DVDs – Antenna http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 What Are You Missing? January 6-19 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/01/20/what-are-you-missing-january-6-19/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/01/20/what-are-you-missing-january-6-19/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:27:41 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=17414 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? April 1-14 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/04/15/what-are-you-missing-april-1-14/ Sun, 15 Apr 2012 13:42:04 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12676 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. EA was voted the worst company in America — even worse than Bank of America! — as gamers perceive it to be greedy — even greedier than Bank of America! This could be Mass Effect ending fallout, or much more than that, and EA is also on the defensive regarding its inclusion of LGBT content in games. The dreaded Family Research Council is partly behind this (actual quote from the group’s leader: “In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!”) But some are accusing EA of exploiting this as a smokescreen to distract from its genuine worst company tactics. I bet Bank of America is happy it merely deals in our money and not our games.

2. Peter Knegt catches us up on how the specialty film box office has done so far this year — in short: not bad, not great — and there’s good news in a new indie film distributor joining the ranks called Adopt Films. Adopt foresees revenue ahead in video-on-demand, and those options have just expanded for indies via SnagFilms and Sundance. One just hopes VOD doesn’t help indie films online at the expense of local theaters.

3. Dreamworks has hit a rough patch, with Jeffrey Katzenberg losing money, layoffs to 10% of its staff and the resignation of the head of physical production, and the studio hopes a new financing deal with Reliance Entertainment and fewer films under production will make for a smoother road head.

4. DVD rental stores are dying, as we say goodbye to icons like Reel Life South in Brooklyn, while employees at Netflix get to take vacations whenever they want. Netflix has offered info on how its recommendation system works and also revealed it never bothered to use the algorithm it paid $1 million in a contest for because it doesn’t really need it, especially in the shift from DVDs to streaming. Poor DVDs.

5. YouTube is becoming a bigger player in online video thanks to a deal with Paramount and a pay-per-view option for live streaming, but Will Richmond questions its future as an online movie rental service. Many are questioning UltraViolet’s future, as it may be too late to tame Apple. Meanwhile, Amazon has resorted to juking stats to inflate its streaming reputation.

6. In an era when magazines are struggling and even the mighty NFL could keep one afloat for only four issues, it’s interesting to see 52 new magazines start up in the first quarter of this year. A new digital newsstand app could make for a healthy future for magazines on tablets, and newspapers are also getting excited about the tablet revenue model, but there’s still a huge gap between print and digital revenue to make up first. One also wonders how USA Today will slip its adaptive mobile app under hotel room doors.

7. 20% of Americans are curling up with e-books, and as many as 67% of libraries are lending them out, yet we’ve reached a state of uncertainty with the Apple pricing lawsuit. There are also concerns about how Google is treating independent bookstores with its decision to prevent them from selling Google e-books through their websites, and DRM technology isn’t helping indies either, while many are still trying to figure out if Amazon is altruistically helping small presses or not.

8. Spotify is stalling in US subscriber growth, but Glenn Peoples says people are disappointed just because their expectations were unfairly high. Plus, despite $60 million in losses, Spotify is expected to rake in nearly a billion dollars this year. It’s also looking to spread its influence more widely by offering embed codes for users to put songs on blogs and Tumblrs.

9. At least 20% of American adults are not reading WAYM because they don’t use the internet at all. But 61% of US households do have Wifi, so they have no excuse not to be catching up on their media industry news here. If someone were to hack into WAYM, it seems they’d most likely come from China. And Antenna is in good company, because most of the best blogs are on WordPress.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Execs v. Audiences, More Sitcoms, Freaks & Geeks Walkthrough, Girls Coverage, Sympathy for Showrunners, 2011’s Biggest Moneymakers, Pay TV Costs, NEA Cuts Hurt PBS, Connected TVs, YouTube-Viacom Back On, Political Spending, Simon Criticizes Critics, Xbox Xfinity a Go, NBC’s Odd Ways, Peabody Awards.


What Are You Missing? March 18-31 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/04/01/what-are-you-missing-march-18-31/ Sun, 01 Apr 2012 14:48:33 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12565 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The MPAA’s 2011 Theatrical Market stats indicate that domestic movie theater attendance continues to decline and not even 3D is helping anymore. Only international attendance offers good news for studios. Theaters are getting desperate, and some are answering some spectators’ stated desire to use social media during screenings, even the Alamo Drafthouse (approved screenings only). And live theater is getting into the act by setting aside “tweet seats.”

2. DVD rentals are plunging, and internet movie consumption is about to pass DVD consumption, which is a problem for the studios because they don’t make as much money online as from DVD yet. Studios insist people still want discs (though different ones for rental and sales), and even though Netflix seems to want DVD to die off, it has just bought the DVD.com domain (perhaps for Rickrolling purposes).

3. Digital magazines are flying off the shelves…er, screens, though digital circulation is still only 1% of total magazine circulation. Unfortunately, some are reporting that magazines look terrible on the new iPad, but people will seemingly keep buying anyway. In the e-book realm, sales are surging, especially among young readers.

4. The RIAA reports that subscription music services are starting to rake in revenue, even as Spotify, whose valuation is growing, extends its free US usage. Indie bands are turning ever more to advertising to bring in revenue, and indie beers are seeking out indie bands. But Weird Al Yankovic is going the old-fashioned route: suing a music label for underpayment.

5. The next Xbox could be a stripped down version, which is interesting in light of the fact that Xboxs are apparently used more now as entertainment centers than game consoles. In terms of mobile gaming, our mobility doesn’t go much further than our beds, which means millions are playing Angry Birds Space before bedtime.

6. Racist tweets can land you in jail, profane tweets can get you kicked out of school, Chinese tweets can let you say more (poor Spaniards), and promoted tweets can make people leave Twitter. But movie tweets can’t really tell us much of anything.

7. The internet economy now constitutes 4.7% of the US economy, and growing, but a judge ruled that unpaid Huffington Post bloggers don’t deserve a cut of any of that. Bots, Democrats, Santorum searches, and stupid AOL sites are clearly vital to the internet economy, though.

8. Nielsen stats and many mobile ad execs say the smartphone race now comes down to Android vs. Apple, with Apple coming on especially strong lately, while RIM (Blackberry) is struggling. We’re increasingly using our smartphones, tablets, and computers on airplanes, leading some to call for the FAA to review its gadget policies. Just don’t leave your phone in the seat back pocket, or you’ll be just another statistic among those who lose $30 billion worth of smartphones each year.

9. Google and Twitter are running into potential censorship issues in the UK in regard to privacy, while thousands of BitTorrent clients are having their identities revealed thanks to a suit against an illegal UK porn site brought by Ben Dover Productions (I couldn’t resist adding that detail) and other porn producers. In less dirty (if not sanitary) UK video news, Charlie’s family has now banked $500,000 from the viral popularity of Charlie biting his brother’s finger (though when you consider that it’s the most viewed amateur video on YouTube in the site’s history, that doesn’t sound like that much).

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Olbermann Out, News Corp Accused of Sabotage, CBC Cuts, Premium Channel Revenue, Dodgers Bill, Cable Ratings Drop, Xbox Update, FX’s Risks, End Recaps, Variety For Sale, Smash Will Return, Aereo Likely to Lose, Network News Adds Viewers, Nielsen Measuring TV & Online.


What Are You Missing? March 4-17 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/03/18/what-are-you-missing-march-4-17/ Sun, 18 Mar 2012 13:45:26 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12454 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The fight over the R rating given to the Weinstein Co.’s Bully is intensifying, and as many rally around the film, it’s looking like it will be released without a rating. Getting slightly less attention, as any non-shirtlessness story tied to Matthew McConaughey will, is the NC-17 rating given to Killer Joe for violence and sexuality. Meanwhile, Lionsgate UK (ding!) trimmed seven seconds from The Hunger Games to drop the restricted age limit from 15 to 12.

2. Iran cancelled a planned celebration of Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, with no indication why, but Farhadi still says he loves Iran and will never leave. Well, except maybe to make films, and he thought Paris looked like a good place for that. He might notice while he’s there how France has celebrated Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin.

3. The Guardian’s David Cox says Hollywood is courting older viewers now who don’t want special effects-laden blockbusters (ah, so that’s why John Carter bombed…or did it?). But theaters are still courting youth and their ever-present mobile phones, and Hollywood is offering any number of ways to watch movies on handheld devices, including wristwatches. (Somehow I don’t think a movie-viewing wristwatch is something I should get grandpa for his birthday this year.)

4. Wal-mart announced its “disc to digital” service for Ultraviolet, which could be make-or-break for UltraViolet, but Peter Kafka thinks it will be a tough sell given the various restrictions and inconveniences that come with it. But as a recent ruling against DVD-ripping technology Kaleidescape indicates, restrictions and inconveniences are the rule right now.

5. Nielsen stats say over half of US households have current gaming consoles in the home and gaming on mobile and tablet platforms is on the rise, and it looks like we’ll also have a new Xbox as an option by 2013. If we end up unhappy with our Xbox games, apparently we can sue the FTC over them, as gamers frustrated with the ending of Mass Effect 3 have done, though the game’s executive producer defends the ending and other perceived failings of the game.

6. More interesting stats courtesy of Nielsen: More women than men are blogging, and just over half of bloggers are parents with under-18 kids in the house. That might be related to why so many are impatient with slow-loading websites. But just imagine how tough it is to be a blogger in one of the Internet Enemies countries.

7. We’re not quite sure yet if tablets are hurting e-reader sales, and we’re not quite sure yet about how Kindle Singles are selling or how much money authors can make from them exactly, and we’re not quite sure yet if the Department of Justice has a case to make against publishers for colluding with Apple, and against Amazon, on e-books prices or even what e-books should cost. But we’re getting there.

8. A UK college student is being extradited to the US to face copyright infringement charges for hosting links to pirated media on his website. This is leading to a larger conversation in the UK over extradition laws, reaching all the way to the highest offices in each land.

9. Yahoo is suing Facebook over patents. Facebook says it’s disappointed and plans to fight back, though some expect Facebook to eventually settle or outright buy some of Yahoo’s patents.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Luck Cancelled, Community Ratings, 2011 Ad Revenue Down, BBC Downloads, CW Shortens Delay, Return of The Killing, Amazon-Discovery Deal, Viacom Blog, Aereo Countersues, Netflix Branding, Mad Men & Weiner, Pay-As-You-Go Service, Teens Watching More, New UK Channel, Netflix & Apple, Ownership Rule Countered, Death of Cable.


What Are You Missing? Feb 12-March 3 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/03/04/what-are-you-missing-feb-12-march-3/ Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:08:12 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12384 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.




What Are You Missing? Oct 30-Nov 12 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/11/13/what-are-you-missing-oct-30-nov-12/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/11/13/what-are-you-missing-oct-30-nov-12/#comments Sun, 13 Nov 2011 15:18:49 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=11310 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Raking in $1.6 billion in revenue this year, YouTube dominates as the top online video destination, with much of that audience coming from overseas. Given Disney’s global popularity, its new deal with YouTube might pay off richly then, especially if it can nab viewers via tablets, as a new study indicates that tablet viewing pays off more than desktop viewing of online video in terms of viewer engagement. Just imagine how engaged you’d be by a 52-inch tablet playing Maru videos.

2. Home video spending finally rose this summer for the first time since 2008, and the studios are looking to bolster it even more by considering a 60-day ban on DVD rentals, while Warner Bros. is hoping its Flixster service for the UltraViolet system will move digital product, with the new Harry Potter release as an early test (to mixed reviews thus far). Few in the indie film world seem to care when a movie is released on VOD and theatrically simultaneously, but Hollywood did care about Zediva’s remote DVD streaming service, and that’s accordingly been shut down.

3. Oscar made more changes than the ones you certainly heard about, including hiring a new talent producer and scrapping the ten nominee quota for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin has tossed its hat into the Best Animated Feature ring and is already playing overseas to big box office. Based on what Peter Knegt says, the upcoming Independent Spirit Award nominees (announced November 29) aren’t likely to also make the Oscar cut.

4. Alexander Payne finally has a new movie coming out next week after a seven-year absence from features, while the master of the long absence, Terrence Malick, is reportedly shooting two movies (!) back-to-back (!) next year. To ensure that studios can afford to make more movies without absences, Gavin Polone suggests that they should take some perks away from stars, but it appears that the logic of perk-removal is leading to an exodus of execs from Twentieth Century Fox.

5. The major studios are supportive of two Congressional bills to rewrite the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and record labels want to see the DMCA rewritten too, but technology groups and musicians are staunchly opposed to the proposed changes. But hey, I’m sure content providers are acting in good faith, right? Like Warner Bros., which admitted to demanding files be taken offline under DMCA rules without actually looking at what those files were, let alone knowing if it owned them (and one of them was actually a web comment, not a file: “A scraper apparently misidentified part of a web comment as an infringing URL, and no one at the studio noticed the mistake.” Ha! Oh, Warner Bros., silly studio.).

6. Reading tablet wars! Barnes & Noble is going after the Kindle with a new Nook, and Samsung is going after both of them with the updated Galaxy Tab, while Amazon is making the Kindle more attractive with the Lending Library, though major publishers aren’t on board. If publishers continue to drag their feet, it seems possible that self-publishing could come along to usurp them. The future might also bring e-textbooks and glowing screens.

7. The music industry just got smaller with Universal and Sony’s split purchase of EMI (Universal got the recording part, Sony the publishing part), though regulators still have to sign off. While Universal can celebrate that, it received bad news that a class action suit against them is moving forth; it accuses Universal of underpaying digital royalties, including on ringtones (which are still a big business). Sony, meanwhile, just has its eye on dominating the music industry.

8. Angry Birds has big sales and big influence, and now has its own store in Finland. And with physical game sales down (though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 certainly did alright), such phone games are showing dominance. A new study out of Michigan State says playing video games can make kids more creative. Indeed, when I play Angry Birds, I often end up formulating very creative scenarios for demolishing my iDevice.

9. Did you know the internet died last week? Only for a few seconds, and only for Time Warner Cable customers, but still. Most aren’t missing Internet Explorer, and Microsoft is basically reduced to paying users to download it. Wikipedia might need to start paying editors, because many articles are missing citations (this article also cites a German Wikipedia backlog clean-up competition called Wartungsbausteinwettbewerb, which is the coolest word that will ever appear in WAYM).

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: All-American Muslim Preview, All My Children on Hold, Covering PSU, Escalating Sports Rights, EAS Glitches, Harmon Responds, Twitter Involvement, AMC’s Laziness, NBC’s Struggles, Streaming Challenge, Student Awards & Scholarship, A La Carte Experiment, Sitcoms in Syndication, Raking in Retrans, TV Set Struggles, Good Wife PSA.


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What Are You Missing? May 1-14 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/05/15/what-are-you-missing-may-1-14/ Sun, 15 May 2011 14:15:27 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=9319 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? Oct 10-23 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/10/24/what-are-you-missing-oct-10-23/ Sun, 24 Oct 2010 15:11:53 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=6982 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. Jeff Price has launched a six-part series looking at the state of the music industry, from revenue to piracy and everything in between. Former UK music exec Rob Dickens suggests radically lowering the price of music to save it from piracy and boost revenue, an idea which Ian S. Port agrees with and insists won’t devalue music. Google is testing a new search engine designed to curb digital music piracy in India, but the music industry doesn’t think Google is doing enough to fight piracy.

2. Google is trying to keep up with Apple in mobile activations, but despite Google’s impressive revenue results lately, Henry Blodget insists the company is just a one-trick pony of search wonders. Pretty good trick, though, like Google Instant, which is garnering fans, if not more revenue. Google has figured out another trick: avoiding paying taxes thanks to a complicated overseas scheme.

3. Apple has tons of cash laying around, so if I was the 9-year-old iPod, I’d ask for a really expensive birthday present (maybe an iPad?). It’s still too early to tell if the iPad will make a ton of cash from magazine and newspaper sales but apps sales for Apple devices have reached the 7 billion mark, and a Nielsen study shows consumers increasingly connected to such devices. Apple needs to watch out, though, because its fart app supremacy may be in jeopardy. (I’d bet the 9-year-old has suggestions for improvement there.)

4. New York Times ad dollars have declined, as have magazine launches this year, and online advertising is thriving, but UK journalist Peter Preston says the evidence just isn’t there to prove that the internet is killing print. Also counter to what most would assume, a market analyst study claims that hard news generates more ad revenue online than LiLo news. And I’m sure we’d all be in much better moods for clicking on ads if newspapers could figure out better ways to counter abusive commenters.

5. The Weinstein Co. has hired a new production president, who will hopefully get them back on the award-winning track. Weinstein Co. does have a few films nominated for the Gotham Awards, which apparently hosts a great party. The Weinsteins can fill hours of cocktail conversation at the party with tales of their battle against an NC-17 rating for Blue Valentine. Also a good Gotham Awards party conversation starter: the MPAA ratings and male nudity. If Ken Loach shows up at the party, be sure to have a big drink handy; he might talk your ear off about how cinema has been debased by Hollywood and TV.

6. The two studio news stories I haven’t linked to lately because I got bored of hearing about them have now threatened to become one: MGM and Lionsgate. Hearing nothing but glowing praise for Pixar can get a little boring, but here comes a little bad press to shake things up: accusations of sexism for the firing of its first female director. Steven Zeitchik has some info on movies you’ll never hear from again, and you’ll likely be hearing more about 3D sound — literally! Ha! See what I did there?

7. Netflix this, Netflix that, Netflix the other. Blockbuster? Not so much. Sorry ‘bout that, DVDs and video stores. And sorry studios, you coulda had a piece of that.

8. Redbox is entering the video game rental business, while game sales continue to decline, and EA’s stock price took a hit allegedly due to negative Medal of Honor reviews. Maybe EA should follow the Kinect’s lead and have Oprah give it away to her audience; I’d buy stock in whatever it is that makes people act like that. But such passion raises a question: should game developers be swayed by fan input?

9. Twitter is popular in Brazil, but not at the Washington Post, and Twitter is more popular than Facebook for click-throughs. Facebook Places has not hurt the popularity of Foursquare yet, nor has The Social Network hurt Facebook’s popularity. And internet popularity might be measured more by social networking than searching soon, as long as we’re not measuring popularity by actual profits.

10. Some good News for TV Majors links from the last two weeks: Ratings Delineation, Mad Men finale reviews and good tweets, Cable & Satellite Future, Albrecht Profile, BBC Freezing the Fee, Over-the-Top Competitors, Glee Cast in GQ, Quitting Cable, Networks Block Google, Creator Demands.


Chinese Deadwood in Malawi http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/08/19/chinese-deadwood-in-malawi/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/08/19/chinese-deadwood-in-malawi/#comments Thu, 19 Aug 2010 05:01:37 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=5609

Following on from two previous posts of mine about selling Lost in Malawi, I wanted to share the cover copy on a pirated DVD of Deadwood Season 2 that I found there. A couple of comments on marketing, piracy, and globalization follow afterward:

Dawn dawn of the desert, this barbarian and the settlement of the fugitives in the spring of 1877 a lot of changes. Many of the new immigrants arriving and gradually improve the management of refugee camps so that the original vitality of the town. With the At the same time, the atmosphere gradually diffuse crime, money and driven by the desire of the people here, and all of this is that the wonders of Deadwood …

Description story of the history of the United States of gold surges, a snatch and the greed of the story to focus on border towns in the United States and that its illegal border in the relentless forces of competition. This is illegal colonial towns, an violence and not uncivilized outpost, the colorful personality to attract people to order — from being deprived of legal protection and entrepreneurs to former soldiers and Qiaozhazhe, Chinese laborers, male prostitution. these people on the bizarre story, as this evil town.

Quite the joyride through language, no? And yet, if one can get beyond laughing at the grammar and feeling superior, I’d pose that this is no less functional than anything you’d read on the back of an official DVD. It’s the words that matter, but only the words – at the end of this, we know Deadwood is about the United States, illegality, civilization/barbarity, borders, beginnings/newness/dawn, an evil vital town, color and personality, gold, greed, cultural clashes, and so forth. Proper grammar might actually get in the way, from this standpoint, backing away from punching the key words and retreating instead to a boring narrative that wouldn’t necessarily capture the exuberance that the above copy does. It’s beat poetry, not much different from the “marvel,” “wonder,” “violent masterpiece” that we might see quoted all over another poster. Maybe sentences get in the way of selling?

More importantly, though, and changing gears, I want to note that this, as with many/most of the pirated DVDs here, originated in China, which might explain the otherwise somewhat odd privileging of “Qiaozhazhe, Chinese laborers.” And thus we’re actually seeing how Chinese pirates are attempting to sell the show, not how Malawians think other Malawians will be drawn in. This is an important twist, since it shows the role that Chinese pirates are playing as taste-makers and cultural intermediaries. I continually wanted to know how stuff gets into Malawi and what is chosen. Why, for instance, could I buy 24, Prison Break, Primeval (go Brit shows!), Lost, Desperate Housewives, or at one storefront Monk (?!), but not much else? Why Deadwood Season 2, but never Seasons 1 or 3? Usually the answer to this question in global media studies has been because Hollywood forced it into the market. But here it’s because Chinese pirates sold it to Chinese dealers in South African who sold it to one of a very few guys from Blantyre, Malawi, who make frequent trips to Johannesburg, then disseminate the DVDs across the rest of Malawi. Hollywood’s official presence in Malawi is next to nil, and though its unofficial presence is significant, it’s via China and South Africa.

As far as any of the dealers could tell me, the Chinese pirates know nothing about Malawi, and they seem to know only marginally more about South Africa (DVDs with movies about Apartheid abound, albeit with odd titles like “The Roots of Slavery” or “Wild Africa”). The dealers also told me they have little if no role in deciding what gets pirated; indeed, most only knew what their store and their competitors’ sold. So the Chinese pirates aren’t truly responding to demand; rather, they’re offering a standardized product that sells around the world (note the “Qiaozhazhe” clearly intended for a Chinese audience). This produces a significantly more complex model of global media flow (and moreso of cultural imperialism) at play, especially when one realizes that a lot of Malawians see their TV in “video shows” (who buy from the DVD dealers) or privately off DVD players; hence, the pirates’ version is culturally dominant.

My mind’s still spinning about what this means, and I present this as a field note, not as a completed thought; I hope that others might have some thoughts about what all this means and whether it might shift some of our thinking about global media flows and the cultural intermediaries that make them work.


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What Are You Missing? June 6-June 19 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/06/20/what-are-you-missing-june-6-june-19/ Sun, 20 Jun 2010 14:30:24 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=4874 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

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.