Posts Tagged ‘Monetizing Content’

Digital Clues to the end of Lost

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

In a few minutes, the 6th and final season of Lost will premiere on the West Coast.  Like many Lost Heads, I’ve eagerly awaited this date.  Will the plan work and will a hydrogen bomb catapult our team back to the present day, re-setting all the craziness of the last 5 seasons?

I’m writing about Lost on this blog because it represents everything that is great about digital content today.  Of course, it’s a highly creative, award-winning show with a kickass storyline.  But the great thing about Lost is that its story lives on beyond the end of each episode.  In fact, the show’s creators and ABC have done an amazing job seeding the web with  fan-focused sites to cater to the most obsessive of us.  You can look up every piece of Lost trivia – no matter how trivial – in the Lostopedia (jointly sponsored with Entertainment Weekly), or even enroll in an online course on the Physics of Time Travel at Lost University.

The latest digital teaser has got me thinking about how Lost will end – just what ABC intended to do when it released 3 promo photographs last month.  The photos, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, offer clues to the Season 6 storyline via a tableau of Lost cast members in various stages of conversation.  One version features the group in conversation, another has everyone staring at Locke and yet another version has everyone staring at you (the reader).  What do these enigmatic photos tell us?  Based on my analysis, here are some initial predictions:

  • Kate & Sawyer end up together (because they are sitting together in each of the photos).
  • John Locke is a Savior of some sort, with Jack following closely behind in some sort of supporting role (they are next to each other in each photo, Locke sits and stares ahead while Jack hovers over him).
  • Jin and Sun are reunited in one reality, but not in another (they are not always together in each version of the photos)
  • I guess that means that we are still dealing with two different realities.
  • Frank Lapidus becomes an “Other.”
  • Juliet is gone (she is not featured in any of the photos).  Does this mean that the team still makes it back to the present day successfully?

I will probably revise these by the time next Tuesday rolls around.  Enjoy the show!

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The Future’s So Bright, I Need 3D Glasses

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

While Aneesh Chopra, Julius Genachowski and other Obama administration officials took the spotlight in Last Vegas last week, the real star at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was 3D.

  • On Monday, we learned that James Cameron’s 3D Epic Avatar reached the $1 billion mark faster than any other movie in history – 17 days.
  • On Tuesday, the Discovery Channel, IMAX and Sony announced that they were creating a domestic cable channel focused exclusively on 3D content.
  • And on Wednesday, ESPN delighted soccer fans all over the world by announcing that in June, it would start broadcasting in 3D, just in the time for the World Cup. Arriva!

Indeed, 3D was the star in last week’s other big CES story – the rebirth of the television set, now slimmer, internet-connected and of course, 3D-enabled (reviews and some cool photos on this anandtech blog post). The phenom got several people waxing poetic and peering into crystal balls – including Marc Cuban who was so inspired, he quoted Timothy Leary.

3D just might be one of the best gifts that content providers receive in 2010.  Viewing a 3D movie is a unique experience that cannot be replicated by a 2D version posted on hulu or YouTube. Assuming a good library of content and the right price, this technology has the potential to lure and keep viewers behind a content wall.  And manufacturers are excited too.  After all, if they can’t get you to purchase a $9000 TV , there’s always those nerdy glasses.

Retreat to the Walled Garden

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Late last evening, GE announced that it had cleared a path to sell NBC-Universal to Comcast.  If consummated successfully, the deal would radically reshape the cable, entertainment and web media markets.  Already, there’s much speculation about how the deal will impact content distribution on the web.  Will this merged entity of cable plus content offer premium fare on a subscription basis?  Could this be the deal that starts a mass retreat to the walled garden?

The walled garden is definitely seeing a resurgence of interest among content owners.  What remains unclear is whether you can put up walls around a garden that’s been growing free and unfettered for much of its recent existence.  Will people pay for content that is now widely available for free?

Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. appears to think so.  His company dominates entertainment (20th Century Fox), cable (Fox News, etc.) and the web (MySpace, etc.).  But it also owns many of the newspapers that continue to struggle to survive in this age of online content aggregation (although some, like the Wall Street Journal, have successful online subscription businesses). In a fascinating interview, Murdoch makes the case for why he wants to put News Corp’s coveted content behind a wall (while opining frankly on the US economy, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, and Fox News).  As he puts it, “there’s not enough advertising in the world” that can profitably support the kind of content that consumers currently demand online.

My thanks to the fabulous Kara Swisher for her pointer to the Murdoch interview (her recent blog post on News Corp-Google-Microsoft provides a thoughtful perspective on that particular three-way).

Of course, the walled garden was not a panacea for AOL – the pioneer of the walled garden – who is currently planning to lay off a third of its workforce as it spins away from Time Warner.  But the garden is a successful model for social networking sites like Facebook and Linked In.

Looking ahead, a few developments are worth watching. First, the retreat to the walled garden will impact websites – such as Hulu – that offer premium, first-run content for free.  Hulu, which shot to the web’s top 10 in its first month of launch, is a joint venture between News Corp, NBC and Disney.  The site relies on advertising (2 minutes vs. the 8 you get on real-time TV) and “will be profitable soon” according to NBC CEO Jeff Zucker.  It also plans to launch a subscription site of its own.  We hope it starts making money before a wall goes up (where else can you find 94 episodes of Bewitched all on one page?).

There will also be a marked impact on electronics manufacturers.  Gone are the days when people only watched network shows on TV and surfed the Internet solely on a PC.  Some manufacturers are already starting to wake up to this reality with devices– such as internet-enabled TV – which consolidate distribution into one big fat pipe.  As the content industry undergoes a metamorphosis, hardware will need to keep up.

Most relevant for this blog, there will be an impact on law and policy.  Market definitions – always critical to the regulatory approval of a merger – are even more important in dynamic markets.   Regulators will need to get smart quickly about how media consumption continues to evolve in the digital age.  And the abundance of policy issues  – net neutrality and targeted advertising to name a couple – should make this debate a must-see.

Stay tuned!