Tag Archives: Media Conglomerates

Following The Audience

One of the biggest things one can learn in the business world is how to adapt to changing environments.

English: American family watching TV (cropped)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suspect that a lot of executives believed they were good at it until they faced the challenges of the last decade.  It’s relatively easy when you’re in start-up mode to pivot the business from one model to the next.  Once you’re a mid-size enterprise or a public company (much harder since every move is public and scrutinized by analysts and shareholders).

The better media companies can and have done this.  For example, most of the traditional television networks have accepted that their role has changed.  They once were programmers who decided what the audience would watch based on time of day.  Audience flow created by content choreography was a big deal.  Today they are curators.  They have learned to buy or create programs and to present them in a channel-agnostic fashion.  Why?  To survive.  37 percent of U.S. consumers now own a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop, which is a whopping 42 percent increase year-over-year. Women comprised 35 percent of this group two years ago; now they account for 45 percent of the group.  Failing to address this change in consumer habits could have been fatal.

We live in an A.D.D. world.  Everyone’s brain is focusing on something for a few seconds and then it’s on to the next bit of information or device.  86 percent of U.S. consumers multitask while watching TV, yet only 22 percent of these activities relate to the program being watched.  If you’re a marketer, how can you become part of the conversation that’s occurring around the program, even if it’s only a quarter of the audience? If you’re the content provider, how do you grow the 22 percent? Binge viewing is another concept pretty much unheard of until recently.  What has this done to overnight or even weekly ratings and do they tell even half of the true audience story?

The media companies have learned to survive on smaller segments aggregated into massive audiences.  Those audiences are spread out over time and across multiple platforms.  I’d say it’s been a pretty nice demonstration of how to change to follow your audience’s tastes, which is something at which they’ve always been good.  What are your thoughts?

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Filed under Thinking Aloud

Your Customers vs. Your Partners

Here is an interesting story from the folks at MediaBiz that just cuts to the core of almost every business issue.  It points out the Sophie’s Choice created by some older business models in a time when technology is forcing them to change.  First the facts:


DirecTV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A handful of DIRECTV subs stopped receiving HBO after the company started blocking the signal on older TV sets that don’t have the encryption standard High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). DIRECTV… recently added HDCP protection to all HBO-owned channels and “will continue rolling out to other premium services in the coming weeks.” The company said affected customers should replace their HDMI connection with a component video cable and a separate audio cable (emphasis added).

Most folks who do so for a living will tell you that HDMI is a better signal (and therefore picture) than component video.  DirecTV also markets itself accurately as providing a better picture to consumers.  Without content, however, there is no service – it’s a big, empty pipe.  It’s the content providers who are insisting on the use of HDCP.  They’re the ones whose business model is most impacted by what they presume is widespread piracy and are insisting on this protection layer.  DirecTV is placed in the untenable position of either losing the content by catering to their partners or telling customers to degrade their pictures and potentially losing customers who can get better video elsewhere using more current technology.

Ultimately, customers pay the bills.  I believe we win when we serve them and while that may, as in this case, cause problems with partners, suppliers, and others, that downside risk vs. that of angry and vocal consumers is minimal.  In this case, the customers who would most notice the downgrade to component video are probably the ones who would know how to cut the cord and get the content they seek elsewhere, hopefully through legitimate means rather than piracy.  As businesspeople, we encourage that illegal behavior by choosing any segment over our customers – witness what the music business did for a very long time.

That’s where I come out.  How do you see it?

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Filed under digital media

Tit For Tat

Image representing News Corporation as depicte...

I was reading something yesterday which, on the surface, seems pretty innocuous but which, in my opinion, can herald the start of a really dangerous trend.  Then again, given the state of some parts of the media today, maybe I’m just late to the dance.  As usual, I’ll let you guys decide.

The article was written in the Sydney Morning Herald (you have to love the way we all can read any paper in the world!) and features everyone’s favorite media baron, Rupert.  It’s not so much as what’s here but where the road leads. Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?