViolet also continues to grow, and Walmart’s “disc to digital” cloud service has been improved. Don’t expect Amazon to extend its “Amazon-purchased CD to digital” plan to movies, though.

5. Amazon has also launched a new mp3 store targeted toward iPhone/iPod users, offering a shot across iTunes’ bow. iTunes now has a partnership with Rolling Stone, whose iPad magazine will have links to Apple’s music store. The blog Asymco has graphed the iTunes economy.

6. 2012 music sales indicate the CD’s impending demise and the digital single’s growth. Other trends revealed from the figures are that big hits take up an increasing share of download sales; rock and pop music dominated, though country music sales rose compared to 2011; and indie labels grabbed one-third of album sales.

7. The number of children reading books on digital devices is rising, though over half of kids still have never read an e-book. Libraries are also said to be losing their influence among children, but maybe video games at libraries can help. There’s also a plan in the works in Texas for a bookless, all-digital library.

8. The Wii U is bringing in more revenue than the original Wii did in early sales, but that’s only because it costs more. Nintendo’s president says sales of the Wii U are “not bad,” given the competitive landscape, and Nintendo is merging its console and handheld divisions to better deal with that landscape. Xbox 360 has finished its second year as the best-selling console, and Microsoft says that the next Xbox system will fill your living room with images to immerse you in games. And we can now say goodbye to the dominant console of the past, the Playstation 2, which will no longer be made.

9. Pingdom offers a slew of stats on how we used the internet around the world in 2012, from search to mobile to email, while Mashable has an infographic specifically on social media use in 2012. The FCC is looking to expand Wi-Fi spectrum space so we can do even more online in 2013, like look at video ads.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Anger Management Returns, CNN-SI Change, OWN Hopes, Double Your FX, TCA & Twitter, The Killing Will Return, Dish & CBS Battle Ropes in CNET, Corrie Coming to Hulu, Five-0 Ending, Time-Shifted Viewing, Soap Revivals, Video Sharing Passed, Netflix & Ratings, Al Jazeera America, PBS at TCA, The CW at TCA, CBS & Showtime at TCA, Arrested Development at TCA, ABC at TCA, FX at TCA, Fox at TCA, NBC at TCA.


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What Are You Missing? Feb 12-March 3 Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:08:12 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. There have been a flood of articles the past few weeks about how the conversion to digital projection threatens the future of small, independent theaters, historic movie houses, and drive-ins, and it’s been most interesting to see the local news stories about how individual theaters will cope and what the loss of a theater might mean to a local community, in an era when it’s already tough to get people out to theaters.

2. Because I skipped a week here, this is old news by this point, but still worth making sure you saw it: Joe Biden helped to negotiate a new deal with China that will allow more Hollywood films into the country, and even independent filmmakers got some bonuses from it. And you know what, I didn’t think I was going to get a Lionsgate reference in this time, but while googling for more info on the China deal, I saw that Lionsgate has signed a video-on-demand deal in China. Thanks to Lionsgate, the Chinese will get to see Dirty Dancing whenever they want!

3. Hollywood foreclosures are up, a consequence of new technologies, says Greg Sandoval, and there could be even more empty homes in LA in coming days as new laws requiring condoms are prompting the porn industry to threaten leaving the area, plus porn stars in particular are struggling financially.

4. Netflix has resurrected the Qwikster idea again, offering a DVD-only monthly plan, but unfortunately we don’t get to laugh at the dumb name this time around, as it doesn’t have any special name. Peter Kafka still sees this as Netflix not really caring about DVDs; indeed, CEO Reed Hastings keeps saying streaming is the end goal. Meanwhile, Blockbuster stores are just about at their end, period.

5. While Netflix is all about streaming, Warner Bros. is looking more to the cloud and to downloadable content. Wal-Mart is looking to help out the UltraViolet system with in-store instruction. And Facebook is looking to start a trend of social cinema by hosting movies on its site.

6. Spotify is still struggling to convince some musicians that their service is financially advantageous for artists, but music label chiefs are starting to be won over. Google Music isn’t working out as hoped yet, though, and we’re still waiting to see what Apple might offer in a streaming service within the current online music landscape.

7. Video game retail sales dropped significantly in January compared to last year, while social gaming from companies like Zynga, now trying to separate itself from Facebook, is more promising, and kids love the iPad for games.

8. A few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of Pinterest. Now I could fill a whole WAYM post with links to Pinterest articles alone. Of course, I probably don’t need to include them in WAYM because you’ve heard of nothing but Pinterest lately, but here are a few just in case you’ve somehow missed out on the Pinterest frenzy: Pinterest’s traffic has been huge and user engagement figures are high, especially among women. The service mainly makes money from affiliate links, and there’s some question about how much users realize this (and if they would care). Pinterest has been a boon for small businesses, but it perhaps has a porn problem on the horizon.

9. If Pinterest is for women, apparently Google+ is for men. Not that many men, though, as  Google+ continues to languish, unused by most. But some say Google doesn’t care if you use Google+ regularly or not. The point is getting you just to sign up so Google can grab your biographical data.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: NBC Wins Sweeps (Sorta), Apple Being Tough, Aereo Streaming Service & Aereo Doomed & Aereo Sued, Fall Pilots & Pilot Analysis, Mad Men Marketing, DVR Use Stats, TV Everywhere,  GOP in HW, Doctor Who Fandom, Google’s TV Efforts, Decline of the Episode & More on Episodes, New Comcast Channels, Comcast Going After Netflix, BSkyB’s Internet TV Plan.




Accessing the Cinematic Cloud Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:07:11 +0000 The demise of Blockbuster Video has become a kind of shorthand for describing what might be called the end of the video store era. Video stores, we are told, can no longer compete with the many different forms of digital delivery, whether streaming videos or digital downloads. But as I informally survey my students, colleagues, and other avid consumers of movies, much less Hollywood trade publications, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about what comes next. Part of this challenge entails the difficulty of finding, accessing, and paying for movies on digital platforms. For this reason, I have been fascinated by some recent discussion in film industry blogs and trade publications that sought to compare the experience of paying for digital access to a movie to the early experience of using an ATM, a metaphor that seems to offer quite a bit of potential for describing how we will be buying and watching movies and television shows in the near future.

The ATM metaphor seems to originate with a comment made by Lori McPherson, the executive vice president of global product management for Walt Disney Studios, during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2012. In her discussion of how consumers might grasp the idea of cloud storage, McPherson remarked that “The exciting thing for content in the cloud is any consumer who has used an ATM machine should intuitively understand what it is now.” McPherson, of course, is arguing that our familiarity with interfaces that enable us to conduct transactions also allow us to grasp how accessing movies and TV shows online might work. We know that we can go to virtually any ATM and obtain cash and conduct many other basic transactions.

Screenwriter John August expanded on this metaphor in a blog post that, in many ways, helped me to rethink some of my own assumptions about digital delivery. As August points out, this early experimental stage of cloud distribution might be compared to the first generation of ATMs, which introduced a number of “bugs” that banks and software writers needed to work out. August points out that initially some ATMs would take your card while others wouldn’t, and some demanded longer PINs than others, initially making it difficult to adjust for some consumers. I would add that we should also consider the degree to which consumers had to be “taught” to accept the practice of conducting transactions without the presence of a banker. Users had to be assured that an ATM transaction was as “real” as one completed by a person, which is probably why so many ATM networks were anthropomorphized (my bank featured Tillie the Teller). The issues of cloud ownership continue to be perplexing for many consumers who want the tangibility of physical media. But eventually consumers adjusted as ATM interfaces became more standardized, and Tillie was retired (and her bank has been swallowed up twice by even bigger banks).

August raises some other interesting complications. First, is the fact that money is “fungible.” All $20 bills are essentially equivalent, but movies are not identical, and one network or delivery service may have the movie you want, while other services don’t. As digital catalogs remain incomplete, I think this will be an ongoing problem. The backlash against Netflix over the last year has been due in large part because their streaming catalog features only a limited portion of our cinematic history and excludes most new releases. August describes this term as an industry need for differentiation. Each piece of hardware (or interface) needs to offer features that differentiate it from its competitors.

August goes on to argue that the ATM metaphor can help us to understand the ongoing struggle between the consumer’s desire for standardization and the industry’s need for differentiation and uses this conflict to illustrate why some early forms of digital delivery, including UltraViolet, seem likely to fail. As August implies, the confusion about digital copies leads consumers to feel uncertain about digital lockers and other unstable platforms like UltraViolet. These points all seem relevant to me, but I think that August’s exploration of the ATM metaphor could be taken even further, especially in light of some of the current complaints about banking. First, it’s not quite true that our ATM cards work “anywhere.” When my family was traveling abroad, some of our ATM cards didn’t work in Spain, forcing us to use others. Although there may have been other factors at play, it’s worth considering whether and how geography will matter in these new forms of cloud storage and distribution. More crucially, banks charge fees if you go outside of your “network” and, in at least one instance, sought to charge users a monthly fee just for using a debit card. Once we have paid for movies that are on the cloud, how will ownership of those movies be defined? Finally, what sorts of information are we providing to the media industries when we make these online rentals and purchases?

Mark Andrejevic’s recent Antenna post, in which he discusses the new regimes of privacy in the era of digital delivery, answers at least some of these questions. As Andrejevic points out, companies are allowed to collect vast amounts of data on these online purchases, and our digital trails–through tweets, Facebook updates, Netflix reviews, and purchases–often mean that consumers are doing much of the work of data compilation for these companies, practices that August associates with the term “targeted messaging.” Andrejevic acknowledges that users are, for the most part, voluntarily sacrificing their privacy.

The digital multiplex opens up any number of possibilities for distribution and storage models. As John Calkins of Sony observes, these delvery systems may provide a new home for special features and interactive media. But I think we are well served by thinking about the intersections between digital delivery of movies and ATMs, about the fantasies of personalization, convenience, and ubiquitous access, as well as the real costs of these new delivery models.


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What Are You Missing? Nov 13-26 Sun, 27 Nov 2011 16:40:14 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. AOL has had a year of turmoil, so it’s an interesting time for the company to try and resurrect AIM, which I had forgotten existed. I bet if Jeff Bezos backed it, it would work. In other corporate news, the AT&T/T-Mobile deal is looking doomed, leaving AT&T scrambling for last-ditch strategies; Yelp has filed for a big IPO; and Walmart blew its Black Friday sales online.

2. Brad Jordan says Google+ isn’t trying to directly compete with Facebook, but Google does appear to be making Twitter a target for both social media and news functions. Twitter has more than just that to worry about, as rumors swirl that its office operations are a mess.

3. The online on-demand scene in the UK is heating up: Netflix has signed deals with Lionsgate and Miramax for its 2012 UK launch, while the CEO of competitor FilmFlex says his services are ready for the competition, with a FilmFlex & HMV on-demand partnership and LoveFilm touting a Warner Bros. deal and already beating Netflix at Googling. FilmFlex’s corporate co-owner Sony is also rolling out a PS3 download service in the UK.

4. A new report says 35mm film will be dead by 2015, and A.O. Scott assesses the feeling of loss that’s resulting. Other recent changes to long-standing Hollywood institutions include Universal redesigning its logo to mark its 100th birthday and Sony saying goodbye to James L. Brooks. One thing that never changes in Hollywood? That movies sexualize women.

5. Good film news in places we don’t often hear good film news from: an arthouse theater in Sarajevo is thriving; Erbil, Iraq, which went decades without a functioning movie theater, is now hosting a British film festival; and a Ugandan filmmaker won a prestigious grant to finance a Bicycle Thieves-inspired feature.

6. The Tribune Co. bankruptcy case continues to drag on and seems likely to set precedents for shareholder protections and making people angry about ex-CEO payouts. The company is also struggling with falling revenues, and the Chicago Tribune is boosting home delivery rates as much as three-fold to stay afloat. Some worry Tina Brown is pushing Newsweek toward such doom.

7. Compact discs are dying, and FM alternative rock radio is reportedly declining, which is especially unfortunate because radio is still a dominant source for music discovery. Record labels appear to be holding on to the old ways, as a big chunk of them just pulled out of Spotify, which seems to fly in the face of surveys finding that people will pirate if they can’t easily access what they want.

8. Seems like there’s a war of some sort in each post these days, and this time around it’s music cloud wars, with the arrival of iTunes Match. Google Music has started slow, but could end up being a godsend for independent musicians with its indie hub. Meanwhile, Grooveshark seems likely to end up out of the war.

9. Skyrim is selling well, showing that single-player games still have promise, but more importantly, it has also shown that parody site Christwire has still got it, with its post that Skyrim is teaching its players “homo erotic sex maneuvers.”

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: Ratings FAQ, Soap Deals Dead, Value of Black Females, Too Ambitious Series, Online Viewing Study, Daytime Still Viable, Whitney’s Shows, The New Boring, Arrested Development Deal, State of Sony, VOD Ad Loads, TCM for TV, NBC’s Midseason.


What Are You Missing? Sept 11-24 Sat, 01 Oct 2011 14:24:11 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. With bookstores dying, chains and independents alike, many have great expectations for digitization. Thankfully, libraries might still matter in such a world, as indicated by Amazon making Kindle books available to libraries, even allowing you to make saveable margin notes and highlights. Amazon also has a Netflix-style e-book rental service in the works.

2. Amazon was also in the news for awful warehouse conditions, its Appstore quietly going international, and being targeted by new Internet retailer tax legislation in California. Cloud computing services are about to make the latter even more complicated. Also likely to get even more complicated is the Net Neutrality issue, which might see new rules go into effect on November 20, but those will likely be challenged in court. Meanwhile, we can all look at this cool infographic and lament that Eastern Europe and a lot of other countries are leaving the US in the dust when it comes to internet speeds.

3. You’ve heard all about Netflix’s rough times lately, but you may not have seen this handy chart of the company’s diving stock value or heard about its headquarters lawsuit. A possible future threat looms in the form of the studio-backed cloud service UltraViolet, which Wal-Mart might get on board with, while the indie world is watching SnagFilms and Prescreen with interest.

4. Oscar season might have more serious dramas in the mix, thanks especially to Sony, and it will also have some new publicity party rules, though those might mean nothing in the end. Serious drama of the non-fictional sort continues to play out in Iran, where the co-director of Jafar Panhi’s This is Not a Film has been arrested. The British apparently prefer serious drama on screen to real life, as a BFI report found that the British public considers cinema to be more worthy of their attention than world news.

5. DreamWorks might expand production into China, while Paramount is expanding in its own back yard. Stephen Spielberg regrets expanding digital effects for an earlier release of E.T. and says he won’t do it again, but you can plan to see (or not see) an expansive version of Top Gun in 3D, while James Cameron doesn’t think just anybody should be able to make films in 3D.

6. Nielsen released a comprehensive report on social media use, including a person-shaped infographic; with a mere silhouette stance, it clearly signifies hipster. (Bonus international social media use infographic!) It was only a little over five years that us hipsters started using Twitter, though it was called Twttr then (slogan: “If you have a cell and you can txt, you’ll never be bored again…E V E R!”). And now any hipster who wants to can join Google+; nearly 50 million already have (though according to my feed, only about five are regularly posting).

7. In Japan, the Tokyo Game Show was packed, but the Microsoft Kinect booth wasn’t. In the US, video game makers are enjoying big tax breaks, and GameFly professes not to be worried by Netflix’s move into video game distribution. And online, YouTube is a frequent destination for gamers, and online gamers might help to cure AIDS.

8. Spotify is now open for business to all Americans, but it’s also dealing with significant dissension and defection from indie labels over low royalty payments. Spotify argues it’s being fair, and you can compare for yourself via this handy primer on how much money a band earns from various outlets. The streaming competition is about to get even thicker; unfortunately, users seem to prefer ownership to streaming.

9. This headline deserves its own entry: “Actually, there really isn’t that much porn on the internet.”

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors (@N4TVM) post from the past two weeks: Lost History, Facebook and Social TV, Making the Daily Show, Blockbuster Streaming, Farewell to AMC, Louis on Louie, The V-Word, CBS Likes Reverse Comp, Top Chef Transmedia, Downton Breaks, Netflix & Qwikster, TV Changers, SpongeBob’s Effects, TV Everywhere Campaign


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What Are You Missing? Aug 28-Sept 10 Sun, 11 Sep 2011 15:17:32 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The NY Times says Hollywood’s summer was bad; the LA Times says Hollywood’s summer was strong. Resolving this East Coast-West Coast feud is David Poland, who rips the NY Times for ridiculous spin. The Midwest’s Kristin Thompson argues that 3D had a rough summer, but drive-ins are still somehow holding on, plus now so-called microcinemas are coming on strong.

2. Lionsgate is finally free of its stalker, Carl Icahn, but who knows where it goes next. The Wrap analyzes where Revolution Studios went, and more European producers are increasingly saying they don’t need Hollywood to get where they want to go, yet many are going to Toronto rather than Venice in order to get American attention. Venice was good enough for the graphic Shame (full frontal Michael Fassbender!) to grab American attention: it’s been picked up by Fox Searchlight. (And Fassbender won the top acting award for his, um, performance.)

3. Wal-Mart claims it’s happy to work in tandem with Netflix, not against it, with its Vudu video service, but it earned a strategic victory in defeat from a lawsuit. Netflix might have to step up its lobbying spending even more to keep its edge, and it’s also seeing what it can do in Latin America, taking on another piracy hotbed. The Weinstein Co. is now embarking on a video-on-demand effort, and Kevin Smith’s Red State-on-demand experiment continues and will be augmented by a one-night simulcast theatrical screening.

4. Music sales in 2011 are up thanks to digital sales, and Hypebot’s Natalie Cheng says even stores that sell physical music media are reflecting the impact of digital. The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (yes, that’s NARM, Nate Fisher fans) is fighting to find its place in the digital/cloud world. Justin Timberlake is fighting to give MySpace a place in the future of music, and Facebook may get involved in the music game soon too, while it was clarified this week that the iTunes Match cloud service will not offer streaming.

5. Bitmob’s Rus McLaughlin says digital distribution is the new console war, though that doesn’t mean the console wars are over, as we might see a new Playstation by 2013. Business Insider gets us chartastically up to speed on the state of the video game business, while another Bitmob writer laments how much gaming costs the consumer these days. He might be interested in the new WiFi-free PSP being developed for budget-strapped youth.

6. Apple fought Flash and apparently has won, but the iPhone is still fighting to catch up to Android for the biggest share among the 40% of mobile phone users who have smartphones (and here I thought I was the only one whose phone only makes phone calls). Apple’s also fighting against Samsung all over the world and against counterfeits all over China, where a fake Viagra expert could come in handy. And Apple’s opening real stores in Hong Kong and London; the latter will literally block the sun.

7. Craziness at AOL this week. Craziness at Yahoo this week. Hey, maybe AOL and Yahoo should get together! Bad idea? Or not even an idea?

8. Google just turned 13 years old, and the company started its teen years by buying a shiny new company, Zagat. This could add to Yelp’s and Groupon’s already existing troubles plus raise concerns about search neutrality.  Google is also ridding itself of some excess baggage in shutting down a group of products. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a significant website redesign that seems to emphasize digital goods over physical products, and the company cut a deal with California on sales taxes.

9. Tumblr has reached 10 billion posts, Twitter has 100 million active users and just had an $800 million funding round, Facebook is on track for a $3 billion year (if not quite the year originally projected), and Google+ is well short of millions and billions of anything.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors (@N4TVM) post from the past two weeks: Men in Crisis, Sorkin & HBO, Decline of Female Writers, Soap Oral History, NFL Overexposure, Reality TV Lives, Nielsen Numbers, Soap Stars Sign, TV Cloud, BitTorrent TV, Global Streaming Increases, Starz Leaves Netflix, Warner as TV Factory, DMA Rankings, State of AMC, British Sitcom Appeal, AMC Talk, Arts Losses, Google & TV, Hulu’s Performance.


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What Are You Missing? August 14-27 Sun, 28 Aug 2011 14:31:50 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Remember how I said in every spring post that Spotify was coming to the US and it never came? Well, wouldn’t you know it, while WAYM was away, Spotify finally draped itself in the Stars and Stripes! Not surprisingly, Spotify has started out strong, is on track for its very first profit, and could pose a threat to iTunes. Meanwhile, Pandora says Spotify’s launch hasn’t affected its service, which despite posting losses is growing in revenue, and Pandora’s ad rate potential is even getting into traditional radio territory.

2. Lots of lawsuit and negotiation news in the music biz lately, including a Village People singer suing for copyright credit, artists like Bruce Springsteen getting a shot at reclaiming ownership of recordings from labels, music publishers dropping a suit against YouTube, and AFTRA working on a new contract with labels. The most potentially impactful case for the future of music services came down last week, when a judge ruled in favor of EMI and against the online service MP3tunes but at the same time affirmed the legal foundation for music locker services like the ones Google and Amazon are fostering. The judge decided these services don’t violate copyrights, but Peter Kafka says this mainly keeps the status quo for consumers. If you want to see status that is not quo, check out this pie chart animation of recording industry revenue from 1980 to 2010.

3. Another big event WAYM missed on hiatus was the new Netflix plans, and despite a lot of grumbling from consumers, James McQuivey says Netflix is still doing fine. Additional developments at Netflix include a kids’ section, rumors of a VOD rental option, and future expansion into Britain and Spain, a country which others have stayed out of because of struggles with piracy. We know DVD sales are plunging, but digital downloads and rentals aren’t doing so hot either. Amazon is touting new digital movie deals, but Wal-Mart’s Vudu has zipped past it in market share, and Miramax is trying out Facebook, which is now ranked third as an online video destination.

4. The lineup for the Toronto Film Festival, which runs from Sept 8-18, has been released, and indieWire highlights some of the surprises among films that won’t be there. This summer’s specialty hits included Midnight in Paris and Senna, while The Worst Movie EVER! turned out to have the most prescient title ever, at least box office-wise. Unfortunately the economy doesn’t bode well for indie filmmakers, so the Weinsteins are looking to Broadway to make more money, and you can check record stores (if they still exist in your area) to find David Lynch.

5. A Disney executive admitted that studios don’t care at all about story when it comes to tentpole films, which makes it extra hilarious that Disney’s Lone Ranger reboot with Johnny Depp has been shut down because of a sky-rocketing budget. Same deal with Universal’s Ouija Board film. Just a thought: Maybe shooting for a good story would be cheaper. If those projects get cranked back up again, the writers might want to consult Sean Hood’s essay about what it feels like to have your film flop at the box office. And apparently the Chinese don’t care about story either, because Hollywood is really making a push into that market.

6. According to Nielsen stats, older people are increasingly using tablets and eReaders. That has to be good news for Reader’s Digest, which is now on the iPad. It’d be great if the olds would read digital comics too, which are now available via a digital storefront initiative. While some fear that the book’s days are numbered, Paul Carr argues that eBooks are helping to make this a Golden Era of books, and he also doesn’t see books suffering from piracy issues. eBooks may suffer from over-pricing issues, though, as a class-action lawsuit against Apple claims. But if you want to over-pay for good old-fashioned magazines, there are plenty still on shelves.

7. Big computing news in HP dropping out of the tablet business, which led to a TouchPad fire sale. Plus HP might spin off its PC business, which Erica Ogg sees as a sign we’re at the end of the PC era, and others see as a sign that HP is a poorly-run company. Most companies involved in mobile device manufacturing are busy suing each other over patents, while mobile phone users are busy texting and picture-taking, and nearly a third of young adults are busy pretending to have phone conversations so as to avoid talking to nearby humans.

8. Google+ is the new social media service on the scene, which Facebook claims not be worried about, especially since it saw record traffic in July. Some say Facebook really should be worried, as it’s in danger of losing even more rich suburban parents. At least it’s got the millionaires over Twitter, and the celebrities still haven’t found Google+ yet, but all social media still has about 50% of America yet to get on board for anything. Just don’t ask all of Germany to get on board with the “Like” button.

9. Video game sales were way down this summer, with July bringing the lowest sales numbers in nearly five years. Sales are about to get even worse at GameStop, which has angered some consumers by yanking a coupon from sealed game boxes after determining it favored a competitor. And a planned videogame museum is on the ropes. At least Xbox Live seems to be doing well, and Angry Birds is headed for 1 billion downloads and even better gameplay.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors (@N4TVM) links from the past two weeks: Louie’s Magic, RIP iTunes TV Rentals, Summer Viewing Up, TV Ad Problems, British Timeshifting, Fox Defending Wall, TWC Uses Slingbox, Shorter Seasons, Doctrine Gone, State of Network TV, Future Trends, Real Housewives Tragedy, Google Buys Motorola Mobility, Breaking Bad Renewed/Ending.


What Are You Missing? May 1-14 Sun, 15 May 2011 14:15:27 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently, plus a programming note:

1. Warner Bros. now owns Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, which might raise questions of bias for RT, but MPAA head Chris Dodd is more focused on Hollywood positively promoting itself, rather than individual films. This piece about Hollywood’s white people-heavy summer releases won’t help out with that, but maybe this one about Hollywood actually caring about the olds will. Other moves for Hollywood include searching Europe for remake possibilities and fighting to release more films in China. (Bonus item: Remember a few months ago when I joked about how the MPAA ratings board would explode if they had to rate A Serbian Film? From A.O. Scott’s review of the film: “A Serbian Film” is rated NC-17. The best part of this movie may be that members of the M.P.A.A. ratings board had to sit through it.”)

2. The Cannes Film Festival began Wednesday. Indiewire has a preview of what we’ll be missing, and Peter Bradshaw highlights ten notable Cannes films, including Mel Gibson’s The Beaver, which opened with a deadly thud here. Scott Roxborough says this year’s festival is about big stars and edgy auteurs, while Sharon Waxman notes that women directors are making their mark. Cannes will also feature a film by jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who will be further honored in absentia with an award for courage and independence of thought.

3. The entry on ancillary film distribution always seems to start with bad news about DVDs; so why fix what isn’t broken? DVD revenue dropped 44% last year, so far in 2011 DVD and Blu-Ray sales are off 19% from last year, and Brent Lang doubts that 28-day rental delays will boost sales. On the bright side, um…aaanyway. YouTube is moving forth with its movie rental plan, which poses a marketing challenge, while Netflix is looking to expand into Latin America.

4. Microsoft bought Skype. Some analysts believe Microsoft dramatically overpaid for this acquisition and that the company’s main goal was just to keep Skype away from Facebook. Others say Microsoft has real plans for Skype, expecting that it will boost Microsoft’s standing in the communications market, especially the mobile arena, it could tie in with Kinect, and it might be Microsoft’s gateway into the smart TV business. Or this could just end up as good news for Apple.

5. Three major music industry developments this fortnight: First, Access Industries bought Warner Music for $3.3 billion, which could also open the way for a merger with EMI, though that will be a highly competitive bidding process with regulatory issues. Second, Google has launched its cloud-based music service locker, without the support of record labels, which means it’s basically a remote hard drive for your own music, not a purchasing service, making it positive news for the future of cloud computing but keeping Google and Amazon well behind Apple. And third, dead piracy outlet LimeWire has settled with 13 music labels for $105 million in copyright damages (note: artists don’t get a cent of that), but during the trial, LimeWire’s lawyers tried to stress that label mismanagement and poor executive stewardship was ultimately at fault for the music industry’s troubles, not piracy.

6. A “Do not track” bill that allows consumers to opt out of online info tracking has been introduced in the Senate; media scholar Jeff Jarvis doesn’t think such a bill is necessary, while Google and Facebook argue that such bills can be economically threatening. Amazon is using the economic threat of sales tax imposition to cut ties with more states, and another online business regulation story to keep an eye on is the internet censorship bill. (Random extra that might make you feel old: “All your base has belonged to us” is ten years old.)

7. If you follow any British people on Twitter, you likely saw a #superinjunction tweet or two over the past few weeks. It’s part of a right juicy scandal, as only the Brits can do best, involving sex, celebrities, footballers, gossip, privacy, and gag orders, all writ even larger thanks to social media, especially Twitter, which saw its best UK day ever last week thanks to the circulation of rumors and jokes. Twitter itself is trying to stay out of it and UK gag laws might not even apply to the US company. (Hmm, I wonder if they’d apply to WAYM.)

8. Busy days for Facebook, from internal arguments over prospects in China, to more Congressional questioning over Facebook’s security and privacy issues, to consumer advocate concerns over photo-tagging of brands, to a little matter of Facebook losing face after getting caught conducting a surreptitious smear campaign against Google and trying to evade accountability for it, though some say that the point Facebook was trying to get across about Google’s privacy issues is at least a valid one (you can find an extensive discussion of those issues here).

9. A few items this fortnight showcase major challenges faced by news media outlets: Google lost a precedent-setting appeal in Brussels over links to Belgian newspapers, Facebook is closing in on Google’s news traffic driver dominance, debates about unpaid online contributors and how we judge journalistic value continue to rage, the New York Times website is at a break-even point post-paywall, and a new New Yorker iPad app may represent the beginning of the end of print. Finally, the 2011 National Magazine Award Winners have been announced, and I plan to read the winning articles online, with Instapaper allowing me to save them to read later. Sorry, paper.

10. Some good News for TV Majors links from the past two weeks: BBC Airs Death, Kutcher New Man, Illegal Streaming, NBC Cancellation & Pickup News, Social Media Power, Commissioner to Comcast, Daytime Emmy Noms, Fox Cancellations, Boston Cable, Vast Wasteland Revisited, Showtime Viewer Research, OWN Shake-Up, Bounce Secures Markets, Netflix & Cable, Emmys Deal, TV Households Drop, USA’s Off-Net Impact, Osama bin Laden Coverage.

*Programming note: The bad news is that this is the last WAYM post perhaps until summer’s over. The good news is that WAYM is going on hiatus so I can focus on something else: I’ll be heading across the ocean this week to teach a six-week study abroad course in London focusing on contemporary British TV. I plan to file “Report From…” Antenna posts on Sundays (as long as climate change doesn’t kill the UK’s wifi first) that cover my new experiences with watching and teaching British television. I’m also working on a new research project comparing and contrasting British and US industry practices and programming, so I hope to kick around a few preliminary ideas in these posts, and I especially hope that numerous British and Anglophile Antenna readers offer their thoughts and answers to the (occasionally dumb) questions I’ll raise. So until next Sunday, cheerio! (The British probably don’t really say that, do they, it’s probably just something I’ve seen on TV, right?)


What Are You Missing? April 17-30 Sun, 01 May 2011 13:22:33 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Facebook’s Like button is a year old, and while a Dislike button apparently won’t be coming around, you can look for Send and also Deals. Facebook content you used to see might not be there anymore due to bogus DCMA claims (and possibly homophobia). Don’t bother looking for your old Friendster content, because after May 31 it’s gone forever. And there are scary rumors that Twitter will make TweetDeck go away forever (please don’t take my TweetDeck away!).

2. Amazon’s cloud went poof last week (but is fixed now), and apparently we can all learn a lot from this. But some might be scared away from cloud services because of it, especially once they hear that some data lost during the outage may not be recoverable. In other weboopsies, Gawker’s redesign fail shows how mistakes can kill traffic, and the new owners of Delicious hope to rectify the old owners’ mistakes.

3. According to a Freedom House report, as more people across the globe use the internet, more governments are clamping down on internet freedom, none worse so than Iran (sorry Burma, you came up just short), which has inspired Anonymous to strike. The US is the Wild West by comparison (only Estonia ranks as freer in the report), though broadband caps are arriving this week, while within the European Union, net neutrality legislation has been nixed.

4. Netflix is really rolling, yet it isn’t standing pat, as the company plans more original programs, family plans with separate profiles, and international launches. It can also count on rising content costs, plus many new competitors, as Wal-Mart, YouTube, Dish, and perhaps even Spotify (coming to America soon!) plan Netflix alternatives.

5. Though consumers are still clinging to DVDs in significant number, they’re simply not embracing Blu-ray, and Netflix sounds pretty happy to dump discs altogether whenever we’re ready (right as competitors might find shipping them to be cheaper). Search engine stats from Google show that users seek out Netflix info far more than DVD info, and Netflix Instant may be putting a crimp in illicit file sharing activities too. Meanwhile, China is shredding DVDs, though just as a piracy PR stunt.

6. The RIAA music shipment figures for 2010 are in, and both physical and mobile units plunged relative to 2009. But there was at least some nice sales news for independents and vinyl in the form of Record Store Day, plus people are still interested in investing in the music biz, and iTunes continues to post impressive sales figures. Amazon is trying to better compete with iTunes by lowering download prices, but Apple’s already looking to move on to cloud streaming and has the edge over Amazon there too due to label deals, such as with Warner Music.

7. You surely heard about the Sony PlayStation Network debacle (which will start to be resolved this week), but you may not have heard that with Wii console sales way down, Nintendo will unveil Wii’s successor at E3 in June, with retail release schedule for 2012. Also in June, Redbox will launch game rentals. Finally, the video game industry does better than anyone else at keeping minors from buying mature content, though it seems that a young gamer’s best odds are at Wal-Mart. (Not that I encourage the underaged to buy mature content. Just passing out news here, folks.)

8. The premium video-on-demand experiment has begun on DirecTV with Adam Sandler’s Just Go With It, and now Comcast wants in on the action, but it might be tough to determine how many consumers actually demand anything in the end. One thing we can all agree on is that there’s much disagreement over how this will affect the industry. In addition to theater owners, many directors and producers are against premium VOD, fearing the death of theatrical exhibition and much lost revenue. Meanwhile, new MPAA head Chris Dodd is just speaking vaguely about building bridges.

9. Some tough indie film news, as a drop in foreign pre-sales hurts, and the future of specialty theater chain Landmark Theaters is in question, with Mark Cuban putting it up for sale. But Harvey Weinstein at least foresees a very profitable 2011, other indie producers and distributors insist that smart choices and a solid libraries will carry the independent film business along, and streaming sites Fandor and Snagfilms believe that Netflix’s focus on television content boosts their fortunes for reaching indie film audiences.

10. Some good News for TV Majors links from the past two weeks: Royal Wedding Coverage & Wedding Ratings, Time Warner & Netflix, Geordie Shore, Spectrum Plan Illegal, Favorite Channels, Couric Officially Out, Bafta Awards, Upfronts Optimism, OVD Category, BBC Cuts, Who’s Back, Lucy Writer Dies, Dish TiVo Ruling, An American Family, ABC Boycott.


What Are You Missing? Mar 20-April 2 Sun, 03 Apr 2011 14:00:14 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Music recommendation engines have mostly flopped with users, and Google has pulled its music search feature to tinker with it. In the meantime, perhaps Google’s new +1 button will help with music searching and recommending, while the music industry itself is freaking out about Amazon’s cloud service, as labels are mad that Amazon hasn’t secured licensing rights for this use (some of the same issues that have kept Spotify from coming to the US), and Apple and Google are keeping an eye on this for their own future cloud plans. A bonus for Canadian readers: Canada beat the US again in digital music growth! 01 Canada!

2. Blockbuster is shuttering more than 150 stores as it awaits auction this week, with Carl Icahn and Dish Network as possible buyers. Netflix is probably chuckling at that, as its shares went up and it nears a big deal to stream Miramax films. And while Netflix is concerned about data caps in Canada, enough to reduce streaming video quality there, it maybe doesn’t have to worry about the Amazon cloud service, nor are movie studios as perturbed as music labels are by Amazon’s cloud (yet).

3. The role of film festivals and arthouse cinemas is changing as online distribution grows in prominence. Also likely to grow is online movie ticket purchasing through services like Groupon; some wonder if differential ticket pricing would help grow theater attendance; and, as our waistlines continue to grow, at least we won’t have to be reminded of the calories we’re consuming in movie theater popcorn, thanks to an FDA ruling. But the biggest challenge theater owners have now is premium video-on-demand rentals, whose imminent launching angers the National Association of Theater Owners. The underlying message from studios to theater owners at the recent CinemaCon was basically “Quit yer bitchin’ and get with the digital program,” which is sure to go over well.

4. The Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers struck a contract deal, no strike needed, even though it doesn’t offer everything the WGA wanted (note: Variety paywalled article), and some members, who still have to vote on it, think it’s a bad deal (note: NSFW Kurt Sutter tweet). Meanwhile, Michigan has decided its film production tax credits are a bad deal, and filmmakers are fleeing as a result, while Georgia decided to keep theirs.

5. Nielsen has studied the placement of gaming consoles in the home, determining that the Wii rules the living room, while the Xbox dominates in the kids’ bedroom. In terms of games, Guitar Hero 3 tops a list of best-selling games from this generation, and The Weinstein Company hopes to make future lists with video game versions of some of its library titles, mostly horror films like Scream.

6. Burma has banned Skype, while China’s censorship of electronic communication continues to tighten, and Google is especially in its crosshairs. Google is funding development of technologies to detect such censorship, and the US government has given the BBC World Service money to help combat it. But lest we think censorship is only a problem elsewhere, we should take note that the ACLU is fighting to stop schools from blocking LGBT websites.

7. File-sharing music piracy in the US has declined, with 9% of internet users now using P2P services to download. Some point to the shutdown of Limewire as a direct catalyst for the decline; others disagree. Either way, a London School of Economics study claims that file-sharing isn’t responsible for the record industry’s collapse. From the film perspective, new MPAA head Chris Dodd sees things differently, saying that piracy is the single biggest threat to the survival of the movie industry, as DVD piracy in places like China is running wild. So the solution, I guess, is to demand IP addresses of individual downloaders and to totally get that one guy who uploaded Wolverine. Take that, China!

8. David Carr insists we need to recognize Google as a media company, and it’s certainly made the WAYM links a lot lately. Here’s more: Google has picked Kansas City as its fiber network test market, gotten probation for the bad Buzz, been accused of antitrust violations by Microsoft, and added the +1 button; Google Street View has been deemed legal in Germany and got fined in France; and Google Books lost a key court case, which further delays the dream of a universal digital library.

9. Some random internet bits: AOL is consolidating content sites, Dropbox is making money, Groupon is getting sued, Reddit is creeping us out, Firefox 4 is being downloaded a lot, LinkedIn has reached 100 million, and PayPal has new competition, plus check where your state ranks in internet access speed.

10. Some good News for TV Majors links from the past two weeks: Mad Men Agreement, TWC Fight & TWC Pulls Channels, Peabody Awards, Viewing By Race, Profanity Appeals Pause, Internet TV Standards, New Football PlaysStarz Delay for Netflix, Showtime Pulling From Netflix, Mogul Salaries, BBC Cuts.


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