UltraViolet – 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? Sept 16-29 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/09/30/what-are-you-missing-sept-16-29/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/09/30/what-are-you-missing-sept-16-29/#comments Sun, 30 Sep 2012 14:31:47 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=15486 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. In-flight airline entertainment is at a crossroads, as airlines decide between spending on wifi upgrades to let people use their own devices and on airplane entertainment technology like seat-back systems. JetBlue is going for the wifi option, and Boeing is upgrading wifi systems on their planes, while a few international airlines are passing out pre-loaded iPads to keep passengers entertained. In addition to the ever-rising costs to access in-flight wifi, there’s also the matter of it inevitably being slow.

2. Netflix has new competition to keep an eye on: Sky made a deal in the UK with Warner Bros., the new Redbox-Verizon service plans a Christmas debut, there’s word Disney could jump into the fray soon, UltraViolet might finally make some noise, and cable VOD stands to encroach further on Netflix’s territory.

3. Predictions are starting for the Foreign Language Oscar race, but you can take Iran off the table for the back-to-back win because it will boycott the Oscars due to outrage over Innocence of Muslims. Or at least that’s the reasononing Iran’s culture minister claims. Alyssa Rosenberg thinks there might be more to it. Either way, Iran won’t be thrilled to hear that more film projects about Muhammad are in the works.

4. Theaters continue to struggle, with the iconic Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco and the Roxy Theater in Philadelphia darkening for good. A pair of designers believe new design thinking can help turn theaters around. Theater owners might also follow the branding advice of AMC Theaters’ Shane Adams, who impressed many on Twitter last week. At least AMC and other theaters can continue to charge whatever high prices they want for snacks, thanks to a lawsuit dismissal.

5. There was a huge deal in the music business, as Universal Music Group finalized the acquisition of EMI Music’s recorded music unit following European Union and US approval, which was contingent upon the new combo selling off some assets, including the contracts of some prominent artists. Even after that, Universal will end up with control of about 40% of the US and European music market and immense power over the future direction of the industry.

6. Alyssa Oursler insists that Pandora and other music services have nothing to worry about from the Universal deal, and Pandora’s attention is elsewhere right now anyway, specifically on supporting a proposed bill called The Internet Radio Fairness Act that would lower streaming service royalty fees to put them par with what satellite radio and cable companies pay. Independent stations also support the bill.

7. There’s a redesigned PlayStation 3 coming out, but don’t expect to get a cheaper deal on a previous model. You can expect more mobile options from Sony, and Electronic Arts is also trying to take advantage of multi-platform gaming. You’ll be able to play multiple Hobbit games on multiple platforms, and Sesame Street is also pointing the way toward the future of gaming.

8. Wal-mart won’t be selling Kindles anymore. The stated reason why is somewhat vague, and it could just have to do with frustration with Amazon. Some readers are getting frustrated with higher e-book prices from Amazon, while Amazon will try to hook more with Kindle Serials. Amazon will have a new competitor thanks to a new e-book venture formed by Barry Diller and Scott Rudin.

9. Conditions at China’s Foxconn factory, which makes the iPhone 5, got even worse, with a riot temporarily shutting down production. This has come at a tenuous time for China’s corporate environment and raises larger questions about Chinese manufacturing, while Foxconn’s owner is looking to expand his business efforts beyond the country. Apple insists it is improving foreign factory conditions.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Cheers Oral History, Live TV Controversy, Auction Plans, The CW Signs With Nielsen Online, Dish Talking Internet TV, Changing Households, Variety Buyer, Cable Battles Consoles, Emmys Coverage, Female Employment, Netflix & A&E, Measuring Social Buzz, Tweeting Isn’t Watching, Microsoft Hire, New BBC


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What Are You Missing? Sept 2-15 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/09/16/what-are-you-missing-sept-2-15/ Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:44:59 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=15395 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Twitter has Facebook beat on mobile ad dollars, but Mark Zuckerberg plans to change that. Facebook is also developing new strategies for web ads, including sponsored search results. And in an effort to maintain the integrity of perceived value, Facebook is cracking down on fake “likes.”

2. USA Today has completed a web-inspired redesign, but newspapers are still mired in a world where they’re getting only $1 in digital ad revenue for every $25 they lose in print ad revenue. The Village Voice seems in dire shape, and entertainment industry trades are fighting to stay relevant. Maybe they all need to look at Reddit.

3. The most interesting conversations in the wake of Amazon unveiling its new Kindles involve debates about Amazon’s stated strategy to go for slim profit margins on hardware and reap bigger rewards on the digital goods people purchase to use on that hardware, which is counter to the Apple model. Though early reviews of the new Kindles don’t indicate that it’s an iPad killer, some think Google should at least be worried.

4. The new Wii U console will be available in the US on November 18 (though don’t bother checking Amazon for a pre-order), in Europe a few weeks later, and in Japan in early December. Its price has proved to be controversial, though a price cut will likely come later, and we may even be treated to a console price war over the holidays.

5. Even with the profitability of music streaming still in question, Nokia has launched a free streaming music service for smartphones, and Apple has a streaming radio service in the works that would use your iTunes history to select songs. This would pose a challenge Pandora, which saw its stock plunge on the news. Meanwhile, Spotify is making some changes, with a browser-based version coming soon.

6. After 20 months of investigating and over a million warning letters sent, a French anti-piracy agency now has a conviction to point to under its “three strikes and you’re fined” law: $200 is the price to be paid for two pirated Rihanna songs. In the US, a music-sharer has seen her fine reimposed: $220,000 for 24 songs. And Pirate Bay’s co-founder has been arrested; the penalty he faces is a little bigger.

7. Film (as a format) is dying, with Fuji as the latest abandoner, and studios are trying to adapt, with Warner Bros. especially devoting considerable attention to developing digital media options. Warners hopes that its Flixster and UltraViolet combo will encourage people to buy movies rather than rent, and Fox has similar motivation behind its plans to release digital versions of films before disc versions. A new digital storefront could help UltraViolet, while Amazon Prime Instant Video has gotten a boost from a film deal with Epix.

8. The Telluride Film Festival  marked the start of Oscar bait season, and Ben Affleck’s Argo and the documentary The Gatekeepers left with the most buzz. Meanwhile, the frenzied Toronto International Film Festival saw very active sales, with Lionsgate being an especially aggressive buyer, while Sony Pictures Classics, The Gatekeepers’ distributor, was busy showing off its wares, and documentaries grabbed a lot of attention.

9. The acquisition of AMC theaters by Chinese mogul Dalian Wanda is officially complete, and Wanda is now eyeing other US entertainment purchases. Back in China, the film industry is booming, but tensions with Hollywood are increasing due to import restrictions. China at least wants some Hollywood imports, though, especially those films they’ve got product placements in.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: CBS Threatens Dish, Hurry-Up Problems, NBC is NBCU’s Priority, CBS Adjusts Schedule, Over-the-Top Increases, Netflix Good & Bad, Breaking Bad Story Sync, Colbert & Religion, No New Apple TV Products, Gilligan Interviews, Fall Schedule.


What Are You Missing? Aug 19-Sept 1 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/09/02/what-are-you-missing-aug-19-sept-1/ Sun, 02 Sep 2012 14:00:16 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=15226 Back from summer vacation with ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Sundance is spreading its influence further, opening a new indie film theater in Los Angeles and enabling online distribution of a set of Sundance Institute films. Over in China, a film festival has been suppressed, as the Beijing Independent Film Festival was canceled due to political pressure. And Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, Nollywood by nickname, is fighting to overcome challenges to compete with Hollywood films.

2. The summer movie box office was down from last year, with 100 million fewer tickets sold (though Fandango sold more tickets than ever in its history), and the US is dragging down Canada with it. The Avengers and Magic Mike were among the handful of winners.

3. Amazon has a big announcement coming on Thursday, and while most speculate it will be about a new Kindle Fire, Ryan Lawler wonders if it will involve support for Hollywood’s UltraViolet service. David Pogue thinks better legal online services will help limit piracy of Hollywood movies, and the Weinstein Co. is trying a creative approach with the Kirsten Dunst film Bachelorette. Incidentally, we’ve reached the 100th anniversary of film’s copyright designation.

4. While Amazon is touting all of its Kindle achievements, sales of Barnes and Noble’s Nook are falling, and the device is suffering from multiple problems. B&N will still launch the Nook in the UK soon, though it will first be available not in a bookstore but at the home goods retail store John Lewis. Overall, B&N revenue is up.

5. Streaming music revenue is expected to far outpace downloads in the coming months. Spotify has seen a slight dip in usage recently, while Pandora is having revenue problems, leading it to try and lower musicians’ royalty payments, and Spotify may be thinking the same. But rest assured, at least RIAA executives are raking in money.

6. After 24 years of publication, the magazine Nintendo Power is shutting down, and after 18 years of game development, Europe’s Studio Liverpool is closing up shop. 5-year-old social games company Zynga isn’t going to dry up anytime soon, but it is struggling right now. And even the venerable Angry Birds franchise is getting a challenge from free-to-play games.

7. Facebook’s stock plunge continues, with 50% of its initial value gone and even more likely going, but some are still recommending it as a buy, and the service itself certainly isn’t struggling, as it trails only YouTube as a popular video destination and processes 2.5 billion pieces of content each day. Plus, the company’s getting a sweet new campus designed by Frank Gehry.

8. Twitter isn’t winning many fans with its new API rules, which limit how services like Tumblr can interact with its users. Twitter will also no longer display the client source of tweets. Many analysts see these changes as indicative of Twitter at a crossroads, and new relationships with entities like NBC seem to hint that it is leaning toward becoming more of a media company, rather than just a social media utility. And apparently, it could get hired in a movie studio casting department if it wants.

9. Meet the people who scrub the internet of its worst content. Find out why people write comments on internet porn. Learn everything you need to know about the internet’s obsession with cat videos. Get annoyed by the prevalence of fake internet book reviews.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Copyright Insanity, Watching Women, HBO Go Nordic, ESPN Profits, 90 More Anger Managements, Social Premieres, Tonight Show Struggles, TV Rules College Sports, Blackouts Troubling Advertisers, TV Reruns Down.


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 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.




Accessing the Cinematic Cloud http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/01/31/accessing-the-cinematic-cloud/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/01/31/accessing-the-cinematic-cloud/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:07:11 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12025 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? January 1-14 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/01/15/what-are-you-missing-january-1-14/ Sun, 15 Jan 2012 16:26:15 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=11758 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The Academy has issued new provisions for future documentary Oscar nominations, including eliminating committee determination of nominations and adding a rule that a doc has to have been reviewed by the New York Times or LA Times to qualify (intended to prevent TV docs – *side eye at HBO* – from horning in on a film award). The latter has drummed up controversy, but Michael Moore insists it’s all good. Unrelated to this controversy but related to the Academy, the organization’s chief executive Dawn Hudson is under major fire.

2. IndieWire highlights 2011’s studio box office trends, as well as what happened at the specialty box office, which was apparently so much that it required a second part. Midnight in Paris led specialty grosses, while it was a down year overall for animation. British Prime Minister David Cameron wants UK filmmakers to shoot for topping one of these box office revenue lists in 2012. And the number of studios backing films that will make such lists is reduced by one, as Lions Gate has acquired Summit, thus putting The Hunger Games and Twilight series under the same banner.

3. Warner Bros. is getting tough about its DVD rental window delay, and while Netflix has caved, Redbox and Blockbuster are poised to fight. Unfortunately, Blockbuster is also poised to die. While Netflix is cooperating with Warner Bros. on DVDs, it is pulling out of the Warners-backed UltraViolet, which has yet to take off, though now Amazon and Samsung are trying to help out.

4. Publishers Weekly highlights 2011’s print bestseller trends, and USA Today says fiction sales were the big story last year, while a post-holiday e-books sales surge is the story now. It sounds like the Nook isn’t benefiting as much as it could from that, while the Kindle Fire could end up stomping other e-reader devices in the end, including the regular Kindle, not to mention other tablets.

5. Music stocks were mixed in 2011, vinyl album sales soared, rock sales were up, and digital sales surpassed physical sales for the first time, but indie labels got just a 12% cut of overall music sales. Most strikingly, only about 2% of the total album releases were responsible for 90% of new album revenue in 2011.

6. You might be tired of reading here about how video game sales in the US are slipping, so I’ll change it up for you: video game sales in the UK are slipping. The Consumer Electronics Show presented some hope for revitalizing the gaming industry, from Nintendo’s Wii U to Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows.

7. Twitter failed to predict the Iowa caucus winner but nailed it in New Hampshire, and the main takeaway is that Ron Paul could totally be the president of Twitter if he wanted. Twitter did pretty good at predicting a health epidemic, but it apparently falls short on fighting against pedophiles.

8. Twitter got mad at Google for incorporating Google+ into search data because it might diminish Twitter’s influence, and Google was all, This is your own fault, jerks. Facebook got snooty about it more quietly. Some think this is a big mistake by Google; others see it as pushing Google ahead in the online identity race. Google+ is growing, but I don’t think it’ll get to 1 billion users by August like Facebook.

9. Around the world in three sentences: Belarusians can no longer access foreign websites and India is threatening China-style controls, whereas in Sweden file-sharing has been recognized as a religion. Text messaging is declining in some countries, and globally, a mere 1% of bandwidth users are consuming half of all the traffic. Apple supplier factories in the Far East are rife with labor violations, as a This American Life segment recently exposed.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: All the TCA posts, Great Television Women, New TVs, iPad Value for Cable, Court Leaning Toward Indecency Regs, 2 Broke Girls at TCA, More Content to Xbox, Netflix’s UK Launch, Moffat & Sexism, Defending Pop Culture Studies, Louis CK’s Lesson, HBO Ends Netflix Discount, Consumer Usage Report, Reality TV Class, Comcast-Disney Deal, Netflix Doubles Up Hulu, Netflix Originals Plan, Viewing Stats, Internet Changing Syndication.


What Are You Missing? Nov 27-Dec 10 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/12/11/what-are-you-missing-nov-27-dec-10/ Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:21:50 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=11561 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Most of us are going online for no good reason, and while the new .xxx domain may give you a reason to go online, it seems like the most action thus far has just revolved around people buying up domain names, with even colleges buying them solely to keep anyone from posting naughty things under their brands (I bet USC could do something with theirs, though). Lance Ulanoff says this illustrates that the domain is already a failed idea.

2. October was a record-setting month for online video consumption, and Facebook jumped up behind YouTube as the second most-visited video outlet, though it’s still mostly just a gateway to other sites. Facebook has a long way to go to catch up with YouTube, which garners as many as 400 million mobile views a day, but maybe if it can host more charming ads it’ll get there quicker.

3. The studios behind UltraViolet haven’t really gotten it to work right yet, but already they’re launching it in the UK and eyeing global expansion. One could at least credit them for trying to give some consumers what they want, which studies say is the only way to limit piracy (or they could just do what China does, as Chris Dodd thinks sounds ok). Some think VOD could greatly help indie film, but Anthony Kaufman argues that indie films should be seen on theater screens, not on computer screens.

4. It’s Awards Season! Nominations and winners have thus far included the Independent Spirit Awards (which made Kevin Smith sad), the European Film Awards (which made Lars Von Trier happy), the New York Film Critics Circle (which made Brad Pitt doubly excited), the Gotham Independent Awards (which made Tom Hall reflective), and the National Board of Review (which made Georges Melies cool again). Thinking toward next year’s awards cycle, you can check out the films that will be in competition at Sundance in 2012.

5. Steven Spielberg has grumbled that there aren’t many great movies being made anymore, so perhaps he doesn’t like fanfiction films or films about men in crisis or films indicating whatever the Oscars nominations will tell us the zeitgeist currently is. Maybe some great films can emerge via the global independent financing system that is rearing up.

6. I’m thinking I should approach Lionsgate to sponsor WAYM, because it’s in here so often: Lionsgate is talking merger with Summit again, but the deal could derail and someone else could swoop up Summit, thus requiring me to talk about Lionsgate here again next time. But Lionsgate’s chairman predicts a steady 2012, so maybe there won’t be as much Lionsgate news next year. Unrelated to Lionsgate but related to indie film news I found interesting, The Way and Margin Call have found ways to buck the down trend for indie box office.

7. Amazon is making it easier for independent authors to publish e-books, which, not surprisingly, is making publishers mad. Bookstores are also getting mad at Amazon, thanks to such new practices as “showrooming.” Traditional book distribution does seem to be collapsing and print sales are dropping, which is bringing the prospect of a bookless world, and yet it seems we haven’t reduced our reliance on libraries yet.

8. Billboard looks back on the year in music. Looking back a decade, we can remember Napster. And looking at now, we can see Spotify’s latest moves, including eyeing Pandora’s niche with Spotify Radio.

9. Dance fitness games are all the rage, and Just Dance in particular flew off shelves last week, part of a good November for game sales. Just don’t go looking to buy Battlefield 3 in Iran.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: Louis Online, Sitcom Memes, OLTL Going Meta, Sutter on S4, All-American Muslim Boycott, Glee’s Drop, Childfree Women, Downton Cutbacks, Xbox Challenges Cable, Political Preferences, Fall Ratings, Cable Margins, Community Syndication Deal, USA Programming, Ownership Stats, HBO Sneers at Cord Cutters, Burke Profile, Walking Dead’s Issues.

With Christmas break coming up, that’s all the WAYM I have for you in 2011. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next year, Lionsgate!