Saturday, February 24, 2007

Satellite Radio Becomes Smarter While HD Radio Remains Left in the Dark

This past Monday, CEOs at XM and Sirius Satellite Radio announced their decision to combine forces. Yes, this will mean that the two main satellite radio service providers will be merging in the near future! In an attempt to lower overall costs, XM and Sirius will form one main satellite radio network that will provide the same "quality" programming of both stations, respectively. The only thing standing in their way, however, is the law. This minor aspect specifically prohibits this merger from happening. According to reports, the FCC will evaluate this case to see if it is in the public's best interest and, if it is, then the merger will be on its way to finalization.

XM and Sirius' goal to lessen its cost through a merger, theoretically, will attract more consumers. However, these companies will have to do a lot more to retain the interest of its listener public. XM's advertisements on television are entertaining and of the times, but what is a commercial without the content to back it up? I am not degrading the programming of XM radio, it just seems like people in this day and age are more prone to listening to their music on-demand via an iPod than tuning their satellite radio to a certain station. Hopefully, this merger will exhilarate motivation to respond to such issues.

XM/Sirius Merger

HD radio, on the other hand, is becoming even more pathetic. Constant spots on terrestrial radio advertise its HD counterpart as the "hidden channels you didn't know you had". These "hidden channels" come at a cost, however. In order to access the hidden channels, one must purchase a device equipped with HD radio. Currently, HD radios can cost anywhere from $200-$1,000. This high cost may make most consumers wary of purchasing this device. Some potential purchasers of the HD radio could ask themselves, "why would I purchase a device that costs more money than an iPod when I will most likely be more satisfied from my iPod?" This question is completely valid. HD radio is terrestrial radio's attempt to save its listenership while attracting even more listeners. So far, things have not gone according to plan.

The high cost of HD radio is daunting. Some reason that programming on side channels will be a bit better if not the same as the main terrestrial channel and, if this is the case, then why should they spend the money? It has even been mentioned that HD radio will be offered as an option in new BMW models. If anything, HD radio creates exclusivity as opposed to inclusiveness. By valuing HD radio at such a high cost and associating itself with top of the line vehicles, this crack-team in radio is combating competition by isolating its listeners. This just doesn't make sense---why would you attempt to gain listenership through a high cost of listening (in both respects)? Clearly, the radio big wigs have some work to do if they want to compete with the Steve Jobs of the world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Newspapers Are Under Attack!

Publishers of heavily circulated newspapers, like USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have been under the attack of increasingly high printing costs for some time now. In response to this attack, papers are modifying their layouts as well as downsizing their content in order to cut costs. USA Today, for example, claims that rising newsprint costs were partially responsible for the company's third-quarter drop in profit. Even news sources like Barron's Dow Jones' Business Weekly are reacting to high costs by shrinking its size.

Perhaps the most radical of changes comes from the Wall Street Journal. In response to high production costs, Dow Jones & Co. (publishers of the Wall Street Journal) are shrinking its size. this change includes a ten percent decrease in the amount of graphics, articles, and photos the paper features. This decrease in content ultimately results in job lay-offs as well as an increased cost of circulation. But, wait, isn't that what publishers were trying to avoid?

The predicted cost of adjustment to the new WSJ is around $56 million. This includes costs of retraining employees and paying presses to print smaller fonts. But all costs are justifiable according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ predicts, with their new format, they will recoup production costs within the next few years. But how will the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers see any profit?

Most news publications, like the Wall Street Journal, feature an online counterpart. For example, if you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal then you can access the Internet periodical for $49/year. However, if you do not subscribe to the print version you must pay $99/year for online features. If you do the math, you are paying $4.99/month and $9.95/month, respectively. To the average person, the price of online features with a subscription to the print version is more attractive. However, that person is also paying to subscribe to the print version, so it adds up.

Like the radio and television industries, newspapers are not adjusting well with the times. Newspaper publishers must understand that they are not simply losing money because of production costs--they are losing money because people have other ways of getting their news. In a culture that is highly susceptible to changes in technology, most individuals receive their daily news from the Internet. If newspapers want to monetize their ability to provide the latest news, then they should be able to convert their current model to fit the Internet age. Instead of charging high fees to access stories online, news periodicals should offer free access. Instead of charging readers, they can charge sponsors money to advertise on their site.

If news publishers want to accommodate the on-demand generation, a generation that they will target in the coming years, then they must understand where these individuals are getting their news from. Blogging is an ever-increasing way for members of the on-demand generation to receive their news. Blogging sites like Perez and
Pink Is The New, although highly superficial and are of little to no substance, provide news to readers in entertaining ways that keep them coming back. sees over 3 million hits per day and for its ability to monetize its offerings, the site was named no.2 in the Forbes Web 25 list...very interesting. There is definitely opportunity for newspapers in the sphere of blogging and other forms of Internet publishing. Newspaper publishers, wake up!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Can Wi-Fi Save Radio and Television?

Wi-Fi technology allows individuals to access the Internet without a landline connection. Currently, Wi-Fi is available on some college campuses, coffee shops like the Coffee Bean, and airports. It is predicted that very soon Wi-Fi will become available everywhere. With the introduction of Wi-Fi and WiMax into our everyday lives, we will literally be connected all of the time! With this available technology comes opportunity for both radio and television industries.

The gaming industry is already taking full advantage of wireless local area connections. Gaming consoles like Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, and Play station 3 incorporate this technology in order to create more accessibility for its consumers. Even desktop computers and laptops (PC and Macs, alike) include Wi-Fi in order for users to access the Internet whenever and wherever they need to. By far the most anticipated device for 2007 that will incorporate Wi-Fi is the new Apple iPhone. Apple's iPhone will permit Internet access wherever wireless networks exist. Additionally, the iPhone allows its users to upload files from thier iPod onto their iPhone. Here is some opportunity for the television and music industries. With Wi-Fi technology, Apple could include their iTunes Music Store as an option to access via the iPhone. Customers could purchase and download their music and television shows simultaneously from the convenience of one device---the iPhone. Individuals would be able to download music, podcasts, movies, and television programs with the click of a button. Sales would ultimately increase thanks to the hightened accessibility of downloading. However, Apple is already seeing competition with the Samsung 3GSM model, which bolsters a music-focused lineup; hopefully forever changing music's mobile market.

The opportunities wireless technology provides for mobile phones can benefit the radio and television industries. A Los Angeles-based company, Live 365, already takes advatange of Internet radio. Live 365 provides thousands of free Internet radio stations from all over the world that are categorized by musical genre. Live 365 also features a podcast section, where any registered user can create a podcast and then post that podcast to the site for others to listen to. Already some companies are taking advantage of the Live 365 software in order to create stations featuring a particular artist as means of promotion. Perhaps, sites like Live 365 are the future of radio. With wireless-capability, the iPhone and Samsung 3GSM could feature live-Internet radio streams that enable users to customize what they are listening and when they listen to it. If terrestrial radio can focus on utilizing WiFi technology for their benefit, then maybe there is a chance to revive its popularity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

2007 Grammy Awards' Backlash at Payola!

I don't know about any of you, but I'm getting sick of payola. According to my trusted friends at Wikipedia, payola is "the practice of record companies paying money for the broadcast of record on the radio." Not only is Payola immoral, it's ILLEGAL! (But neither legality nor morality has ever stopped anyone in the music business from getting what they want). Payola has been active within the radio industry since the 1920's. The first court case involving payola wasn't until the 1960's! History of Payola

Even today, Program Directors at radio stations across the country engage in forms of payola. Instead of receiving gifts or favors directly from the record labels, these labels employ third parties called "independent promoters" to make deals with stations. Independent promoters are responsible for calling up radio stations to ensure a certain number of spins for an artist. Payola court cases have re-emerged over the past few years. Specifically cases targeting independent promoters and radio stations. In their April 6th 2006 edition, Rolling Stone reported such findings in an article titled "Payola Probe Branches Out". This article explains Eliot Spitzer's, the former Attorney General of New York and now the governor, and the FCC's attempt to file suit against such payola claims. The evidence gathered by Spitzer & Co. as reported in this article, would support that independent promoters paid significant amounts of money to Program Directors so that songs like "Daughters" by John Mayer would get airplay.

These independent promoters successfully achieved their goal. As a result of stations' continued play of "Daughters", not only was Mayer nominated for both Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Song of the Year for "Daughters"in 2005, but he won. All of this for a song that Mayer, himself, claims should have never been on the radio. Clearly, radio had something, if not everything, to do with his Grammy win. If it hadn't been for the independent promoters and the program directors, then no one would have heard "Daughters" and no one in the Recording Academy would have had the inclination to vote for this song. This year's Grammys were a different story, however. A band whose current album recieved little radio play made out like bandits at this year's awards ceremony. This act was the Dixie Chicks.

After their public outcry against President Bush at a London concert in 2003, country radio stations across the United States began to drop their music from their playlists. And, Despite their Grammy haul, Dixie Chicks still on the outs with country radio. One would think that after sweeping awards in five different categories at this year's Grammys, including awards for "Best Country Album" and "Best Country Performance", country stations would begin to pick up their songs again. But, alas, they are not. Although this means "less exposure" (terrestrially) for the Dixie Chicks, they will continue to sell more records and be recognized for their musical efforts with the help of the Internet. After their five Grammy wins this past Sunday, the Dixie Chick's saw an album sales increase of 1,500 percent! It seems as though radio play in 2007 has little to no effect on who wins what in the music industry. Perhaps record labels should stop going through extreme measures of independent promotion and payola in order to get their music heard.

Dixie Chicks win!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

iPTV...The Future of Television?

We all know how the Internet and the iPod contributed to the demise of terrestrial radio. But could both of these disruptive technologies lead to the demise of cable television? According to a report conducted by the online publication, The Nation, there is a "bright future for Internet television". In this article, Pichaya Changsorn reports on Thailand's desire to launch an iPTV service.

iPTV stands for "Internet protocol TV" and deals with streaming television in real time via the Internet. iPTV is essentially "video-on-demand" and will allow its users to subscribe to a service that streams television programs and movies from a computer. There is also a device in the works that will allow the streams on a computer to sync with a television monitor, similar to Apple's iTV. So far Sony, Fox, Intel Capital, Warner Bros., YTC Group (Singapore), Macquarie Bank group, Coote/Hayes Production, and Eros InternationalFox, are shareholders in Anytime (the company investing in this technology). These investors are offering the rights to their content for the iPTV service. By the end of the year, iPTV could grow into a "substantial business" in Thailand. After Thailand, Anytime has its sights set on launching an iPTV service in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, and China.

What does this mean for the United States? iPTV targets the on-demand generation. If any demographic is aware of this, it's the youth of America. Even the heavy-hitters at the major networks are tapping into this technology. Currently networks like ABC and NBC are offering free streams with limited commercials for previously aired episodes. Initially, ABC offered their service for a two-month free-trial. But once it gained popularity, ABC continued to offer the service to viewers. Even television service provider Comcast offers "On-Demand", a program which allows subscribers to view previously aired episodes of their favorite shows on networks such as MTV, E!, VH1, HBO, and Showtime, whenever they want.

It seems as though American television corporations are taking the right steps toward incorporating an iPTV-like service into their daily lives. Clearly, Americans are expressing an interest in having what they want and when they want it. An iPTV service will offer just this--but in real-time, a thing American technology has yet to take full-advantage of. If implemented correctly in the United States, a very profitable business could result. I guess we will just have to wait and see how successful iPTV is abroad.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I Found This Interesting...

Here's an old-post from my MySpace blog...

December 24, 2005 • Saturday

XM Radio
Current mood: blah

So I got an XM radio last week and it's safe to say that I'm in love. It isn't safe to say, however, that I will discontinue my listening to commercial radio. I am so completely torn between commercial and satellite radio--->although satellite radio is completely genre specific and virtually commercial-free with minimum DJ banter, I still can't avoid the sound quality that emits from commercial radio---nothing can beat it. Maybe it's because I purchased the cheapest XM car radio transmitter, but regardless I'll always go back to commercial radio.

The only thing I don't like about commercial radio, which you could say is a major problem with all commercial radio stations, is that they do not have enough flexibility within their playlists, this is why it's so hard for Indie musicians----even those new musicians signed to major labels----to get airplay. XM and other satellite radio provdiers create a niche for these artists to flourish and for their music to be exposed.

Ok, that's enough of my discussion on commercial vs. satellite radio. Merry X-Mas to all the Jews of the world.

....Interesting. Even back then I was able to determine the problems that still trouble the radio industry. What I am suprised by here is that, back then, I preferred terrestrial over satellite radio--which is INSANE! How quickly things change, my friends. I haven't listened to XM in over a year and I can't even tell you when the last time I heard good terrestrial programming. These are the problems our industry unfortunately faces.

Today one of my old professors told me that radio is not dead. In fact, he said, Internet radio has been the fastest growing radio format in the past few years. According to him, once WiFi becomes readily available, Internet radio will quickly gain popularity. There will be thousands upon thousands of stations available to listeners on-demand. Back in 2004, About:Radio reporter Corey Deitz saw the future of Internet radio as "bright". He agrees that Internet radio "will slowly evolve and with the help of broadband, wireless, and product development it will find it’s rightful place in the home, auto and hand-held device." Maybe someone should give the heads up to stubborn terrestrial programmers so that they can develop a game-plan for breaking into Internet radio niche-markets.

You can find more information regarding this subject here: The Future of Internet Radio Is Bright