Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Does anybody remember blockbuster?

August 15, 2017

Are movie theaters heading for the same junk heap?


According to the WSJ

Movie theaters are reeling from a very disappointing summer season.

The summer 2017 season has been defined by big-budget movies that failed to live up to their massive marketing campaigns.

A steady stream of lackluster major releases …  has depressed moviegoing in the U.S. and Canada, where admissions are down about 5% so far this year. Revenues are down 2.9%, with slightly higher ticket prices making up for some of the attendance drop.


Theater chain execs attribute the decline to the lackluster movie releases.

But, investors are starting to wonder if the industry is being fundamentally disrupted …


Nums: Who trusts TV news?

June 21, 2013

According to a new Gallup poll, not many people … less than 1 in 4

That’s down from 46% in 1993 … twenty years ago.




Old folks (30%) cut the most slack; college educated folks (15%) cut the least.

Not surprising, liberals (26%) trust TV news more than conservatives (18%)




All of which leads to a bigger question: if folks don’t trust government, corporations, media … what’s left?

Who to trust?

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Did you “dual screen” the debates?

October 26, 2012

According to Pew, 10% of the people watching the debates monitored a computer, tablet, or smartphone while watching.

Many were posting and reading social network sites or fact-checkers.



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Dress classy and dance cheesy

October 8, 2012

Punch line: In a world where youtube can make anyone a star, what type of staying power do youtube stars hold?  Despite widespread national fame, and over 300,000,000 hits on his youtube video, marketers in the US are hesitant to get on board with Korean Pop star Psy, and do it ‘Gangnam style.’

* * * * *’

Excerpted from Ad Age’s, “Will Brands Buy Into Gangnam Style?”


“Gangnam style” has swept the world, but marketers have been slower to embrace it..

Psy, the Korean pop star behind the over-the-top video with 283 million YouTube views (and counting), is a veteran pitchman in his native country, involved in marketing products such as Cass light beer. And since his song took off this summer, the colorful 34-year-old and the catchy beats of “Gangnam Style” have been attached to campaigns in Korea including LG’s mobile service, Samsung kimchi refrigerators and an energy tonic drink.

In the West, however, Psy’s marketing potential is less clear as it’s uncertain whether Psy is a one-hit wonder. Psy just returned home after a U.S. tour that included appearances on the MTV Video Music Awards, “Saturday Night Live,” the “Today” show and “Ellen,” where he taught his moves to Britney Spears and shared his motto of “Dress classy and dance cheesy.”

Working in his favor is his deal with Schoolboy Records, run by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, who helped make the Canadian teen singer a social-media sensation and pitchman.

“We have seen quite a lot of interest from big brands, largely international ones,” said Brad Haugen, CMO of Scooter Braun Projects.   Mr. Haugen said the obvious categories for a Psy marketing assist are cars, packaged goods and electronics, and that the first U.S. deal is a few weeks away.

Everyone in Korea is surprised that a singer who doesn’t fit the usual mold of the coiffed, beautiful pop star is the one to become an overnight international success story. But he thinks Psy’s appeal is universal because he’s “smart, funny, talented, yet sincere.”

That said, unless he had several hits and broadened his image, it’s hard to see the average marketer going for it.

Edit by BJP

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Divorce: MS splits from NBC … opts to be fair & balanced

July 16, 2012

According to Reuters

Microsoft is pulling out of the joint venture that owned, freeing the world’s largest software maker to build its own online news service.

The online divorce stemmed from the two partners’ desire to gain greater control over their digital destinies as the Internet becomes an increasingly important part of their businesses.

Microsoft, in particular, had grown frustrated by contract terms requiring it to exclusively feature content aimed at an audience with a liberal viewpoint.

The strategy fed a perception that material from MSNBC’s website was politically slanted, too.

“Being limited to content was problematic to us because we couldn’t have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted,”

Anybody remember Air America — Al Gore’s liberal radio network?


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It’s not a game! … Well, actually, it is,

April 27, 2012

TakeAway: SyFy is expecting to provide brands additional awareness by way of integrating a new online video game and TV show.

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Excerpt from AdAge: “Syfy Already Pitching ‘Defiance,’ Coordinated TV Series and Video Game”

Syfy is pitching advertisers on integrations into “Defiance,” the coordinated TV series and multiplayer online game.


“Defiance” centers on aliens and humans living together on Earth 30 years from now. The two species struggle to build a society amid devastation after an epic war.

The show and the game will influence each other and evolve together. If, for example, the game warns of an invasion, “then the show will reference that battle in the following episode.”

Starcom MediaVest Group says ” ‘Defiance’ is a groundbreaking paradigm that links both media [types] and allows brands to be more immersive than they could be as part of TV or a video game alone.”

Edited by ARK
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Wanted: trend-setting young professionals who spend at least 14 hours online every week.

March 19, 2012

Punch line: The young, trend-setting, urban professional, who loves entertainment and places a premium on technology is the main target for Verizon’s new hyper local FiOS 50 campaign.

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Excerpted from “Verizon Targets Young Professionals


Verizon is targeting what it calls “trend-setting young professionals” who live in apartments and condominiums in four major markets via a hyperlocal FiOS campaign …

The multimedia effort was tested in a metro-Washington D.C. pilot last fall and is now being rolled out in the New York, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

Many of the hyperlocal campaign elements used during the pilot — including immersive digital advertising combined with social media engagement, plus a concentrated presence of out-of-home advertising and local events with prospective customers — will be repeated in the broader campaign. Gyms, restaurants, bars, movie theatres, malls and transit centers are target venues …

Most 25- to 39-year-olds who make up a significant portion of multidwelling unit tenants are major users of social media and the Internet and spend as much as 14 hours online per week, said Pedro Correa, vice president of Verizon Enhanced Communities …

“Some people think they have to live in a single family home to get the very best broadband and video entertainment services, but that’s not true,” he said in a release.

To assist young professionals in finding MDUs with FiOS, Verizon has created a region-specific microsite at that shows the MDUs where FiOS is available in metro New York, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. …

Verizon FiOS are available to more than 2 million multifamily units, and growing in parts of 12 states, and the District of Columbia. About half of all Verizon’s FiOS lines opened for sale this year will be in apartments and condos …

Edit by KJM

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Ditched by NPR … for the record, here’s what I said.

December 23, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to do a radio interview with NPR for its MarketPlace business segment.

The topic was retailer’s pricing practices.

Right down my power alley, so I was amped.

I took the interview seriously – even did some research.

Went to the studios for the interview … which was recorded.

After the allotted 30 minutes, the reporter asked me if I could continue for another 3o minutes.


I expected she’d pull a couple of 15 second sound bites out of the 60 minutes.

To my dismay, all 60 minutes of my “filet”  hit the edit room floor.  Ouch.

Below, I’ll give my hypothesis for what happened … here (based on my notes) is what I said … some pretty good stuff – if I must say so myself.

Studies consistently show that consumers’ have very imprecise knowledge of prices.

Very few consumers are even able to recall — within 5 or 10% the price they paid … even for recently bought or frequently bought items.

The exceptions are so-called “signpost items” — such as a gallon of milk or a 12-pack of Coke. Consumers often use those items as “sample precincts” used to implicitly judge other prices in a store.

“If they’re priced right on milk, they must be priced right on other products”

* * * * *

People look for “cues” when evaluating a product’s price.

The words “free”. “new” and “sale” are probably the most impactful in a marketer’s vocabulary.

“Sale” takes on a particularly strong meaning when it’s supported by a comparative price claim  … versus competitors’ prices  … or versus a self-proclaimed “regular price”.

Since people tend to have imprecise knowledge of prices, they often  anchor their price perceptions on stated regular prices and react — or over-react – to the implied discounts.

Shoppers conclude – sometimes erroneously: The bigger the discount, the better the deal.

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Legally speaking, a “regular price” is defined as a price that was offered for a meaningful length of time and at which a substantial amount of sales were made.

Of course, the terms “meaningful length of time” and “substantial sales” are subject to interpretation and often tough to pin down in practice.

It boils down to whether a good faith effort was made to sell the product at its “regular price”.

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While the FTC has legal jurisdiction over unfair marketing practices – including “fictitious price claims” –  it hasn’t brought any cases in the past 30 years.

The FTC has largely delegated enforcement to the states and localities … which have a crazy-quilt of statutes that are selectively enforced, typically when there is a veritable groundswell of consumer complaints.

Even then, cases are hard to prove and any penalties are relatively light slaps-on-hands.

* * * * *

Some retailers make heavy use of what’s called “high-low” or “was/is” pricing tactics.

That is, they run frequent sales that emphasize the discount from so-called regular prices.

Kohl’s is famous for using the “was/is” tactic; so is the men’s clothing chain Jos A Banks – which routinely run sales touting “buy 1 suit at regular price and get 2 for free”.

If anybody buys anything at those stores at “regular” prices, they should look over their shoulders to make sure that Darwin isn’t chasing them”

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These high-low tactics are a relatively benign form of marketing hype.

Savvy buyers ignore everything but the bottom line price that they’ll be paying.

They ask themselves do I want to buy this product at this price?

Sure, they might want to shop around to see if they can find a lower price someplace else, but …

What somebody else may or may not have paid for the product at another point in time is largely irrelevant … except for bargain hunter’s bragging rights.

The real question is whether you want to buy that shirt for $19,99 or not.

* * * * *

Further, strict enforcement of the statutes may actually have a harmful effect on consumers.

Think about it … why force a retailer to sell more stuff at a high price to satisfy a statute?

That would result in consumers – on average – to pay more for products

* * * * *

I get more concerned with hidden charges that aren’t reflected in the prices that customers think they’re paying.

For example, shipping & handling charges that far exceed the cost to ship or handle …

Or, stripped down products that don’t include all the necessary components … like computer peripherals that don’t include the connecting cables … or printers that come with toner cartridges that print a minimal number of copies.

Often times, buyers don’t know what hit them until after-the-fact

Basically, the piece that aired was dumbed down to “lots of stuff is on sale … really, LOTS of stuff”   A surprisingly light piece.

My hypothesis: the reporter went into the story expecting to nail retailers (like Kohl’s) for deceptive practices.  My view was that the “was-is” pricing tactic is pretty benign and that shoppers should just focus on the current price.  That didn’t support the story line.

And, I doubt the reporter could find anybody who got very excited about whether retailers’ “regular” prices really were regular prices.

So the storyline fell apart and “lots of stuff on sale” became the emphasis.

Woulda thought the Darwin line would make the cut. 

Oh well … it made the Homa Files !

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Sparkling water and green M&M’s …

December 5, 2011

Last week, I was invited to do a radio interview on NPR.

When I told my daughter-in-law, she suggested that I request sparkling water and green M&Ms.

I thought that was pretty funny, but didn’t know the story behind it

Now, I realize that all cool people know that rockstars Van Halen always included a contract provision that there be M&Ms in their dressing room and backstage … with the brown M&Ms sorted out.

Publically, that demand morphed to “only green M&Ms” … and was used to tag Van Halen  as uber-spoiled rocksters.

They might have been, but this isn’t the evidence to convict.

According to the Smoking Gun it turns out that there’s more to the story … that the contract provision  was not an example of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism, but a savvy business move:

The rider’s “Munchies” section was where the group made its candy-with-a-caveat request: “M&M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES).”

The group has said the M&M provision was included to make sure that promoters had actually read its lengthy rider.

If brown M&M’s were in the backstage candy bowl, Van Halen surmised that more important aspects of a performance – lighting, staging, security, ticketing — may have been botched by an inattentive promoter.

And, one of my students told me that the provision was added only after a promoter failed to put a restraint in the right place – as spelled out in the contract – and a stage hand had a fatal fall.

I can’t verify that part of the story … that’s the way urban legends are, I guess …

P.S.  No I didn’t get green M&Ms, but I was able to sneak some candy into the studio.

Thanks to JNH for  the idea and JV for feeding the legend.

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Maybe AOL-Time Warner merger was just ahead of it’s time.

August 23, 2011

Counter to the popular view that the AOL-Time Warner merger was one of the worst predictable merger disasters in history, I’ve long argued that the merger made perfect sense but was poorly implemented – largely because top management under-managed the post-transaction combination.

Now, Nicholas Jackson says in The Atlantic that “Maybe, a Second AOL-Time Warner Marriage Would Work Better


“When the two companies first merged back in 2001, they had competing interests. Today, they’re both focused on creating content.”

He says:

The idea behind the 2001 merger sounded perfect: one of the world’s largest distributors of online content meets one of the world’s most recognized content-making companies.

But the companies were too different, and their mismatch led to failure.

Now, everything has changed.

AOL is, primarily, a content company.

“AOL is singularly focused on becoming the next great media company for the digital age, being rich, engaging and easy to find content and experiences for consumers and best-in-class environment for advertisers,”

Bottom line: Merging two content companies might make sense, and TW has the resources to re-acquire AOL.

Unlikely, but interesting ….

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Checking in to “The Office?”

February 22, 2011

TakeAway: TV check ins give advertisers a new way to get to know their customers even more. Some believe it to be the next big thing in social networking.

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Excerpted from Brandchannel, “Check-In, Tune In, Turn On” by Sheila Shayon, February 2, 2011

TV check-ins, aka social TV, is the newest form of online engagement. …it’s steadily growing and predicted to be a break-out trend of 2011.

Brands include GetGlue, Philo and Miso. So far, according to Clickz, GetGlue is the one to beat. Since launching in 2007, GetGlue has amassed 800,000 users, and 30,000 Twitter followers. …partnered with Discovery and HBO, and parlayed $12 million in financing from investors ….

GetGlue partnered with Fox and Fatburger … offering check-ins to the live premiere with printable Fatburger coupons redeemable for a free burger, …

Philo, … claims “tens of thousands” of users. …called it “Twitter + Foursquare For TV Fanatics.”

“[Social TV platforms are] yet another conduit by which brands, networks and sponsors can reach viewers in a contextually relevant time in a hyper-targeted way,” Levy told Clickz. “The context is relevant. They know what they’re watching, they know the demographic and they know each individual user because in general, they’re connecting [to Facebook and Twitter].”

Miso … has 100,000 users and a partnership with Oprah Winfrey’s new network, OWN.

…”People are already tying what they look at on this second screen with what’s happening on the television. The company does not have to create the habit, they merely have to co-opt it.”

Points and badges have proven their worth as social currency across virtually every cranny of the web, and now consumer proclivity for rewards has migrated back to the original screen – television.

… “Social Media and TV fanatics are ahead of the game right now and bending the rules to their will. …

Google’s Kraus acknowledges the imminent sprint for manifest destiny as advertisers are “very experimentally, viewing the second screen as an interesting tie-in opportunity.”

It’s only a matter of time before the click hits the TV screen big time – and the socialization of television becomes standard fare. It’s an evolutionary juggernaut that’s virtually unstoppable.

Edit by HH

If a tree falls in the woods …

February 17, 2011

I always find these numbers interesting …

From the latest ratings book:

  • O’Donnell is holding most of Olberman’s viewers
  • Piers Morgan is beating King’s numbers
  • Nobody is close to O’Reilly

Overall, MSNBC is approaching public access numbers …


Source: Drudge

Olberman: Going, going, ….

January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC abruptly parted ways on Friday night, as the network announced it had agreed to end his contract and the last installment of his show would air that evening.

Olbermann made his debut on “Countdown” in 2003 and quickly became the face of MSNBC’s more liberal tilt in its evening hours. Along with fellow host Rachel Maddow, he helped catapult MSNBC ahead of Time Warner’s CNN in the size of its primetime audience.

Olbermann averaged 1 million viewers in 2010 in the 8 p.m. hour, according to MSNBC, a distant second to Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, but nearly double what CNN averaged against him in the hour.

WSJ, MSNBC, Olbermann Call It Quits, Cancel Show, Jan. 22, 2011

* * * * *

Note: It’s a heavy round up to get Olberman’s audience to 1 million … typically, it ran around 750,000.  O’Reilly is usually pegged at 2.5 to 3.0 million. CNN at about 500,000 to 750,000.

Most interesting: About 300 million folks don’t watch any of them in prime time … and, I think WWE beats them all when RAW and Smackdown are on.

* * * * *

Source: Drudge Reports

Finally, revenge against the cable guy …

November 18, 2010

Punch line: The number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.

From the Financial Times …

The total number of subscribers to TV services provided by cable operators fell by 741,000 in Q3-2010.

The data suggest that “cord-cutting” – one of the pay-television industry’s biggest fears – is becoming a reality as viewers drift to web-based platforms.

The growth of Hulu and Netflix, the DVD subscription company which began testing a $7.99 per month streaming-only service last month, has become problematic for cable operators.

Hulu’s revenues are increasing sharply: the company is projected to generate more than $240m in 2010, up from $108m in 2009.

Devices such as Apple’s iPad also appear to be accelerating the move away from traditional multichannel television. More than a third of iPad users say they are likely to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions in the next six months.

The cable industry has launched a vigorous defense against cord-cutting: companies such as Comcast are backing “TV Everywhere”, which gives subscribers access to channels and programming online, and via their cable box.

Viewers pull plug on US cable television, November 17 2010

Book ’em, Lord … Bye, bye Danno

October 29, 2010

Not a good year for fans of the  real Hawaii Five-O.

Right when I start to get over Kono being recast as a girl  in the new rip-off series … then BANG ! … the real Danno goes down for the count.


They say “natural” causes.

I’m betting cardiac arrest when he saw what they did to the classic series.

James MacArthur, Danno on Original ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ Dies, October 28, 2010

James MacArthur, who for 11 years played Det. Dan Williams (Danno of “Book ’em, Danno”) on the original “Hawaii Five-0” television series, had died. He was 72.

No cause of death was given other than “natural causes.” He was cast as Det. Dan Williams on “Hawaii Five-0” after a producer noticed his brilliant, one-take performance as a traveling preacher in the 1968 Clint Eastwood film “Hang ’em High.”

He played Danno for 11 years but left before the show’s final season in 1980, saying that the role no longer challenged or interested him.

My question: how could a guy stop being challenged playing Danno?

Go figure.

Thanks to Straz for feeding the lead.

Punked: Why did they even name it “Hawaii Five-O” ?

September 21, 2010

They got me.

I stayed up late to watch the “new Hawaii Five-O” last night.

Loyal readers know that I’m a BIG fan of the original series — which, incidentally, was the crime show with the longest run until Law & Order cam around.

So, I was counting the days until the premiere.

Here is a complete list of similarities between the old and the new show:

  • The theme song is the same and the shows are venued in Hawaii
  • Both have characters named McGarrett, Danny, Chin Ho, and Kono (though fat Kono is now a girl) 
  • Both chase down bad guys (though Wo Fat was nowhere to be seen)
  • They slipped in a “book ’em Danno” … but just to poke fun at the original

End of list.

There wasn’t a single reference to “Five-O” during the first episode, and no running up and down the steps of the Iolani Palace..  Bummer.

My biggest beef: the main characters were all smart alecs.  They had a certain Bart Simpson  feel to them.  The  original team was composed of serious cops.

The plot and action were ok last nite.  The show may make it as a run-of-the-mill action series since the casting was done with one criteria: sex appeal.  The team may be just hot enough to keep the younger demos watching.

My constant whine last nigt was “why did they call it Hawaii Five-O ?” 

It was a cross between identity theft and false advertising.

My bet: we  old guys who wanted to see “Five-O” will be turning in early on Monday nights …

Don’t change that channel.

September 13, 2010

TakeAway: With so many entertainment choices, TV faces tough competition for the attention of viewers. Even when people do watch TV, more than a third of viewers skip over commercials. 

For marketers deciding how to promote their brands, this can be troubling because TV commercials are very expensive to produce and air. 

Now, new research has examined how to keep viewers from changing the channel during commercials. 

In a very different approach than traditionally used, researchers discovered that “pulsing” repeated, brief images of the brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will “zap” it.

* * * * *

Excerpted from HBS Working Knowledge, “Improving Brand Recognition in TV Ads,” by Julia Hanna, June 7, 2010

Advertisers pay millions of dollars to air TV ads that, by some estimates, more than a third of viewers skip over with digital VCRs or by switching channels or tuning out altogether.

New research by HBS professor Thales S. Teixeira offers a simple, inexpensive solution to help marketers hold on to some of those consumer eyeballs. …

Teixeira and his coauthors show that “pulsing” repeated, brief images of the brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will zap it, as opposed to showing the brand for long periods of time at the beginning or end of the ad. …


Theories abound as to the most effective strategy for crafting a TV commercial … There are also ideas about placing the brand early in the commercial, late (the so-called mystery approach), or early and late.

“The days when you could tell a consumer what to do are long gone,” says Teixeira. “In the 1960s, the brand was onscreen all the time with a direct message: ‘Drink a Coke,’ for instance. Today, people are searching for valuable information that is relevant to them. They also want to be entertained, and the ‘hard sell’ that turns them off can be at the level of simply presenting the brand’s logo for more than a few seconds.” …

The dilemma is that our findings show that brand images cause people to zap,” Teixeira says. “But they’re a necessary evil; without the brand, viewers can’t identify what is being sold. So how do you make an ad that includes the brand without causing a high level of zapping?” …


Taken alone, brand presence automatically increases commercial avoidance. But … changing the pattern of brand exposure (without decreasing the total amount of time the brand is shown) can lower zapping rates, and that a “pulsing” strategy in which the brand is inserted briefly and intermittently throughout the commercial is most effective, resulting in an average decreased zapping of 8 to 10 percent. …


From a managers’ perspective, altering the commercials to mimic a pulsing strategy is a virtually cost-free fix for a significant payoff, with zapping rates for some commercials reduced by as much as 25 percent in a lab experiment. If a company is paying to advertise on prime-time television during a show with an estimated 5 million viewers, 50 to 60 percent of those viewers (2.5 to 3 million people) can be lost with usual zapping rates; as many as 1 million could be recaptured by using the pulsing strategy. …


Will these findings influence how advertisers craft their ads in the future? Teixeira notes that there is already some evidence of pulsing in ads, as in the award-winning “The Happiness Factory” for Coca-Cola, and various automobile commercials that briefly show the brand logo of a car from various angles as it maneuvers a winding road. …



Edit by DMG

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Full Article

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At least a thousand showed up …

August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck said he was hoping for more than 100,000.

O’Reilly said that – if he drew over 100,000 – he could have the 8 p.m. primetime slot.

So ?

The Associated Press said tens of thousands of people participated in the rally.

CBS News says that an estimated 87,000 people attended the rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

Objective sources seem to be pegging the number between 300,000 and 500,000.

If 87,000 is the over-under, I’m betting the over.

Here’s the picture … want to cover my bet ?

‘Hawaii Five-O’ is now ‘Hawaii Five-0’ … uh oh !

August 11, 2010

Excerpted from WSJ: Book ‘Em (Again), Danno, August 6, 2010

CBS will launch its updated version of “Hawaii Five-O,” called “Hawaii Five-0,” on Sept. 20.

Note the distinction: the “oh” (five-oh is for the 50th state; it’s now become slang for police) looked like a letter in the old show, but in the new one, it’s a number.

In the original “Hawaii Five-O,” which aired  for 12 years, Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett is an elite detective — and a bit of a straight arrow. 

He’s too busy solving crimes to have much of a personal life.

For the new version of the cop show, McGarrett is a third-generation military man armed with high-tech weapons to fight international terrorism.

McGarrett owns a Mercury Marquis Brougham, the same model as in the original, but he wears unbuttoned shirts over undershirts.

When “Hawaii Five-O” premiered in 1968, the state still had a mystical allure. Today, after “Magnum, P.I.,” “Lost” and “Survivor,” exotic locales are less exotic.

The new “Hawaii Five-0” will feature the old show’s famous theme music but opens with tanks, a helicopter and high-tech explosions, a decidedly un-analog opening—in South Korea.

The new version will dive deeper into the main characters’ personal lives, while still maintaining closed-end stories rather than run-on serialization.

And, of course, McGarrett  will still give partner Det. Danny “Danno” Williams those iconic instructions: “Book ’em, Danno.”

Full article:

Five-0 follow-up … a lesson in web marketing

May 26, 2010

In the past week, we published 2 posts that inadvertently demonstrated a point ….

One of the posts was: CBS goes retro … and I’m a happy man (for reference the original post and link are below).

Almost immediately, we got a couple of reply posts:

  • You got the first 2 right and the guy on the right is McGarrett played by Alex O’Loughlin and the girl is Kono. Yeah you heard me… CBS is reinventing…
  • The guy on the right, Alex O’Loughlin (pronounced O’Locklin) is Steve McGarrett and the character of Kono is now female and played by Grace Park – check out the new series on CBS this fall, a sure-fire hit!
  • McGarrett  is Alex O’Loughlin, the guy you thought was Kono. Kono is now the girl you see. This cast rocks! Alex is a babe and a great actor,too! He will rock as McGarrett!

Notice any similarity in the replies?

Another data point: none of the replies came from a Homa Files subscriber.

Hmmm ….

Conclusion: hats off to CBS for web marketing … they’ve got agents crawling the net for Five-0 references and posting clever replies – veiled as coming from ‘ordinary’ people — to promote the show.

Maybe CBS read our post from a few days prior that cover Search Engine Optimization – how to get your blog post noticed:

Obama, Rush, sex … what’s the connection ?

Lesson: May shock you, but some web feedback may be nothing more than company-sourced promotion … caveat reader.

Final Note: Kono – a girl ?  Is nothing sacred ?

* * * * *

Original post

CBS goes retro … and I’m a happy man.

My 3 favorite TV shows of all time are 24, Mannix, and Hawaii Five-0.

So, my pulse elevated when I read that next year’s program line-up at CBS includes  a reinvention of Hawaii Five-O,”the tropical police series that was a top-ten CBS program in the early 1970s”.”

Below is a pic of the cast.  Guy on the left must be Danny (originally played by James MacArthur), guy in the middle must be Chin-Ho Kelly (originally played by Kam Fong) and the guy on the right must be Kono (originally played by a dude named Zulu).

Left to right: Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Alex O’Loughlin and Grace Park in the new ‘Hawaii-Five-O’ series.

But, the cast picture begs two questions:

(1) Where’s McGarrett ?

(2) What’s with the girl ?

All I can say is “Book him, Danno !”

* * * * *
WSJ: Playing It Safe: New CBS Lineup Includes Crime Dramas, Remake, May 19, 2010

CBS goes retro … and I’m a happy man.

May 25, 2010

My 3 favorite TV shows of all time are 24, Mannix, and Hawaii Five-0.

So, my pulse elevated when I read that next year’s program line-up at CBS includes  a reinvention of Hawaii Five-O,”the tropical police series that was a top-ten CBS program in the early 1970s”.”

Below is a pic of the cast.  Guy on the left must be Danny (originally played by James MacArthur), guy in the middle must be Chin-Ho Kelly (originally played by Kam Fong) and the guy on the right must be Kono (originally played by a dude named Zulu).

Left to right: Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Alex O’Loughlin and Grace Park in the new ‘Hawaii-Five-O’ series.

But, the cast picture begs two questions:

(1) Where’s McGarrett ?

(2) What’s with the girl ?

All I can say is “Book him, Danno !”

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WSJ: Playing It Safe: New CBS Lineup Includes Crime Dramas, Remake, May 19, 2010

An undercover look at a television show’s impact on a brand

April 27, 2010

Key Takeaway: With viewership that can reach in the tens of millions, popular television shows tend to be the golden child of advertising. Perhaps the only thing better than having a 30-second commercial is having an entire show focus on your product…right?

A study looked at how CBS’ hit show, Undercover Boss, has influenced three establishments. The research shows that while perceptions improved in the short-run, they ultimately drifted back towards the pre-show numbers.

It goes to show that while you can expect television to create buzz around your product, it cannot be the only tactic if trying to change your brand image.

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Excerpted from Brandweek, “‘Undercover’ Boosts Brands?” April 23, 2010

Retail chains with negative reputations expecting big, long-lasting buzz boosts from appearances on CBS’ Undercover Boss better think again.

YouGov’s BrandIndex examined three establishments featured on the hit program to learn if the exposure persuaded consumers that these were places they’d consider working for.

7-Eleven received the lowest reputation score in the Grocery Store sector, so the timing was ideal for the February 21 broadcast.
President and CEO Joseph DePinto’s disguised himself as a trainee on the night shift in a Long Island, N.Y., store, where one employee confides that he’d never recommend working at the chain because it’s a dead end job.

That out-of-the-blue upbeat finale moved the meter only slightly for 7-Eleven — from -23.1 on the night the show aired to a short-term gain of a couple of points. However, in the long run, the chain made it as high as -17.2, and is now tracking at -19.3, a decent amount above its -24.7 score from January 1

Dave Rife — great-grandson of the hamburger chain’s founder — was surrounded by relatives, expensive cars and a personal trainer when his turn to work undercover arrived on February 28.

After revealing his identity, he told an employee to start a wellness program. He also handed out two $5,000 checks: one to an aspiring cook as a scholarship, and another to a worker for a “leaders of tomorrow” program.
That resonated the most with consumers, who sent White Castle’s reputation score upwards from -11.4 to -5.9 in a matter of three weeks. The brand has since settled in at -9.8, just a few points higher than the January 1 score of -13.4.

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain has had one of the most undesirable workplace perceptions in the dining sector, so the appearance of president and CEO Coby G. Brooks on Valentine’s Day couldn’t have come at a better time. The chain’s reputation low point of the year came on January 21, with -31.1, around the same time the owners who licensed the brand name for Las Vegas’ Hooters Hotel and Casino announced they had “substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”

Hooters’ reputation score got a modest shot in the arm, as it climbed leading up to the February 14 airing, hitting -26.2. It then moved up to -23.7 in late March — the chain’s highest score since November 2009. However, Hooters has slid to -27.7 — and its very existence is shaky now that it has one month to find a buyer to resolve a legal brawl over Coby Brooks’ father’s estate.

Edit by JMZ

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Full Article:

A sad day in HomaLand: Fox cancels 24 … adios, Jack.

March 29, 2010

I’ve pedaled for countless hours on my elliptical distracted from sweat & pain by the adventures of hero, Jack Bauer. 

It’s like losing a close friend.

And now, with no new 24 DVDs forthcoming, my family is confronted with a formidable challenge: “What’ll we get Ken for Christmas ?”

Tick, tick, tick … and done.

After eight seasons, Fox’s “24” is coming to an end.

The groundbreaking action drama will air its final real-time episode in May, the victim of a confluence of circumstances: a swelling budget, declining ratings and creative fatigue.

How many ‘pages’ are added to the web each day ?

March 3, 2010

The mind has trouble coping with all the information that is thrown at it today.

Consider …

  • More information has been produced in the past 30 years than in the previous 5,000.
  • The total of all printed knowledge doubles every four or five years.
  • One weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person in 17th-century  England was likely to come across in a lifetime.
  • More than 4,000 books are published around the world every day.
  • The average white-collar worker uses 154 pounds of copy paper a year.
  • Every day the World Wide Web grows by 1 million electronic pages.

Source:  Repositioning: Marketing in an Era of Competition, Change, and Crisis by Jack Trout with Steve Rivkin, 2010

It’s Olbermann’s ratings that are counting down … by 44%

February 3, 2010

Excerpted from Daily Finance: Is America Getting Over Keith Olbermann?, 01/29/10

There are creeping indications that the world may not have quite as much need of  Keith Olbermann and his shtick as it once did.

Ratings for Olbermann’s Countdown have been soft recently. In the important demographic of adults 25 to 54 — the group advertisers are looking to reach — Countdown was down 44% year-over-year in January. It averaged 268,000 viewers in that demo.  Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor dominated the hour with 964,000 viewers age 25 to 54, and was the only cable news show in the time period to increase its audience, by 55%.

But there are also more subjective signs that Olbermann’s stridency and lack of proportion are alienating some of his natural allies. Quite a few eyebrows elevated last week when Jon Stewart, in a parody of one of Olbermann’s “Special Comment” segments, called out the newsman for going way over the top in his denunciations of Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts. 

MSNBC attributes Olbermann’s January ratings slip to a news cycle in which international news, rather than domestic politics, was the No. 1 story. “On big, breaking international news, CNN tends to do better than us.  “We’re the place for politics, and there are times when politics does great, and there are times when it doesn’t.  We’lI get our momentum back.”

Full article:|main|dl3|link1|

Trust me: Fox is the most trusted name in news … here’s the data

January 28, 2010

Punch line: A poll finds that 49 percent of Americans trust Fox News, 10 percentage points more than any other network.

Note: the polling organization PPP is the one that hit Scott Brown’s election margin on the button.

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From Politico: Poll says Fox most trusted name in news, 1/27/10

Fox is the most trusted television news network in the country, according to a new poll out Tuesday.

A Public Policy Polling nationwide survey of 1,151 registered voters found that 49 percent of Americans trusted Fox News, 10 percentage points more than any other network.

Thirty-seven percent said they didn’t trust Fox, also the lowest level of distrust that any of the networks recorded.

CNN was the second-most-trusted network, getting the trust of 39 percent of those polled. Forty-one percent said they didn’t trust CNN.

Each of the three major networks was trusted by 35 percent or less of those surveyed, with NBC ranking highest at 35 percent. Forty-four percent said they did not trust NBC, which was combined with its sister cable station MSNBC.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said they trusted CBS, while 31 percent trusted ABC. Both CBS and ABC were not trusted by 46 percent of those polled.

Full article:

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In a separate WSJ/NBC survey, almost 1 in 4 of all registered voters get most of their political information from Fox

That compares to 37% for the big 3 networks combined, and 18% for CNN.  Only 8% rely on MSNBC (whew !)

I guess the 12% “none of these” track to Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert.  (Yipes.)


FOX soars … Air America crashes.

January 22, 2010

Punch line: Everything has been coming up roses for Fox since the White House declared war on the network last year.

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RCP: Media Wars: FNC Keeps Rising, Air America Crashes, January 21, 2010

On Tuesday, liberal Air America radio declared bankruptcy and will cease live broadcasts immediately.

On the same day Neilsen reported competition-dwarfing numbers for Fox News’s coverage of the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday night. 

According to Neilsen, Fox News drew an 6.2 million total viewers during primetime Tuesday night, compared to only 1.5 million for CNN and 1.1 million for MSNBC.

Clearly, those numbers are driven in part by the fact that Fox’s right-leaning audience was intensely interested in the outcome of this race. But it also had to do with the fact that Fox simply provided more, and better, coverage of the event. Fox was the only network to cover Coakley and Brown’s speeches in their entirety.

And as  Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin noted “MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, positively enraged that Massachusetts dared to elect a Republican, delivered two hours of nonstop bilious rage toward the state’s voters, calling them “irrational” and “teabaggers,” engaged in “a total divorce from reality, and hinting that they’re vicious racists to boot.”  Good thing nobody was listening.

Full article:

Remember when Howard Stern was hot?

December 10, 2009

TakeAway:  In AMS, we discussed XM-Sirius’s strategy.  Now, it looks like XM Sirius is shifting its focus from growth to profitability … even if it means “trading down” its on air personalities.  Adios, Howard ?

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Howard Stern Rethinks Radio Gig,” By Sarah McBride, December 9 2009

Sirius XM Radio recently succeeded in reversing a troublesome decline in its subscribers. Now it is facing a possible decline in its star wattage.

“I don’t think I’m going to be re-signing,” said Howard Stern … 

At the time Stern signed, it appeared to be money well spent. Sirius trailed erstwhile rival XM, which then had four times the number of customers. Hiring Mr. Stern instantly put Sirius in the public eye and helped bring the company millions of subscribers …

But Sirius doesn’t need Mr. Stern in the way it did five years ago.

Its brand is established—in no small part thanks to Mr. Stern’s rocket-fueled on-air persona—and its one-time competitor, XM, is now merged into Sirius.

Sirius has other star performers—including its latest addition, comedian Rosie O’Donnell—who draw fewer subscribers than Mr. Stern but also help establish buzz. As of Sept. 30, the combined companies have 18.5 million subscribers, up slightly from the prior quarter but down from a high of 19 million at the end of 2007.

While Sirius likely would lose some subscribers if Mr. Stern left, over the past year XM has placed more of an emphasis on achieving operating profitability than on growth. And Mr. Stern’s compensation represents a significant expense …

Moreover, Sirius’s stock price, which was trading at $3.67 the day Mr. Stern signed, has fallen sharply since then, to around 60 cents. The decline means signing Mr. Stern at a similar rate of compensation would dilute shareholders’ stakes, cut into cash, or both …

And Mr. Stern doesn’t need Sirius as much as before, either. Five years ago, his formula of bawdy, envelope-pushing entertainment ran against the prevailing national zeitgeist, as public indignation over indecency ran high. Moving off regulated airwaves seemed like Mr. Stern’s best option.

Now, Mr. Stern likely could land a spot back on traditional airwaves. He is a proven ratings winner whose advertisers largely stuck with him throughout his difficulties, and some radio company would find a way to put him back on the air …

Edit by TJS

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Full Article

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FOX is biased … but MSNBC isn’t … huh ?

November 18, 2009

… and Comedy Central is “investigative journalism”.  So says one of the President’s closest advisers.

Excerpted from, Obama Aide Dunn Renews Criticism of Fox, Hails Jon Stewart, Nov. 14 2009

President Barack Obama’s outgoing communications director, Anita Dunn, renewed her attacks against Fox News as she praised the “investigative journalism” of Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and said MSNBC isn’t a biased cable news network.

After the controversy between the White House and Fox News erupted, Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s political adviser, said that cable news channel MSNBC had a left-leaning bias.

Dunn disputed that contention, saying MSNBC is a “different kind of a network”.

Hot off the press: reinventing the print media business

November 6, 2009

Key Takeaway: Let’s face it, the good ol’ days of print media are long behind us. Cuts in advertising budgets, lower subscription numbers, and this thing called the Internet have all severely damaged profitability for newspapers and magazines. All is not lost, however, as these publications have a large opportunity to tap into the digital space. Unfortunately, most have not figured out how to do this successfully (or at least profitably). This change in strategy must be accompanied by new tactics that get to the core of good strategic marketing:

1) Develop intimate relationships with your readers. Find a segment, target them, and give them exactly what they want.
2) Generate revenue beyond advertising and circulation. Your online content should leave the reader willing to pay more for customized material.
3) Reinvent the content delivery model. Focus on your core strengths, put your efforts into those segments or sections, and get rid of all the fluff that doesn’t drive revenue.
4) Innovate with new products and pricing models. Deliver content to readers in new and exciting ways that will enhance their experience.

It seems simple, but it sure is tough to explain to those newspapers that the digital world isn’t so black and white…

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Excerpted from Strategy + Business “Reinventing Print Media: Four new strategies offer a path to future profits for today’s troubled newspaper and magazine companies” by Matthew Egol, Harry Hawkes, and Greg Springs, August 27, 2009

Severe cutbacks in conventional advertising — even when subscriptions or newsstand sales are robust — are slicing deeply into publishers’ revenues and shredding profitability. And it has affected print more than any other medium: Although overall advertising revenues fell by mid-single digits in 2008, newspapers, consumer magazines, and business-to-business trade publications saw print advertising declines of two to three times that. Performance has worsened so far in 2009.

Marketers have accelerated shifts in spending away from paid advertising to other priorities — including their own Web sites, in-store marketing, loyalty programs, and word-of-mouth campaigns — and they aren’t likely to switch back. Spending on this type of “below the line” marketing (the industry term for categories other than paid media advertising) already represents three-quarters of most marketing budgets, having grown faster than paid media since well before the current recession.

The second long-term trend devastating print profitability is the rise of digital media. Print has been hardest hit by this shift, since print ad pages are priced at a significant premium over other kinds of advertising, and marketers have been slower to cut broadcast and cable TV ad spending because of the value they place on sight, sound, and motion for brand campaigns.

Only a few print publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist, are successfully charging for their content online. They are all specialized and oriented toward business professionals.

A second approach — moving entirely online without charging for content (shedding the costs of paper and distribution and counting on online advertising to make up for the loss of print revenues) — has also had little success.

A growing body of research — tracking media companies that are succeeding in the new marketing environment and leading marketers who have successfully pursued innovative new digital strategies — suggests that at least four strategies are available for the media company of the future.

The first strategy is to develop deeper relationships with readers around targeted interest areas. Premium online environments, built on rich, exclusive content and applications, can enable print players to develop a still more intimate relationship with their readers.

The second strategy is to tap into revenue streams beyond advertising and circulation. Among print media companies, two players that have innovated new models very successfully are Meredith and IDG. Meredith has built a marketing solutions business that is estimated at more than US$200 million in revenues, fueled in part by multiple acquisitions of targeted digital agencies for custom content creation, database marketing, and word-of-mouth campaigns.

The third strategy is to reinvent the content delivery model (with a particular focus on lowering costs) and to emphasize a “profitable core” of unique and brand-defining material. Identifying the profitable core requires thinking freshly about the zones or editions of a newspaper or magazine and eliminating sections that do not drive significant readership or advertising revenue.

The fourth success strategy for the media company of the future is to innovate with new products and pricing models. Among these areas of innovation, digital video is increasingly important – in large part because of advertiser preference for video as part of brand-building investments.

Edit by JMZ

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Full Article

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Fewer people really listen to hip-hop … surprised ?

June 2, 2009

Excerpted from, “Obama’s War on Talk Radio”, May 25, 2009

The newest data from Arbitron, the company charged with measuring the size of radio audiences, suggests that listenership to hip hop, inner city, and minority radio has been overstated in the past and that the popularity of conservative talk radio has been under-reported.

This conclusion comes from the company’s decision to dispense with the Stone Age way it has been measuring radio audiences – by hand written diaries based on listener memory – with modern machines which automatically record what the person is listening to and for how long.

Arbitron is the company tasked with rating radio listenership.  The equivalent of the Neilson television ratings, its measurements of audience share are revered like Scripture by station managers, owners, and advertisers.

Traditionally, Arbitron relied on hand written diaries.  Since the diaries were based on memory, they were often faulty.  So Arbitron availed itself of new technology in launching its Portable People Meter (PPM) – a cell phone sized unit the listener wears on his or her belt which automatically notes what station they are tuning in and when they switch or stop.

The PPM measurements concluded that hip hop, urban rock, and minority-oriented radio stations reached fewer listeners and for shorter periods of time than the diaries had indicated.  It found that talk radio had a larger listenership.

What is really at work here is an effort by the FCC to stack the deck to help … minority stations earn higher advertising revenues than those to which their real market share would entitle them. 

New York and New Jersey sued Arbitron alleging discrimination in its choice of the sample charged with wearing the PPMs. 

Now the FCC is launching its own investigation. The FCC’s acting Chairman — Michael J. Copps — announced an investigation of Arbitron’s radio measuring technology called the Portable People Meter.  

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Nobody is watching Fox News any more !

April 23, 2009

Just kidding, of course.  Below are Nielsen Ratings for the past month.  Interesting numbers (I think).

Primetime Average Viewers
FOXNEWS     3,390,000
MSNBC         1,210,000
CNN             1,070,000
CNN HDLN      909,000



(1) The WWE, Spnngebob, and repeats of NCIS and Law & Order beat all of the above

(2) Chris “Tingly Leg” Matthews and Lou “The World Isn’t Flat” Dobbs don’t even make the list

For demo detail:

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Even in a recession, companies still paying big bucks for potential blockbusters.

January 9, 2009
Excerpted from WSJ, “Blockbuster or Bust” by Anita Elberse, January 4, 2009

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Amid the worst economic crisis to hit the United States in decades, publishing executives are still making what many see as outrageous gambles on new manuscripts.

With double-or-nothing daring, most large media firms make outsized investments to acquire and market a small number of titles with strong hit potential, and bank on their sales to make up for middling performance in the rest of their catalogs.

Given the constantly shifting tastes of consumers, it is extremely difficult to forecast demand for a new title. The one useful indicator is its resemblance to an existing bestseller. This similarity is an indicator that’s evident to any editor or publisher who sees the proposal … triggering competitive bidding situations.

When a publisher spends an inordinate amount on an acquisition, it will do everything in its power to make that project a market success. Most importantly, this means supporting the book with higher-than-average marketing, advertising and distribution support.  With such high stakes and money tied up in a few big projects in the pipeline, the need to score big becomes more pressing, and the process repeats itself. The result is a spiral of ever-increasing bets on the most promising concepts, creating a “blockbuster trap.”

But what would happen if a publisher decided to stop making large bids and systematically walked away from the most sought-after — and therefore expensive — new properties?

First, agents would stop sending such a publisher their most promising book proposals, the most talented editors and other creative talent would leave to work for a publisher that would let them pursue the projects they thought had the highest chances of success, and firing up the publisher’s sales reps would be a major challenge.

In most media markets, support from the biggest retailers is decisive. A significant share of books is bought on impulse, so significant shelf space and room on display tables (“pile ’em high and watch ’em fly” tactics) are particularly important. Book retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble want to see evidence that a book is worthy of their scarce resources. They like nothing better than to know that a book publisher … is planning an extensive marketing campaign. 

Consumers prefer blockbusters. Because they are inherently social, people find value in reading the same books and watching the same movies that others do. This is true even in today’s markets where, thanks to the Internet, buyers have easy access to millions and millions of titles. Compounding this tendency is the fact that media products are what economists call “experience goods”: that is, shoppers have trouble evaluating them before having consumed or experienced them. Unable to judge a book by its cover, readers look for cues as to its suitability for them, and find it very useful to hear that “Dewey” is “a ‘Marley & Me’ for cat lovers.” In much the same way that potential publishers do, readers value resemblances to past favorites.

Edit by NRV

Full article:

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By the way: Saw Marley & Me over the break — a major disappointment.  ALL of the funny scenes are in the trailer and TV commercial.  Marley was undisciplined and unlovable, Owen Wilson is a dufass (grossly miscast as a reporter), and Jennifer Aniston is showing some serious mileage.  Even a shot of Oxyglobin wouldn’t have saved Marley or the movie. Wait for it on free TV.

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Daily workouts: health-conscious discipline or just plain creepy?

December 30, 2008

Excerpted from IBD, “A Tale Of Two Presidential Workout Fanatics”, Malkin, December 26, 2008

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Former Washington Post writer Jonathan Chait famously attacked Bush three years ago in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times headlined “The (over)exercise of power.”

Recounting how President Bush ran 3.5 miles a day and preached more cross-training to a federal judge, Chait fumed: “Am I the only person who finds this disturbing? . . . What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy.”

Chait argued that Bush’s passionate devotion to exercise was a dereliction of duty. “Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?” he jeered. “It’s nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.”

“Bush says exercise helps sharpen his thinking. But some of his critics view his exercise obsession as an indulgence that takes time away from other priorities.”

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[Fast forward to] Christmas Day 2008, the Washington Post delivered a front-page paean to Barack Obama’s workout habits: “Gym Workouts Help Obama Carry the Weight of His Position.”

For adoring journalists, you see, Obama’s workout fanaticism demonstrates the discipline and balance in his life.  “it’s his time for himself, a chance for him to reflect. It’s his break. He feels better and more revved up after he gets in his workout.”

And when Obama feels better, the skies will part, the sun will shine (in moderate, environmentally correct, non-global-warming-inducing amounts, of course), and peace will reign worldwide!

Too bad the doughy, coffee-guzzling members of the White House press corps couldn’t see the merits of White House exercise over the past eight years.

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Fit Republican president = Selfish, indulgent, creepy fascist.

Fit Democratic president = Disciplined, health-conscious Adonis role model.

Full article:

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Have it your way … from Sirius-XM

October 28, 2008

Excerpted from AP: “Sirius offers custom, a la carte packages”, 10.02.08

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Sirius XM Radio unveiled customized satellite radio programming packages and a pay-per-channel, a la carte option for customers.

The company is offering “Best of Both” packages where former XM customers will be able to get select Sirius  channels, and vice versa. The package costs $16.99 a month. Most subscribers can add the channels without buying a new radio.

XM subscribers will be able to add Sirius personalities and channels such as Howard Stern, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius NFL Radio, Sirius Nascar Radio and Playboy Radio.

Sirius subscribers can add Oprah Winfrey, The Virus featuring Opie and Anthony, XM Public Radio, the PGA Tour and select NBA and NHL games.

Sirius also offers a pay-per-channel option, a first in pay subscription media.

The $6.99 per month package lets consumers pick 50 channels, but does not include live games, races or Howard Stern. Premium channels cost extra and online listening is not available. The monthly rate for the a la carte package is capped at $12.95.

The $14.99 per month a la carte plan includes 100 Sirius channels and select XM channels. Online radio listening is not included but premium channels do not cost extra.

Full article:

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Ken’s POV:

Bottom line: a very confusing price plan — probably intentionally so — that bumps prices up about $4 per month.

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Update: XM – Sirius Merger – Finally!

July 25, 2008

After more than a year of government review (largely instigated by a powerful “over the air” radio lobby led by the National Association of Broadcasters), it looks like the merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio — is finally going to happen.

in March, the Justice Department approved the merger.  Last month (June), FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gave his ok, saying:  “I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments they’ve offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest. They have voluntarily committed to setting forth price constraints, so the prices for consumers do not increase; smaller packages at lower prices; an open standard for radios; the sale of interoperable radios; and additional public interest programming for noncommercial use and for qualified entities who have not been traditionally represented.”

Two of the five FCC members commission quickly followed Martin’s lead and  announced that they would cast votes to approve the deal.

Now, their are reports that at least one of two other members of the FCC (John Adelstein, Deborah Taylor Tate), is ready give the merger the majority vote it needs provided that XM-Sirius up the ante by freezing prices for six years, by making 25% of their satellite capacity available for public-interest and minority programming, and by paying a $2o million fine for some minor technical violations of FCC transmission rules.

For more details:

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Performance Update

The companies broke even financially, and ended the 1st quarter of 2008 with a total of almost 18 million subscribers — 9.33 for XM, 8.64 for Sirius. (Reminder: The original “Bass Model” research studies projected the market would be at least 25 million).

XM’s subscriber acquisition costs (SAC), a component of cost per gross addition (CPGA), were $73.  CPGA in was $99 for XM, $91 for Sirius

XM converted  53.3 percent of OEM installations (i.e. radios already installed in new cars)to subscriptions. XM’s monthly churn rate was 1.77 percent.

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TEST QUESTION: Given a monthly subscription price of $12.99,  what’s the customer life time value (CLTV) of an average satellite radio subscriber? Answer below

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1. The prolonged merger approval process — which took longer than the approval of the Exxon-Mobil merger — certainly validates the political clout of the “over the air” media companies.  To a reasonably objective person (me), this one was a no-brainer.

2. Finally, I’ll be able to get the NFL and MLB on the same service.

3. I still think that converting about half of the OEM units pre-installed in new cars is cause for concern, not celebration.  Any marketer worth his / her salt wouldn’t sleep well at night until the conversion ration was at least over 75%. 

4. My Lexus RX-350 didn’t come with either XM or Sirius pre-installed.  The dealer treated the installation as a minor annoyance, and said less than half of their customers opt for satellite radio..

5. Big question: too late to matter? My sense: the buzz is gone and momentum  is gone.  Your views?

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Next up: Back to taxes …

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Answer to CLTV Question:
Assuming nil marginal operating costs per customer (though there would be some), and a 5% annual discount rate ( .4% monthly):
CLTV = [MS$ / (C% + DR%)] – CGAC
MS$ = monthly subscription = $12.99
C% = churn rate =  .0177
C% + DR% = .0177 + .004 = .0217
[MS$ / (C% + DR%)]  = $12.99 / .0217 = $598.61
$598.61 – CGAC = $598.61 – $95 (avg for XM & SIRI) +