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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

More Mobilizing Media

More important news regarding migrating content today -- NBC has announced a deal with Apple to distribute some of their popular programming via iTunes (WSJ). This deal represents yet another step in the migration of content into unregulated domains, where consumers have increasingly more control over media. As Adam has been saying, digital migration erodes the effectiveness of traditional content controls. With multiple, unrestricted channels for receiving the identical content, consumers can easily circumvent content regulation. Why watch a show that has scenes/content blocked when you can simply download it from a different source and watch it in its entirety? And anymore, the differences between unregulated and regulated sources from the consumer's perspective are dwindling.

On a related note, Cingular announced today the launch of their 3G network which allows users to obtain broadband internet access over cell phone signals. Such a service essentially increases the ability to obtain wireless internet access continuously, without needing to worry about finding a wi-fi hot-spot. Continuous access, coupled with increasingly digital, downloadable content, will further drive content migration. While the iPod is a fun, mobile device, visual quality is nowhere near that of a laptop. I can imagine it is only a matter of time before high-resolution, in-car displays are also connecting to such a service, further driving demand. As a business traveler, I can say that the ability to take my media with me and consume it wherever I want and without content restrictions is a highly appealing offer I am more than willing to pay for and take advantage of.

posted by Daniel English @ 11:28 PM | Mass Media

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Media Market Mashups

The "mashup" has become a popular and even mainstream term over the past year. It refers to taking two seemingly different things and mashing them into each other for a new, value-added result. While this is by no means a new idea or practice, it has taken on new fervor with all things digital. Originally, the term gained notoriety as hip-hop artists like DJ Danger Mouse meshed songs by different artists together (raising a host of copyright issues along the way), but mashups have now extended across media forms and most notably into software and technology. What is important is that the digital environment is making it increasingly easier to effectively mash and stitch together products and services in new and valuable ways. For example, Google Maps has been mashed with Craig's list to create HousingMaps (for more details, see this article), PlayStation Portables are mashed with TV services, and Skype (VoIP) software with eBay's platform.

What is interesting is that these technology, content and industry mashups cause the emergence of brand new types of media experiences - media that is no longer simply packaged into well-defined segments and pushed through a pipe, but is instead remixed, wrapped with service offerings, etc. For instance, Yahoo! Music Unlimited is a type of new media service where music is not only delivered via a non-traditional channel, but also has personal, community and market services layered on top. Telecom, software and media firms will find themselves in new partnerships and battles as they launch mashups across traditional market boundaries (i.e. the recent Yahoo! and TiVo deal). This trend is particularly important for policy makers to be aware of because the markets and pipes for media are becoming increasingly entangled. Clear delineations for media markets and competition are no longer available. Mashups and the corresponding relationships must not be ignored in policy analysis. This trend goes far beyond DJ music and cool websites.

posted by Daniel English @ 2:45 PM | Mass Media

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Migrating Video Content

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of notable examples showing just how quickly content is migrating to new media outlets that defy the current regulatory environment. As Adam Thierer and I mentioned in our cable ownership filing last month, such changes require us to rethink policy for the media marketplace. Media is shifting to a digital architecture where media is a continuous, ubiquitous experience and content is decoupled from any one particular distribution channel or device. Recent examples are:

* CBS and NBC announced deals to distribute shows on-demand over cable for $0.99 an episode, with NBC's group president saying "Putting our content on as many platforms as possible is the key to our future."

* Yahoo & TiVo are collaborating to allow individuals to view Yahoo TV content via TiVo. Navigate a menu on your TiVo box and you will be able to view Internet content just as you would cable or broadcast TV. Additionally, this partnership will allow users to TiVo programming remotely via the Yahoo website.

* AOL has announced a plan to make popular archived content available for viewing freely over the web - a service called In2TV. The content will be ad supported and offer around 100 different shows in the first year.

* Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are offering $2.99 downloads of shows like SpongeBob SquarePants for use on a mobile video "toy" by Hasbro.

* Comedy Central has recently launched a "broadband channel" called Motherload. Motherload is very similar in look and functionality to MTV's Overdrive and offers video programming online that may be searched and queued in customized playlists.

It is only a short matter of time before more TiVo-type deals are inked and Internet content becomes indistinguishable from TV via other distribution channels. Content is quickly finding many new, digital channels to flow across, creating an increasingly continuous media environment. Future regulatory analysis must consider this radical shift in the media landscape. Children growing up with SpongeBob episodes playing on their toys can be expected to consume and interact with media very differently from the way we have over the past 25 years.

posted by Daniel English @ 6:25 PM | Mass Media

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