Cable Days Are Numbered (File Under Endangered, Extinct)

GigaOm compiled a list of Cable’s quarterly losses and found that for the first time, satellite subscriptions hadn’t increased enough to make up for them.

What does this mean?

It means that there’s no consumer reshuffling between multichannel services (cable v. satellite).

“From our point of view, expecting users to pay $125 to $150 a month, and continuing to raise those rates 5 to 10 percent every year, isn’t a sustainable business model. At some point, those users will find alternative, cheaper ways of getting the content they want, and now there are plenty of ways to do so.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the television dilemma pans out.

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The Airtime vs. Advertising Dilemma

I am not an American sports person. I could never get into baseball (maybe if I went to a game?), and while I once harbored deluded aspirations of becoming Burke Catholic’s next football star (yup), the only sport I really enjoy is soccer. World Cup soccer, to be more specific.

So I think this article will be the closest I’ll ever get to making some kind of scrutinizing comment. Apparently, Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher says that ESPN officials asked him to use up his timeout calls in order to run more ads.

Now, I have a few things to say about this.

First, shows on television are commodities, and like all things, are owned and manufactured by some greater being who ultimately wants mass consumerism of said commodity.

Second, here’s an abridged history: a tv show is like a startup company. It originates from humble beginnings, at first thankful to anyone who pays attention to it. Think Facebook. Think Twitter. Remember when not too many people were on it? Then as it gains popularity, the greater being becomes greedier and welcomes advertising offers, promotion deals, etc…

Jon Pessah revealed a lot of this when he spoke about ESPN’s migration from serious sports investigative journalism to pure entertainment. And that’s the kicker, here. Entertainment. Even the most thrilling cold case investigative exposes are packaged to entertain the audience.

So what does this have to do with the advertising aspect? Not too much except the fact that ESPN decided to meddle with the game voids the reality of it. A faux timeout is the same thing as staging, rendering the game equivalent to a tv show.

ESPN can do whatever is wants with its non-live shows, but interfering with something that is supposed to be in real-time, something that a majority of the American public takes extremely seriously in order to get a little more funding discredits it.

Later on, reporters said that Fisher was “joking” about the whole thing. Ohhhhkay, ever hear that the truth comes out in the form of a joke? What a makeshift coverup.

Cable Attempts to Thwart Google TV (and this article would have helped me answer at least one question on the exam)

Gizmodo does a great job in this article giving readers the lowdown on the problems that are arising with newly unveiled Google Tv. And it all comes down to one thing: advertisements.

Here’s the thing: Web advertising is worth a lot less than regular TV advertising. The ads for 30 Rock on Hulu or NBC.com dump a lot less change into NBC’s pocket than the ones that run when 30 Rock airs on the network. So if you’re watching broadcast content on your television, broadcasters want you to watch TV ads, not web ads.

These new developments just exacerbate the already tangled ties between advertisers and media outlets. Right now cable companies are blocking Google TV access to their sites in order to preserve a few things:

1. Ad revenue. The dollar-dime rule is totally applicable in this case.
2. Content QUALITY. Another huge worry is that the ease of internet access will take away from the hard work broadcasters put into creating shows/works. A viral youtube or vimeo video will be just as easily accessible as a 60 Minutes episode. A blurring of highbrow/lowbrow video culture, perhaps?

I’m really eager to see how this all pans out.

Further Reading (I highly recommend):
Networks Block Web Programs From Being Viewed on Google TV
Google in talks to unblock access to TV websites
The problem with Hulu, the iPad, and Cheap TV

SparkNotes… for TV shows

TV show recaps aren’t a new phenomenon, but apparently there’s been a surge in readership, according to the NY Observer.

After reading the article, which basically says that recap blogging is the new coffee-run for aspiring young writers, I’ve determined the following unsolved equation:

Unsolved Equation

Pop culture + Interactivity + Fast fast fast fast = ????

???? = Sustainable profit-yielding media
???? = Short-term fad
???? = Segue to better sustainable profit-yielding media

“But of course how long is the kind of more formal, old-school criticism going to be around? Or is this just going to take over?” asked Times TV critic Ginia Bellafante — who, incidentally, recaps Mad  Men for the paper. “I certainly hope it doesn’t, but how viable is a TV critic’s career anymore?”

Hmm. This is just another (another what… nail in the coffin?) piece to the complicated puzzle of how the media can harness the audience’s attention and make them pay for it at the same time.

On the bright side, the new job opportunities are pretty exciting espesh for the “young writers,” ahem, like me

The (Quickly Disappearing) Line Between Real News + Advertising

It’s no secret that mass advertising has been infiltrating every scope of the media. Not only is it a huge part of the journalism industry’s changing face (why else would there be chapter after painstakingly long chapter devoted to the asphyxiating grip of major advertising comps? And we were required to buy a $22, ten page packet on the cause and effects of advertising monopolies… *cough, cough*) but the increasing difficulties that come with deciphering what is hard news and what is promotion is going to be a huge challenge for whatever the media restructures itself to be.

Now, I was raised to “never believe what you see on t.v.”—a household mantra my mom instilled early on. The LA Times posted this article about a back-to-school feature the local Detroit Fox station aired about toys. Turns out the so-called “toy expert,” Elizabeth Werner, was actually hired to promote toys from companies who paid over $11,000 to be apart of her back-to-school tour.


(I couldn’t find a clip of the back-to-school segment, but this is from Werner’s holiday toy guide in Nov. 2009, also on the Fox Detroit channel. So you kind of get an idea of what it’s like.)

This is yet again just another chapter to the blurring between news and force-fed garbage that our unconscious absorbs. For one thing, I find that I don’t really actively pay attention to the news when it’s broadcasted. Having a newspaper or even reading online at least forces me to think a little. One of the articles in that $22 packet talked about the power of branding; that after seeing advertisements for a popular brand, like Clorox, consumers go to the store with the familiarity already embedded in their brains. This is how prices are kept artificially high, and we fall for it.

Why? Because that 30-sec commercial is short enough for us to forget about questioning it, but long enough for us to remember that catchphrase or logo. Familiarity + comfort = weapon against the unknown (or in this case, the dreaded store brand *shudder*).

Anyway, I digress. A growing concern about the credibility of the media applies itself to the internet as well. I think it’s generally accepted that print newspapers are more trustworthy—again, not only because they’ve been around forever, but because there is a sense that print journalists get out there and do hard “reporting.” These days, anyone with a blog is considered an author, nevermind the fact that it’s harder to distinguish the credibility of sources.