MediaFile

Content everywhere? More like content nowhere

Will Big Media and Big Tech companies ever stop punishing their biggest fans?

Like many people, I woke up yesterday and reached for my iPad for my morning hit of news, entertainment and information, so I could start my day. (And like many, I’m embarrassed to admit it.) Padding to the front door to get a newspaper still sounds more respectable, but my iPad gives me a far more current, rich and satisfying media experience than a still-warm printed Times could ever produce.

Except, lately, it doesn’t. Yesterday morning, I saw the exciting news that Bill Simmons, ESPN’s most popular, profane and controversial writer, had secured an interview with President Obama. Simmons published his interview in podcast, text and video form on Grantland, a longform sports journalism website he founded last year under the ESPN umbrella. I clicked over to the story from my Twitter feed and saw three YouTube excerpts of Simmons with Obama. And that’s all I saw. When I hit play on the videos, I discovered ESPN had set them to be “unavailable” on mobile devices.

Moving on, I tried to read a New York Post headline that also found its way into my Twitter feed. But when I tapped in, the Post webpage that loaded was not the story I wanted to read. Instead it was a notice, which I took as an admonition, that to read New York Post content on an iPad, I would have to download the app, which retails for $1.99.

I want to make it clear that I’m not against paying for content. But what I’ve just described aren’t paywalls, where publications warn users that they won’t be able to consume content for free.

The situations I’m describing are blanket denials of content because of a choice I made about which device to use. With these tactics, media companies aren’t creating content paywalls, they’re creating content ghettos. Big Media, set my content free! Stop messing with the user experience to deny readers their content simply because you can detect what platform they’re on. And stop punishing users who are investing in the latest devices to consume your output. In other words, grant my hyper-advanced iOS device or my friend’s fancy new Android phone just as much access to the Web as my mother’s four-year-old Windows XP PC. Which one of us do you think wants to watch Simmons talk crossover dribbles with the Commander-in-Chief?

Sports Illustrated unveils another digital app subscription plan

sports illustratedTime Inc’s Sports Illustrated unveiled the details of another subscription plan for the Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and Android based smartphones — the print version of its  parent Time Warner Inc’s “TV everywhere” idea currently touted by Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.  Like TV Everywhere, magazines everywhere charges one price for access to content across print and digital platforms.

The SI digital and print subscription plan comes on the heels of  a Time Inc announcement about a similar subscription plan for SI and People for  Hewlett-Packard’s forthcoming tablet device the TouchPad.

“The key to the media business is habituation,” said Time Inc EVP and Chief Digital Officer Randall Rothenberg.

Time Inc creates sports and news divisions

Just before the Christmas holidays, newly appointed Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin put the finishing touches on changes in the executive suite with the formation of two new divisions, one for news and one for sports.

Mark Ford has been promoted to executive vice president of Time Inc. and president of the Sports Group, responsible for the Sports Illustrated franchise.

Additionally, John Q. Griffin (no relation to Jack Griffin) has been named executive vice president of Time Inc and president of the News Group, responsible for Time, Fortune and Money properties.  He was previously president of publishing at the National Geographic Society. Within that group, Kim Kelleher will become publisher of Time and Brendan Ripp, currently the publisher of Time, moves over to become publisher of Money.

On tablets, ads could be entertainment too

One of the aspects that gets lost in discussions about the wonders of digital readers and tablets is how they might change the shape of  advertising.  Thankfully this morning a Time Inc. panel about tablets sparked a conversation about how ads could be built in new ways on digital devices – especially the iPad — and how publishers can benefit.

Sports Illustrated is thinking pretty deeply about these issues.  As one example it  previewed a very cool Gatorade.  The ad had traditional elements like video  and readers could choose different “branded”  Gatorade bottles.  For example by selecting the Michael Jordan bottle,  users could have the choice of viewing old clips of Jordan in action or pulling up nutritional information.  One could easily spend a lot time playing around with the ad.

As Sports Illustrated Editor Terry McDonell put it: “Advertising will become content.”

What will the iPad mean for publishers? – a few opinions

Interview magazine april_cover_V2a

We have out a piece which looks  at the hopes and ambitions of  traditional publishers of newspapers,  magazines and books  in the run-up to the unveiling of Apple’s  long-awaited iPad tablet device on Saturday. The consensus seems to be that the iPad will be a great boost for the industry.  Pictured above is the April issue of Interview magazine‘s version which will be available for 99 cents on launch day.

Here are a few more thoughts we couldn’t get into the  piece:

What does the iPad mean for Amazon’s Kindle?

Brian Murray, CEO Harper Collins:

“People love their Kindle but I think there’s room in the market for both a dedicated book reader like the Kindle, Sony Reader or (Barnes & Noble’s) Nook. But there’s room for a single device that can accommodate books, magazines, and newspapers and surfing the Internet like the iPad. My view is the price of the Kindle,Nook and Sony Reader is going to drop dramatically I suspect to under $100 so there will be a market for certain.”

John Makinson CEO Penguin Books:

“I don’t think there’s likely to be one dominant provider because the Kindle is a very competitive platform.”

Steve Ballmer might as well take applications for Yahoo job

Able to use a computer? Check. High school diploma? Check. Work well with others? Check. Willing to strike a deal with Microsoft? Ummmm….

Indeed, in the hunt for the next top dog at Yahoo that last issue — whether the candidate can do a deal with Microsoft — may be the most pressing.

Since Yahoo’s announcement on Monday that Jerry Yang would step aside, the tech/media world has been abuzz with speculation about his replacement. Silicon Alley Insider is even running a terrific mock election — letting its readers vote among six candidates.

How bad is advertising? Think 1950s

Everyone seems to have accepted (like it or not) that advertising spending will be in bad shape in the fourth quarter and well into next year. But just how bad is a matter of debate — every new piece of research marks another downward revision to the advertising outlook.

Case in point is Citi’s Catriona Fallon, who issued a new report saying that U.S. advertising spending would drop by 1.8 percent in 2008 and 3.6 percent in 2009. So what? Well, consider this: that would mark the first back-to-back annual declines since at the 1950s. The 1950s! We’re talking The Cold War, Fats Domino, Gidget, Cadillac Eldorado — you get the picture.

Here’s a bit from Fallon’s research report, where she discussed the thought behind cutting the 2008 outlook from growth of 0.2 percent to a decline of 1.8 percent :

Amazon spills (some) beans on the Google phone

google.jpgThanks Amazon! The online retailer put out a release this morning with some juicy details about Google’s new mobile phone — even as we’re still waiting for the official unveiling later today.

So, here’s what they say about the phone…

“The T-Mobile G1 is the world’s first Android-powered mobile phone in an exclusive partnership with Google. The T-Mobile G1 combines full touch-screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard with a mobile Web experience that includes the popular Google services that millions have enjoyed on the desktop, including Google Maps with StreetView, Gmail, YouTube and others. ”

Amazon, which has a deal with Google related to the phone, also says that the phone will have “one-touch access” to Google Search and will allow access to Android Market, “where customers can find and download unique applications to expand and personalize their phone to fit their lifestyle.”

Pearlstine to make the most of Bloomberg

pearlstine.jpgIt looks like Norman Pearlstine couldn’t resist the glamorous life of journalism. After two years in the private equity business at the Blackstone Group Carlyle Group (D’oh!), Pearlstine is joining Bloomberg LP as “chief content officer,” where, as Bloomberg said in a press release, he will work with “Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler to seek growth opportunities for its
television, radio, magazine and online products and to make the most of the
existing Bloomberg News operations.”

Pearlstine used to be the editor-in-chief of Time Inc for 11 years, and before that spent 23 years at The Wall Street Journal. More details on his CV, directly from the release :

He was the paper’s top news executive for nine years, serving as Managing Editor and then Executive Editor. He previously worked as the founding editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal/Europe, the first Managing Editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal, and the Tokyo bureau chief.