Posts Tagged ‘Fox’


Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell the difference between Fox and Hulu, HBO and Netflix, or CNN and YouTube.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

sneetchesThe recent jockeying for position and struggle to find an identity within the crowded and competitive world of network, cable, streaming video, and online television reminds me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories, The Sneetches. The Sneetches were a group of yellow creatures, some with green stars on their bellies (a sign of distinction) and some without, until a character named Sylvester McMonkey McBean offers those without stars a chance to add them by going through his Star-On machine. In order to stay special the Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in his Star-Off machine. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next, and to quote the good Doctor,

“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one… or that one was this one or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

The last few month, the news out of the “television” world has been very Seuss-like to say the least:

At this year’s winter TV press tour Kevin Reilly, entertainment president, Fox Broadcasting Company, revealed that his network plans to use web content as a development tool for the airwaves. “Something that starts in digital could be the next big primetime hit… We have an expertise, and a history, and proficiency, and a primetime audience base,” he confirms in this Atlantic.com article about 5 Ways the Networks Want to Change How You Watch TV. Reilly goes on to use Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow (of Friends fame) as one example of a web-only series that has successfully made the switch and is now aired on Showtime.

In an effort to kick start their declining subscription base, Netflix is beginning to act more like a network rather than your average streaming video provider. By jumping into the original programming waters, Netflix plans to release three new series in 2012 – starting with Lilyhammer, a crime comedy set in Norway’s former Winter Olympics headquarters, starring The Soprano’s Steven Van Zandt. Not to be outdone and fresh off a year where they realized 60 percent revenue growth in 2011, the web streaming service Hulu is launching its first ever original scripted series. Battleground, a mockumentary series described as “The Office meets The West Wing, premieres February 14, explains, this opinion brief on TheWeek.com.

And remember when YouTube was just a site where you could watch short clips of people doing funny and unusual things? Well, last week Reuters joined CNN and the BBC by unveiling its own channel to be shown on the popular video sharing site. The channels will show original content from Reuters on YouTube, which will allow them to leverage an army of over 3,000 reporters worldwide.

I doubt all the players involved with getting content to the masses will end up in blissful harmony like our friends the Sneetches, but it should be fun watching them run from one machine to the next having their green stars removed and re-added over again.

What are your thoughts? Please share them with me here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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In PR and the Media: August 30, 2011

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Condé Nast Launches New Social Tool (FishbowlNY)
“Condé Nast is getting more social with the launch of Social Sidekick, a web tool that will aggregate the most shared pieces from some of its many brands. The tool launches Wednesday, and will showcase popular articles from W, Style.com, Glamour, Self, Teen Vogue and Lucky.”

Here’s Why Fox News Claims Gawker’s Traffic Fell 75 Percent (Forbes.com)
“Fox News and Gawker are going at it again. The Rupert Murdoch-owned cable channel says Gawker is irrelevant, so much so that its irrelevancy needs to be discussed both on Fox’s No. 1-rated air and on its website. The Nick Denton-owned gossip site says Fox’s logic-challenged attack is preemptive payback — pretaliation? — for a juicy story on a major Fox personality it’s getting set to publish.”

Steve Jobs’ Greatest Legacy: Persuading The World To Pay For Content (PaidContent.org)
“Jobs pried open many content companies’ thinking, because his focus was always on getting something great to the customer with as few obstacles as possible.”

Study Reveals Facebook Age Gap: Older Users Don’t ‘Like’ It, But Are More Likely To Click Through (MediaPost)
“Don’t expect Facebook users age 50+ to ‘Like’ a product or service in an ad, but do expect them to click through to the landing page or Web site, according to a new study.”

G.E. to Produce Short Films About Innovation (NYTimes/MediaCoder)
“General Electric just can’t stay away from the movies. Barely eight months after ceding control of NBC Universal and its Universal Studios to Comcast, G.E. is diving into the documentary world as the financial backer of 30 three-minute films by directors including Morgan Spurlock (“POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”), Joe Berlinger (“Crude”), Barbara Kopple (“Shut Up and Sing”) and Alex Gibney (“Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place”).”

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In PR and the Media: August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Time to Review Public Subsidies For Media, Says Study Authors (GreenSlade Blog)
A new report from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and Dr. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (and Geert Linnebank) concludes, “It is time to review and renew media policy arrangements and bring them in line with the principles purportedly behind them and with the times that we live in.”

Miramax Launching Multi-Title Facebook Movie App In U.S., UK & Turkey (PaidContent.org)
Miramax eXperience launches on Facebook, giving users the ability to rent some 20 U.S. titles. Movies cost 30 Facebook credits ($3) and can be viewed over the course of 48 hours.

Specific Media Settles Flash Cookie Suit, Promises Never To Use Them (MediaPost)
A privacy lawsuit between web user Stefen Kaufman and Specific Media, which recently purchased MySpace, has been settled for an undisclosed sum.  But the debate over Flash cookies and ETags are far from other. AOL, Hulu, and Kissmetrics, are just a few the companies that still have cases pending against them.

Tumblr Talking To Top VCs About An $800 Million+ Valuation (BusinessInsider)
As Tumblr continues its expansions reports are speculating that the blogging giant is in talks to raise $75 million to $100 million.

Fox’s 8 Day Delay On Hulu Triggers Piracy Surge (FreakTorrent)
In an effort to encourage viewers to watch its shows live, Fox has stopped posting its shows online the day after the show airs. The result: viewers, who would ordinarily seek legal streams to view their shows, are now frequenting pirated sources.

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Battles Rage Over Content, as Netflix Changes the Game in the Web TV and Streaming Video Space Once Again

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

ba-netflix0811_f_SFCG1281474279With the help of Wikipedia, I learned the different types of battles that are fought. If you’ve been following what is going on in the latest turf wars between the cable providers (Time Warner Cable, Comcast), online providers (Netflix, Hulu) and media Companies (Fox, CBS) – you’d see very different strategies deployed by each side. All have one common goal in mind…control the distribution of entertainment to consumers, and all seems fair in this war. 

A “battle of attrition” aims to inflict losses on an enemy that are less sustainable compared to one’s own losses.

According to this New York Times, Netflix recently made a bold move by launching a new “streaming only” service, offering unlimited streaming movies and TV shows for a mere $7.99 a month. Also, in addition to Netflix paying the Post Office a whopping $500 million dollars a year in postage to mail out their signature red envelopes filled with disks, they will now pay studios another hefty sum for rights to their movies by recently completing a combined deal with Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate for one billion dollars. This does not include deals Netflix made earlier in the year with other major studios, such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Universal and 20th Century Fox.

So why are cable providers like Time Warner Cable and Comcast getting hot under the collar? Let’s take a closer look:

Netflix currently pays Starz, a pay TV channel, about 15 cents a month for each subscriber (which allows their customers to watch streaming movies from Sony and Disney), pennies compared to the $4 to $5 a month that cable and satellite owners pay for access to Starz, according to Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research.

These types of deals, which allow consumers to access a larger catalogue of movies and bypass their local cable provider by accessing them online, couldn’t come at a worse time for companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Cable providers already reported a net loss of 119,000 customers in the third quarter of 2010, the largest decline in 30 years.

A “battle of envelopment” involves an attack on one or both flanks.

Comcast is fighting back on two fronts by slapping Level 3 Communications, a provider of internet backbone services, which handles Netflix content, with “additional traffic fees.” Incidentally, Comcast, who’s acquisition of NBC is imminent, already competes directly with Netflix through their new acquisition of Hulu (Comcast owns 32 percent stake in Hulu). The rate hike could easily be seen as a way for Comcast to milk their competition, however, they can make the argument that Netflix’s massive volume is overtaxing their system and therefore should pay more. A recent study by Sandvine, a broadband equipment maker, showed that Netflix’s 16 million customers accounted for more than 20 percent of all Internet download traffic in North America during peak evening hours)

A “battle of encounter” is a meeting engagement where the opposing sides collide in the field without either having prepared their attack or defense.

If all of this wasn’t enough to make cable executives nervous, Netflix followed up their unlimited streaming offer by announcing a deal with newly formed film studio, FilmDistrict. As highlighted in this New York Observer article, the part of this deal that could prove to be a game changer is that it doesn’t include the standard “pay TV window” wherein new releases go to the cable industry first, then premier on Netlifx a few months later. 

According to The New York Post, Netflix is also in talks with studios about gaining access to “current episodes” of primetime TV shows and is willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode. This is a first since Netflix has always offered only TV shows from past seasons.

Through all of this, media companies have been in constant negotiations with all of the “content distributors” – cable providers (Time Warner Cable and Comcast) and online providers (Netflix) – with behemoths like Google, Sony and Apple waiting in the wings as all three plan to compete in the game of online streaming distribution. Google, however, has already met heavy resistance from the networks. ABC, CBS, and NBC who all said they would not allow Google TV to stream full episodes of their shows. This should make for some interesting future negotiations between the two sides. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the networks suddenly changed their mind if Google TV’s relatively new service begins to take off.

A “battle of annihilation” is one in which the defeated party is destroyed in the field.

So what about the consumer, the eyeballs everyone’s vying for in all of this? I for one couldn’t be happier with all of the choices I suddenly have to watch movies or TV shows. The Internet is once again threatening the “middleman,” or, as I like to think of it, just another case of the Internet once again replacing one of the “brokers” of the world. We’ve seen it happen to some extent with real estate, stock trading … and now entertainment.  For 30 years cable providers have been the “brokers” for entertainment, bringing media and consumers together. It appears, for the moment at least, another “broker” is in jeopardy of once again being replaced by the Internet.

So what are your thoughts? Who do you think will win the on-going battle? Are you happy with the choices you have to access entertainment content? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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Rise in Ad Spending Contributes to Media Companies’ Strong Q3 Earnings Led by Fox News Corp, Time Warner, and CBS

Monday, November 8th, 2010
Image Source: Positive Real Estate Professionals.com

Image Source: Positive Real Estate Professionals.com

I was about to write my post on how the latest and greatest technology is changing media – until I saw last week’s earnings releases start to roll in from the media sector. Time Warner (TW), Fox and then CBS all posted double digit increases: 

  • CBS saw a 42 percent increase in third quarter profits.
  • Fox cable network unit’s quarterly income improved by $146 million compared to the same period a year ago.
  • TW’s better than expected earnings contributed 62 cents per share, compared with Wall Street projections of 53 cents.

(Source: New York Times, “Profit Rises at Time Warner and at News Corporation,” 11.3.10)

The media giants earnings from last quarter are not only good news for shareholders, but for an industry that has seen its share of challenges over the last two years – battling online sites, cord cutting (customers canceling their pricey pay-TV subscriptions), falling TV ad revenues, not to mention the economy. According to this Reuters article, TW and Fox reiterated they saw no signs of cord cutting, a term adopted from the telephone companies to describe the shift from land lines to cell phones. “’I don’t get this cord cutting issue,’ News Corp Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said on a conference call. ‘I feel it is a fundamental service that for American households is a fundamental part of what they do with their time, and what they value in their life.’”

The biggest reason for their strong earnings could be the most telling – and hopefully sustainable – number of all. All three media giants saw very encouraging increases in ad revenue in 2010. Both CBS and TW were up 10 percent, while Fox News Corp was up a whopping 16 percent from their domestic cable channels. (Source: Reuters, “WRAPUP 1-Media Sector Wrings Hands on 2011 Outlook,” 11.3.10)

Political ad spending was a nice shot in the arm for TV, with 2010 being an election year. In fact, political ad spending, for this year, is predicted at three billion dollars and may top 4.2 billion dollars, notes this Adage Age article.

Any numbers from 2010 should come in higher compared to a dreadful year in 2009. Last year TV ad spending was down by nine percent, led by a shredded car industry with the sectors TV ad spending down 23 percent compared to 2008. However, the increase in ad spending this year is still very impressive and driving revenue for a hard-pressed industry.

As quoted from this New York Times article, “’The takeaway is that advertising is strong,’ said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Nomura. ‘The video ecosystem of affiliate fees and advertising seems to be holding up well.’”

This earnings season is proving to be a rebound year for media companies and is confirming what I have been writing about for the last two years – the same idea Sumner Redstone expressed before delivering very impressive earnings – “Content is King!”

The recipe seems simple for big media: provide great content; find a way to monetize the content; keep costs down; and let the content fall where it may. Then kick back and watch the revenue streams flow regardless of which platform audiences use to consume the content. It certainly is good to be king…at least for the moment.

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