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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A peek into Google's TV strategy going forward

Since the Jets are playing the Steelers on my TV I guess it's obvious I'm multiple-tasking http://gigaom.com/video/5-questions-with-googles-hunter-walk/


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Did Keith Olbermann Bolt MSNBC to Create Media Empire?

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By Dominic Patten & Sharon Waxman

It was Keith Olbermann's decision to leave his high-profile perch at MSNBC, TheWrap has learned. The outspoken host abruptly announced his departure on Friday evening, sending shock waves through the cable news world.

But the sudden departure has a history, and the timing does not rule out a preemptive MSNBC move. The gadfly commentator first told the network last April that he wanted to leave and began negotiating his exit then, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.

Olbermann abandoned the notion of leaving at that time but revived his plans in recent weeks with new representation from the talent agency ICM.

With two years left on his $7 million a year contract, Olbermann was seeking a full exit package but he really has his eye on creating his own media empire in the style of Huffington Post, according to the individual. That way, Olbermann would control his own brand and, in his view, potentially earn far more as an owner.

SEE ALSO:  Video Transcript of Olbermann's Sign-Off From MSNBC

On Friday, Olbermann informed viewers that he had been told that "this was going to be the last edition" of “Countdown,” which suggested that the departure was not voluntary. The host offered no more information.

Neither did MSNBC.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," said the network in a statement released minutes after Olbermann who ended with his signature flourish of thrown papers, was off the air. "The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening," the statement continued. "MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

The departure of Olbermann, who recently left his long time talent agent Jean Sage to work with a troika at ICM, came so abruptly that MSNBC was still running promos for him and his show an hour after he signed off for the last time.

Immediately after the host said his goodbyes, speculation started that his departure had something to do with the recently approved merger between NBC Universal and Comcast.

 "Of course that is an easy angle to take considering the timing," an individual close to the company told TheWrap, "but it is not true."

The Comcast merger is set to occur next Friday, January 28.

"Comcast has not closed the transaction for NBC Universal and has no operational control at any of its properties including MSNBC," Comcast said in a statement late Friday night. "We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal's news operations.  We have not and we will not."

The tempestuous Olbermman did however,according to the New York Times, “came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.” 

Though the announcement was quick, there was some warning. Despite the presence of Rachel Maddow and other anchors and on-air personalities, Olbermann was nowhere to be seen Thursday at a lunch NBC News hosted in New York City for advertisers.

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Here's what's interesting to me about Olbermann leaving. I think it's a direct result of the changing TV landscape and a harbinger of the more changes to come. And what's as interesting to me is two former guys from ESPN's SportsCenter are lead dogs on this sled into the future.

Several years ago, Dan Patrick, fed up with rules and dictates from the "mothership" of ESPN leaves to do his own thing. And his own thing has been lucrative. Dan Patrick has established himself as a sports media brand with all the rights and paydays associated with being the owner. Clearly this was not lost on his old SportsCenter anchor buddy, Keith Olbermann. Throw in the respect for what Arrianne has created with the Huffingtonpost and you can begin to understand why Keith was willing to walk away from a cushy multi-million dollar network deal. Olbermann will be back, but this time as the owner/boss.

And I suspect sooner or later this opportunity to create your own media brand will begin to happen more and more on the local level as well. Clearly the financial numbers are different. And yes, there already are some local medial folks that have been forced to give it a try through involuntary separation. But content is more and more becoming separated from the ownership of the distribution channel. So as Keith and Dan use to say years ago on SportsCenter, this is going to be a really big show.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

My disjointed earlier post - Cool billboard at Denver Int'l Airport

I like it!

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Untitled

Cool billboard ad...am I being geeky here?

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Another silo / this time Starbucks

Cool new shiny thing but it's another silo. Is this easier than a debit card? http://venturebeat.com/2011/01/19/starbucks-to-announce-that-shoppers-can-pay...


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Deal Biz

Why all local media should be in the "deal biz" regardless of the crowded field. http://blog.kelseygroup.com/index.php/2011/01/06/townhog-local-media-sites-ha...


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Required reading

Required reading for all members of the new Congress

http://www.fastcompany.com/1714666/climate-change-more-important-than-indepen...


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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Future of TV is TV....but what's on?

LOS GATOS, Calif. – Netflix fans will soon be able to use a remote controller to flick through their flicks available for streaming over the Internet on devices such as TV sets, Blu-ray players and others.

Netflix Inc. said Tuesday that consumer electronics companies will begin selling remotes with "Netflix" buttons in the spring. The buttons will bring up the Netflix screen on users' TV sets, providing easier access to TV shows and movies. Though the button will likely only save couch potatoes a few seconds of time, its appearance is another sign that Netflix has become a household name.

Netflix says the list of companies that will make the remotes for some new Blu-ray players include Best Buy's in-house Dynex brand, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Some Blu-ray devices can connect to the Internet, which lets users stream movies.

Sharp, Sony and Toshiba will also place the Netflix button on some new Internet-connected TVs.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, Calif., has been spending heavily to obtain the streaming rights to movies and TV shows to help lure more customers and shift existing subscribers away from DVDs, which cost more to distribute.

Shares of Netflix rose 18 cents to $181.55 in after-hours trading, having closed up $2.96 at $181.37.

Stealing Mark Cuban's line in my title gave me a chance to add a little caveat. Basically I agree with Mark. At least over the next 3-5 years TV will basically be TV as we know it today. Most people will continue to pay cable or satellite providers to get their programming. Internet-enabled TV's (selling well) will not lead to a mass cutting of the cord...at least in the short-term. But this latest news leads me to my greatest concern for local TV....it's not the loss of connected cords we have to worry about in the new few years, it's the loss of eyeballs.

TV households are going to add 8 bucks a month to their monthly video entertainment cost. But what do you think will happen to viewing when Netflix is one press of the remote button away? To think traditional viewing patterns will not be affected is nonsensical to me.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trying to unlock the SMB ad chest

ScreenHunter_03 Dec. 30 11.12

In his keynote address at DMS ‘10, Yext CEO Howard Lerman pointed to the imminent release of a tags product in response to Google Tags and emphasized that tags could grow into the standard local advertising unit. Sure enough, the company will officially unveil Yext Tags in January across more than a dozen locally-oriented partner sites, including AOL’s Mapquest and Patch, Citysearch, Superpages, Yahoo! and Yellowbook. And no, Google is not taking part.

Many will assume that Yext Tags is launching to combat Google’s continued migration into local advertising. Some have even termed this an “anti-Google alliance.” For the non-conspiracy theorist, perhaps it is about integrating online advertising for merchants into a single buy and a central distribution engine. Whatever the case, the key to breaking through with SMBs who have found search engine marketing to be a confusing experience will be simplicity, which is at the core of the new platform.

Pricing is flat rate for advertisers ($99 per month), to be split evenly between Yext and the partner sites where the tags appear. From Yext’s dashboard, busineses can create, distribute and modify tags across a local network that reaches more than 100 million UVs each month. No keyword bidding – these are natural search results, not sponsored ones.

For Lerman’s New York-based startup, Tags broaden the overall value proposition that Yext can offer the 30,000 businesses that are currently using some combination of its pay-per-call and reputation management tools. Initially, Yext will market the product, but will soon allow partners to re-sell it. Another “next step” will be enabling clients to update their listings and tags from partner sites (not just on them).

While Tags can be messaged any number of ways, many merchants will seize on it to promote deals and offers. This could appeal to national retailers seeking to drive local store traffic in particular areas (a theme that sprouted in 2010 and will only gain stream in 2011). Gold’s Gym, for instance, has been experimenting with localizing offers across the partner network as part of a Tags beta test.

Google first pushed out its Tags offering in June at a flat rate of $25 (seemingly its new magic number, with Google Boost also being peddled at this rate). The search giant recently enlisted at least 100 telesales reps to market Tags and Boost to businesses that have claimed their Places page. Now it is offering $100 million in AdWords credits to SMBs that enroll in Places. Funneled together, these initiatives have many online search and Yellow Pages companies wondering if Google is trying to take their turf.

This isn’t the first coordinated effort to push back against Google. IAC’s CityGrid Media developed over the past year to connect sellers and publishers through a targeted ad engine that optimizes placement for businesses across the network. At BIA/Kelsey’s Marketplaces conference this past March, CityGrid CEO Jay Herratti described the network as an alternative “scale player” to Google.

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 30 10.48

Sample Yext Tags Listing

 

Yext Tags Dashboard (courtesy: TechCrunch)

Yext Tags Dashboard (courtesy: TechCrunch)


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I would recommend to my traditional media friends the price-point for SMB ad solutions is somewhere in the $25 to $99 a month range.

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