Cable Sees Its Worst Subscriber Loss, Which Makes Perfect Sense

Cable suffered its worst video loss, shedding 711,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, as six of the eight biggest cable firms reported their most dismal three-month period. Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers shed 216,000 video customers in Q2 compared with a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier.

SNL Kagan estimates that almost 3 million U.S. households will use Hulu and other Web TV options as their primary video solution by the end of the year, up from 1.5 million in 2009. For 2011, the company expects that figure to hit 4.3 million. (There are about 115 million TV households in the States.)

– Cable’s decline an incentive for Yahoo, Hulu deal

This has been a long time coming, of course. People can only put with with subpar customer service and expensive, overstuffed channel packages for so long. Add to that the rise of Web-enabled TVs with apps that allow streaming from Netflex, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu and you’ve got all kinds of reason to dump traditional cable.

Mad Men on iTunes

No AMC? We've decided 'Mad Men' is worth paying for, so we get new episodes via iTunes.

Here’s how it’s been working at my house this summer after a move necessitated dumping Comcast. Now we get the four major networks, in HD, and any of their secondary digital channels over-the-air via digital antenna for free. We supplement  that with an $11 per month Netflix subscription, which gets us one DVD or Blu-ray at a time, plus unlimited streaming of Netflix’s Watch Instantly library.

We access streaming content via our Samsung Blu-ray player, which comes equipped with a Netflix app, along with other services like Wal-Mart’s Vudu, Blockbuster, Pandora and YouTube. It’s connected to the Web with our $35 per month SuddenLink high-speed Internet access.

Any other shows we’re missing, we can always connect the MacBook Pro to the TV to access iTunes content or, really, anything else out there for free on Web.

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Facebook Places: Taking Check-ins Global

So I’ve long thought that services like Gowalla and Foursquare (which allow you to “check-in” when you visit certain locations, see which of your friends me be there or see what special deals or services that location is offering) has a big hurdle in terms of widespread adoption. In short, there aren’t enough people using these esoteric little services yet to matter much.

But all that might be about to change with Facebook Places, which took the idea from Gowalla and Foursquare and made it automatically available to its hundreds of millions of users on Wednesday.

More thoughts, after the jump.

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Rolling Stone, the McChrystal Story and the Web

Rolling Stone

The McChrystal piece, as it finally appeared on RS' Web site.

For the first time in maybe a generation, Rolling Stone has published a series of relevant, well-reported news stories and gripping analysis pieces. Matt Taibbi’s searing series on the Wall Street bailout and Goldman Sachs comes to mind, as well as Tim Dickinson’s recent report on the Obama administration and the BP oil spill.

And of course the latest is Michael Hastings’ profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which is focusing new (and necessary) attention on the war in Afghanistan and might very well cost the general his job. (We’ll know the outcome of that storyline later today. Now we know: McChrystal out, Petraeus in.)

Too bad RS doesn’t know how to handle all this newfound relevance on the Web!

As I noted on the comments board today at Blake’s Think Tank:

The bigger story here? Rolling Stone, relevant again! The latest in a string of stories — including Matt Taibbi’s series on Wall Street and Goldman Sachs — that has made real waves.

Interestingly, RS appeared unprepared for the type of attention the story would generate. The feature wasn’t on its Web site until today (or maybe late yesterday), and only after Politico posted a PDF of the spread, which has yet to hit newsstands. (Politico eventually took it down after RS complained.)

That’s right: When the “story about the story” broke early Tuesday morning, you couldn’t find the RS piece on its Web site. In fact, most people read about it first in accounts by The Washington Post (linked to by Drudge) or — amazingly — in a PDF of the RS spread hosted and tweeted by Politico.

Like many legacy media companies, Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone has had an awkward go of it in the transition to digital. Primarily a music magazine, Rolling Stone’s Web site hasn’t kept up with how music has flourished online — sites like Pitchfork, Idolator, Stereogum and dozens of others have become the go-to destinations for music news, reviews and downloads. The latest iteration of its Web site, RollingStone.com, doesn’t get it much closer.

And this week, RS and its staff missed a huge opportunity to capitalize on the buzz its editors should have known the McChrystal piece would generate. By the time RS finally posted the story to its site late yesterday, most people had likely read the Politico PDF or, worse, felt they had gotten enough about it in the countless summaries and news reports.

And now that the story is posted, the press and readers have moved on to the next part of the narrative: McChrystal’s meeting with Obama and his fate as general. Will RS follow up on what its story hath wrought? They say they will. But they haven’t yet. Clock’s ticking!

Meanwhile, writer Michael Hastings has been making the media rounds, answer all kinds of questions about the story — how he reported it, the access he had, what he thinks about its reception. Why hasn’t Rolling Stone done this? Why haven’t they owned all parts of this story?

As Talking Points Memo notes, Rolling Stone squandered a huge opportunity with this story. Hopefully its editors learn from their mistakes, and we’ll refrain from using the “gathers no moss” cliché.

More

Michael Calderone, now writing for Yahoo!, has an assessment of RS and the news cycle here.

The Nieman Journalism Lab on how Rolling Stone’s late start on its own story cost it comments, reader interaction. (Thanks Emily!)

Making Online News Work in Small-town Arkansas

It’s happening. Someone people are doing it. We’ve noted the Fayetteville Flyer, Ozarks Unbound, the CityWire and others. And this week, Arkansas Business media writer Sam Eifling checks in with two other online-only news sites: the MagnoliaReporter.com and MonticelloLive.com,

which has received 1.7 million page views during the past year. Its growth tickles Joe Burgess, who has owned and run the site since October 2007.

After three years on MonticelloLive.com, Burgess is convinced his style of coverage is sustainable, and here to remain as a competitor to the local paper (the Advance Monticellonian, in this case). “Convenience stores, instant coffee and faster information,” he says. “It’s all the same concept.

Right now, they’re small operations. But they’ve got the right idea: covering intensely local news intensely, offering readers news they can’t find anywhere else, even in the competing print paper.

Also

TolbertReport.com teams with InsideSaline.com and MySaline.com to present a day of debates by candidates in local elections.

We’re So Jealous! Follow These Arkansans at #SXSWI

Emily Reeves and Charles Crowson

Emily Reeves (@reeves501) talks via Skype from Austin to Today's THV This Morning's Charles Crowson.

So this is happening.

The opening day of the South by Southwest Festival’s Interactive conference — coupled with pre-order day of the Apple iPad — make today, Friday March 12th, perhaps the geekiest day of the year! And you certainly don’t want to miss out on that, do you? Of course you don’t!

Fortunately, we’ve got Arkansas Tweeple on the ground in Austin, Texas, home of #SXSW. Among them, Emily Reeves of Stone Ward of Little Rock, who’s tweeting and Skyping from the event. This morning, live from Austin, she checked in with Today’s THV This Morning’s Charles Crowson to give us an overview of what’s happening at this year’s event.

We expect more updates via her @Reeves501 Twitter account and her personal blog, Ms. Adverthinker, where she’s already posted her insane schedule, which we kinda hope is really only for keeping up appearances. There’s not near enough time in there for boozing and partying and geeking it up with fellow geeks, which is really what SXSW is all about, right? Right.

Also in town, another friend of the blog, Bryan Jones and Wade Austin, both of CJRW of Little Rock. Both are tweeting from there as well, and Jones will be providing daily wrap-ups on his blog, Flairification.com.

Any other Arkansas Twitterers in Austin at the festival? Let me know, and I’ll list them here.

So what’s on tap for Friday? You can the full schedule here, which includes seminars on pay TV vs. the Internet, developing apps for iPhone, Internet analytics, Web typography, Gen Y entrepreneurs, social media marketing for business and much more.

You can also expect the usual complaining about AT&T’s inadequate data network as thousands of iPhone-equipped geeks jockey for bandwidth during the entire event. You’ll also hear lots about Foursquare this year, as everyone checks in at every conceivable site in Austin. And, as Emily notes in the video above, folks will be waiting to hear what Twitter co-founded Ev Williams has to say about his coming revenue model for the microblogging service.

Of course, the elephant in the room, the phantom hanging over the entire proceedings, is the Apple iPad, which won’t even hit the streets for another month. Nevertheless, it will likely dominate most chatter at the event.

Related

Ah, Austin. How we love you!

Im in yr biznass, upending yr modle: A Decade of Google

Blink

In the '00s, Google rarely blinked

If you missed this piece in Slate’s The Big Money this week, it’s well worth a read. Chris Thompson looks back at The Google Decade and finds few business models that search giant Google didn’t completely and totally change forever. Google News challenged newspapers, Google’s book scan initiative takes on publishing, Android is poised to reinvent mobile phones, Chrome is making waves in the browser wars and could threaten Microsoft’s operating system. This list goes on.

Has any single company wrought so much change on so many different industries as Google — ever? The quiet company that few of us heard of at the turn of the decade is now the dominant online force and a major player in several “traditionally offline” sectors. Where does it go from here? Thompson notes that for all chaos Google has caused competitors, only two of its more than 100 businesses, AdSense and AdWords, make significant amounts of money.

Is Google so far ahead of the game that it can’t yet monetize its innovations? Or does the online leader still have some catching up to do? Google’s second decade will tell us a lot.

Related

Google’s poised to do it again. Its Nexus One event takes place today. Follow the press event liveblog on Gizmodo

Nexus One page briefly live. See screenshot here

News round-up on Nexus One here

Molding Young Minds at UALR High School Journalism Day

Much thanks to the Sonny Rhodes and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for inviting me to speak during two sessions of UALR’s annual Journalism Day event, which took place Thursday.

Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press gave the event’s keynote address on “Why Journalism Matters,” and other session leaders included Frank Fellone of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kelly Kissel of the AP and Malcolm Glover of KUAR-FM, 89. 1, the Little Rock NPR affiliate.

I spoke in two sessions, the first on “Why Your High School Newspaper Needs to Be Online,” and the second on ” … So You’re Online, Now What?” The students were great and asked some solid questions.

I also took the opportunity to ask some questions about teen media habits. And needless to say, everything you’ve heard about how teens engage (or don’t engage) with media is probably pretty close to true.

  • Most of them don’t read newspapers — less than half of the 20 in my first session said they read the local daily on a weekly basis, and none of them read it daily.
  • Many of them said they spend at least 4 hours a day online. One student said he’ll often spend half a Saturday online.
  • They text message one another like crazy. When I told them about a study that showed the average teen sends 2,000 texts a month, many told of numbers double that. And because they’re heavy texters, their parents are, too. One student said his Mom sent 5,000 messages one month.
  • Facebook is the hotness, but MySpace is dunzo.
  • They watch TV, but usually while surfing the Web.
  • Many of them say they read magazines.
  • Oh — and none of them Twitter.

None of their high school papers were online, but a couple of schools seemed poised to invest in the Web soon. One of the big concerns for students and their advisers was finding a way to fairly moderate reader comments.

In all, it was an enjoyable session. Despite the turmoil that traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) find themselves in, I still believe it’s an exciting time to be a journalism student. The possibilities the Web offers young reporters and editors are boundless. No longer are students defined by the medium for which they work. On the Web, the lines have blurred, and they can each be involved in writing, video, photography, audio production, Web programming and more. And given the current state of media, with all the economic and organizational challenges that exist, they have a chance to help reshape the profession as it asserts itself on mobile and online platforms.

It’s a thrilling time for those kids, and 14 years out of high school, I’m a little envious.