Sep 18, 2015

"Over The Top" Reviewed In New York Review Of Books

The cover story in this week's New York Review of Books, Will TV Beat The Internet, by Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg is a review of both my book, Over The Top, How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry and Michael Wolff's new book, Television Is The New Television.

While Weisberg takes Wolff to task for overstating the problems of digital media, he has nothing but kind words for Over The Top.

Two excerpts:
Whatever he believed ten years ago, is Wolff right that it’s now springtime for the old television machers? To answer that question, it’s necessary to step back from his latest embrace of the pre-digital in favor of more evidence-based analysis. An excellent place to start is Alan Wolk’s self-published book Over the Top: How the Internet Is (Slowly but Surely) Changing the Television Industry. Wolk, a well-connected industry analyst, points to a very different future for the television business than the one Wolff depicts. Wolk thinks that the sector is poised for major disruption, even if it’s unclear from which side or how quickly the transformation is likely to come.
Wolk’s book is also more interesting than Wolff’s about the way media economics is changing the shape of filmed content. The all-at-once release model, which Netflix pioneered with the Norwegian-American crime comedy Lilyhammer in 2012, was the experiment that immediately expanded the market for television auteurs. When a twenty- two-episode season was shown over six months, writers could introduce or kill off characters and plot lines in response to audience reactions. Now writers must rely mainly on their own instincts to deliver a finished season designed for binge viewing. This is another factor making scripted TV more novelistic. 

You can read the entire review here. 

Aug 6, 2015

Recaps Are The New Water Cooler

Originally published at TV[R]EV on August 6, 2015

Like many people these days, the vast majority of my TV viewing is done on a time-shifted basis. Sometimes I’ll binge a series long after it’s off the air, other times I’ll catch up with a show that’s in-season, only I’ll do so  intermittently, in bursts. But however I’m doing it, the one thing I miss is that water cooler conversation, the ability to trade notes with friends and co-workers who’ve also just seen the same show.

That’s not happening these days. Particularly when I finish watching at 2 in the morning. But I’ve found a solution and so, it appears, have many others: Recaps.

Recaps, for the uninitiated, are a combination of a review and blow-by-blow recounting of an episode and the best ones are humorous and have a very strong POV. They are a great way to ascertain, for example, who random characters in Game of Thrones actually are and which family they’re related to, or get someone else’s opinion on which of the Wet Hot American Summer actors have aged the best.

Virtual Reality: The Future of Entertainment or Just Another 3D?

Originally published at TDG Research on August 6, 2015

Virtual Reality’ (or ‘VR’) is a term bandied about a lot these days, particularly in the entertainment industry. It’s supposed to be the ‘next big thing,’ a medium that changes the entire notion of storytelling by making it more immersive, more realistic, and (you guessed it) more reliant on technology.

At the same time, many observers hear the words ‘Virtual Reality’ and immediately roll their eyes, recalling 3D, Second Life, and other technologies widely touted as the ‘next big thing’ only to flop.

So is VR just another overhyped technology, or will it truly matter to the future of TV and video?


Jul 30, 2015

The Shot Heard Round The World?

Originally published at TDG Research on July 30, 2015

In TDG’s April 2015 report on OTT TV Advertising, we predicted that the artificial division between OTT and linear TV streams of the same broadcast would cease to exist within five years, at least for advertising purposes. Lo and behold, what should we see this week, but that CBS is going to run the same ads on the 2016 Super Bowl regardless of whether you’re watching the game through your set-top box or through your iPad.

Is this revolution already being televised or is CBS just slightly ahead of the game?


Jul 28, 2015

TV’s Customer Experience Continues Its Downward Spiral

Originally published at TV[R]EV on July 28, 2015

File this under “and then they wonder why no one likes them”:

new study from Verizon’s AOL unit shows that despite plummeting live viewership numbers, the amount of TV advertising is actually UP.

Commercials now take up an average of seven minutes and 30 seconds of every thirty minute show, versus seven minutes and 7 seconds in 2011. What’s more, the number of 15-second spots climbed to 37.6% from 32.1% over the same time period.

That means not only are viewers being subjected to longer ad pods but they’re also being subject to more commercials in those pods. 


Jul 23, 2015

VidCon – Ignore It At Your Own Risk

Originally published at TDG Research on July 23, 2015

VidCon is taking place this week in Anaheim. What started out as a convention for teenage fans of YouTube stars has turned into one of the premier events of the entertainment industry, with 21,000 attendees, and sponsors like Kia, Taco Bell, Best Buy, Panasonic, and Canon. Media executives that ignore this conference do so at their own peril.

As VidCon sponsors and attendees are figuring out, interruptive advertising is not the best way to reach Gen Z and Late Millennials. Rather, they are turning to more social-based outreach like #CreatedWith content done in conjunction with Social Video Influencers, such as the stars of YouTube, Vine, and other social video platforms.

But just how popular are these Influencers, and is their reach limited to only a small pocket of young teens enamored with them?


We’ve Seen The Future Of Television, And It’s Wearing Aviator Goggles

Originally published at TV[R]EV on July 23, 2015

There’s a seemingly unobtrusive news story this week about a new series called Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures that contains the blueprint for the future of television.

To begin with, the series is to appear on Vimeo, a site previously known for being YouTube’s smarter, lesser-known cousin, a place where student filmmakers posted their latest oeuvres. But no more—Vimeo’s grown up and is looking to become a full-fledged OTT network, complete with original programming. That’s a list that seems to be constantly growing.


Jul 21, 2015

Bullying The Bullies

Originally published at TV[R]EV on July 21, 2015

Sling TV launched its first round of TV commercials this week and we know some MVPDS who are not going to be happy.

Like, all of them.

Despite the Sling team’s initial promise that they were going after cord nevers (people who’ve never gotten a pay-TV subscription, usually younger Millennials), the ads, which mock the less-than-stellar customer experience offered by the nation’s MVPDs, seem squarely aimed at convincing people to cut their ties to those poor-service-providing providers.

In other words, cord cutting.