Category Archives: Media Industries

Taking Risks to Keep Business Growing: Nike Stands Up For Colin Kaepernick

It’s Nike and Colin Kaepernick vs NFL and The Constitution. Nike shows confidence in an emotional ad, and believing statistically that it will pay off in the long run.

Knowing that their competition can’t compete, and as they control a large percentage of sports marketing, Nike felt a urgency to take a stand for the former NFL Quarterback.

Nike is taking a stand for something that shows leadership. They are risk takers that are well known for taking risks in the past. Nike believes in succeeding through taking risks. The unemployed former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is now the new face of Nike. The ad tag line is: Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”

NikeNike knows what they are doing having had that much experience of success over many years. Nike is very predictable on production outcomes after its product have been introduced to the market. This where Nike business is invested heavily.

Nike is leading in sales in the industry and the results show quality content in advancing their product to stay ahead of competitors. The competition has to sit and take the back seat on a lot of business arrangements, not able to take control of the market for sports apparel.

Nike is testing the sports apparel industry and facing competition from companies like Under Armour. Known for thriving off competition, Nike is first in trendsetting. They first to do almost all things before their competitors. Any product Nike releases by the company is one example of top notch quality sportswear and content.

Whatever business moves Nike decides to make easily produce a profit. Because of prior experience with dominating the competition, Nike knows that their competition cannot keep up. “When you are being challenged, you get busy, you hustle, and you do everything better.” Nike signed a contract in 2018 for eight years with the NBA jerseys and Apparel.

Nike  Nike

No NBA jerseys have ever had another logo on it, except for Adidas who was forced out its contract with the NBA. There have been big promotions with the Michael Jordan line of product by the company for WNBA and NBA.

Brands like Adidas and Reebok are only doing one new thing. Nike tends to respond better in these times, by promoting their products, and by caring for people. They show some differences to people, by selling emotional benefit encouraging all to “Just Do It.”

-Antonio Thornton

Electronic Arts in Legal Trouble Over Loot Boxes?

Everybody knows about EA’s past struggles and scandals with the loot boxes in their games. Nearly all of EA’s major franchises include loot boxes in some form whether it’s their annual FIFA and Madden Games or their first person shooter games like the battlefield series. One of EA’s games that caught the most attention for having loot boxes is the infamous Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Electronic ArtsIf you are unfamiliar with the controversy behind Star Wars BattleFront 2, Gamespot wrote a summary of the drama that unfolded back in 2017. In short, during EA’s beta of Star Wars BattleFront 2 players discovered that the loot boxes EA had put in the game made the game very unbalanced and basically made the game pay-to-win. Players took to the internet and complaining about how the game was designed to pressure players into paying to advance at a reasonable rate in the game.

EA attempted to defend their decisions centered around the loot boxes on Reddit but ended up breaking a record for the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. According to the WSJ Fearing losing profitability in one of their biggest franchises Disney’s chairman of consumer products sent a message to EA and expressing his concerns about how the player outrage could affect the Star Wars brand. Shortly before the games official launch EA decided to temporary remove loot boxes fearing it lootboxes would negatively affect their sales going into the holiday season. Eventually after the controversy had calmed down they put loot boxes back into the game but with only cosmetic items that could affect how your characters looked.

Electronic ArtsAlmost a year after the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box scandal EA is making headlines again due to the company being under criminal investigation in Belgium due to FIFA’s loot boxes according to EuroGamer. Back in April of this year Belgium declared that some loot boxes are considered gambling are are also illegal. After this decision Blizzard, Valve and 2K Games all made actions to remove or modify their loot box systems in the Belgium versions of their games. EA decided to do nothing following Belgium’s decision and now if Belgium decides to prosecute the case will go to court.

The reasoning behind Belgium’s stricter loot box policies is because Belgium’s gaming commission conducted an investigation into games with loot boxes in video games to see if they fall under Belgium’s definition of gambling.  According to a Belgium press release the results of the investigation were that Belgium’s gaming commission considered loot boxes to be a game of chance because of the fact that players didn’t know which items a box may contain when purchasing the loot box. Belgium is also concerned about loot boxes due to the fact that a lot of children play these games and are vulnerable to gambling at an early age. Belgium also states that the only options for games with loot boxes are to remove them entirely from the Belgium version of the game or modify them to display the contents of the box and the chance of how often each player has at receiving an item. The developers would also have to state that loot boxes are a form of gambling in the game if they choose to modify it.

Some consequences that EA might possibly have to face for refusing to modify their loot box system  includes a $800,000 fine for violating Belgium’s gaming commissions’ rules or face 5 years in prison for whoever was involved in the decision of implementing loot boxes into the game. On top of that since the gambling commission also state that minors are involved the fines have the possibility of doubling making EA to possibly pay over one million dollars or 10 years of jail time.

Overall this probably isn’t more of a bump in the road for EA they have already made public the odds of the “card packs” in their FIFA games. They might have done this in attempts to avoid a court case in Belgium all together but even if it goes to court no one is going to go to jail over these loot boxes. EA would most likely just pay the fine if it ever comes done to that. Thanks to EA some countries are asking themselves “Are loot boxes a form of gambling?”

-Charles Schwarz

TV Shows and Sensitivity: How Should Television Address Difficult Topics?

In our divisive political world, television production teams are trying more and more to send their message and address controversial topics. Because, when done right, TV shows can get people talking, spark positive cultural change, and boost ratings. As with anything, there is a right and wrong way to tackle sensitive issues. If done wrong, this can lead to television shows receiving criticism, poor ratings, or possibly being pulled off the air or canceled.

TV Shows Different types of television networks have different levels of content regulation. The most regulated of the types of networks is the broadcast networks. These include channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Most of these networks’ shows, while they may address serious topics, still maintain the lighter tone that their networks establish.

Basic Cable channels are a step above broadcast networks, and they have a little more free range when it comes to dealing with more sensitive topics. Channels under this category include FX and AMC, which include more content for adults, compared to the content found on broadcast channels. Paid Cable networks and Streaming are the least regulated of the networks. These include cable channels like HBO and Showtime, and Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

In early 2018, Paramount Network, a basic cable network, planned to air a television remake of the 1989 cult classic film “Heathers.” The movie’s plot revolves around Veronica Sawyer, her love interest, Jason Dean (JD), and her so-called friend group “the Heathers.” The story involves Veronica and JD plotting the deaths of popular students at their school, depicting gun violence amongst students and bullying. While this sort of satire worked in the 1980s in a pre-Columbine world, taking on a story of this magnitude should be done so with caution. On top of the subject matter, Paramount cast the main antagonists (the Heathers) and minorities, including Heather Chandler as plus-sized, Heather Duke as gender-queer, and Heather Macnamara as black, which many interpreted as the producers villainizing these types of people. After months of delay due to several school shootings in 2018, Paramount decided to air nine episodes of “Heathers” on their network over the course of five days in October.

Netflix is a powerhouse when it comes to their original content. With executive producer Selena Gomez and based on a popular novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why” fit what makes Netflix Originals successful. After the initial release of the series, it received mixed reviews. Some said the show brought awareness to the affects of bullying and argued it was thought-provoking and would change how people think about their actions. Others felt it glorified suicide with the idea of creating these “tapes” for people that made life bad for them as a sort of revenge and punishment. The idea of leaving these tapes also sparked a meme in the online community, which did not help their cause. While season one was based on the book, season two, and the recently green-lit season three, are both original and continue where the first leaves off in a post-Hannah Baker world.

TV Shows

ABC is known for their more family-friendly content, as their parent company is media powerhouse Disney. “Black-ish” follows a successful black man in the suburbs and his middle-class family. The story portrays the life of a group of people that up until recently, was not portrayed on television. The show is considered a comedy, but does not shy away from sensitive topics, especially those relating to the black community, such as police brutality. The show also addressed the results of the 2016 election, which shocked many. Despite addressing divisive political topics, the ratings have remained good and this fall, the show entered its fifth season.

In all, it is not the severity of the topics that a television show chooses to talk about. Different shows may depict the same issue, one may do a good job and approach the topic from all angles and with sensitivity. Others, if done incorrectly, may result in controversy over their television show, which could result in various consequences, such as poor ratings, boycotts, or being canceled by the network. It is important to use common sense and do research before addressing a divisive issue. While it is great to get people talking about these important issues, if television series are going to use their voices to bring important ideas to the table, they need to do it the right way. How should television networks bring sensitive topics to light without offending audiences? Should television avoid tackling divisive topics all together? Do you think there are certain topics that should remain off-limits?

-Gabby Leitner

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Failure – The Ongoing Struggle of DC Comics in Film

Cinematic universes. The goldmine idea of having crossover movies that Marvel Studios has taped to create a film empire that other film studios try to replicate. While many cinematic universe projects like Universal’s Dark Universe or Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man usually fail and fizzle out after two movies, Warner Bros and the DC Comics superhero films have held on, for better or worse.

After a failed first attempt in 2011 with Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern, Warner Bros decided to try again with cinematic universes in 2013 with the Superman film Man of Steel. This film would mark a new era of DC Comics films after Christopher Nolan’s beloved Batman trilogy came to an end. This universe was to be carried by the vision of director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), and producer Charles Roven. 

DC Comics Man of Steel starred Henry Cavill  and was released to moderate success, making roughly over $600, and being generally accepted by viewers and critics. Warner Brothers then announced a sequel featuring a new Batman portrayed by Ben Affleck would be released along with an entire slate of movies featuring projects like The Flash and Justice League sequels.

In 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released and critically panned, with audiences and critics not enjoying the dark and grittier tone of the movie compared to the competing Marvel films. Suicide Squad also released to more critically panned reviews. Regular audience viewers were more approving of the film however, pushing the film to make over $700 million dollars (surprisingly making more than Man of Steel and almost matching Batman v Superman). This would set in motion the deep changes that were to come for the DC universe.

Wonder Woman, seeming now like lightning in a bottle, leapt into the box office and did extremely well, being loved by both fans and critics. It was hopeful, optimistic, fun, and wasn’t trying hard to build a franchise. Suddenly, the dark and gritty vision of the Justice League that Zack Snyder had started filming was looking problematic. During this time, Charles Roven left his position of looking over the DC films and instead handed the reins over to comic book writer Geoff Johns and producer Jon Berg.

DC Comics

The success of Wonder Woman and audience response to Suicide Squad split DC into a couple different directions. Films not previously announced on the film slate were announced left and right, mainly focusing on different Harley Quinn spin offs. Other projects, like The Flash, were suddenly trapped in production hell, as rumors of actors like Ben Affleck wanting to leave the franchise grew amongst other studio meddling stories. Zack Snyder while working on Justice League was suddenly replaced by Avengers director Joss Whedon. This move on Warner Bros part was likely to infuse the light and hopefulness that Marvel films and Wonder Woman were able to provide.

Justice League was released to negative reviews and numerous controversies and stories, ranging from Henry Cavill having a CGI mouth due to reshooting with a mustache and entire important chunks of film being removed due to a Warner Bros mandate to keep the film under 2 hours. It was also the lowest grossing box office film of any DC film so far in the series. This heavy blow began another restructure of DC, with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns leaving their roles, and being replaced by Walter Hamada.

Currently, DC films is different. Superman star Henry Cavill has recently left the role, and Ben Affleck’s part as Batman is up in the air. All DC projects are to be lighter and hopeful. They also are creating solo films that aren’t connected, differing from Marvel. Personally, as a huge fan of the initial film Man of Steel and these characters in general, it’s sad to see everything fall apart. I followed these films religiously, but have become numb to the idea of them being anything great. What do you think? Should Warner Bros have continued to try and build up this franchise, or should they have found their own avenue?

-Tarrell Christie

Disney Play: Yay or Nay?

Coming in 2019 is the new Disney streaming service to be known as Disney Play. Imagine Netflix or Hulu, except everything Disney. No, it won’t be completely full of Princess movies and cartoons, as it will also contain everything else that Disney owns. Movies and content from the Marvel Universe, Lucasfilms, and 21st Century Fox will all be featured on Disney Play, as well as some original content that will be sporadically produced. So whether you like it or not, say goodbye to Disney content on Netflix, and say hello to Disney content on the all new Disney Play.

Disney Play All Disney content will be removed from Netflix within the next few years. The majority will be removed in 2018, but a few films in the Marvel Universe will remain on Netflix until later in 2019. Disney is very excited about breaking into the streaming service world, where it will compete directly with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Disney already owns 60% of Hulu so some may ask why they feel the need to create their own streaming platform. The answer is that Disney felt the need to put their own brand name out there in a streaming crazed world. Although the new service will take precedence, there will still be plenty of Disney owned content that will appear on Hulu.

One of the promises that Disney CEO, Bob Iger, made to the world when announcing Disney Play was that it would be a cheaper streaming service than Netflix. The cheapest package that Netflix offers is $8. Based on Iger’s claims, expect Disney Play to be less than that. Having a cheap streaming service is obviously a great way to attract business. However, depending on how low the price actually is, some may start to question the fact that the service is so cheap and maybe raise an eyebrow at the content that is being offered.  So how cheap can Disney Play be? I guess we will find out come 2019.

Disney PlayAnother way that Disney plans on bringing in subscribers is with original content it will produce occasionally. The first movie that will be featured on Disney Play is called “Timmy Failure.” The movie will be based on the book that was written by Stephan Pastis. The movie carries a $42 million budget and will be premiered on Disney Play in 2019. Other original content that will be featured is a new Star Wars series called “The Mandalorian” that will be exclusive to Disney Play. The series is a 10-part series that carries a $100 million budget. Disney hopes that the big name series will excite Star Wars fans worldwide and bring in more subscribers. (Here is the first known picture of the new series “The Mandalorian”.)

Disney Play still has plenty of unknowns and what ifs. Details revolving around the new streaming service have been kept pretty secret since the idea was announced in 2017. I would expect more info to be released as the kickoff date approaches. There are many speculations about Disney Play but few will know until it is actually right in front of us.

I am really interested in seeing how successful Disney Play will be. With limited content compared to other streaming services, Disney Play will be up against some heavy competition in the streaming world, but that does not scare Disney chief Bob Iger. Iger seems to be very confident of what Disney can do, and he looks forward to watching Disney Play kickoff. So I ask you, what do you think? Disney Play: yay or nay?

– Christian Ellsworth

UNI Digital Media Students Head to NAB Radio Show in Orlando!

Today’s the day! The University of Northern Iowa’s Digital Media students are off to this year’s NAB Radio Show! Professor Torre will be accompanying this years participants: Monica Cruise, Kaylee Daniels, Nick Langel, Gabrielle Leitner, Brandon Lynch, and Rachel Renes to the Show in Orlando, Florida. All of the participants are interested in careers in the digital media world, and conventions like this are great opportunities for students to learn more about the industry.

NAB Radio Show

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Radio Show is an annual trade show that keeps producers and consumers in the radio industry up to par with the new things happening today like Podcasts, interactive advertisements, etc. At this convention there will be guest speakers, performances by popular singers, and booths with information about companies in the industry.

Before heading to the Radio Show, we each created a presentation about some aspect of the radio industry to share with each other. We learned about the history of radio and where it started to new technology hoping to make a step into the industry, like interactive ads. We also learned about advertisements and how important they are in the radio world.

We created a short video about what we are most excited about going into this trip:

While on this trip we want to document our adventure and what we have learned so we assigned roles for everyone so that we all are able to participate in this group project, but also do what we enjoy and create a journey shown through digital media. We have a production group, which is in charge of getting video from the Radio Show and content to put all together at the end. We have some questions we are wanting to ask some of the presenters and employers at the booths to get and learn more information on a one-on-one level. We also have a social media group to provide exciting content throughout the trip. To stay updated you can follow us @DigitalMediaUNI on Facebook and Twitter!

On behalf of the UNI Digital Media participants in this year’s NAB Radio Show, we want to give a big thank you to Professor Torre for taking us on this trip, and to the Iowa Broadcasters Association for supporting this great opportunity to gain experience in the industry!

-Monica Cruise

DLC, Micro-Transactions and Loot Boxes: Innovations for Cold Hard Cash

It was 2014, and the finale to the Batman: Arkham games, one of the most popular series of the last decade, was just announced. Millions of thrilled fans went to YouTube to watch the Batman: Arkham Knight announcement, learning that Two-Face would be a villain. They also learned that if they didn’t pre-order this game they wouldn’t be able to play as Harley Quinn. Yes, they were pushed to preorder a game based a few minutes of video, which didn’t feature any gameplay.

gamePre-order exclusives are one of many ideas that the game industry has come up with to incentivize customers into giving their money away. Over the last decade the AAA game industry has come up with further innovations, not just to entice customers to buy games early, but also to gain a bigger profit. Sure, making games is a business and businesses are in it for the profit, but why are concepts like micro-transactions and season passes so common now in gaming?

In the beginning, the only way for companies to make money was through selling their game, make a new game and repeat. Most AAA games cost the same price, from a first-person shooter or a management simulator AAA, games usually cost $60. Why not just increase the cost of the game? For the answer check out Game Rant’s article about the subject. Truth is, companies are scared to deviate from the standard formula.

One of the first ideas for extra profit was to sell expansions, updates to games that add new content, usually for PC games. Not all of these updates are huge changes. Some content contains smaller additions such as cosmetic items or new weapons, to help keep players interested.

In the past few years, companies have been relying on DLC more than ever for a constant post-launch cash flow. There has been some debate as to how ethical these practices are. For example, some game critics argue that day-one DLC should be in the original purchase instead of being locked away until players spend more money. Yet, others defend these practices. There have even been some that have accused publishers of taking large amounts of content out of the initial game so they could sell more through DLC.

gameWith these new ideas being implemented, the AAA game industry transformed the idea of games being a single transaction product, into a continuous service that requires updates and new items, which in many cases the players must pay for. There is little downside to these DLC practices in the eyes of these publishers, because they usually take little resources and lead to a bigger net gain.

gameRemember the $60 set price mentioned above? Well, publishers started experimenting with different price ranges by releasing special edition games with more content. While the core game stays at $60, these special editions can go for much more.

Even with these additional avenues of profit the game industry continued to find ways of enticing gamers into spending more money with the implementation of micro-transactions in $60 games. For years, micro-transactions were utilized specifically for free to play games, where the player doesn’t have to pay, but the game’s progression is often purposefully slow to get them to pay for credits or items with real money in order to speed the game up. There is a large number of customers that are completely against the idea of these kinds of practices being featured in AAA games, and as the game industry has been using micro-transactions more than ever, the backlash against these companies has as well.

The success of micro-transactions has culminated in a controversial new business strategy that has taken the game industry by storm this past year. Loot boxes, a new form of micro-transactions where the player pays for a random item instead of getting to select one. This instantly began a debate between gamers as to how far was too far. There were many that defended these practices, while others voice their concerns.

For example, some critics argued that the loot boxes took advantage of people with gambling addiction. This was in light of the recent CSGO lotto controversy. A developer of the Lord of the Rings game, Shadow of War defended his game’s loot boxes by stating they were there to help the player. “It’s there as a player choice. It’s there, from my perspective, for people who are protective of their spare time and scared when a massive game comes along that they’re not getting to see the full experience. It’s the same design philosophy as us adding in difficulty modes. So now we have Easy mode, and we’ve added Hard mode at the other end of the spectrum.”

These are issues still being talked about today. An industry with a once simple business model, is now in a constantly evolving state where the next money-making idea is just around the corner. All of this has left a growing divide between publishers and gamers. There has been a growing feeling that customers are being cheated out of content initially because developers are focusing on expansions and DLC rather than the core game itself. Many would argue that these practices are only beneficial to the industry. Yet, this problem looks to continue as companies are finding financial success with these ideas.

There is little that consumers can do to change the minds of publishers like Warner Bros. and EA. There has already been a large amount of vocal opposition against micro-transactions, but there are always those who will side with the companies. Wherever there’s a profit the industry seems to go, and so the only way for gamers to make a difference is to talk with their wallets.

-Reese Stolte

Social Media Poses a Challenge to the FTC’s Advertising Guidelines

Assuming you’re not already reading this on your phone, go ahead and open up your preferred social media app. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, whichever you prefer. Scroll through and quickly count the ads you see. How sure are you that you counted them all? How did you determine they were ads? Did the post say sponsored by? How about #ad?

Unfortunately, you may have missed one or two, because a content producer didn’t disclose that they were getting paid for their posts. They might be monetizing their audience, without their audience even knowing it.

This issue is not isolated to one particular industry or level and even occurs with high profile influencers such as the Kardashians, one of ninety social media influencers and marketers who received a letter from the FTC noting their legal obligations to disclose material connections. Despite this, consumer groups are still claiming that the Kardashian/Jenner family is failing to disclose that some social media posts are possibly ads.

Social MediaBut unfortunately, the Kardashian/Jenner situation isn’t the most nefarious or outrageous when it comes to this problem. That honor falls to CSGO Lotto owners Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell.

Before we get into what these two did, we need to understand one part of the popular first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offense, otherwise known as CS:GO. CS:GO has a well known and very successful micro-transaction business model that creates unique and rare gun skins for cosmetic use inside the game. And because the developer and publisher of CS:GO, Valve, created a marketplace where players can trade in-game items for real money they quickly became a pseudo-currency that could be used for gambling on websites.

Social MediaTo have a complete and total understanding of what CS: GO skins are won’t be necessary for the rest of this article but if you want to know more here is a handy article to learn more.

But back to Martin and Cassell, both of whom are popular CSGO players on YouTube and Twitch. The pair co-owned and operated a skin gambling website called CSGOLotto in which they actively promoted on both other creator’s platforms, but their own.

(Here is one of Cassell’s videos where he gambles on his own website.)

Basically imagine a Vegas casino owner hiring Brad Pitt to play at their casino without letting anyone know, and then sitting down at their own table and playing a few hands with house money. While this already seems bad, it’s made worse by the fact that the main audiences of all social media influencers involved are minors.

This situation has to lead to the first-ever complaint against individual social media influencers on the FTC which was settled September of 2017. With Martin, Cassell and the influencers, they paid to promote their website getting little more than a slap on the wrist from the FTC. You can see the settlement here.

“Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts. This action, the FTC’s first against individual influencers, should send a message that such connections must be clearly disclosed so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions,” said Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting chair of the FTC, when the settlement was reached.

While there was a lawsuit over the illegal gambling which involves the CSGOLotto owners and the video game publisher Valve, there are no are legal or financial punishments for either Martin or Cassell for deceptively advertising their website.

For now, it seems, social media influencers will continue to give the FTC problems until an influencer is made an example of.

-Chase Danielson