Blodget: TV’s In the Same Boat As Newspapers

Henry Blodget, a blogger, Yahoo’s TechTicker host, and someone who’s been banned from the securities industry (for life!), writes in AdAge that, sorry, the television industry is currently where the newspaper industry was five years ag0: in denial that its business model is doomed.

The problem, in a nutshell:

As with print-based media, internet-based distribution generates only a tiny fraction of the revenue and profit that today’s incumbent cable, broadcast, and satellite distribution models do. As internet-based distribution gains steam, therefore, most TV industry incumbents will no longer be able to support their existing cost structures.

Blodget notes that all that factors that once made the TV business model viable — TV’s role as the sole source of video content, limited options for advertisers who want to tell video stories, and tight choke points in each market through which video can flow — have been washed away by the Internet. And TV’s strategy so far of merely porting its existing model to the Web won’t be enough, he says.

So who will TV innovate? Can it? Hulu is impressive, but isn’t merely the same strategy on a Web platform — old rats on a new ship?

Is TV really doomed? Share your thoughts in comments.

AdAge: Twitter ‘Quitters’ Make Service’s Reach Limited

AdAge this week takes a look at Twitter‘s big, buzz-worthy numbers and spike and traffic, due in part to Oprah’s and Ashton’s inane Twitter campaigns. The trade publication suggests that Twitter’s reach will remain limited, because so many of these new Twitter signees have logged on because of the hype and then … well, nothing.

… the breathless [traffic] reports have not accounted for what people do after they sign up for a Twitter account. Creating a Twitter account doesn’t equal becoming an uber-user, or even a casual user, of the micro-blogging site. Nielsen Online data released today suggest more than 60% of people who sign up for Twitter abandon the service.

“Twitter Quitters” are threatening Twitter’s very survival! (You can see Nielsen’s post on the matter here.)

Of course, there’s no doubt that folks are signing on to Twitter just to see what all this buzz is about, then leaving the quirky service because they don’t get it, don’t have the time to work with it, don’t sit on their computers or cell phones all day or (possibly?) are put off by its increasingly precious nomenclature (Tweets, tweeps, twibes? Srlsy?).

There’s also the social media arms race effect, in which people, groups and companies sign on to the service just to say they’re on it. Even SEC coaches feel as if they have to tweet, even if they don’t know what it is!

Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t know if Twittering is a recruiting advantage, but he’s not taking any chances.

Kiffin opened a Twitter account recently after learning Georgia Coach Mark Richt had one.

“To me, it’s more one of those things that you don’t want anyone doing anything that you’re not,” Kiffin said. “Reading that Coach Richt had started that and had one, we just wanted to make sure that there wasn’t anything that could possibly be a benefit that we weren’t doing.”

(What? No comment from Houston Nutt, the undisputed king of collegiate text messaging? Sigh. Moving on …)

So, yes, AdAge’s report makes absolute sense. Is this a bad thing for Twitter? Not necessarily. AdAge says that if Twitter can get users to stick, then it will remain a niche service. As the employee of a niche publisher, I know that niche audiences, no matter how small, can be prized by advertisers and content providers alike. Niche isn’t bad. But it might not be what Twitter’s creators and investors are aiming for.

Meanwhile, I want to know this, Twittersphere: As we’ve seen, Twitter has legitimate uses for work, nonprofits, marketing, customer service, internal communications, emergency communications and more. But are Twitter noobs — the disciples of Oprah and Ashton — truly ruining Twitter for its power users? Are too many folks crashing the party?

Let me know in comments.

Steve Rubel On Opportunities for Newspapers

Steve Rubel, the prolific blogger, Twitterer and marketing strategist for Edelman, talks in AdAge about how newspapers are facing a three-pronged challenge — “rising inflation, America’s growing green conscience and disruptive technology” — and what opportunities these challenges present.

Inflation: Raise hard copy costs? Nope. Go digitial:

What [newspapers] should be doing instead is using this as an opportunity to put a hard date on when they will abandon print altogether, close down plants and migrate completely to a digital paradigm. They need to have faith that their brands and quality editorial product will encourage readers who haven’t already migrated to do so.

Going Green: No paper, online only? Sounds like a great green marketing hook — no only for newspapers, but their advertisers:

Advertising — particularly outdoor and print — also creates tremendous waste. Newspapers can take the lead in going green and in the process create new avenues for advertisers to play up their related social-responsibility programs online. It’s a win all around.

Disruptive Technology: Embrace it. Make your content easy to get anywhere readers get content:

Newspapers have made it hard for readers to get what they want without jumping through hoops. For example, they syndicate story summaries in their RSS feeds (even to paid subscribers). This forces readers to visit the website for the full content, and when they do, they have to trip over interruptive ads and interstitials.

Make it easy for loyalists to get what they want, when they want it, and they will remain just that — loyal.

Read the entire piece here. Also, see AdAge’s special section on the future of newspapers here.

Meanwhile, Blake Rutherford chews on Jack Shafer’s column on how newspapers have ceded “social currency” to Facebook.

As Online Advertising Causes Headaches for Newspapers, Niche Publications Thrive

There’s lots of reasons for journalists to be stressed. Media jobs are apparently disappearing, according to Ad Age. There’s buyouts a major newspapers. The demands of online and multimedia are increasing the workload and requiring reports to enhance their skills. And there’s all the stuff David Simon’s miffed about. Those folks can vent here.

But it’s not all bad.  American Public Media’s Marketplace radio show reports that while online advertising and other factors are giving general newspapers much agita, niche publications are doing quite well, thank you, because the business of niche publications — serving a specific audience with very targeted information — translates well online:

Tom Rosenstiel directs the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He says magazines for niche interests like gourmet cooking and backpacking have exploded. And he says advertisers are gravitating to them more and more. They know they’ll reach an audience that is interested in their product.

What’s more, he says, niche publications are well positioned to leverage the Internet.

Rosenstiel: Readers of niche publications may be quite likely to fill out surveys, to have e-mail alerts sent to them. And the technology that is challenging print can be complimentary to a niche magazine rather than a threat.

Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock, which publishes Arkansas Business, Soiree, Little Rock Family and, of course, ArkansasBusiness.com and ArkansasSports360.com, is a niche publisher that continues to thrive even as advertising has migrated online. As a result, ArkansasBusiness.com, for example, is set to have one of its best advertising months ever this month. Blogs, requested e-newsletters, and free, daily news content aimed an affluent, Web-savvy audience are all keys to that strategy.