Tag Archives: Media Management

If You’re Not An Agile Business, You’re Doing It Wrong

Agile. What started as way to more quickly develop software, has turned into the mantra of everyone from marketers, media professionals, to business startups. It is the way in which these industries are attempting to structure their strategies in order to keep up with a quickly and constantly changing market.

Agile Business In terms of marketers, when framing your marketing strategies in the agile format, have the benefits of quicker launch times and better adaptation to problems and campaigns that aren’t showing the returns you need. Media professionals are able to break large projects and initiatives into smaller, more manageable sizes and can adapt to a changing market. And business startups can improve their success rate and increase investments by showing those growths.

Andy Beal knows a thing or two about building a business. His resume includes having been one of the most respected online reputation consultants, and most recently launching trackur, a social media metrics tool. During his career as a business builder he has started three companies with enormous success. He is also a huge proponent of agile as a business planning and management tool, and he has used agile to reach many successes. He lays out 5 reasons why being an agile business is better than being perfect.

Agile BusinessIn a world of consumption, the product or service that provides the most value is the one that will win over other products or services. The more efficiently you can provide your customers with adequate solutions and motivations to use your product, the better you can provide value. In the end, the company that adapts the fastest to the ever-changing value streams of consumers, is the company that is going to win out over their competition.

According to the book Value Proposition Design, created by the folks at Strategyzer, the way to create value is to neutralize the pains associated with your product or the problem your product solves and to optimize gains that your product provides. Seems easy right? The problem is that values are always changing. What people value today, they might not value tomorrow. Take myspace.com for example. In the early stages of the social media tech boom, myspace provided value to consumers by being able to customize their own webpages. Values changed to the point where people prefered to have an organized and clean layout rather than the messed up, html code, monstrosity that occurred when people customized their myspace pages.

MySpaceAnd just like that, myspace was out, and facebook and twitter were in. The key to being a stalwart company in media is providing evolving value to customers. Agile is helping businesses do this. The philosophy is in contrast to the old style of business planning and management that sought to create the perfect business plan. Using market research and months of planning to fit find a market space. Then doing more market research to plan the perfect product to meet the needs of your consumers. Agile seeks to accelerate the process. Planning a business with the “quick to fail, quick to adapt” mantra is what is guiding businesses today. John Lasseter famously quoted,

“We don’t actually finish our films, we release them.”

This is indicative of the agile, never finished, mindset that has been helping businesses build and maintain good patronage. Do you agree? What other frameworks are guiding business in a market of changing values? Is Agile just a fad? Or is it the way to success and the future?

Ethridge Netz

Killing the Middle Man

How quickly can a video game developer keep their job before their quota is called in. Companies that focus in video game profits such as EA, Activision, 2k and Bioware have shifted their media management towards the popular Hollywood management style. By this I mean that these companies either develop cheap low-risk indie games or blockbuster $250+ million franchises, in search of creating the next Halo series.

Marin 2kMid-level developers, who only produce mediocre profits, are being done away with. Cuts to the industry will cause both short term and long term problems to the entertainment and gaming industry. First it will cause a lack of creative development that will lead to reduced quality. Competition will also decrease due to the fact that some companies will not able to operate under these new budgets.

Take-Two interactive shut down its 2k Marin branch due to lack of funding on Oct 19, 2013. This company had recent success with the Bioshock franchise. (The 3rd installment in the Bioshock franchise, named Bioshock Infinite, was developed by Irrational Games.)

guyIt seems that no one is safe from the ultimate failure that befalls these mid-market video game developers. Baseball legend Curt Schilling filed for bankruptcy for his small company 38 studios after he missed a payment of $1.1 million.

On the other side of the spectrum, companies like Rockstar games are flexing their muscles. With the recent rebirth of its Grand Theft Auto franchise they are enjoying continued success. In the first day alone, GTAV raked in over $800 million and over $1 billion in three days. In the UK, GTA is as popular as tea and crumpets with sales already reaching $3 million.

The companies at the top are enjoying the recent trend and have used it as an opportunity to acquire assets. EA put its money where its mouth is and purchased PopCap games in 2011 for $1.3 billion. PopCap Cash-In It reminds me a lot of how companies like Disney went on spending sprees, bought LucasArts, and ultimately bought up the competition.

What will happen if we can’t stop the entertainment monopoly on our video games? Will we end up with games catering to the lowest common denominator? I hope to live in a world where the narrative of a video game can make you imagine again, with each new game an individual experience with high and lows. Games that are labors of love, that developers spent time and effort to bring to you the best possible product.

I guess I only have a real problem with developers that release new title installments annually as if it were a new iPhone. The Call of Duty franchise is an enjoyable experience with days of re-playability due to the upside of its online multi-player. I just can’t help but wonder how much better this franchise would be if it did not regurgitate the next game with visual upgrades. It is not fair to the players and the overall landscape of games is diminished.

I urge readers to comment and tell me your opinion on the new trend. How long can this trend last? Will the next generation consoles encourage mid-level developers to produce? I want more diversity in my games and hope to see a significant increase of competition in the video game marketplace.

Christopher Ross

Friends Fighting: The Ongoing Battle Between Print and Digital News

The newspaper business has been around for some time. There is no denying that. But the internet is a fairly new concept strictly speaking, and with this new invention, the medium in which news is being delivered is quickly changing. That brings up the question that has yet to be answered: Can traditional newspaper (That which is in print) survive this change? What is the appeal to each of these mediums, and why is it worth talking about?

NewspaperWhen we look at the newspaper business, we see a business that has survived for 350 years without fail, so it is ludicrous to think that it is going anywhere now. The counterpoint to this though is that with the ever growing world of digital mediums, the traditional approach to newspaper will diminish in the next 20 years. We need to look at the benefits of each. I wanted to mention the biggest of each, and if you want to read into it more you can go here or here to read a larger list.

The biggest benefit from print news is the stability and reliability of the paper. If the paper is a daily paper, you can bet your life savings it will be there, where as digital media can go down for a number of reasons. The biggest benefit from digital news is the speed. Once a story happens, a news site can have the story up in a matter of minutes. It makes it effortless to stay up to the minute with the news, which is something.

Even though the digital versions of newspapers and the digital news websites are growing all the time, there will always be a place for print in this world. Publisher and CEO of the Dallas Morning News, Jim Moroney talks about the newspaper as a growth industry, and he sees it as never going away. He says the he will be back in ten years drinking champagne from his success in the newspaper industry.

ChartA bold statement by Mr. Moroney, but I think he is completely right. Even if the amount of newspapers in America is shrinking, it will never disappear. It is too important to completely disappear. If you look at the chart, it is getting smaller, but it has recently jumped back up. It will then soon level off. But that does not mean that it is not going to change. You can expect to see big changes in the industry in the upcoming years. Even now the news world is starting to change. You can see the hybrid newspaper digital site that is the New York Times here. This site uses both aspects from print and digital to create a nice useful website, and they still have a big print presence.

Ren and StimpyTrying to keep the print and digital news separate seems useless and in a single word, dumb. There is no reason to keep two powerful distributors of news separate when they should instead work together and complement each other. John Temple talks about the future of newspapers in just this way.  These two things could go together like peanut butter or jelly or Ren and Stimpy (That’ll bring you back). Making an online story and have part of it or have an extra part in print and vice versa would not only create travel to the website but it would also bring some revenue back to the print industry.

So what do you think will come of this?

Anton Reiter

Will Walt Disney Acquire All?

It seems to me that lots of companies these days are being bought out, or in other words acquired, by a much larger conglomerate. One particular company seems to buying everything.

And it’s Disney. Disney has now acquired Pixar Animated Studios, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Just to add more to that, they’ve also made a movie deal with Netflix.

Marvel LogoFor a while now, Netflix has streamed all of the old Marvel animated series that came on Saturday morning. Recently I have noticed that these shows have disappeared from their playlist. Shows like X-Men, Spiderman, Silver Surfer, are all now gone. I hate to say it, but it has a lot to do with the new deal that they have made with Disney.

Since Disney owns Marvel they own the rights to the characters, meaning that anything that has to do with the Marvel characters, has to be approved by the Disney management team first.

Though Disney owns the rights to the characters, they do not, however, own the rights to pre-existing franchises. This means that the X-Men movies, including the coming X-Men: Days of Future Past, do not have to comply with Disney, and neither does The Amazing Spiderman. The X-Men franchise is owned by Fox and The Amazing Spiderman is owned by Sony. These companies have no intention whatsoever to hand over their rights to Disney.

Luca Films LogoNow that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm, I can’t help but wonder if the Star Wars movies they plan to make will deliver and please the diehard Star Wars fans. Here is a link to a conversation between Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, and George Lucas, talking about what will happen next, and the new projects to come out in the near future.

Do you think that this was the best idea for Lucas to make, and will Disney deliver good films with the Star Wars franchise? Let me know what you all think, because you Star Wars fans are passionate about the franchise, and I know you all want nothing less than the best.

Netflix on the other hand, will start streaming original Disney classic movies, but this won’t begin until 2016. This might work in Netflix’s favor, because movies like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Black Cauldron, and all the older Disney animated films will now be there for families to watch.

This will definitely be something to look forward to, and maybe they will put the old Marvel cartoons back on Netflix again. Here is a link to a video concerning the movie deal Netflix made with Disney.

My last questions on the topic are: will Netflix have to charge more to their consumers with all the new content that will be available, and would you be willing to pay more for their services?

Phillip Bowie

Big Risks, Bigger Rewards?

What huge sports rights deals mean for the networks that obtain them.

Estimates vary, but it is reported that ESPN will spend over $600 million a year for the rights to the brand new college football playoff, which will guarantee the network seven post season games when it starts in 2014.

Given the fact that they pay just $125 million annually for the current Bowl Championship Series games (Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls), one might think that ESPN has made bad business decision. Recent history would go against that school of thought, however. In this post, I will outline two notable examples of large, and, some would say, risky sports rights deals that paid dividends for the companies that acquired them.

NFL on FoxIn 1987, a small network with quirky shows, known as Fox, made what most considered to be an insane offer.  The rights to the NFL’s Monday night game were up, and Fox bid against long time Monday Night Football stalwart ABC to get the rights. Their offer of $1.3 billion was rejected because, among other reasons, Fox hadn’t established itself as a major network. In 1993, six years after Fox’s Monday night bid was rejected, the contract for CBS’s rights to the NFL’s National Football Conference ran out, and Fox was poised to make a bid yet again. Fox’s bid of $1.58 billion was $100 million more than CBS’s bid, and gave Fox the rights to the NFL for the first time in the network’s existence.

The real genius of the move, however, was in the way the network used it to expand their sphere of influence within the television industry. Because they were literally the only game in town for those who wanted to watch their favorite NFC team, they could use this rights deal to advertise and promote the other shows they had on their station. This led to audience flow from those NFL games to shows like Married… With Children and The Simpsons, among others. The effect of having the NFL rights was that Fox gained a firm foothold as the fourth major network, a spot which they still hold to this day.

London 2012Moving forward to a more recent example, in 2012, NBC bought the rights to the London Olympics. Critics claimed that the deal was going to result in a $200 million loss for the network, but NBC broke even. And, like Fox, they leveraged a captive Olympic audience to promote new programs such as Go On, Revolution and Chicago Fire. Because, where else are you going to watch the Olympics when it’s only on one family of networks?  Despite the fact that Go On didn’t have much success (the show was cancelled after just one season), Revolution and Chicago Fire have gotten solid ratings and were renewed for second seasons.  Revolution, in particular, got huge numbers in the series premier, with nearly 12 million viewers tuning in. Even though the network just barely broke even on the Olympic Games, it is paying dividends for them in the long run.

It is within this broader context that we need to evaluate the large amount that ESPN paid for the rights to the college football playoffs. As history has shown us, it is actually a pretty safe bet. Deals like these, no matter how huge, may make complete sense. There are a lot of people who watch sporting events, and this creates a captive audience, that is very likely to flow from the sporting events to regular programming, thus making the network that much more money. So, what do you think?  Are the amounts that the networks are paying for sports rights getting out of hand, or will they pay off in the end?

Matt Bless

Social Media Advertising: Is It Worth It?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are all websites that are insanely interesting and addicting. These sites are free to use, and the only downside is the annoying advertisements and sponsored posts.

Ads EverywhereSo do these sponsored posts on social media websites really work? Do companies have a social media presence to build awareness or for a direct response?

Some recent statistics show that marketing via social media might not be for a direct response for a brand. They found that “70% of brand marketers view social media advertising as a tool to build brand awareness rather than for driving direct response.”

This is an interesting figure, and in my experience with using social media it is accurate. Whenever I see ads on twitter I acknowledge them, but I never read them completely. Usually I will only look at the profile picture and the name to see who is advertising.

For young people, such as myself, we use a variety of different media to absorb information and to have fun. Knowing this, companies must try and target their demographic using an assortment of websites and tactics.

Rick Wion, McDonald’s director of social media, stated that “it’s about the level of engagement…” and “…you should look at Facebook and Twitter as a way to take your restaurant experience outside your doors.” Interview

TwitterFor me, seeing a tweet from McDonald’s isn’t going to make me rush out the door and go buy a McRib, but it will get their name and products into my mind.  I believe companies that advertise on Facebook or Twitter are getting exactly what they want, brand awareness.

Facebook now has 1.15 billion active users along with over 1 million active advertisers. In the second quarter of this year, Facebook hauled in $1.60 billion in advertising revenue, representing 88% of their total revenue.

FacebookThis is pretty astonishing considering the low level of engagement from the advertisements placed on Facebook. The ads are placed along the outside of the webpage and every so often you will see a sponsored post in your newsfeed.  Since Facebook has this many advertisers and such great revenue from them, wouldn’t you suspect them to create new ways of pushing their ads out?

Imagine if there were popup advertisements on the desktop or mobile version of Facebook or Pinterest. Many people (including myself) would be very annoyed.

There have been numerous reports about Facebook advertisements, and about sponsored posts coming to Instagram. Mark Zuckerberg discussed the future of monetizing Instagram, stating that they are “building Instagram to be a business.”

For all of you Instagrammers there is no need to be immediately worried about seeing ads placed in your timeline. Zuckerberg also said “we think the right focus for now is to continue increasing the footprint of Instagram and, when the right time comes, we’ll think about advertising.”

Apparently social media websites are all about generating profits. They take in payments for advertisements so that companies can build their brand and product awareness.

In their defense, these advertisements are worth wading through. And because these websites are free to users, perhaps it is a small price we have to pay to enjoy the latest social media buzz.

Spencer Hemann

Horror Remakes: Better or Butchered?

The market for remakes in the Horror Flick industry has become more and more saturated in recent years.  New and talented filmmakers are taking on “the classics” and trying not to butcher them.  Some of these films turn out to be pretty good. In my view, films that include the original creators in the production process turn out to be the better remakes.

remakesAt some point, the producers of these remakes decided that the classics just weren’t good enough.  Obviously, motion graphics and other special effects technology have advanced since the 80’s (when most of these classics were being made), but who is to say that new technology is the missing piece to these classic films?

I can think of times when I have watched an old horror movie, and the special effects are unrealistic and even laughable at times, but in my opinion, that is part of what makes them so great.  Although these movies may receive a lot of criticism about whether or not it is necessarily to recreate them, they have typically done pretty well at the box office.

Evil Dead was probably the most fan-pleasing remake to come out in recent years.  The film did a great job of introducing a new angle to the story while using more modern filmmaking techniques and effects.  It is easy to add CGI to any film in order to spruce up production value, but the producers of Evil Dead chose to use minimal CGI for the new film, using mainly FX make-up and CGI where it was absolutely needed. The new film was directed by Fede Alvarez after Sam Raimi (the original creator) hand-selected him.

Sam Raimi and former star Bruce Campbell who played “Ash” in the original films had many conversations about the possibility of remaking The Evil Dead.  They wanted to make a film that would be genuinely scary that would spark new life into the franchise.  In an interview with Screen Rant, Bruce Campbell assured us, “You’re going to have some references [to the original] in there and there’s going to be things the fans will enjoy as far as familiar aspects, but it’s a whole new ball game.”  This is an example where the involvement of the past founders of this cult-classic clearly had a large influence on the crowd pleasing aspect of the new film.

Carrie is the latest horror remake to hit theaters.  Judging from the movie trailer, this movie is much more reliant on special effects when compared to the new Evil Dead.  The new Carrie is also supposed to be a more faithful adaption of the book.  This is an example, in my opinion, of a horror remake gone wrong.  There was only one studio behind this film (Misher Films) whereas Evil Dead had two different studios involved (Ghost House and FilmDistrict).

Carrie had a budget of $30 million and Evil Dead had a budget of $17 million.  Apparently it doesn’t take a large budget to make a great horror film.  Even with close to double the budget as Evil Dead, Carrie proves to be another classic example of a thoughtless and regurgitated fraction of the original film.

I’m not the only one that thinks this remake was unnecessary.  Stephan King himself said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “…why, when the original was so good?”  If the original writer of the book isn’t behind the film, that should be a pretty big red flag.  As suspected, Carrie has done poorly at the box office, and is very much just a visual revamping of the original film.  It brings nothing new to the table and at the same time, falls very short of the original.

In closing, I feel that there is definitely a market for horror remakes.  Every once in a while, if done correctly, a remake can add new life to one of your favorite franchises.  I see a definite correlation between the involvement of past creators in the production of remakes and how successful the remake ultimately is.  This is displayed rather nicely with the two examples I used.

Would I like to see more remakes in the future?  I suppose I wouldn’t mind, however, they need to feel like a necessary step in for a franchise, and they need to in some way ode to the classics.  It’s always nice to see Hollywood produce something completely original every once in a while.  There is definitely something annoying about the constant reproduction of movies that are already good.  In my opinion, I would like to see a remake (or re-imagining) of The Bride of Frankenstein.  How interesting would a modern take on the Frankenstein story be?  I think it has potential.

Alright, what do you think?

Do you enjoy remakes? What does it take for a remake to be truly great?

Should there be collaboration between the original and new creators when producing a remake?

Rob Bauer

Original Content Opens Doors for Netflix

The 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Show was different from all the previous shows.  Of course, nothing seem out of the ordinary. Neil Patrick Harris did a fine job hosting. There was some controversy over the “In Memoriam” video for Corey Monteith, but there wasn’t much controversy elsewhere. The revolutionary difference between this year’s Emmy’s and the Emmy’s of the past are that this year, for the first time, shows released exclusively online were nominated for the awards.  These shows were, of course, release by the industry’s online streaming giant, Netflix.  The question I’d like to ask of Netflix is: “Is it worth it?”

orange is the new blackNetflix has been around since 1997 and has provided online distribution as early as 1999, so it’s kind of surprising that it took until 2013 for Netflix to release its first batch of exclusively original content.  Maybe it was their patience that paid off for them, as their four major releases this year, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, were heavily praised by critics and literally consumed by Netflix subscribers’ binge watching.

The releases from Netflix include the following titles: House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black.  All but Orange is the new Black landed an Emmy Nomination, because the release date of Orange did not qualify it for a nomination, it was widely praised by critics landing a 79 score on Metacritic.com, the highest rating of all four shows.  Even with the critical praise and heavy coverage among pop culture media, the amount of viewers who have watched any of these shows is unknown.

Promo video for Netflix Originals and their celebrated Emmy Nominations

No one is sure why Netflix won’t release the viewing numbers, but it appears that Netflix simply doesn’t want anyone to know, though they’d like us to believe the numbers are huge.  Regardless, it doesn’t appear to be hurting the company as their third quarter earnings are up 10%.  So not only is Netflix Original content critically successful, it is proving to be financially successful.   For you skeptics, the addition of original content is, at the very least, correlating with an increase in quarterly earnings.

The issue here is that Netflix needs to worry about whether or not this early success will continue.  Netflix prides itself on accommodating its subscribers by allowing them to binge watch all of their original content.  This can lead to consumers subscribing to Netflix for one month, binge watching Netflix Originals, and then simply leaving the service.  This kind of consumer behavior will not allow Netflix original content to continue to be profitable.

A spokesperson for Netflix commented in a Variety article saying this behavior “would create potential for price swings, given that this is a volatile stock, and accounting for content costs is a hot button issue.”  This suggests that the Netflix “Binge Watch” business model for their original content may not be financially viable, and that they may need to try a different strategy, more along the lines of cable, with its one episode per week approach.

The irony behind this is that Netflix was believed to be the “cable killer,” and yet not only is Netflix talking about mirroring cable’s business strategy, but it is also in talks with Comcast to join as a possible service in a cable package.  In this case, Netflix would be an add-on to the cable service you subscribe to, similar to HBO and Showtime.  I think there is absolutely a demand for this, as Netflix’s 30 million subscribers are still subscribing to cable, making Netflix more of a complement to cable as opposed to a competitor.

If Netflix joins cable, however, it will become known as a just another premium cable channel, handing over all of its potential power to the cable companies.  Personally, I’d find this incredibly disappointing.  Netflix has an opportunity to change the way we view and pay for media content and I’m counting on them to make the right decision.  Do you think Netflix should join cable or try to compete with them?  Post your comments below.

– Mitch Ingstad