Posts Tagged 'media'

New economy business models – case study 1

Media companies used to live in silos… TV, radio, papers, magazines, exhibitions, conferences, books. Distribution was key to availability so you could push it or pull it. We’ve not yet seen the mediums totally evaporate, overlay or converge but my friends at C21 Media are a case in point of a B2B trade magazine publisher that’s, these days, a whole lot more besides.

C21 covers the film and broadcast industry, so they are not only metamorphasising as a publisher, they are covering an industry itself in a state of change.

C21 are a younger upstart than the rest of their peer publishers, but they are leapfrogging the mightier publishing houses by niching them to death. (Doesn’t Broadcast hold the top slot?- No, too parochial in UK. C21 is global and globe-trotting. And Variety has TV Asia, TV Europe… all with that distinctly US-centric perspective).

Interesting observations:

1. C21Screenings – This is a tool for TV execs to showcase their latest formats to sell them internationally. Equally, it’s a tool for buyers to log favourites, share them with colleagues and aid decision-making. (This activity is still, mainly, carried out at 3 or 4 international TV festivals across the globe at intervals thru the year).

Ed Waller, the editorial director at C21, sold this to me as a Facebook portal… but it’s also part virtual mall, virtual tradeshow, virtual marketplace and virtual classified. It’s all those b2b environments that have been trumpeted over the various waves of web uptake. And, with streamed media, it can work well for video.

2. Business model

I understand that, though the C21 users are video execs, C21 has a much easier time selling page advertising in its ‘Big Books’ than converting advertisers to a slot on the screenings portal. What’s that all about? TV channels are both high tech and rather simple at the same time?

3. Convergence

C21 is seeing the move for TV and PC to become one. It’s being called ‘Bridging’ as TV becomes web and the C21 crew talk about ‘same chair solution’. (I’m wordplaying SSS myself – same seat solution?). Who’s suffering in the value chain? Well, it’s the platform owners. Why pay for a cable TV subscription to MTV if viewers can take it from the web for free via iPlayer?

And, the ‘next question’ when anyone talks about PC is… mobile. With iPhone, you don’t even need a seat? Will there be that ‘box in the corner’ need to be there much longer?

4. TV formats – the ‘remake rights’

I’ve observed the way IAC is looking to licence its formats like to local country markets so that local entrepreneurs can push ahead with these models as tried-and-tested franchises. This is a phenomenon in TV of long standing.

Now many emerging markets have cheap studio production and growing budgets. So, locals can afford to capture market profile by re-shooting a series with bigger splash from home-grown actors, rather than just over-dub. It’s cutting out the initial production and putting money into the format or script firm.

Hmm. All change for the media. Premier position for talent, profile and global reach.

Check out just how many blinking small ads they run on the C21 website!  And, check out the design format of their news-feed heavy, design-light styling… it’s moving to an RSS world out there.


Authentic 2

I recently posted that ‘Authentic’ will be a factor in the Next Big Thing. Here.

Since writing my earlier blog – even while I wrote – I was singing that brilliant Gil Scot Heron anthem, The Revolution will not be televised. (click that for the lyrics and more, but so good I pasted them below). The song came out in 1974 and has a huge rapping build-up to the final line ‘The Revolution WILL BE-EEEE LIVE!!!’

Simon Jenkins, just elected to chairman of The National Trust, uses his SundayTimes column to explore the rise and revolution of LIVE. He points to the trend for real experience. He describes this as a ‘reversal of history’ and that ‘People… will use the internet and iPod, MySpace and YouTube, but as a proxy for the real’. It’s a natty call for the man just charged with getting folk out to the stately homes of England. 

He even takes a pop at the likes of, well, the questors for the Next Big Thing (ie me): ‘Futurology seminars have long been obsessed with one question: what next after the internet?… Since the invention of the telegraph and gramophone, innovation is interested only in kit that yields profit… Futurology has a built-in distortion towards technological novelty, while ignoring the continued appeal of what has gone before.’

The point that Jenkins fails to make is that technology is a facilitator to the LIVE. You could even argue that with Gil Scott Heron. Without these new technologies, you couldn’t have the social revolutions… The pirate local stations of Radio Rebelde were used by Castro to take Cuba. Television halted Vietnam. Blogs continue to uncover the human conflicts of Iraq. And, Google’s RSS reader is allowing us to individually package up a host of thinkers’ threads as they blog to our themes.

In music, it’s the internet that is modifying the dynamics of recorded music and live. Firstly, internet provides global instant distribution. Secondly, it allows artists to capture the real value of their live performance – because gigs are now getting priced to approximate the secondary value of resell sites. Check out what they charge at the O2 these days and, if you’ve not been gigging recently, you’ll swoon. Equally, in marketing, the internet allows you to reach multi-niche audiences and keep that community informed of the next live gig, debate, workshop, training session or social. See the backers of Meet-up, if you want proof. (CEO Scott Heiferman, Esther Dyson, Andreas Stavropoulos (DFJ VC), U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, and Pierre Omidyar (Founder/Chairman of eBay – strapline: Real groups make a real difference).

It is ‘old school’ to argue that LIVE will cancel out digital. The phenomenon, though, is articulated in Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s book The Black Swan when he discusses the difference in Big Success these days. Success happens in Extremistan, rather than Mediocristan. With the potential to replicate anything online, people crave the reinforcement of the real. But, they aren’t going back to pre-digital days… (ask Lucy Kellaway, who wittily wrote on BPC – Before Personal Computers earlier this month).

Talent is, for sure, at a continued premium in our wired world. But, it’s talent that shows real depth of soul that will win in Extremistan – and only if it can use the new tools for mass appeal.

What I think we’re seeing is that the real cut-through comes from Authentic. Authentic means Personality. Witness Boris Johnson’s election to Mayor of London. He bumbles faux-pas, he back-tracks, he speaks his mind even if it’s not to everyone’s taste. You can somehow bottle up extreme personality or superlative performance or uber-luxury or that unique live moment and people will pay so much more for that (over the internet!?) more than they’ll pay for the polished, bland, repeated stuff.

Same goes for Barack Obama, I’ve got to assume – albeit he doesn’t ‘touch me’ because his micro-casting doesn’t need my sphere of influence or my vote. The point, Mr Jenkins, is that Barack is a pro in capturing the authentic mood, but also in ‘getting it’ online.

While I’m fascinated by the internet phenomenon of Social Networking, I’m obsessed by member organisations and their power – whether the UK’s biggest member clubs the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or The Caravan Club or the Royal Horticultural Society. And, if we don’t see the National Trust really embracing digital technology to pinpoint and leverage its member power, its estates will lose us as we all go gigging to little, crumblier, muddier country piles instead.



The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the 
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Narrowing the search?

The search for ‘The Next Big Thing’ is already too broad. Many of us fancy chasing the dream of a boutique hotel in a world beauty spot or writing the next Harry Potter. Or, in other words, looking at a broad spectrum of new-new angles on career advancement, lifestyle choices and amazing leaps into what look like exciting worlds (from the outside).

These are competitive spaces with hoards trying to be the next ‘hit’.

I think I’m better pushing the next domino over – making a logical follow-on move from where I’ve been – and saving up to stay at that luxy hotel or to buy other people’s books… until I feel I’ve made it in my chosen path.

Am I being sensibly square? Probably.

Plus, is there really a ‘Next Big Idea’ that everyone might share? Ronald Cohen, founder of Apax, suggests we look at cycles and trends to analyse opportunity… and certainly everyone’s own career experience will lead them to value different aspects of the political, economic, social and technological revolutions that surround us.

So, Opencast ought to narrow the search in media, marketing, digital, internet, information, entertainment, software, services. I’ll only make the odd nod to Brazil-Russia-China-India, or my fantastic lingerie ideas or starting a parenting training business… great ideas I haven’t got grounding in.

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