Beachfront - leaderboard - 7-1-18

Analysis for 'Newspapers'

  • David Pogue's "Video Wall" Explained

    If you're a David Pogue fan like me, you were also likely wondering how he pulled off his recent "iPad Town Hall" which featured him interacting with 20 people in what appeared to be a live "video wall." The town hall video, which runs about 5 minutes is classic Pogue - funny, educational and fast moving.



    This week Pogue shared the details of how he built the "video wall" which actually wasn't live, but was instead a mosaic of scripted QuickTime videos he solicited from his Twitter followers. He then embedded them all in a Keynote presentation and through some editing flair created the illusion that it was live. The result is very slick and showcases what a relative amateur can produce with some creativity and persistence.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
     
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  • NY Times' New "TimesCast" is a Home Run for Its Audience

    I continue to believe that among newspapers pursuing online video initiatives, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are the clear leaders. Both totally get how strategic video is to evolving their brands, engaging their audiences and generating new ad revenue.

    Just last month I wrote about the Journal's newly unveiled companion video series to its "Digits" blog; now this week the Times announced its daily "TimesCast" program which is a 1-hour daily insiders' view of what and how the Times chooses to cover what it covers that runs from 1-2pm each day. In the episodes I watched - exclusively sponsored by FedEx - the cameras visited the daily "Page One" editorial meeting and featured Times journalists interviewing each other to gain more color on selected stories of the day. The pace of the videos was fast and engaging, with snappy sequencing music in the background.



    I'll readily admit this type of content isn't for everyone. However if you're a news junkie and regular Times reader like me, it's a home run - and that's what really matters. TimesCast makes viewers feel like they're "in the know," strengthening their bond with the Times brand and deepening their understanding of the news. Plus, it lets the Times showcase their journalists in a way that goes far beyond their bylined articles. A larger point: in print space is finite, on the web its infinite. Brands that learn to "super-serve" their audiences with these kinds of behind-the-scenes initiatives will win.


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  • Magazines are Keen on Video; iPad in Central Role

    Following up on my post last week about the Wall Street Journal's new "Digits" video series, in which I reiterated my belief that online video is a huge new opportunity for print publishers, this week brought news of new video initiatives from a number of magazines. As reported by AdAge, Sports Illustrated is launching a new 5 times per day news program called "SI Inside Report," among other video projects. Six new employees have been brought on to support the initiative, which has to be a rare instance of new hiring in the magazine industry.

    Elsewhere, Conde Nast is continuing to ramp up for the iPad; as the NY Times reported this week it will offer iPad versions of Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour. Conde plans to experiment with different pricing models and product approaches. But if the demo of Wired's iPad version is any indication, video is certain to play a large role.  Wired's Chris Anderson has emerged as the leading magazine industry proponent of the iPad's potential. While the iPad buzz builds leading up to its release, I continue to maintain that unless the price of all models comes down by at least $200 the device is going to remain an early adopter gadget.  


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  • WSJ Launches "Digits" Video Series; Continues to Lead Newspapers in Online Video

    This week The Wall Street Journal launched a video companion series to its popular "Digits" blog, continuing to prove that online video opens up exciting new opportunities for newspapers. Airing at 1pm each weekday, and thereafter on demand, the series is hosted by MarketWatch's Stacey Delo and showcases others in the Dow Jones family like Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. The Digits video series follows last fall's launch of News Hub, a video news series which in January already accounted for 1 million of the WSJ Digital Network's 5.5 million streams.

    The Journal is right on the mark with its video strategy, and is nicely demonstrating how newspapers can leverage their brands, journalists and advertising relationships into online video. There's nothing fancy about any of this video as the Journal is using cost-effective technologies like Skype and personal video cameras, plus a simple, yet functional set in its newsroom. The Digits video series would not be mistaken for broadcast journalism, but for the web, where real-time original analysis is key, it's well above the quality bar. Obviously the WSJ is a unique property, and it is complimented by other DJ resources. Still, all newspapers should be looking closely at its video strategy and applying its lessons. I've insisted for a long while that online video is anything but a death knell for print publications; the Journal is proving it in spades.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

     
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  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Jan 18th Week (YouTube rentals, Newspaper bankruptcies, Prada's film, iSlate hype)

    Following are 4 items worth noting for the January 18th week:

    1. YouTube dips toe into film rentals, more to come - This week YouTube took a very small step into film rentals, announcing that 5 indie films will be available for $3.99 apiece until the end of the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 31st, and that it is launching a "Filmmakers Wanted" program to bring additional indie films (and possibly other content) to YouTube's audience for rental.

    Last fall, when the WSJ first broke the news that YouTube was negotiating with a number of Hollywood studios about launching a full-blown rental store, I thought the plan was intriguing, but dubious. I argued that YouTube needed to stay focused on getting its ad model right, that it would be hard to differentiate its film rentals from those of myriad competitors and that the revenue upside for YouTube was relatively small.

    I continue to believe those things and hope YouTube isn't still pursuing Hollywood dreams. That said, I do like the idea of it offering a paid option for indie and other hard-to-find video. YouTube's massive audience brings real promotional value to these often-obscure, yet high-quality titles, potentially significant revenue to their producers and for YouTube, another meaningful step away from pure UGC content. Rentals won't generate significant revenue for YouTube, but with Google executives on the company's earnings call yesterday saying that "YouTube is monetizing well," so long as it doesn't divert too many resources away from advertising, that's ok.

    2. Revenue models matter, just ask the newspaper industry - This week brought news that MediaNews Group, publisher of 54 U.S. newspapers, including the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, will file for bankruptcy. For those keeping count, it's at least the 13th bankruptcy filing by a major U.S. newspaper publisher in the last year.

    While the newspaper industry has been racked by the recession and ad-spending slowdown, the larger issue is that 15 years since the Internet's popularity took off, newspapers still have not been able to define a sustainable online business model. Many simply lunged headlong into providing their full print editions online, only to find out that online advertising wasn't sufficient to support their overhead and that Google commoditized their headlines. Others, like the NYTimes tried (and will continue to try) to find a balance between advertising and reader payments.

    I've touched on this before, but the havoc being wreaked in the newspaper is a red-letter warning to video industry participants to cautiously guard existing revenue models while transitioning to digital delivery. Some consumers and techies may consider a deliberate pace to be bureaucratic foot-dragging, but for video content producers and distributors to remain viable, a deliberate ready-aim-fire approach to digital delivery is essential.

    3. Prada's short online film is intriguing - speaking of newspapers, lately I've become convinced that one of the choicest pieces of online real estate for advertisers is the home page of NYTimes.com, which I frequent. On any given day you'll see huge rich media ads and roadblocks for high-profile brands and product launches. One that caught my attention earlier this week was by luxury fashion company Prada, promoting a 9-minute film by Chinese director Yang Fudong called "First Spring" (it's also available on YouTube) in which the actors are wearing Prada menswear.

    I'm not a Prada patron, and I found the film dreary and odd, nonetheless, what intrigued me was how online video has given Prada a whole new outlet to build its brand's aura, a key to success for all luxury brands. Buying TV ads would be incredibly inefficient for Prada, and magazine spreads only go so far. With a short online film, Prada can target its audience well and engage them as long as it pleases. For creative and advertising types alike, that's a compelling opportunity.

    4. Get ready for the week of the Apple tablet - In case you missed it, this week Apple sent invites to the press for a Jan. 27th event to "come see our latest creation" - widely believed to be the company's new tablet computer. The buzz behind the product, thought to be called the "iSlate," has been steadily building for weeks now. Next week it will reach a crescendo. We can expect Steve Jobs to bring his A game to the mother of all product demos as the stakes are high for Apple to deliver major wows.

    While the product will no doubt be off the charts cool, the nagging question is whether large numbers of people will buy it for the rumored price of $1,000. Gadgets in that price range rarely get much traction, so to succeed the iSlate has to offer essential new value. Video could be its key differentiator, especially if Apple has new content deals to announce. A connected iSlate, with a gorgeous screen and easy portability (sort of an "iPhone on steroids") could open yet another chapter in video distribution and consumption.

    Enjoy your weekend!

     
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  • Tiger Woods Scandal Gets Animated Video Treatment

    It's hard not to be fascinated by the Tiger Woods "transgressions" scandal and the drip-drip-drip revelations that are keeping the story alive. Amid the hubbub, the big mystery remains what actually happened on the fateful night that Tiger plowed his Escalade into a neighbor's fire hydrant and tree.

    As the NY Times reported over the weekend, the animation unit of the Taiwanese "infotainment" newspaper Apple Daily (owned by Hong Kong-based  media company Next Media) has created an animated video re-enactment of the events. The video is available on YouTube, where it has already drawn 2 million+ views. Non-Chinese speakers are out of luck on what the narrator's saying, but the animation provides the gist. As many suspect to be the case, there's Elin chasing Tiger's car down the street bashing its rear window with a golf club, causing a distracted Tiger to lose control and run off the road.

     

    Compared to animated feature films, the quality is pretty amateurish. But that's the least of its problems; more significant is that the events shown are not based on the police reports or known facts, but rather on the animators' conception of what happened. So while Daisy Li, the Apple Daily manager overseeing the animated videos is quoted as saying that the idea of the animated videos is to make news more accessible to young people who don't like to read newspapers, by any standard, the video cannot be considered a journalistic pursuit.

    Notwithstanding, the significance of the Tiger animated video and the whole idea of animated video re-enactments in general is that they have the potential to hugely influence public opinion about actual news events. By publishing videos like this to sites such as YouTube that have global reach, non-journalistic animators can vie with bona fide news outlets to inform audiences. For purists that will feel alarming, though it should be remembered that this is hardly the first time performance has influenced opinion - consider for example, that many people formed an opinion of Sarah Palin last year not on her remarks, but on Tina Fey's imitation of them on SNL.

    Whether it is fact, fiction or something in between, video's power lies in its ability to tell a story better than any other medium. The animators at Apple Daily appear to understand this, as will others who will inevitably try to emulate their success. Audiences beware.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Nov 9th Week (Flip ads, YouTube ad-skipping, NY Times video, Nielsen data)

    Following are 4 items worth noting for the Nov 9th week:

    1. Will Cisco's new Flip Video camera ad campaign fly? - Cisco deserves credit for its new "Do You Flip" ad campaign for its Flip Video camera, a real out-of-the-box effort comprised entirely of user-generated video clips shot by ordinary folks and celebrities alike. As the campaign was described in this Online Media Daily article, finding the clips and then editing them together sounds like heavy lifting, but the results perfectly reinforce the value proposition of the camera itself. The ads are being shown on TV and the web; there's an outdoor piece to the campaign as well.

    Cisco acquired Flip for nearly $600 million earlier this year in a somewhat incongruous deal that thrust the router powerhouse into the intensely competitive consumer electronics fray. Cisco will have to spend aggressively to maintain market share as other pocket video cameras have gained steam, like the Creative Vado HD, Samsung HMX and Kodak Z series. There's also emerging competition from smartphones (led by the iPhone of course) that have built-in video recording capabilities. I've been somewhat skeptical of the Cisco-Flip deal, but with the new campaign, Cisco looks committed to making it a success.

    2. YouTube brings ad-skipping to the web - Speaking of out-of-the-box thinking, YouTube triggered a minor stir in the online video advertising space this week by announcing a trial of "skippable pre-roll" ads. On the surface, it feels unsettling that DVR-style ad-skipping - a growing and bedeviling trend on TV - is now coming to the web. Yet as YouTube explained, there's actually ample reason and some initial data to suggest that by empowering viewers, the ads that are watched could be even more valuable.

    One thing pre-roll skipping would surely do is up the stakes for producing engaging ads that immediately capture the viewer's attention. And it would also increase the urgency for solid targeting. Done right though, I think pre-roll skipping could work quite well. At a minimum I give YouTube points for trying it out. Incidentally, others in the industry are doing other interesting things improve the engagement and effectiveness of the pre-roll. I'll have more on this in the next week or two.

    3. Watching the NY Times at 30,000 feet - Flipping channels on my seat-back video screen on a JetBlue flight from Florida earlier this week, I happened on a series of highly engaging NY Times videos: a black and white interview with Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, then a David Pogue demo of the Yoostar Home Greenscreen Kit and then an expose of Floyd Bennett Field, the first municipal airport in New York City. It turned out that all were running on The Travel Channel.

    Good for the NY Times. Over the past couple of years I've written often about the opportunities that broadband video opens up for newspapers and magazines to leverage their brands, advertising relationships and editorial skills into the new medium. By also running their videos on planes, the NY Times is exposing many prospective online viewers to its video content, thereby broadening what the NY Times brand stands for and likely generating subsequent traffic to its web site. That's exactly what it and other print pubs should be doing to avoid the fate of the recently-shuttered Gourmet magazine, which never fully mined the web's potential. I know I'm a broken record on this, but video producers must learn that syndicating their video as widely as possible is imperative.

    4. Nielsen forecast underscores smartphones' mobile video potential - A couple of readers pointed out that in yesterday's post, "Mobile Video Continues to Gain Traction" I missed relevant Nielsen data from just the day before. Nielsen forecasts that smartphones will be carried by more than 50% of cell phone users by 2011, totaling over 150 million people. Nielsen assumes that 60% of these smartphone owners will be watching video translating to an audience size of 90 million people. Its research also shows that 47% of users of the new Motorola Droid smartphone are watching video, vs. 40% of iPhone users. Not a huge distinction, but more evidence that the Droid and other newer smartphones are likely to increase mobile video consumption still further.

    Enjoy your weekends!

     
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  • Subscription Overload is on the Horizon

    One might think that the depths of the worst economic recession in decades would be a lousy time to begin asking penny-pinching consumers for additional payments to access content. Yet this is exactly what many video providers plan to do, as a variety of broadband-delivered video subscription plans are beginning to take shape. Based on conversations I've been having with industry executives and what I've been reading, various subscription plans are now underway. This leads me to think that "subscription overload" is on the horizon.

    Interest in getting consumers to pay has several sources. Many executives have concluded that advertising alone is an insufficient model, even as the cost of delivering broadband video is actually plummeting. Some of this concern relates to the widespread advertising slowdown, where even established players like the big broadcast networks are being forced to accept rate cuts. These declines cannot be made up with greater ad quantity as there's prevailing worry about just how many ads can be loaded into a broadband-delivered program before the viewer gets turned off.

    There is also significant fear of not learning from the demise of the U.S. newspaper industry, which largely adopted an ad-only online business model that hasn't worked (causing some like the NY Times to now consider reinstituting subscription services). Newspapers' woes have become a touchstone in practically every conversation I've participated in recently. Last, but not least, there's no small amount of envy toward cable networks, whose dual subscription/advertising revenue model has allowed them to weather the recession better than most.

    Subscription plans seek some combination of differentiators: offering premium video in better windows, at better-quality, with deeper selection, across multiple devices and with some degree of exclusivity. The thinking is that these enhancements will allow subscription services to be distinguished from and co-exist with free ad-supported services. The implicit bet is that these differences will be understood and valued by consumers.

    Subscription plans are beginning to leak out, as happened last week in remarks by Disney CEO Bob Iger. Many in the industry (including me) anticipate that Hulu will launch a subscription service soon, particularly as it seeks to become a part of cable operators' TV Everywhere initiatives (which themselves seek to enhance the value of current cable subscriptions).

    Other plans are on the drawing board. When I read yesterday, for example, about NBC's Ben Silverman jumping to IAC to form a new video venture, I suspect it's almost a given that the venture will consider some type of premium model. The growth of mobile video is another factor fueling subscriptions. This is what MLB is doing with its new At Bat 2009 subscription app for the iPhone, which builds on its highly successful MLB.TV broadband subscription service.

    With so many subscription services underway, it's inevitable that many of them won't get traction. I mean, is it likely that consumers will pay extra so they can see a program online just hours after it airs, instead of a day later? Or so they can receive 1080-equivalent HD quality online, when 720-equivalent HD is available for free? I'm skeptical, even before factoring in the recession-driven belt-tightening many consumers have adopted. The bar for a subscription service to succeed is very high.

    Still, with broadband allowing video providers direct access to their target audiences, their well-known brands as powerful enablers, and the crummy advertising climate showing no letup, it is no surprise that the pendulum is swinging heavily toward subscriptions.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • What the Broadcast TV Networks Can Learn from the Boston Globe's - and Other Newspapers' - Demise

    Those of us who live in New England and still actually subscribe to Boston Globe woke up Saturday morning to a banner headline on page 1: "Times Co. threatens to shut Globe, seeks $20m in cuts from unions." With newspapers around the country declaring bankruptcy or going out of print, the news really shouldn't have come as a surprise.

    The Globe's and other newspapers' struggles have been widely reported. They are on the wrong end of a double-barreled shotgun: the years-long shift in consumer behavior toward the Internet and more recently, the devastating recession. To me there's a strong analogy here: the Internet (an "electronic printing press") is to newspapers what broadband (a new video delivery platform) is to broadcast TV networks. So what can the broadcast TV networks learn from the newspapers' travails so they avoid a similar fate? Here are 5 thoughts:

    Keep the product in synch with the customer - it's cliche to say this, but at the root of every successful business is an ability to keep the product in synch with the customer's behavior. But as the world changes, staying in synch is often at odds with traditions, deeply-ingrained cultures and management's skills. The harsh reality is that there can be no sacred cows when it comes to the product. Just because something's always been done a certain way does not make it right.

    For TV networks, I think the key lesson here is around program length. By tradition, programs have been 30 or 60 minutes. But online is about short-form content. Broadband delivery provides an opportunity to expand the networks' mission and capture new market share (as some are already doing). That doesn't mean giving up on 30 and 60 minute programs, but it does mean more actively diversifying their attention and resources.

    Focus on monetization - If keeping the product right is job #1, then getting paid for it is certainly job #2. Newspapers have experimented widely with ad-supported and paid models, yet they've suffered their own "analog dollars, digital pennies" conundrum, with online users not generating comparable revenues per eyeball as the print edition. There are various explanations for why they've fallen short.

    When I look at networks' current online efforts, I am increasingly concerned they're not going to succeed either. Their ad strategy for online programs is not aggressive enough (yes, as a viewer it hurts to say that) to make the online delivery model work. And on the execution side, as NBC.com recently showed, they're often not even capitalizing on what's readily available to them. Both need to change fast.

    Partner effectively - Newspapers have grappled for years with how to defend classified categories like help wanted through industry partnerships. Now broadcast networks are rallying around Hulu (and possibly TV.com) as their own partnership vehicles. But these entities mustn't be forced to compete with one hand behind their back. They need rights to choice ad inventory to sell. They need to be free to pursue their own partnerships and not be curtailed as Hulu currently is with Boxee. And they need to be supported financially and strategically for the long run. Even then, none of this guarantees success.

    Restructure costs aggressively - There's simply no escaping the fact that businesses with troubled top lines need to restructure their costs aggressively to stay viable. The key is getting ahead of this process, rather than waiting until the last possible minute. This isn't easy with unions and guaranteed jobs and managements that are well-paid. Broadcast TV networks face similar issues: strong guilds rightfully protective of their members' interests and executives who are perceived as overly compensated. Many in the industry have called out the fact that all of Hollywood needs to focus more on aligning costs with market realities. The day of reckoning is at hand.

    Prepare to be radical - Painful as it is, sometimes there's no avoiding doing the radical. The free market can be quite ruthless. If Craig Newmark chooses to run Craigslist as a virtual non-profit, then anyone looking to make money out of classifieds is going to get hit. If the Huffington Post can make a business out of repackaging others' content under its own headlines and excelling at SEO then original newsgathering is threatened. And if Google can support YouTube's operating losses, then it will be around to continue to take video market share and attention away from incumbents. These are game-changing forces; the responses to them need to be equally radical.

    While Americans have never watched more TV than they do today, there are storm clouds all around the broadcast networks. Hopefully they're studying the newspapers' demise and taking away the right lessons.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • WSJ.com's "End of Wall Street" Series is an Interesting Template for Print Publishers

    Have you caught any of the three-part, 25 minute "End of Wall Street" series running on WSJ.com right now? It may be too depressing to watch if you're nursing big 401k losses, but it does provide a very interesting template for how print publishers like the WSJ, whose reporters and editors have deep subject matter expertise, can use video to expand their value proposition to traditional readers.

    In this case there's another twist: the video is actually a companion to a forthcoming book "The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street As We Know It" written by Dave Kansas, a WSJ editor who hosts the video series as well. Oddly though, the video doesn't mention the book at all, which is a key missed promotional opportunity. Placing a display ad or post-roll video promoting the book would seem to like a natural.

    Still, the series demonstrates that a print publisher has the chops to produce a compelling video documentary that explains, in simple terms, how the financial meltdown occurred and why it crushed Wall Street. At least a dozen WSJ staffers are tapped for soundbites outlining the chronology and underlying factors to the crisis. The music is gripping, and the cutaways to Kansas wandering Wall Street's alternatively bustling and empty canyons provide a vivid visual metaphor for the change sweeping through the financial sector.

    I've been saying for a while that print publishers are sitting on top of a mountain of largely anonymous talent which would be compelling for their audiences to hear and see. "End of Wall Street" demonstrates this perfectly. Other print pubs would be wise to go to school on it.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • Print Publications Making Progress with Video

    I've been optimistic about print publishers' (magazines and newspapers) opportunity to expand into broadband video for a while now. They bring recognized brands, editorial expertise and advertising relationship to their video initiatives. But of course they have plenty of learning to do about how to create compelling yet inexpensive video that serves their audience's needs.

    Yesterday's Online Media Daily had a good piece on what Forbes, Conde Nast and the NY Times for example, are doing to bolster their video efforts. Their executives' sentiments echo what I heard from Eric Grilly, president of Philly.com, the web site associated with the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a recent conversation with him.

    Philly.com has been building out a number of programs this year on topics including wine ("Philly Uncorked"), local restaurants ("The Philly Dish") and local gossip ("The Gossip with Marnie Hall"). Philly.com seems to have hit on an initial formula for identifying a sponsor first, recruiting outside talent and regularly releasing episodes. Eric noted he's not trying to compete with local broadcasters, but rather trying to do something new and different. The programs look like they're inexpensive to make, but have high advertiser appeal. Despite print publishers' larger challenges, I expect to see them continue pushing hard into video in '09.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • Hulu to Stream Tonight's Presidential Debate; Reaction to NYTimes.com Coverage?

    There are reports today that Hulu intends to stream tonight's second presidential debate along with the third debate planned for Oct. 15th. VideoNuze readers will recall that I observed two weeks ago that NYTimes.com streamed the first debate on its home page. I regarded this as a noteworthy incursion of a print publisher onto broadcast/cable's traditional turf and asserted that the debates give the NYTimes a plum opportunity to use video to expand its audience appeal and ad revenue potential.

    Cause and effect that Hulu, backed by two broadcasters Fox and NBC, is now planning to stream the remaining debates? Hard to say. But no question, if Hulu hadn't done this, it would have been leaving the door open, again, for NYTimes to be a prime destination for live streaming of the debate. For broadcasters fighting for every eyeball out there, that would have been a mistake. More evidence of how broadband is creating competition between previously disparate media worlds.

     
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  • Presidential Debate Video on NYTimes.com is Classic Broadband Disruption

    Here's a classic example of how broadband is causing traditionally distinct worlds to collide: on Friday night the NYTimes.com opened up a dedicated streaming video window on their home page, where the presidential debate played for the full hour and a half. I watched the first half of the debate there, before switching on the TV and watching it on CNN HD. While HD was obviously superior, the NYTimes.com's video was more than adequate (though disappointing there was no full screen option).

    Saturday morning and NYTimes.com is offering the video on demand, with an accompanying full written transcript. You can search (try typing "wrong" to see), to get how many times each candidate used that term, and then jump to the points in the video when it was used (alas, it would be great if the Times gave the ability to clip that specific segment and virally distribute it). The Times does offer a "check point" feature, where it fact checks the candidate's assertions. Note that other sites like ABCNews.com and CNN.com have the debate on demand today as well, but not the interactive features that NYTimes.com has.

     

    Stop and consider how significant all of this is - a print publisher using broadband to offer a clear alternative to broadcasters and cable networks in carrying high-quality video. It's a great value proposition just for people without access to TVs at the moment of the live event, but more important, it provides a glimpse of some very interesting additional opportunities for NYTimes.com.

    For example, the site could host its own post-debate punditry show, assembling its all-star lineup of daily Times columnists. Dedicated Times readers would no doubt love to see a roundtable with Frank Rich, Tom Friedman, William Kristol, Maureen Dowd and others dissect the candidates' performances, rather than waiting for their thoughts to come in columns over the next several days. Also think about how this type of show would scoop Sunday talk shows like NBC's "Meet the Press" or ABC's "This Week with George S." in bringing serious punditry to political junkies who can't wait.

    In fact, the NYTimes.com could even offer viewers the ability to interact with their columnists, building on the wildly popular commenting feature already available with each daily piece in the paper itself. This type of immediacy and interactivity would be very compelling. The site could also offer the live debate video stream with a companion chat area that would enable viewer engagement during the debate itself (see Paltalk for an example of how this could work).

    And last but not least, NYTimes.com could offer a single premium sponsorship slot to underwrite its whole debate coverage. Think Mercedes, Four Seasons, Cartier or other upscale brands might be interested?

    As I've said many times, broadband blurs previously siloed worlds, bringing more competition to traditional players like broadcast and cable networks. They now need to deliver more to stay competitive. For video entrants like NYTimes, broadband creates enormous new opportunities to both leverage core assets/talent and pioneer new and different ways to create value. Another reminder why broadband is so disruptive for so many.

    What do you think? Post a comment.

     
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  • SF Chronicle Provides Video Compilation of Clinton Campaign

    Last Thursday I remarked on a really professional documentary video that the NY Times produced which offered a retrospective on Hillary Clinton's candidacy. The Times promoted it on page one, which I thought was pretty significant evidence of how newspapers are capitalizing on broadband video's news opportunities.

    I just noticed another great example of a newspaper's involvement with video. Check out what the SF Chronicle posted on its SFGate.com site last Friday. Rather than producing their own documentary video, they culled about a dozen videos (mainly from YouTube) that were turning points in the campaign.

    The accompanying article makes great points about how important broadband video is becoming in the political process. It also notes that video's uncontrolled and unscripted nature are important differences that candidates need to understand and embrace. The article is spot on and well-worth a read.

     
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  • New York Times Highlights Clinton Video on Page One

    Catching a train to NYC this morning to moderate at the Advertising 2.0 conference, I picked up a New York Times, something I rarely do anymore, having moved to the online version a long time ago. In a sign of the times (no pun) there on page one, under a huge picture of Barack Obama the caption identified him outside the Capitol yesterday, and continued, "A video looks at his party's long and grueling primary battle: nytimes.com/politics."

    It's pretty cool to think that this is where things have progressed to: a major newspaper prominently highlighting a video it has fully produced as part of its news coverage. Talk about a blurring of the lines between different media segments. Going online I found the video, shot in documentary style with narration to be every bit as professional as something one would find on the networks.

    My only gripe is that the video is woefully under-monetized. No pre-roll, post-roll or mid-rolls in a 10+ minute video. And even the accompanying display ad is a house ad for the Times's career columnist. If the Times is going to invest in creating great video, it should at least make money at it! Hopefully next time...
     
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  • Welcome to the "Syndicated Video Economy"

    I am ever mindful of the old adage about "missing the forest for the trees" as I try daily to understand the often minor feature differences between competing vendors or the nuances of startups' market positioning. As we all know, when you get too close to something, it's quite easy to lose the larger perspective. So periodically I think it's essential to take a huge step back to try to identify the larger patterns or trends that crystallize from the daily frenzy of deals and announcements.

    As a result, I've come to believe that recent industry activity points to an emerging and significant trend: the early formation of what I would term the "syndicated video economy." By this I mean to suggest that I'm seeing more and more industry participants' strategies - in both media and technology - start from the proposition that the broadband video industry will only succeed if video assets are widely dispersed and revenue creatively apportioned.

    For content providers the notion of widespread video syndication big change in their business approach. In the past year I think we've observed content providers of all stripes transition from "aggregating eyeballs", to "accessing eyeballs," wherever they may live now or in the future: portals, social networks, portable devices, game consoles, etc. Underlying this shift is the realization that advertising-based revenues are going to fuel the broadband video industry for the foreseeable future. The ad model requires scale and syndication is the best way to deliver it.

    This shift by content providers has been accompanied by a loosening of traditional tightly-controlled, scarcity-driven distribution strategies, an acknowledgement that fighting newly-empowered consumers is a futile exercise. The evidence of this shift abounds. Consider the broadcasters like CBS, NBC and Fox, which through their affiliates (Hulu, CBS Audience Network) are syndicating programming to many portals/aggregators (e.g. Yahoo, MSN, AOL, YouTube), social networks (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo) and others. And Disney's Stage 9 digital studio, which premiered with YouTube and explicitly plans to tap into broadband video hubs. And cable networks like MTV Networks, which is pursuing a plethora of distribution deals. And traditional news-gatherers like local TV stations, newspapers and news services (e.g. Reuters, AP) which have stepped up their activity to scatter their video clips to the Internet's nooks and crannies. And the list goes on and on.

    Taking their cue from the media companies' strategy shift, technology entrepreneurs and investors have ramped up their focus on this market opportunity. The prospect of the syndicated video economy blossoming drives news/information distributors such as Voxant, ClipSyndicate, Mochilla, TheNewsMarket and RedLasso, an ad manager such as FreeWheel, and a content accelerator such as Signiant, plus many others. Then there are more established companies guiding areas of their product development process by the prospect of the syndicated video economy's growth: Google, WorldNow, Akamai, thePlatform, Anystream, Maven Networks, Brightcove, PermissionTV and plenty of others (apologies to those I've left out!)

    All of this suggests that the eventual "value chain" of the broadband video industry will look quite different than the traditional one (for more on this, I've posted some my slides from late '07 here.) As with all economies, in the nascent syndicated video economy there is vast interdependence among the various players, not to mention shifting market positions and degrees of pricing power and negotiating leverage. It is far too early to gauge who will emerge as the syndicated video economy's winners and losers. But make no mistake, lots of energy and investment will be expended trying to nurture its growth and exploit its opportunities.

    Do you see the syndicated video economy forming as well? Post a comment and let us all know!

     
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  • WSJ's Video Approach is Right

    WSJ continues to distinguish itself among all newspapers in how well they’re executing on their broadband video opportunities. I did a case study on WSJ’s video efforts last quarter with Bob Leverone, their VP in charge, so I’m very familiar with their operation and approach. It’s very sophisticated.

    Most recent case in point: A few days ago I was perusing the WSJ Online (to which I subscribe) and there was a headline about Barclays Bank raising money from China and Singapore to help fund its attempted $90B+ takeover of ABN Amro, a Dutch bank. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care much about this kind of story, but because a good buddy of mine works for Barclays in London, I thought I’d take a moment to understand what it all means.

    From the graphic above, you can see that the Journal has an embedded video player (theirs is from Brightcove, but could as easily be from Maven, PermissionTV, thePlatform, etc. depending) with a 5 minute interview being conducted by Dennis Berman, WSJ’s M&A reporter with Bob Diamond, Barclay’s president.

    Prominently weaving this interview in with the customary text-based reporting is a textbook example of how NON-VIDEO publishers are using broadband to distinguish themselves and why existing video providers (namely cable & broadcast channels) have a mountain of credible competition coming their way.

    Mr. Berman expertly led Mr. Diamond through the interview betraying no evidence that he’s actually a print reporter. In fact I liked his open collar, non-made-up appearance, it felt quite authentic. The overall package delivers a multi-dimensional view of the story. And note the byline is actually from 3 other reporters, not Mr. Berman. So the Journal is tapping his expertise for the video contribution, creating a new twist on newsroom collaboration.

    Meanwhile, the Journal’s video has opened up an entirely new revenue stream. And with its unparalleled reader/viewer base, they’ve been able to monetize their inventory at $75+ CPM, certainly among the highest rates around. The Journal’s broadband potential and how it will support Fox Business News’s upcoming launch has to be squarely on Rupert’s radar as he attempts to take over Dow Jones.

     
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  • Boston Globe and Boston.com Show Why Broadband Gives Newspapers New Lease on Life

    Recently the Boston Globe, my local newspaper, ran a 9,000 word, 2 part cover story in its Sunday magazine about a successful family physician who concludes at age 52 that he would be happier as a woman. Regardless of your personal views or politics, it has to be one of the most poignant and riveting pieces of journalism about transsexuals.

    But what makes the piece truly winning is that the Globe went the extra mile by shooting 2 short videos (4-5 minutes each) to accompany each part of the story and featured them prominently online, just below the titles. The videos are shot in documentary style and while likely low cost to produce, they more than hit the mark.

    What these packages demonstrate is how a traditional newspaper is able to offer a totally different (and I would argue, immeasurably more engaging) user experience with some simple video. This story in particular screams out for more than just words on a page, because it deals with a subject both foreign and somewhat mysterious to many readers. For example, what does the doctor look and sound like after the operations described in the article? Do her/his office colleagues sound convincing when they say they supported his sex change decision? Does s/he seem happy now, after all the traumas her/his family has been through?

    These are the kinds of emotional subtleties that video is unrivaled at delivering. The Globe gets huge kudos for treating this story in a manner that marks a distinct break from traditional newspaper journalism. And it is yet another example of how newspapers shouldn't be counted out as dinosaurs yet in the Internet age. Broadband is offering them a whole new lease on life as trusted news and information providers. Shame on them if they don't seize the opportunity.

     
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  • Nisenholtz’s Streaming Media Keynote: Times Gets Broadband Video

    I was at Streaming Media East today, moderating a session (“Broadband Video: What’s the Formula for Content Success?). First off, kudos to Dan Rayburn and the SM team – there was a ton of energy at the conference, lots of exhibitors and great sessions.

     

    I got a chance to sit in on Martin Niesenholtz’s keynote. As many of you know, Martin’s the longtime SVP, Digital Operations, for the New York Times Company.

     
    As many of you know, I’ve been very bullish on newspapers’ opportunity to use broadband to morph themselves from print-only outlets to multi-platform content providers. The Times has really been out in front on this. Some key stats Martin shared:
    • 5M streams/month – up 3x from a year ago
    • 20 people dedicated to video
    • 100 new video pieces created/month

    Martin shared a back-of-the-envelope analysis he’s done to back into how many streams the Times needs to provide to generate $30M in annual revenue from video. His calculation: 60M streams per month, or 12X today’s rate. I didn’t agree with all of his assumptions (for example he assumed $60 CPMs, which is too high, yet only a 1:1 ratio of ads:streams, which I think is too low given the opportunity to surround an in-line video player with display ads), but I did think he was in the ballpark.

     
    Importantly, he’s targeting to generate 5X the viewership of Times video via 3rd party distributors as will be generated at Times.com. Pretty strong endorsement of the syndication model.
     
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  • Revisiting the Long Tail on My Cable Show Panel Next Week

    Next week I’ll be in Vegas for the annual Cable Show. This is the cable TV industry’s annual gathering of operators, programmers and vendors. I’ve been attending this show for years and it’s great fun to reconnect with lots of old colleagues and friends.
     
    Last year I moderated a session with video executives from AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo, which, based on feedback I received afterwards, helped a lot of attendees understand how significant these companies are going to be in the video distribution business (and therefore, why they need to be on cable executives’ radar screens).
     
    Once again I’ll be moderating a discussion session, this year entitled, “Video’s Online Adventure: New Ideas for a New Generation of Television.” The session features Doug Hurst, SVP, Scripps Networks, Joe Gillespie, EVP, CNET, Ian Blaine, CEO, thePlatform, Bob Leverone, VP Video, Dow Jones Online and Karl Quist, President, TotalVid.
     
    As a former “cable guy”, one of my main goals with these sessions is to continue helping the industry recognize that the world of video is changing dramatically. Cable executives have been remarkably adaptive to change over the years. But with broadband’s openness now allowing scores of new video providers and distributors into the market, many of cable’s fundamental operating assumptions are going to be severely tested.
     
    For example, if the concept of the Long Tail (originally an article, and now a book by Chris Anderson), is applied to the cable industry it suggests that cable’s “walled-garden” content paradigm is going to be undermined by broadband’s infinite choice and personalization. I wrote an extensive piece about this way back in March, 2005 and I think it’s truer now than ever.
     
    All of the panelists have a great vantage point to comment on the Long Tail’s impact on cable. Bob and Joe come from publishers (print and online respectively) that haven’t done a lot with video previously, but are now aggressively pursuing it. Karl has started a specialty video distribution business that is only possible due to broadband. Doug’s company is leveraging broadband to create many new broadband experiences. Finally Ian’s company is powering many broadband video initiatives from established and startups.
     
    All in all, this group will bring an invaluable perspective to attendees trying to figure out how the video proliferation that broadband is causing will impact their corner of the cable business!
     
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