Posts Tagged ‘movies’


FCC approves $30 Billion NBC – Comcast deal…with many strings attached

Friday, January 21st, 2011
Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved a pending $30 billion joint venture which allows Comcast to own 51 percent of NBC Universal. The approval comes 13 months after the two sides announced their plan to merge one of the nation’s largest cable and internet operators with a broadcaster whose assets include NBC and Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Universal Pictures. Comcast controls 24 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and NBC owns 12 percent of what is viewed on television. A match made in heaven? Not so fast… Over the last year this deal was met with heavy opposition from consumer advocate groups who argued consumers would have less influence over the newly formed company while online distributors worried about the possibility of having to pay a premium for NBC’s content, which would be controlled by one of their largest competitors in the distribution space. (Source: LA Times Blog, Entertainment News Buzz, January 2011.)

On paper this looks like an unstoppable combination in the making, and could potentially open the door for similar deals between content providers and cable and online providers. Although some were successful and some flopped, this is not the first time we’ve seen this type of marriage before – CBS/Viacom, AOL/Time Warner, Time Warner/Turner. With Comcast controlling NBC’s network and cable shows as well as their movies, it would seem their 15 million subscription base would be the perfect captive audience to view their content with competing cable and online providers forced to pay a kings ransom for the rights to their shows and movies. The FCC, however, put conditions on the deal to prevent any funny business with the hopes of maintaining as much “net neutrality” as possible.

One of the conditions requires Comcast to make its content available to all rival cable and satellite distributors as well as online distributors, and has to offer it’s content for the same price to everyone. They are also required to sell their internet service as a standalone service – this is significant since online distributors (Netflix) gives you the ability to access content without a cable subscription but requires internet service. The FCC is also asking Comcast to relinquish its day-to-day control of their online site HULU, allowing them to maintain an ownership stake but stripping them of any voting rights or the ability to suddenly make content unavailable from the site. (Source: Reuters, January, 18, 2011.)

So before everybody bows down to this newly formed Media behemoth, let’s remember… a lot has changed over the last 13 months since their initial announcement, and the conditions put on the new merger by the FCC (if enforced) will help neutralize any abuses of power. The consumer now has more options with the rise of online providers (Netflix, Google, and Apple TV) and will ultimately choose their services based on the quality of the entertainment, not the amount of channels offered or where the channel falls on the dial.

The pressure now falls squarely on the shoulders of NBC Universal. Without quality content from NBC, Comcast will quickly begin to wonder why they paid all of that money and went through all of the trouble of diversifying their business. The competition is sure to be fierce between cable and online providers; content providers will continue to fight for better licensing agreements for their content and in the end consumers will also have to ask themselves… is it all worth it?

2010 Trends and 2011 Predictions for Public Relations, Marketing, and Social Media

Monday, December 20th, 2010

How can 2010 almost be over? I am reminded daily by all the blog posts and articles highlighting the “Best of 2010 Trends” and predictions for 2011… I’m not ready. I don’t have my Christmas shopping done, my tree is not decorated, and I haven’t sent any Christmas cards. Realizing I’m behind, I thought a review of other’s ideas on what was hot for 2010 and what we should be looking for in 2011 would be appropriate for this post.

The End of ‘Social Media’
Paul Gillin, a long-time tech-journalist, asks that we stop talking about “social media” in 2011. He explains, “It’s not that social media is no longer important. On the contrary, there’s almost no media today that isn’t social.”

4 Netsquared Social Good Trends for 2010
Geoff Livingston compiles some of the reflections presented to TechSoup/NetSquared regarding the trends for 2010. Among them: “mobile as a legitimate grassroots platform” and emerging tools for “visualizing data.”

2010 Trends on Twitter
Twitter recently released its year in review, announcing the top trending topics across of a variety of categories. “Gulf Oil Spill,” “FIFA World Cup,” and the movie Inception were the three overall top trends.

Facebook Reveals Top Status Trends of 2010
Adding to the list of status trends, Facebook also announced its most popular terms for 2010. The most popular status trend for 2010 was HMU (“hit me up,” as in to call or text me), followed by “World Cup” and “Movies”

2011: The Year Social Media Comes of Age
Social Media Today, contributor Chris Symes offers three takeaways from a recent presentation by Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter, on “the career path of the social media strategist.” One of the key tips for 2011: “Know your ROI.”

2011 Trends in Social Media
Don’t Drink the Kool-aid blog gives some perspective on what 2011 will hold for PR and social media. Two trends to consider are that “companies will opt for agencies that specialize in social media” and “companies will turn to agencies for help with blogs as part of social media management.”

2011 Digital Trends – Shifts in US Online Population Demographics
Alina Popescu, Everything PR, highlights some online population trends as forecasted by eMarketer. She notes that, “Recent research from the Association of National Advertisers shows marketers are already capitalizing on the digital trends, with more than half of US marketers stating they will increase multicultural spending on both traditional and newer media.”

The Illusion of Predicting the Future, and How to Manipulate the Public Perception in 2011
While some of these predictions and year-end reviews can help public relations and communications practitioners plan for the year ahead, Mihaela Lica Butler, also a contributor on Everything PR, cautions the industry about “piling crap and calling it research” and reveals “how to manipulate the public perception in 2011.”

What did you think were the top trends of 2010? Can you share your ideas and predictions for 2011 with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?

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.

Tuning Out The Recession: Entertainment Proves To Be A Great Escape

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Living in Manhattan for the last 12 years, I’ve come to rely on the movie theater as my sanctuary – and not only as an excuse to leave my tiny New York apartment or to load up on heavily salted popcorn. For two hours I distract myself from my busy job at BurrellesLuce and any of life’s troubles by immersing myself in escapist fare. These days I’m not the only one going to the cinema for a healthy dose of big-screen therapy.

According to Box Office Mojo, year-to-date theatrical receipts in the U.S. and Canada are up 12 percent. More evidence that people are upping their movie dosage this year: Paramount Pictures’ new release Transformers Revenge of the Fallen earned $201 million, the biggest five-day performance ever for a film that lets_all_go_to_the_lobby11.jpgdebuted on a Wednesday.

However, the movie industry isn’t the only bright spot. According to isuppli, shipments of flat panel televisions are up 17.3 percent year-over-year in the U.S. and Canada. While this increase is in part due to more competitive pricing and the recent transition from analog to digital signals, it could also be attributed to people staying home more. Analysts at iSuppli suggest that “amid the economic downturn a new wave of ‘cocooning’ has hit, with recession wary U.S. consumers eschewing travel, staying home and watching their televisions; however they are still finding enough money to buy new flat panel sets that offer superior picture and larger sizes.”

In a Los Angeles Times article, Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior firm, confirms: “Many consumers see a TV more as a necessity than a frivolous purchase. When you ask consumers what item in the house gives you the most enjoyment, TVs will always be No. 1.”

Certainly this is all welcome news not only for the movie studios, cable and network TV, theater owners, etc., but also for all of us that need a little break from reality now and then.

With people eating out less (expected to be down 1 percent in 2009), spending less on new clothes (down 5 percent), and a sluggish housing market (existing home sales down 3.5 percent) – is it fair to say Americans are sacrificing food, clothing and shelter for the opportunity to watch CSI: Miami on a new 55″ LCD model with backlighting? Or Universal Studio’s latest release Public Enemies, where Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger set during the Great Depression? I wonder if in 1933 Dillinger would catch MGM’s Dinner at Eight or Little Women with the hope of getting his mind off the FBI and agent Melvin Purvis.

If the economy has you down – for the relatively low cost of a movie or a night spent watching TV at home, your great escape awaits.