Tivo did not kill TV. Anyone surprised?

I am a big sports fan, malady but the one thing I have never been able to watch are pre-game shows. They always struck me as such a monumental waste of time in crystal ball gazing and trenchant insights such as, tadalafil ¬† \”If this happens, then this will happen…but, we still need to watch out for THAT, because it will change the course of THIS, meaning everything I just said might go the other way.\” Really? Well, good thing we have a panel of \”experts.\”\n\n\n The pre-game show is the high water mark in hedging. Why? Because what makes the future the future is that no one can predict it. (I know, I know. You needed me to tell you that.) Sure, you can make¬† educated guesses based on experience- the Detroit Lions will probably lose this Sunday. Miami will be hot in July. The coupon for the free quart of ice cream will expire before I remember to use it.\n\nBut in most other things, predictions are way off. Here’s another great example.\n\nWhen the DVR, or Tivo, hit the market, there was all sorts of hand wringing among network executives and advertisers that it was going to kill television. If you give people the chance to skip past the commercials, the thinking went, of course they will.\n\nWell, folks, a July blizzard just hit Miami. According to Nielsen, 46% of viewers 18-49 for all four major broadcast networks are watching the commercials during playback. And that number is up a bit from 2008. Why? Because watching TV is the epitome of a passive activity. The habit ingrained in all of us since youth of plopping down on the couch and letting it wash over us is, apparently, a tough one to break.\n\n\”It’s completely counter-intuitive,\” observed Alan Wurtzel, the president of research for NBC. Now THERE’S a good observation.\n\nAll I can say is, research like this puts the kibosh on all the rosy predictions of interactive TV. Viewers choosing the direction of a show from among several different endings? Nah. Clicking on the screen to buy the shirt that Oprah has on? Mmmm…not so much. We all just sit down, watch, and leave it to the programmers to tell us what we want. The other way is just too much work.\n\nThe Lions just won the Super Bowl.

Is “good enough” good enough?

Long before I made the move into social media, ed most of my career has been spent in the entertainment business. I started in radio, cialis usa moved to the music business (as both a performer and executive) and then onto TV (never as a performer, thank God). \n\nI have always been fascinated by trends and how sometimes you can have two diametrically opposed trends developing simultaneously. I still produce, direct and write lots of video content (here’s a picture taken two days ago from a client shoot to prove it), and this has kept me thinking about one of these two-way trends a lot.\n\n Quality. How important is it, as it pertains to audio or video content?\n\n First let me identify the trends, as I see them. On the one hand, there is this breakneck race to the top in terms of HD televisions, HD video cameras, even HD radio. Everything needs to be as life like as possible, and we all want high quality HD monitors at home to watch the, arguably, low quality content on TV. (Hey, it’s my blog. I can editorialize all I want.) But, seriously, video production and delivery quality is going up up up while the prices of TVs and cameras keep coming down down down.\n\nOn the internet, however, high quality video delivery is still hampered by bandwidth issues, among other things. Flip cameras, iPhone 3GS and other low cost video cameras are gaining in popularity, and with good reason. You Tube, uStream, facebook and other outlets allow you to then share that content quickly. But that, in my view, is the disconnect. Online video and user generated content tends to be of very low quality. The video needs to be compressed in order to be uploaded, and good audio is almost always an afterthought, if it’s thought of at all. I have long maintained that the democratization of content creation and distribution is both the best thing and the worst thing about the internet. The great thing is, ANYONE can make a video. The bad thing is, ANYONE can make a video.\n\nSo, to restate it: We demand high quality audio and video at home, but we give online content a pass. I wonder how long will that trend last? And, more importantly, if your business chooses to use video, does the TECHNICAL quality of the content you put out there send a subconscious message to your audience? You might not realize it, but when people try and watch a video that has terrible sound, they make a LOT of judgments. You do, too. There is an old saying that \”Video is easy. Sound is hard.\” I understand that there are situations where a company might CHOOSE to go the UGC route, and there are tons of valid reasons for doing just that. But my question is a deeper one. Has expertise been devalued? Are all decisions coming down to dollars and cents? If so, is it penny wise and pound foolish? Something you post on the internet, as I say every day of my life, is there forever. There is no delete button on the internet. So is putting out content for content’s sake a sound decision?\n\nObviously, quality has always carried the day in all walks of life and in all endeavors. When both audio and video podcasting were new, there were zillions of podcasts being produced and thrown up onto iTunes or onto people’s blogs and websites. There is less of that now because people have realized that creating regularly scheduled, quality content is hard, and expensive work. Expensive in terms of the time investment and, yes, the dollar investment. \n\nBut here’s the question I have rolling around in my head that I don’t have an answer to: have we reached a point where \”good enough\” is good enough? Our attention spans are being vied for every minute we’re awake. So is \”yeah,yeah, I get the gist of it\” where we find ourselves today? And if the answer to either of those questions is \”yes,\” then where does that leave professional content creators? \n\nMy sense is that the quality of internet audio and video is improving because people are tired of wading through stuff shot with shaky cameras, bad sound, no edits, no titles, no opens or closes- no expertise. In other words, maybe the new way is trending and becoming more like the old way. For every uStream video, there is a Hulu video. I realize it is an unfair comparison to compare UGC with NBC, but I hope I make my point.\n\nI would love to hear your thoughts on this. Has good enough become good enough? If so, do you think it will always be this way? Am I totally off base with this post? I’m really interested in your comments, so fire away in the comments section.

What’s the deal with podcasting in 2009?

I was in San Francisco last week for two conferences (this one and this one). At one of the evening get togethers, medicine the conversation turned briefly (and I do mean briefly) to podcasting. It went a little like this:\n\n\n\”So, how come no one talks about podcasting anymore?\”\n\n\”Because it’s not new anymore. Everyone’s doing it. It’s totally mainstream.\”\n\nI guess I agree and disagree. A couple of years ago when I launched the company, I anticipated that podcast production would be a big part of the business model. With my years of experience as a video producer and director, it seemed like the next logical step in the evolution of online media creation. I was, and continue to be, a HUGE consumer of podcasts, many of them courtesy of NPR. But I was wrong about the production part being a big segment of my business. Aside from my own, we only produced a couple of others.\n\nBut back to the topic of podcasting and NPR…Tom Webster from Edison Research had some interesting stats that he presented at IMS. 43% of Americans are aware of this thing called podcasting, up from 22% just three years ago. And about 27 million Americans listened to a podcast in the last month. Chances are, a lot of them were from NPR.\n\nWhile stories about the contraction of mainstream media outlets abound, an underreported story is how much NPR has grown, thanks largely to their bear hug embrace of new media. They consistently have several programs in the iTunes top 10 and traffic on NPR.org grew 78% from 2007 to 2008. There has been some internal conflict from member stations that they are essentially cannibalizing themselves. NPR member stations have to pay the mother ship for programming, but if all that programming is available online on matter which affiliate you listen to, you might be less inclined to give during pledge drive time.\n\nOr maybe not. According to a recent article in Fast Company, the NPR audience \”is perhaps more ready than most for the radical concept of paying for the content they consume… When we had to announce layoffs and cuts in December, there were comments on some of our stories: ‘How can we help? Where’s the give button?’ There’s a sense that the organization is leaving money on the table. People would like to contribute more to this service that they adore and depend on.\”\n\nCompared to traditional media, podcast audience numbers are still small. Yet, as we say over and over, it’s not about the quantity of your audience, it’s about the quality. 50,000 highly motivated listeners (or viewers) is preferable to 1 million indifferent ones. \n

Social Media and Online Video- 2009’s Power Couple

Nielsen\nreleased a study last week during ad:tech in San Francisco that tracked\nthe interests of the average online user from 2003 to today. Quite a\ndifference!

Video\nand social networking sites are the two fastest growing categories in\n2009. The stats are a little skewed since online video was not as\nprevalent in 2003 as it is today, drugstore so when you read things like "the\nnumber of American users frequenting online video destinations has\nclimbed 339% since 2003," it's sort of like saying "airplane travel is\nup 100% since a similar period in 1809. Uh, yeah, I guess so,\nseeing as how the airplane had not yet been invented.

Nevertheless,\nthe findings are still valid and paint a picture of what's to come for\nmarketers, advertisers and PR people. Here's the line that stuck with\nme: "In the age of Twitter, feedback barriers have all but disappeared,\ncreating a near friction-free environment for playing back brand\nexperience, campaign reactions or brand events. Recent public cases\ninvolving Motrin, Amazon and Domino's show that marketers must be quick and savvy to react to these unprecedented channels of instant feedback."

Read more and download the report here.


TV might not be dead…yet

What is being called the most extensive survey ever conducted about our media consumption habits was recently concluded by the Council for Research Excellence. Now, tadalafil granted, the CRE receives funding from Nielsen, but the results might surprise you. Researchers directly observed participants over a total of 952 observed days.\n\n\nBetween TVs, smart phones, computer and even GPS screens, we are exposed to some kind of screen about 8.5 hours per day. Two of the findings that jumped out at me were that those aged 45-54 consume the most video media, and that computers have overtaken radio as the number two media activity, bumping radio to number 3 and print to number 4.\n\nAnother surprise was that the number of media minutes was virtually identical for every age group, with exception of those younger boomers (45-54) who spend an extra hour in front of a screen every day. Multi-tasking does not appear to be the sole province of the young and careless-folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s multi-task virtually the same amount.\n\nYou can read the report here. I guess we’re not as different as we all thought we were in terms of the way we consume media among the age groups. And, despite the inroads that internet TV is making, traditional TV remains the dominant player. But for how much longer?