Posts Tagged ‘tv’

And the Gold Medal Goes-to the Olympic Spoiler

February 22, 2010

Let me say right at the start, this is not an essay that will complain about tape delays and channel selection on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.  I won’t be that guy.  I work in the industry and I get the decisions that are made and why.  I would also say that columnists and commentators who work in or comment on the media industry should know and understand the reasons–and to feign they don’t is more than slightly disingenuous.

This is about all the folks who do all they can to avoid Olympic results during the day because they want to watch the biathlon, or the Nordic combined or the half-pipe, and how difficult it is to do that if you are even slightly connected to your social networks (and realistically who is not?)

I was on some PTO last week, home with the girls-and kind of dipping into things at work etc.  But I was never too far from clicking into Facebook on my iPhone or checking out the latest on Twitter on my BlackBerry.

And right there-out in the public with no tape delay were the results.  I knew in real-time that Lindsey Vonn not only overcame her ankle injury-but went on to win.  No waiting until 7pm on NBC Shopping to find out that Johnny Spillane is just a fraction of a second off the lead in the Nordic combined.  No waiting for Curling After Dark (and that is just plain weird) to get my fill of what seems like bocce on ice.

And you know what, it’s a good thing.  I don’t feel cheated.

It’s the argument/discussion I have from time to time at CBS News about the quaint old philosophy of holding a story for broadcast.  For those my age or older call it, “Film at 11” syndrome.  When the local newscaster (I can remember Chuck Scarborough and Ernie Anastos in NYC) promised to have the day’s story in film (although I tend to think it was video) at 11.

The world does not work on a broadcast schedule anymore.  For me, these spoiler updates let me set my TiVo, or check the listings to see which channel it’s on, or if I need an immediate fix go check one of the Olympics video sites or apps.

The spoiler here is the chatter about tape delays–who cares.  This is an on-demand world and its all there.  So keep the updates coming.  Helps me avoid ice dancing and pairs figure skating.

Changing the Model and Slaying the Nay Sayers

March 4, 2009

Its no secret-just look at the publications closing the media jobs that have been lost-that for years, probably decades the business model for big media and ad-supported business has been upside down. But while the model was unsustainable, during the boom of the 90’s and into the early part of 2000 (with some very short points of exception) there was very little reason to change the model–it was working.

Then came the great recession, depression, downturn, economic screwing or any other term that you like of 2008-2009 and likely into 2010.  Low and behold, the upside down business model doesn’t work and now venerable institution (read Rocky Mountain News for instance) are gone, others (read NY Times) are teetering and others (read Young Broadcasting) are fighting for survival.

With that background I read with great interest in this morning’s NY Times an article about a company I have worked for twice, Cablevision Systems, and its long talked about concept of targeting ads by demographics–making the commercial you see while watching TV more valuable and increasing the CPM.

Its so simple and straight forward, that of course there are nay sayers–those who are concerned that there will be backward engineering and abuse of the data.  Guess what, the data is out there.  This is not abuse, this is use.

Cable companies through digital offerings and bundling with ISP, VOIP and other products have a mountain of data on their customers. Wouldn’t TV be more compelling if instead of seeing a commercial for Depends (not quite my demographic) I was served a commercial about the next great family vacation resort so I can plan my next family vacation with my girls–and not take a peek into what may lay ahead for me in 40 years?

Doesn’t that increase the value to the advertiser?

This is a great leap forward for the media business.  For what I do at CBS–targeting ads by demographic and by location is the holy grail for just that reason–we want to make the experience holistic and meaningful to the end user. And its not altruistic, its about doing good business–and providing a robust platform for our advertisers and making sure we are engaging our audience with our sponsors.

This is how media will save itself.

Convergence-and is it Game, Set Match

March 4, 2009

So I have to thank Howard Lindzon for pointing out a great write-through on the state of the media today-and why TV may have lost the battle for eyeballs with interactive (read here computer and mobile) media.  I encourage you to read Paul Graham’s insight, its an interesting take.

Since I am a TV guy by training, and one of the job skills I use to sell my self with is an ability to boil things down–let me save you some time.

It comes down to accessibility of the platform and socialization.  On line and on mobile its an open canvas and we can all join in.

Mr. Graham (whom I have never met) continues that networks (which is where I work) have been slow to respond-and while that may be the case in the past-I do not think that is the case today. My network has a site dedicated to on-line viewing of shows and an iPhone app that carries that content.

I am actively working to bridge the gap between local and network–to allow for synchronicity.  Is it coming slower than it should? Probably.  But its happening–and at the end its a good thing.

So yeah–we’ll still have appointment viewing.  There will be an Evening News at 6:30 (or something like that) but it won’t be the only way its available.  In the case of CBS News–that 6:30 Evening News cast is available every night online, on MobilTV (Sprint) and on MediaFlo TV. 

Its small steps, yeah. But we are moving in the direction of accessibility, and in the end, thats a good thing.

News and Social Media Experience

January 6, 2009

So I am kicking it into gear today after 11 days in Hawaii-followed rule number one and did not take a five day week my first week back, although not sure I should have made the flight from Hawaii to NYC yesterday (a different blog post perhaps). But one of the interesting discoveries I made while vacationing (along with the whales, dolphins and volcanoes) is how beneficial being connected can be.

I was able to dip in and out of what was going on-and not just the usual back and forth banter with friends, "friends" and followers-but truly getting an update while on the go. Start with the first day we were on Ohahu. The national press corp is camped out on the same Waikiki beach we are on:

PE traveling press on the beach

So what, I shared a vacation spot with Barack Obama, right?

But then so much happended as well. Israel and Hamas renewed their long standing rivalry-and it played out in real time on Twitter. And the information-from eye witness accounts, -and all updated regularily. Made following and drawing my own conclusions about the events possible.

One of the areas (and its one I can change) that I found unfulfilling was how the major media companies used social media to get word out on the story. Too often it was a headline and a click through to a web site–very unfulfilling and automated. It did not have the feel of something that I needed to take action on. And even worse–being on the go, and living off my iPhone and BB, too many of these "major" media companies have crappy mobile experiences. My BB got locked up opening up a Java filled page. My iPhone took forever to open up full websites–its a crappy experience.

For the major media companies, social media has to be about connecting to users–not driving traffic.  And if you really do need to drive traffic with your Tweets–at least use Tiny URL or something similar–and put more content into the Tweet.

There is a viable and usable flow of information available–and major news organizations are doing some great reporting from Gaza, Capitol Hill and elsewhere where news is happening.  It would be great to sue these tools to share the reporting-and not just drive traffic.

Perhaps we can do both.

Survival of the Fittest

December 18, 2008

So, a couple of seemingly random things yesterday got me thinking about the future (seems I have been doing that a lot this month), and it kind of made me think in a lot of ways its no different than ever–survival of the fittest.

The first trigger for this came when a co-worker posted on his Twitter this great little ode to those who have felt the blade in recent weeks. Michelle Chappel tells their story:

Then as the day unfolded, came word out of Moutain VIew that LinkedIn, the "venerable" business networking site was shaking up its management.  Now, I have been on LinkedIn for years, add me if you like, but I am almost never on the site.  And I have had that LinkedIn for years.  I almost never think about it as a resource.  Although, its always a good way to tell which partner is about to have a shakeup, because I get swamped by requests from LinkedIn.

For utility sake, I have been pretty happy with Facebook; go ahead, friend me up.  But lately even that has been well, wonky at best.  Not sure that it is built for speed for the future.

So, I have been checking out some other sites-like Live Journal, Social Median, Twitter, Plurk, Digg, Friend Feed, the site I run CBS Eye Mobile -and others.

And the conclusion I have reached is that we are getting closer, but not quite there yet.  I kind of hope that there is a push now that the field may be thinning out to take a step back and sort out the upsides and downsides of each–and then come up with an ueber social networking experience.

The ease of Twitter to quickly update–and to connect to others.  The simplicity of Eye Mobile to add video and multimedia.  The capability to add a blog like Live Journal.  The abilty to quickly share like Digg and Social Median, and the sense of community that Facebook offers.

Either the beauty of the experience, or the trouble for a business model is that the site can't be just one thing–it has to be all things to all people-and have the utility to be flexible enough.

There are some steps in the right direction–Facebook Connect for instance is rolling out and hitting key sites.  But that is a start. 

What we all have to remember is that we are not in this alone–and we need to make our sites open to one another–because the upside is limitless, but the walls (like fences in a neighborhood) will kill the community.

Go Forward, Ever Forward

December 12, 2008

And so it was our turn.  My company did its business restructuring yesterday.  I won't put the details here, there are at least 15 blogs (that I found with a simple search) that have background.  Instead, I am thinking about a few tangential things today–and some things that have weighed on me for a while leading up to this.

The discussions started about this over the summer–I want to say in August.  And to be clear, and pretty high up in this thought process today–I get the business decision.  100% I understand.  But there are people involved–both those who joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed, and those on what we in corporate land like to call the "go forward" team.  And for very unique reasons its not easy to be in either group (and I have felt the sting from both sides).

Throughout the day yesterday, as news of restructuring surfaced (again check the blogs) the outreach was impressive.  People I know who battled through this during this week, and last week, and last month, and last quarter reached out–who was impacted? are you ok? words of encouragement.

Yeah, we are all in this together.  It is a social fabric–but still to Robert, Sarah, Dan, Ramy, Vaughn, Mike, Hamid and the rest it may seem like you are alone–but you are not.  I can remember the first time I was the victim of "business restructuring."  It was pre-email–and keeping connected with the people who may be able to help you get re-settled was about making phone calls, and trying to go for coffee.

Today-reach me via Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, LiveJournal, IM, email, text, mobile-I think its part of my social contract to be a resource for you. I am sure Cali, Julie, Mark, Mike, Jeff, Randy and all the rest agree.

So yeah, we will go forward, ever forward.  But we will also remember where we are today, and where we have been together.

Mixology as the Future…

December 8, 2008

When I was in college–as I would think most people my age (just north of 40) would admit-I idid my turn behind the bar. Hey, it was OK cash, got me to the parties, and I learned a skill. Now, I never trully mastered the art of mixology, and those rare times someone wanted more than a draft or a bottle, or somethign with more than one two ingredients I gave them the old, "How do you make that again?" line…but it was a great experience.

This is not about being a bartender. At least not in the classic, "Give me a double and keep 'em coming" sense.  No, this is about how we need to think about media, consumption, social networking and the hows and whys we should create a solid mix in order to create a meaningful and engaging experience.

As a senior level manager for a big media company I am watching a lot of changes fall across the landscape of my office. Ask the folks at NBC or Gannett, or Papas or Tribune about the climate. 

Whether is be a good, bad or indifferent model, at least for now its my job to generate eyeballs.  If I generate eyeballs to content, sales has a product to for placement of VIagra, Tums, Cingulair or just about anything else.  Call it quid-pro-quo, call it old school–I call it a business model.

So, now the challenge. I have destination content and I want to get people to my destination–but the people I want to reach are on Twitter, Jaiku, You Tube, Plurk, MySpace, Facebook–pretty much anyplace but on CBS News.  What's a middle manager to do? The key has to be to get to where the eyeballs are.  Its a matter of getting out and generating interest where people are.

There was a great story in today'sNY Times about the impact Twitter had on CNN's announcement last week that it would create a news wire service–similar to the AP, but not in competition with the AP.  You can go dig into that and try to piece that together.

So, I Twitter.  And I follow some of the folks who apparently were in the room when CNN made the announcement.  I thought nothing of the fact that I was learning about this through Twitter.  After all, the first hint of the terror attacks in Mumbai I got from Twitter.  Same for the riots in Greece.  Same for the protest at the airport in Thailand.  Its the power of social networks.  People are able to connect you to what they are doing and what they are seeing.

If you want to connect with them–then you need to be where they are and engage them not on your terms–but where they are.

Its like a perfect Bloody Mary.  Needs pepper, tabasco and a little love.

The cross point?

December 1, 2008

So, an interesting thing happened last week for users and watchers of social media. The horrific (and cowardly) attacks in Mumbai were a chilling and gripping story line (as a news consumer, news producer and news professional)–but the best information and the best images were not coming from "all the usual places."

Instead, there was a constant flow of real time eye-witness data, video and images pouring into sites like Twitter, Seesmic, Mahalo, Jaiku.

So, this brings us to an interesting point in time in the information age–when can we substantially count on these social network sites as a source of information. Now, I work for a broadcast network adn spend a lot of time finding ways to work in social media to the flow of information. The biggest push back from managers, producers, on-air typles, pretty much everyone is–how do we know if the information is right? How can we confirm?

Believe me, I know how vital it is to confirm information before its use. Having gone through the long and drawn out process of being deposed in law suits, having to testify in law suits–I get it. But just because it comes from Twitter or Seesmic or any of the "citizen journalism" sites-does that make the information suspect?

I have spent times working at local TV stations, and taken random calls from viewers with the next great story for air. These "tipsters" as we called them back in the day are the early adopters of social networks. They had information they wanted share. Its what we do with Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, YouTube, CBS Eye Mobile–all of them.

As the person on the other end of the phone, it was (and still is) my job to make sure that information is right before we put it on air. The game has not changed, the tools have just become more direct.

So back to the central issue-I think its a cross point. As platforms evolve, and the data flow becomes simpler, I am going begin requiring (probably first for producers then for on-airs) an ability to convert from social media to "confirmed news product." There is just too much information out there that we (and I use this term collectively) are missing because of "old school" rules in the new media age.

So what does a pioneer of TV news think of citizen journalism?

November 9, 2008

So, anyone who watches a local newscast-pretty much in any market in the country–has seen or experienced the "Eyewitness News Effect." Its the brainchild of a man named Al Primo who launched the fast paced, high story count newscast on WABC TV in NYC in November of 1968.

Now 40 years later-it is ubiquitous, as are the alumnae of Eyewitness news: Geraldo Rivera, Trudy Haines (Philadelphia), Melba Toliver (who I worked with BTW at News 12 Long Island)–and the keystone is to tell the story that affects people.

So, my friend Heather Kovar on her NY Press Club blog spent some time with Al at his CT home–here is Al's take on citizen journalism–and its refreshing.

Its another great moment in web video history….

November 5, 2008

So, they must have run out of talking heads on Election Day. Because somehow I ended up in front of the camera.

Actually, Andy Plesser from is a good guy, and did a really nice job with how big media was using 2.0 to make election day an experience.

And feel free to read more about it here

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