Posted on August 23, 2010
Last week The New York Times broke news that Hulu is considering an IPO. The first line of the story identifies Hulu as a “rapidly growing online hub for television and movies” that could be valued at “more than $2 billion.” Not only was the news surprising, but the favorable coverage in a normally reputable newspaper was perplexing. However, as I pondered the matter recollections of the wit and wisdom of Wilson Mizner proved to be insightful.
Like Dorothy Parker, Mizner is remembered more for his witty repartee than specific works. He was born a month before the battle at the Little Big Horn in 1876 and died at the bottom of the Great Depression. During the intervening fifty-six years Mizner participated in the Klondike Gold Rush, befriended Wyatt Earp, married the Yerkes widow whose first husband was the inspiration for a Theodore Dreiser trilogy, managed the Rand Hotel in New York where he posted such notices as “Guests must carry out their own dead” and “No opium smoking in the elevators”, swindled Florida real estate investors in the 1920s, managed Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant, and wrote movie screenplays including 20,000 Years in Sing-Sing staring Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis.
Posted on August 19, 2010
In earlier posts and podcasts we discussed the theoretical advantages of behaviorally targeted advertising and how the Internet is best suited for the technique. Today we interview Bryan Burdick who is the Corporate Development Officer at Bizo.com which is a company that actually implements behavioral targeting via the Internet.
He also describes how the data is kept anonymous so as to protect individual privacy. We learn that offline marketers, such as Acxiom, actually have far more personal information about us than Bizo will ever collect via cookies. Read more…
Posted on August 8, 2010
Five hundred years before Columbus discovered the Western Hemisphere, Vikings were raiding the British Isles. They even attacked along the western shores of Ireland where one settlement took root on the banks of the Shannon River estuary. Two hundred years later Anglo-Normans conquered the area and built a castle to control river traffic. The fortress was named after King John who was later forced to sign the Magna Carta back in England.
A town grew up around King John’s castle. Apparently the residents were a fun-loving sort as indicated by the ribald poetic form that took the city’s name of Limerick. High ground across the river and toward the south east provided broad commanding views of the castle and surrounding terrain. It was a pleasant place for recreation. While the elderly imbibed under shade trees youths played ball games and other athletic activities on the green, or lingered in hedgerows with fair acquaintances. From the Gaelic words for “garden” and “John” the area got its compound Anglicized name, Garryowen.
In time the “boys of Garryowen” developed a reputation for rowdiness often amplified by generous intoxication. Sometime before the end of the eighteenth century a minstrel, whose name is lost to history, composed a lively tune the Garryowen boys would sing as they staggered from tavern-to-tavern. Read more…
Posted on August 6, 2010
Most film producers and other companies associated with conventional television fear the Internet. They don’t see how they can profit from it. Instead they worry it will erode revenues from conventional sources, replacing them with lower amounts. To date their concerns are well founded.
For example, few Internet users will pay a subscription fee for shows already on television. Moreover, the Internet provides no “carriage fees” like those paid by satellite and CATV operators to the networks — and indirectly the producers. While movie downloads admittedly provide revenues from sales and rentals, they are at least partly at the expense of DVD rentals and sales. Finally, online advertising revenues at video streaming sites like Hulu and YouTube are pathetically small by comparison to those available from conventional television. Much like the record labels, it’s likely that the Hollywood studios and television show producers wish that the Internet had never been invented. Read more…
Posted on August 4, 2010
Some contend that Internet Video will never achieve its promise in the United States because the parent companies of the dominant Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are hostile to it. More specifically, CATV operators and Telcos consider it a competitive threat to their conventional television subscription services. Furthermore, the threat intensifies as growing numbers of consumers discover that modern televisions can also be used as display monitors for computers or other appliances capable of accessing the Internet.
As a result, it is argued that the ISPs will adopt usage-sensitive Internet pricing. In short, they will charge consumers for the bandwidth consumed thereby making it uneconomic to watch television shows and movies via the Internet instead of over conventional subscription services. Although consumers will object, their protests will be impotent because there are no realistic competitive alternatives to CATV and Telco ISPs. As AT&T Labs research compellingly documents, metered pricing of communications services severely restricts per-subscriber network usage. Read more…
Posted on August 1, 2010
Three-and-a-half years ago Viacom asked YouTube to “take-down” 100,000 unauthorized postings of Viacom-copyrighted content. YouTube complied completely within a day. A month later Viacom filed a complaint in the Southern District Court of New York seeking statutory damages against Google (YouTube’s parent) for copyright infringement. Copyright statutes specify that damage awards can be as much as $150,000 per violation thereby representing a potential Google vulnerability of $15 billion. Viacom owns Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, and similar media properties.
The court selected by Viacom is traditionally sympathetic to copyright holders. But in June it ruled decisively in favor of YouTube. Read more…