Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Business And The Binge

The folks at Harris Interactive released some new information about TV consumption and it doesn’t bode well for the traditional business models – not even for the dual revenue model that empowered cable and which traditional broadcast is mimicking these days.  While I think any of us who pay attention to viewing research both via the boob tube and via other platforms are aware that things have changed, these numbers show that they’ve done so to a far greater extent than one might think.  Let’s see if you agree.

Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can read the data from Harris here but in brief what it shows is that younger people stream more stuff and set their own viewing times.  They also tend to “binge” view – they’ll watch all the episodes from a season of a show straight through over several hours.  If you’re over 55, there’s a 2 out of 3 chance you’re being your own program scheduler.  If you’re under 40, that becomes a 9 out of 10 chance.  Most of the way that on-demand viewing is done is NOT via a system controlled by the cable operators among younger demos.  While the older audience tends to use the services the operators make available via their set-top box or DVR, younger people have wandered well off the ranch.

As Harris points out:

Self-scheduled and binge television viewing trends suggest implications for the television industry at large, potentially impacting both advertisers and content producers.  For advertisers, the clearest impact is that some of these viewers will be taking in contact on platforms beyond their reach, such as Netflix and Amazon’s VOD services.

Content producers, meanwhile, have both positive and negative implications to explore. On the upside, the ability to quickly catch up on past seasons of existing shows, particularly ones with complex storylines, could give more viewers the opportunity to jump into new episodes without confusion. On the downside, viewers watching when they choose, not when it airs, can play havoc with ratings.

Taking that to next the step, when the traditional currency of TV – ratings – suffers through a huge deflation, the basic underpinning of the business will follow.  Yikes!

I don’t know that the above research is huge news – look at how your own media habits have changed.  What is surprising is the extent to which these changes are now a way of life.  Let’s see how the business follows the audience – nothing like “interesting” times!

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Filed under digital media, What's Going On

Much Ado About Much Ado

Over the weekend, we went to the movies (The Big Wedding, since you’re asking).

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

As we sat watching the previews of coming attractions, up came a trailer for the new Joss Whedon movie. It’s a comedy about two couples and their very different viewpoints on love and it’s filled with twists and turns and snappy dialog.  Here’s the thing:  it was written 400 years ago and yet it seems from the trailer that the script is the same.  “Much Ado About Nothing” was written by Shakespeare long before “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and yet the same guy (Whedon) can make both of them work.

As I sat watching, I was struck immediately by the fact that while the look is modern and the technology that’s delivering the “play” (digital projection) is quite state of the art, it’s the same Elizabethan language.  Which of course prompted a business thought.

More and more, brands and businesses are content producers.  I’m not sure Shakespeare ever thought of himself as such, but that’s what we’d brand him today.  We may think of what he produced as art but at the time it was often about commerce, so I don’t think of it as totally dissimilar.  What’s amazing is that not only has it survived but it has been reinterpreted across many different channels for centuries.  We saw Macbeth as a one-man show a couple of weeks ago and it worked as well as the times we’ve seen it with a full cast.

Here’s the thing: you probably don’t think of what you produce as having to hold up for 400 years.  I’m not Shakespeare did either but isn’t that a great goal?  Motion pictures didn’t happen for a few hundred years and yet this is at least the fifth film version of the script, each of which looks different but all of which remain true to Shakespeare’s vision.

Given the short-term mentality of much of media and business today, it’s easy to think about the next content cycle rather than the long term.  Isn’t it amazing what can happen when a little extra time and care are invested in creating something timeless?  Going viral indeed – for centuries!

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud


For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, I want to talk about MSG.  No, not the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, but the stuff many people ask not be added to their food in Chinese restaurants.  MSG is Monosodium Glutamate and the reason many folks avoid it is something called Chinese Food Syndrome.   You may know someone who believes it affects them when they eat MSG.  They tell you that they get flushed, they develop a headache, they might even experience numbness.

99% Pure

(Photo credit: dltq)

All of these symptoms were reported in a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. A doctor noticed his friends had complained of similar symptoms after going for Chinese food – flushing, headaches, and numbness. Over the years, his letter turned into reports of a big study that demonstrated how MSG caused these effects and so people avoid it.  Here’s the problem:  scientists have been unable to replicate any of these physical manifestations in tests.  Chinese Food Syndrome  has never been demonstrated under rigorously controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to the compound.  People hear the myth and don’t want to take the chance they will be similarly affected.

It’s not really surprising.  MSG is a substance that naturally occurs in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and  aged steaks among other foods and people who avoid it in Chinese food probably eat it like crazy all the time. Yet the myth goes on and people ask that it be left out of their food.  Which is, of course, the business point.

Many businesses labor under the burden of myth.  These myths generally surface when someone, probably a new employee, asks about a business practice they’ve encountered elsewhere or a missed opportunity they’ve figured out.  They’re often told some myth at that point about why the business just can’t go in that direction which is not based on fact but on some urban legend.

Maybe it’s the myth about “we don’t need to hire an expert to do social media – it’s free and everyone here uses it.”   Then there’s the one I get told to me a lot: you don’t need to get paid to consult for start-ups since taking equity will be worth a lot more.  Or maybe it’s the one about how working for yourself solves all your business problems…

What myths go on in your business or in your office?  What “truths” are told without being based in fact?  Just as MSG makes food taste better, whether it’s natural or added, adding facts to your business life makes it a lot more palatable as well.

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Filed under food, Reality checks