Felix Salmon

Why Netflix is producing original content

June 13, 2013

Matthew Ball has a long examination of the economics of Netflix’s original content, looking at it on a show-by-show level. He starts with the cost of producing something like Arrested Development, and then works out how many extra subscribers Netflix would need to attract in order to justify that cost. (Or, how many extra months existing subscribers would have to keep their subscriptions for, compared to when they would unsubscribe otherwise.) He writes:

Chart of the day, billionaire edition

June 3, 2013


Many thanks to Peter Rudegeair for pulling this data from Factiva: it shows how often the word “billionaire” has appeared in headlines from 1984 to date. We’re looking, here, only at three publications: the NYT, the WSJ, and Reuters News. (And we’re excluding Bloomberg, which has its own dedicated billionaires section.) For 2013 the dark-blue line is the year-to-date figure; the light-blue line is what happens if you extrapolate what we’ve seen so far to the year as a whole.

Promiscuous media

May 29, 2013

Two years ago, when I wrote about the death of blogging, I contrasted the decline of old-fashioned reverse-chronological blogs with the huge success of Twitter and, especially, Tumblr. Since then, of course, Tumblr has been sold to Yahoo for more than $1 billion, while Twitter is reportedly valued at some ten times that amount. Clearly there’s a lot of value in becoming a successful publishing platform.

Why Yahoo-Tumblr makes sense

May 20, 2013

Amidst all the positivity coming out of Yahoo and Tumblr, any self-respecting pundit is going to want to pour cold water on the whole deal. Especially since billion-dollar mergers almost never work out very well. But here’s the weird thing: the more I look at this tie-up, the more it makes sense to me.

Bloomberg is watching you

May 14, 2013

All social networks are based on a cognitive con. No one likes to give out valuable personal information to some huge corporate entity, so the trick is to make people feel as though they have some kind of control or ownership, even when they don’t. Most of Facebook’s privacy controversies boil down to much the same thing: people share personal information with their friends, using the convenient Facebook platform, and then are shocked when it turns out that Facebook has access to that information and is making money from it.

Mail Online: Big, but not valuable

May 10, 2013

Back in December 2011, the Daily Mail had 45.3 million unique visitors, according to ComScore. By March 2013, 15 months later, that number had grown to 46.4 million, again according to ComScore. We learn the latter figure — but not the former — from Christine Haughney’s article about the website today:

Niall Ferguson’s history with Keynes

May 7, 2013

Brad DeLong has found a 1995 article by Niall Ferguson which pretty much puts the lie to Ferguson’s claim about his take on John Maynard Keynes. Here’s what Ferguson now says:

Aereo and the death of broadcast TV

April 22, 2013

One of the funnier subplots in the media universe these days is the one about Aereo. Aereo is the kind of company which sounds like a thought experiment, but it’s very real: it takes free broadcast signals, uploads them to the cloud, and rents them out — at a fee — to people who want to watch broadcast TV on their computers. It’s a way of showing the broadcast networks how silly it is that they don’t put their programming online, and it’s also an argument for why cable companies shouldn’t have to pay through the nose for the right to retransmit content which has always been free-to-air.

The social media tail mustn’t wag the MSM dog

April 21, 2013

The Boston bombing and subsequent manhunt was in many ways the first big interactive news story. It wasn’t the first big event to be covered obsessively on social media, but it was the first big event where millions of people became part of the story themselves. Some did so through choice, combing through photographs on Reddit or 4chan; others simply happened to be in Boston and saw their public lives, as broadcast to the world on social media, become part of the story just by dint of where they were.