Category Archives: Core

If All Screens Are TVs, What Then?

TVolution Last week, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences announced that they would be awarding prestigious Emmy Awards in an expansion of the short-form series category. The deeper explanation of categories and requirements is:

The Emmys has expanded the short-form series awards to four categories: comedy or drama; variety; reality/non-fiction; and animation. Series must have a minimum of six episodes with an average length of 15 minutes or less, and be shown on traditional TV or via the Internet. Awards have also been added for short-form actor and actress as well.

What struck me is the inclusion of something that was not traditionally television within a “traditional” television environment. While not completely out of line with what the academy has done in the past – they have a membership group that focuses on digital content and they already expanded the meaning of Primetime when they included cable shows that could effectively be consumed at any time (a la HBO, Showtime, BBC) nearly two decades ago, before even DVRs and time shifting came around – it certainly seemed a bit of a land grab for an organization to stay relevant in the shifting of landscapes to an unknown future.

Then, there’s a lot of noise about Facebook making a play for the streaming rights to NFL games over the past day or so that really brings to question:

What do we consider a TV moving forward?
If all screens are TVs, how are people going to interact with them and content?
When will we start gaining from data insights in making it a better experience?

Just looking at Facebook and their want for live sports content, they’ve already driven video views on the platform to 100MM per day. The opportunity to completely do away with second screen environments – where your friend’s comments appear adjacent to the video, effectively making it a huge virtual sofa – is an evolutionary game changer. And, the predictive opportunity for delivering content based specifically on what you’ve been interested in that day or even that hour is mind-numbing.

One challenge in all of this is how closely tied to the past TV – of any form -remains. Though the rising interactivity allows for lean forward video consumption, there are far more viewers sticking to the lean back model. They still might make a selection off their DVR, VOD, or even that time-worn event of choosing a channel, but why can’t we start moving toward content delivered in linear fashion based on what you would probably be interested in right now?

Why do we see a huge amount of content highlighted based on what we watched in the middle of the night on Netflix when I’m logging in with my kids mid-day on a weekend? How come I do an incredible amount of searching on Google, yet their owned YouTube only prompts videos that I’ve already showed my kids on my computer a month prior? When will Facebook come forward with a “You’ll Also Like” product based on what video I’ve consumed and not what my friends post? (To give Facebook credit, they’ve done something like this, but it comes across as being more advertising than value-add.)

I do see a time when we will be able to turn on a stream of content – both short and long-form – and predictive technologies will line up the content and you can choose to watch or skip. The reality is that there is so much data there, it’s sort of silly not to use it. Whether it is Google or Facebook that have people exploring on a daily basis – and they also deliver content – or Cable/Satellite providers who might have relationships with data providers, there should be an ability to curate in real-time what the viewer might want right now. The use of data right now is usually only good for showing me what I was interested in then. Imagine the possibilities if we could have what is top-of-mind now delivered to us.

Perhaps this thinking isn’t even breaking enough from the TV norms as we know them. As much of content is evolutionary, perhaps this will just be a step to opening our minds and experiences to enable an content distribution/consumption cycle we can’t even yet conceive of.

For those reasons, I’m excited about the question of “What Then?”

Is Public Super-Fast WiFi the Poison Apple?

LinkNYCWith crazy-high download speeds being provided as an alternative to mobile data while you traverse city blocks, it might seem like the connectivity gods have answered our prayers. Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal found that she could download a 2-hour film weighing 1GB in a mere 45 seconds while standing near one NYC’s WiFi booths – part of LinkNYC. Having such incredible speeds as pedestrians will do wonders beyond causing the increased annoyance of “pedi-pileups” while distracted walkers screech to a halt to respond to texts, emails and now, videos.

While LinkNYC/CityBridge is just the latest to join Google, Boingo and others to provide really fast municipal or public connectivity wherever you are, its business implications on the growing Internet of Things is huge. Rather than requiring data access for every device – like what’s in play now – we’ll be able to leave our devices on Wi-Fi only and still have full functionality for a fraction of the cost. For those who bought Family packages from T-Mobile or Verizon and used up half of the accounts on their multiple array of devices, this allows them and everyone else to take on more mobile products that require connectivity without having to worry. Certainly, this changes the economics for the consumer, the data seller and the product/app distributor…

What we will have to worry about – and what Stern does a solid job of laying out options to protect against – is the increased opportunity for hackers to access our information. Whether by faking-out our devices or purely taking advantage of our protective naivete on these networks, there will be hundreds/thousands of ways to gain access to our hard-won stuff (files, photos, messages, posts, passwords, fetishes – whatever we’ve deemed necessary to save on our devices) while we walk the streets.

But, knowing how much this connectivity can help us live our lives, we can gain a small bit of insight on how to protect ourselves from Stern. And, while it’s odd that we might have to pay to protect ourselves from free offerings, it will hopefully be worth it in the long run. Just be sure to have someone test the (big) apple before you take a bite.

Would You Hire Han Solo?

Han

As we head into a new year amidst Star Wars insanity (among other, less fun, insanity) it’s a time to ponder future plans both personally and professionally. One of those might be the future makeup of your team at work – which drives the question of whether you’d hire Han Solo for your team. He has no Ivy League pedigree, he often shoots from the hip, he procrastinates and then often gets the job done better than others (always with a sheepish grin), he allows his street smarts to drive decisions rather than a background in business theory, and is often “creative” in his solutions.  Does every team need someone like this?

If you look at ESPN’s evaluation of the Star Wars characters and what roles they would play in the the starting lineups in the major sports, Han is one of three constants across all teams the others are Chewbacca and Luke. But, Han’s position is consistently more of a leadership role on the field. So, leave out your favoritism that may have formed over the years… Would you hire Han Solo? I would.

Say It Ain’t So! More Great Cup ‘a Joe Tech?

This morning, while putting gas in my car, I pulled out my mobile device and placed a mobile order for a Venti Latte (1% Milk and No Foam) with around 5 button presses on the Starbucks mobile app. When the gas was filled, I jumped in the car and drove 100 yards to the nearest Starbucks (I live in Los Angeles, after all…) and walked past a line of 18 people transfixed by their mobile devices while standing in line to grab my coffee that was just popping up on the counter. I still don’t get it. How can so many people not be using this great piece of technology?

What Starbucks has done – and Dunkin Donuts is following suit – by advancing a use of an app that is absolutely helpful in getting through your day rather than just being an occasional doldrums distraction, is a model for companies of all verticals to follow. By utilizing connectivity and UX in a hyper-intuitive way, they have not just made lives easier for people who only have the time to jump in and out for a coffee, they have used the available technologies to increase loyalty and gain an even stronger source of data to make their customers happier while boosting business practices. *Starbucks also gains a huge financial advantage as the customer has to have a balance in their app in order to participate – allowing the company to take on a huge amount of capital before they have to deliver the goods.

We’ll have to see if their latest program marrying the mobile ordering component of their app with a delivery service  delivers the goods that can scale. The great and innovative learning in this is they are piloting ideas that take industrial knowledge one step further to keep moving forward. I don’t know how many people will want to pay a multi-$$ surcharge for a cup of coffee to be delivered, or how many markets it would actually work in. But, if they can figure out how to provide the service in areas that make sense and are profitable… even better.

Of course, once more of the world catches on to the mobile ordering and goes straight to the counter, Starbucks will have to figure out how to deliver on greatly expanded expectations. But that’s a good problem to have. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy walking past the line at the register while shaking my head in wonderment of when more people will make the jump.

A New Form Of Superstar Athlete? A Little Bit Of Content Will Do…

eSports

It wasn’t so long ago that people would provide a quizzical stare when presented the concept of eSports as an industry and an even shorter time since people would laugh at the thought of eSports becoming big business with a huge following. Now, adding to the list of new generational tastes and trends that bucked the naysayers of older generations, eSporting continues to crystallize itself as a huge opportunity for both entertainment and commerce. Turner Broadcasting and major entertainment/sports agency, WME/IMG have announced their ELeague and 30 weekly hours of coverage that will be coming with it on a grand scale.

For those who don’t know about eSports, it has been brewing for a few years – where video game players (both single and team) compete against each other in leagues and championships with the action streaming much in the same way we’re used to seeing other professional sports around the world. Here’s the huge opportunity — as FIFA benefits from the accessibility of Football/Soccer to make it’s sport the largest in the world, the same could be said for video games and the leagues that have formed to support them. The players you see in these leagues are the cream of the crop, but the opportunity is attainable with hard work – and these teams work hard.

Just looking at Riot Games’ LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, their competitive teams are able to focus on practice and competing 24/7 with strong sponsorship packages. Their championships sell out around the world and the demand continues to grow.

Now that the first regular linear presentation of these sports is arriving on Turner in 2016, the opportunity for growth is even stronger. What is key though – for the strength of the leagues and their competitors – is that the production is treated as strongly as those of the recognized major sports. There is no excuse not to. And, with the opportunity to highlight players that are more like the every-man through solid content development and storytelling, there is every possibility that strong competitors/personalities will be able to reach fans and consumers in ways that not even our present top athletes can.

Hopefully, the sneers and jeers will be muted early enough to allow for enough talented people to get in on something special before the opportunity passes them by.

Don’t Let Your Brand Name Fall Flat On Your Audience

Often, there’s a name that really sticks among the founders of the company. There’s a ring to it… It makes people smile… It seems obviously right… Or, frequently, in these times, the cute omission of vowels in a product name is just plain cool. Unfortunately, some of those names get lost in translation. The BBC’s Justin Rowlatt captures the pitfalls of naming beautifully in his column of how context can change a brand’s inflection.

Plopp

Whether the ownership is too close to the product, doesn’t think beyond their initial market or just has bad luck with other things going on in the world, sometimes the brand name just leaves you wondering what they were thinking. This isn’t to say that you’ve got got neuter your brand name to make it work without offending anyone – it’s just that you should take the opportunity to get to know your audience well in order to name the brand as best as possible.

Of course, you should only have the problem of being so successful that changing your brand’s name is a major hassle. Otherwise, be sharp on the front end and strongly consider your brand name so you don’t have egg on your brand later.

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

Forget, for a second, the impetus for Jean Jullien’s drawing mashing up the peace symbol and the Eiffel Tower to appreciate how incredibly fast it spread throughout the world. Being as only 24 hours after Jullien took a minute to create the illustration it was all over the place, you’d have thought it had been created long before and was already known and had a following. The fact that it was so perfectly simple and related to a major zeitgeist moment just proves the power of connectivity and interconnected”ness” that today’s distribution and social platforms afford us.

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