Category Archives: Media Sectors

Media Sectors on Modern Media Mix

Fortnite vs. Father Time: Is Fortnite Taking the L?

Fortnite Battle Royale is an online video game developed by Epic Games. The game pits up to 100 players together to compete to be the last one standing. Fortnite was released in July of 2017 with nearly 1 million players at its launch. After its launch, Fortnite continued to grow into a mega powerhouse that took over the entire gaming community. Several reasons lead to the success Fortnite received, but these same reasons are now leading to its demise.

After hitting its peak in May of 2018, F ortnite has slowly declined with a few jolts in popularity at each season release. A recent report from the Nielsen Company shows how real the decline of Fortnite is. Fortnite was once the top grossing game for both console and PC, and now only remains atop of console games. However, with the constant decline Fortnite is facing, it is only a matter of time it will be dethroned. 

One of the biggest reasons for Fortnite’s success is the constant changing of its game. There are many ways that Epic does this to please its players. Epic has changed the map, nerfed weapons, adjusted building speeds, and added new modes to try and reinvigorate the game. 

These changes have been made to help both professional and amateur players. However, these changes have led to a major divide in the gaming community. This divide is putting Fortnite in parail. Without its immense number of amateur players, the revenue spent on in game purchases will be nearly eliminated. If Epic continues to frustrate its professionals it will be fall behind its competition in the e-sports world. Along with this divide, Fortnite is struggling to stay relevant because Epic no longer has the power to make its own decisions. 

Their core competency of constant evolution has been compromised because of the divide they have created. The best example of this can be seen with the B.R.U.T.E. mech machines they introduced is season 10. The B.R.U.T.E. was an armored robot like machine that was intended to bridge the gap between amaeture and professional players. Epic released many statements defending their decision to these being in the game, but eventually removed the B.R.U.T.E. mech  to please it audience.

Other issues that are leading to the death of Fortnite include: repetitiveness, pressure on lootbox and microtransactions, and legal issues over the in game emotes. Out of all of these issues, I believe the lawsuits over in game emotes is the largest concern. According to a LendEDU survey 70% of Fortnite’s players have made an ingame purchase on emotes (in game dances) or skins (how your character looks). 

While the pressure of eliminating microtransactions will ultimately wipe out Fortnite’s main source of income, it is the lawsuits that I find more detrimental. 

If the lawsuits brought forth from the likes of, 2 Milly, Alfonso Ribeiro, the “Backpack Kid”, and Blocboy JB result in them receiving sole rights to their dances then Epic will have no choice but in wiping out these emotes from Fortnite. If these emotes are removed, they will then have to refund the millions of players who have purchased them. Depending on the court rulings, the plaintiffs will also receive compensation for the intellectual property being copyrighted. 

I believe that Fortnite has come to the end of its run as a popular game. With all of the issues I presented, I do not see how Fortnite can have any more success. What do you think? Is Fortnite a game that will maintain the popularity it had at its peak with 125 million in 2018, or will it become obsolete like many fads of the past? If you believe Fortnite’s fatality is in the near future, what do you believe will be the final nail in the coffin to the games relevance?

-Joshua Farris

The Problem with Facebook “Likes”: Mental Health vs. Profitability

Facebook has been undergoing a trial run of removing “like” counts from posts. The hope is that hiding counts will improve users’ mental health, without deterring them from liking content.

Facebook prototypes hiding like counts [via Jane Manchun Wong]

If Facebook decides to make the change permanent for all users, the result would be similar to the above example. The like count is hidden, while the list of reactors is still available for manual summation. In other examples, like counts will still be visible to those who post them and hidden from the public.

Like counts have become the subject of these tests because of the negative effect they can have on mental health. To many users, like counts act as a “social score” by which one’s status and value are assessed.

A 2016 study by UCLA measured student’s brain activity while viewing assorted social media posts, some of which were their own, and all of which were assigned like counts by researchers. Researchers found that when shown that their post had received numerous likes, students were significantly more likely to exhibit high self-esteem.

“Likes are powerful because they are immediate feedback,” says Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. “In a way, likes give you the same kind of hit like a gambler gets at a slot machine.”

This experiment follows a series of similar tests run by Instagram in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and other countries. This study has already received positive feedback from some users, who feel less susceptible to the opinions of their followers.

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy for Instagram Australia and New Zealand, has this to say: “We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.”

The trial has received negative feedback as well. Small businesses who rely on their social media presence are worried that the change will severely impact how customers engage with ecommerce. According to Mellissah Smith of Redeye Marketing, medium and small business owners may have to pay more to make up for the loss of their advertisements’ likes.

This concern isn’t unwarranted. A survey of Canadian content creators found that many users saw a drop in their likes, decreased follower growth, and less interaction via comments. The same 2016 study by UCLA found that students were much more likely to like a post if it already had numerous likes.

This could be a major concern for Facebook. The test is supposed to determine if hiding like counts will determine users from liking posts. If the Instagram trials are any indication, Facebook likes will fall, and that could mean a huge loss for Facebook’s sponsors. This move could be detrimental to Facebook’s business.

On the other hand, it could be exactly what Facebook wants. While businesses may or may not suffer from decreased traffic, social media influencers are almost certain to feel the impact. And that could be what Facebook is counting on.

Some social media analysts are betting that this outcome is Facebook’s intended result. By removing the influence of influencers, Facebook could hold sway over an aspect of the social media industry it does not yet have.

The industry of social media influencers accounts for an estimated $6.5 billion, a number which is quickly growing. By limiting the effectiveness of influencers, Facebook could hold the industry hostage until it can find a way to cut in, or destroy it all together.

– Andrew DeJongh

Are Movie Theaters Dead, Dying, or Fighting Back?

Ever since 2010, when Netflix began added on to their successful Blu-ray and DVD renting business, by introducing streaming to its platform, the film and media industry has changed significantly. Back then, it might’ve been insane to consider the possibility of anything rendering theater chains obsolete, or even knocking them off their feet for a second, but nowadays, the conversations have shifted. 

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and soon to be on the market, Disney+ all have original TV shows, Movies, and even experimental media (like Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch on Netflix) that they have all to themselves, with little to no theatrical runs. The historically significant 90-day theater window has slowly withered down, and now even movie director giant, Martin Scorsese’s next production, “The Irishman” will only have a three-week theatrical window, before coming to Netflix. With all this information you have to ask yourself, are theaters dying? Not exactly. 

According to a study done by EY, the relationship between streaming and theaters might not be a competition, but the opposite. The study shows that there is a clear positive relationship between the two, which is for the most part consistent through all races, genders, and age groups. 

EY Chart A

As much as I, a 20-year-old college student would love to scream from the rooftops about the death of theaters, Chart A, above, shows a clear trend: those who watch a lot of streaming, generally watch the same amount of movies in the theaters. The same goes for those who don’t watch much streaming at all, they aren’t flocking to the movie theaters to see more (on average), they just aren’t interested in media consumption. The only slight exception to this is the 18-27 age group, who seem to be much more interested in streaming than movie theater watching (see Chart B, below). 

EY Chart B

This can be connected to the fact that the majority of this age group is busier than the others, with many of them in college, starting a career, or trying to settle their life, and just don’t have time to make the trip to the theaters. However, this is not a huge fork in the road for theaters by any means, as the other age groups are very consistent in this fact: people who like movies, are gonna see movies more, regardless of platform or price tag. 

Even so, there are many big names within the film scene who look down upon the business dealings of streaming services, Netflix in particular. Stephen Speilberg voiced his concerns during an acceptance speech, preaching the importance of the theatrical experience and how detrimental it is to the film watching experience. He even went so far as to say streaming service practices of not releasing films into theaters was harming that experience. Netflix responded with a tweet addressing this, speaking on the importance of art being available for all, regardless of social or financial status, as well as the importance of having multiple avenues for creators to share their art. 

It’s interesting that even though all the data points towards the two business models not harming each other at all, yet there is this obvious competitive reasoning for the majority of their decisions. In response to streaming creating a subscriber based business model, theaters have been experimenting with their own subscription service.

Regal Theaters charges from $18-$24 a month, giving customers access to unlimited movies at specific locations, depending on how much they choose to pay. More money spent, meaning more locations this is viable. However, you are required to commit to a 12-month plan, and you only get 10% off concession. 

AMC also has a slightly less interesting subscription plan, allowing three movies a month for $20-$24 monthly, but this also includes IMAX and 3-D movies. Again, you must spend more to have more access to certain locations. Cinemark also through a lazy deal in the mix, giving customers a low price of $8.99 a month, but only for one free movie a month, and some discounts on concessions. 

Many analysts believe this could actually be good for theater chains, smoothing out the revenue intake to a more consistent flow of money, and good for filmmakers, as this allows for theaters to take more risks on independent, more niche films. However, others point out some glaring negatives that come with this new trend. 

People tend to only go to the most accessible movie theater to them locally, and bringing subscriptions in the mix could make it harder for smaller, independent theater chains to compete. This could lead to the death of theaters that either can’t afford to implement a subscription service, or don’t have enough customers to do so. Many theater subscriptions also offer a discount on concession, which can be a driving force for many people, and small theaters can’t afford to do that. This could reduce competition significantly, even bringing the amount of competing companies to three or even two. 

Moral of the story: this streaming versus theaters competition might not be as intense as you might think. A telling development is most likely going to be the release of “The Irishman” in November, as well as Oscar season. But there is no doubt that streaming has changed the industry, and will continue to. Let’s hope this “battle of the platforms” results in some great content instead of an IP war, because if it becomes that, it’s gonna be a long year of more of the same type of stories we’ve been seeing for years. 

The death of theaters may still be far off in the distance, but don’t be surprised if this dialogue becomes something more in the next five years or so. 

-Alan Moore

Can eSports Make the Jump to the Olympics?

In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics will host an eSports competition leading up to the Olympic games. This is a huge step for eSports and it gaining mass acceptance as a legitimate sport/competition. The tournament will be hosted by Intel, and competitors will be playing Street Fighter V and Rocket League. There will be a prize pool of $250,000 for each game. 

Although it has made a lot of progress, the world of eSports still has a number of obstacles to overcome in order to gain full recognition in the Olympics and beyond. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) holds some pretty high standards with what they decide to include and present during the Olympics.

Most of the concern I see when there is talk of video games is about how violent they are. In fact, it’s hard for the IOC to include games because a lot of popular eSports revolve around guns and violence. This won’t fly because it goes directly against the values of the Olympic games. Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, says, “It would be a ‘red line’ for the organization that no video games deemed to include ‘the promotion of violence’ or ‘any kind of demonstration’ would be permitted at the Olympics.” You can find more information about this in the article linked here.

Street Fighter and Rocket League are good games to pick in order to avoid games filled with violence. Rocket League does not demonstrate any sort of violence in the game. Street Fighter, although is a fighting game, contains no blood/gore. In fact, most compare Street Fighter to another Olympic event, boxing. 

Another obstacle I found was concern about spectators being able to follow along with the game. Certain games can be tricky to follow. Unless you are an avid player of any specific game, it’s going to be hard to tell what is going on and find what you’re watching enjoyable. The ability to consistently keep track of who is winning is important to viewers. More information about this challenge is here.

Again, Rocket League and Street Fighter make for excellent counters to this problem. Rocket League, even though played with rocket cars, is a game which highly resembles soccer and hockey: two popular sports which most people are familiar with. Street Fighter, which again resembles boxing, works because it displays a big, bright health bar to show clearly who is winning. People tend to find the gameplay easy to follow because of how it resembles boxing. In fact, because big health bar at the top of the screen, Street Fighter is arguably easier to follow than boxing.

The last issue I wanted to bring up was the constant evolution of the gaming industry. Fortnite is an excellent example of this. The game wasn’t popular at all until its “Battle Royale” mode was introduced. After that, it blew up and became a household title. New events take normally 7 years to be officially implemented into the Olympics and Fortnite: Battle Royale isn’t even 3 years old. New popular titles are constantly appearing and being considered.

Once more, I think including Rocket League and Street Fighter really prove that games can last. Street Fighter has been around since 1987 and is still widely played. Rocket League, although not nearly as old as Street Fighter, seems like it will be around for a while. It’s been out for over 4 years now and still has a growing, interested fan base. For a modern game, lasting more than 2 years seems to be a rare feat. 

There is hope for the eSports community. The IOC held a live Olympic forum last year (more information here) and it showed a lot of promise for eSports future in the Olympics. More inclusion would bring in a younger audience, which has been significantly lacking in recent Olympic events. There would be a wider acceptance of video games as a whole. And last, there would be more opportunity for young people to succeed in their life and pursuits. 

Let me know what you think of eSports potentially becoming Olympic events. Is it exciting? Do you think it will be well received? Do you think including eSports goes against what the Olympics stands for?

-Nathan King

What Pay Per Click Means For You and Your Small Business

Pay per click advertising is a marketing tactic most people are aware of, but have little knowledge about how it works or why you should pay attention to it. Whether you are a web surfer or a small business owner looking to expand your business, there are things about pay per click advertising you should know along with other forms of expanding your web traffic. 

First, we have to know what pay per click (PPC) means, and what other common abbreviations and terms you will see used alongside PPC mean. PPC ads are made by companies and delivered through search engines and social media platforms. Then your company is charged when these ads are clicked by users. Another term commonly used when talking about online ads is search engine optimization (SEO). A natural and free way to boost search results and advertisements through understanding algorithms of search engines and boosting traffic. From both a business perspective and a consumer perspective, there can be many pros and cons to both.

For a business who is trying to grow, PPC advertising will help do that very quickly. As soon as you set up an ad you want to run, whether that is to promote a product, or just your website in general, PPC ads will help bring more traffic.

Depending on how much you are willing to put into it and how competitive your market it, you can find yourself at the top of certain search results. Finding certain keywords and phrases are key here because it isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, there are an abundance of companies and professionals who can help target the customer base you are looking for. Having a good understanding of how to keep up with Google AdWords and key phrases is important, but also efficient with enough attention given. 

Some of the brighter side of SEO are that it is free besides the time invested. While it can be a little more time consuming to understand the algorithms and build your popularity in a more natural way, you may be better off to start this way.

Paying attention to analytics and how to tweak your landing page is very important when there is a large number of options and sources out there. It can bring more steady traffic to your website and even more serious or intentional traffic in some cases. 

Too much of a good thing can come from PPC ads as well. Assessing the state of your company is important before bringing an influx of customers to your website. Is your sales team, website, and company ready for the potential of quick growth? Something else to look at is the market you are in. In a highly competitive market with a larger number of companies, bidding on words and phrases may become incredibly expensive. If you are trying to impact a certain area or group of people, geotargeting will be more impactful and cheaper than trying to compete in a bigger area. 

SEO cons can include not being immune to algorithm changes. This means if a search engine were to change or shuffle results and what appears under words or phrases, you may lose some of the progress you made. It is important to understand the rules and guidelines of search engines, so you are not penalized later on. 

For consumers, understand that just because a link comes up as the first option it doesn’t mean it is the best or most reliable. Companies may push hard and spend a lot of money to be at the top of searches. Make sure you are diligent in looking at the options and understanding what is an ad, and what came up because it is popular among other people. Research has shown that while the first link to come up may have the most clicks, often the second or third options that aren’t paid led to the most time spent on the site, and more interaction on the landing page. 

What it comes down to is assessing your needs as a company and consumer. There are great options out there for advertising and it can be tailored to your company with some time and effort. For consumers, understanding and recognizing paid advertisements may help you narrow down your options and make your searches more specific as well.

-Chase Van Sant

Saturday Night Stereotypes: Controversy at SNL

On September 12, 2019, Saturday Night Live announced the hiring of its three newest cast members, Chloe Fineman, Bowen Yang, and Shane Gillis. Four short days later, SNL reversed its decision to hire Shane Gillis due to a resurfaced podcast episode revealing Gillis making racist and homophobic remarks. During the 2018 episode in question, the show’s two co-hosts take turns mocking Chinatown in lousy accents and tossing racial slurs.

Bowen Yang, Shane Gillis & Chloe Fineman – Credit

An SNL spokesperson explained, “We hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days.” The spokesperson described Gillis’ language as “offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.” 

It seems SNL’s hiring team did little to no research because according to a Philadelphia comedy club owner, Gillis has a longstanding reputation for his offensive remarks. The club owner has banned Gillis for the “racist, homophobic and sexist things he’s said on and offstage.”

After SNL comedian Bill Hader accepted an Emmy for his performance in Barry on September 22, the press questioned his thoughts on the issue. Hader admitted some jokes made six or seven years ago wouldn’t be acceptable today “for good reason.” Referring to his own comedic career, Hader commented, “I’m never interested in upsetting anybody.”

If that’s the case, what is the line between hilarious and hateful content? I know I’m not the only person who’s watched a plethora of cringe-worthy stereotyping on SNL, a show based on satirizing and exploiting people.

Let’s not forget Samurai Futaba, a 1970s SNL character portrayed by John Belushi, who mocked a Japanese accent and carried a Samurai sword while working odd jobs at a delicatessen and hotel front desk. A more recent, and maybe more concerning, example would be Fred Armisen darkening his skin to portray President Barack Obama.

Samurai Hotel – Aired December 13, 1975.

In a tweet, Many fellow comedians, including previous SNL cast members, are not happy with SNL’s decision. Rob Schneider, 1980s SNL writer and later cast member, suggested a suspension may have been more appropriate. In a tweet, he described today as an “era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing onstage themselves.”

Comedian Jim Jefferies also made a comment on SNL alum David Spade’s Comedy Central show. He questioned, “Are we going to go back through everyone’s history? Or are we going to get rid of every sketch that SNL has done that involves race?”

With SNL broadcasting its own racist jokes on national television, you may ask why Shane Gillis was axed from the cast so quickly. It’s possible SNL executives felt pressure from a rising media issue, that Asian stereotypes  “support the white status quo.”

Asian stereotyping is a frequent theme in American comedy, and many members of the Asian American community feel they are treated as punch-line punching bags. In fact, Shane Gillis demonstrated this when asked by a journalist what kind of jokes he feels comfortable making, to which he responded, “You can be racist to Asians. That’s what we’re finding out.”

SNL has a deep-rooted lack in Asian representation in both cast members and hosts. Lucy Liu was the first Asian American woman to host the show in 2000, and Awkwafina became the second in October of 2018.

Amid this chaos, the media has failed to report the uplifting side on the matter. Bowen Yang, hired at the same time as Gillis, is the first Asian American full cast member on SNL in the show’s history. It’s nearly 2020, and Bowen Yang’s significant feat in Asian representation has been completely overshadowed by a middle-aged white guy who looks like he could very well still live in his parents’ basement. 

In the end, SNL has the right to do whatever it sees fit for its company and brand. As Bill Hader alluded to, there seems to be a higher standard today in what you can and cannot say to people than there was years ago. I think Shane Gillis is definitely an asshole, as many comics are, who was held to a standard that many have previously sidestepped. Gillis showed no remorse or desire to make amends by tweeting, “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away.”

Personally, I think SNL will continue on just fine without him. What do you think?

-Allison Hale

UNI Digital Media Students at the NAB Radio Show!

Six students from the UNI Digital Media program traveled to Orlando, Florida for four days of intensive learning about the radio industry. The NAB Radio Show started off with some great speakers and live performances. Each of us were interested in taking away something specific from the Show, from the sales area, or management, or learning more about on-air personalities, and we picked sessions that fit our interests!

NAB Radio ShowNick went to the Radio Show to learn more about promotions and marketing: “I sat in on a few different sessions dealing with SEO marketing, growing databases, and strategies to increase revenue across all media platforms. A company called Boostability, talked about how radio ads prompt online searches, and how they can improve SEO ranking. Second Street Marketing shared that if you use integrated marketing you will find the best audience and push great results.”

Along with these great sessions and speakers, there were also booths in the exhibition area, and we were able to interact with businesses in the industry, especially on the technology side of things: from businesses focused on building better marketing and promotions, to companies that build soundboards. And we really enjoyed all the free stuff from each booth: T-shirts, water bottles, full size candy bars, and lots and lots of mints!

For Monica and Brandon, they went to the Radio Show for the networking. On the last day of the Show there was career fair, and they enjoyed the opportunity to network and pitch themselves for future careers in the industry.

While at the 2018 NAB Radio Show, we took pictures and shot video as a way of sharing our experience with everyone in UNI Digital Media. Check out our trip by clicking the links below!

Here are pictures from our NAB Radio Show trip that we posted on UNI Digital Media Facebook. And here is the short video we created about what we learned and experienced.

On behalf of the University of Northern Iowa’s Digital Media program, and the participants in this year’s Radio Show in Orlando, we want to give a big thank you to Professor Torre for taking us on this trip, and to the Iowa Broadcasters Association for this great opportunity to interact and gain experience in the industry! Last but not least, we want to offer our congratulations to the legendary John David for being recognized with the National Radio Award (as featured in the picture above). Well deserved, Mr. David!

-Monica Cruise

Is Everyone Jumping on the Battle Royale Bandwagon?

Battle Royale games have been rising in popularity since early 2017. The two most popular battle royale games, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, currently have over 77 million players combined worldwide. Both games are predicted to bring in over $1 Billion in their first year alone. Combine this with their nearly overnight growth in popularity and it is clear that battle royale games have become a big threat to other game companies.

Battle Royale

The battle royale game type gets its name from a Japanese movie made in 2000 “Battle Royale”. In this movie a class of high school students are put on an island fight to the death until only one remains. In 2012 a similar movie was made in America, “The Hunger Games”.  With a PG-13 rating “The Hunger Games” was able to reach and influence a younger audience. Eventually these movies inspired game creators to make mods, or custom game types, with a Hunger Games theme in mind.

One of the more popular mods was created and cared for by Brendan Greene, aka PlayerUnknown. His mod, with the help of “Unreal Engine 4” by Epic Games, would go on to become the stand-alone game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG for short. Shortly afterwards, Epic Games would release Fortnite, which appeared to be a cartoony copy of PUBG and used the same engine. This sparked some controversy which quickly died down.

Both games rose in popularity, and in a few short months each game had tens of millions of players worldwide. Other game companies took note of this and started plans to hop on the battle royale bandwagon. In an article on GameRant, Activision Blizzard talked about their new game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It is mentioned that this Call of Duty game will be significantly different from its predecessors as it will not have a campaign and will focus more on a team style combat in player versus player battle. Later Activision Blizzard went on to announce a battle royale mode would be added to the game to compete with Fortnite.

Activision Blizzard is not the only company to take a lesson from PUBG and Fortnite, DICE is also going to be adding a battle royale mode to their new game, Battlefield V. DICE’s battle royale mode, called Firestorm, is described as battle royale done the Battlefield way. In Firestorm sixteen teams of four fight to the last squad standing in a WWII themed battle ground.

Smaller gaming companies are also trying to get into the spotlight by making their own battle royale games. Games like the Darwin Project, Rapture Rejects, and Islands of Nyne are all battle royale inspired games hoping to make a few bucks before this new craze dies down.

battle royaleWhether or not you are a fan of the battle royale game type it seems to be growing in popularity and bringing more and more people into the videogame market. With free to play games like Fortnite people are more inclined to try out a game before they get hooked. The big titles in gaming are losing fans to these free to play games and are combating it with a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude.

While some companies like Activision Blizzard are quick to change everything about their classic Call of Duty games, other companies are playing it safe. DICE is keeping with what they know and adding in a fresh take on battle royale; this move makes it look like they are not sure if the battle royale fad will continue in the future or not. Do you think that the battle royale games are here to stay, or are they just another footnote in gaming history?

-Lane Larson