Oct 232011
 

What do we really value online and can traditional publishing companies adapt quickly enough to save themselves?

Earlier this week I and a group of social media ‘influencers’ were invited to a briefing by News Ltd of their, two years in the making plans to move to Australia’s first big Freemium news content model. Basic freemium model – a range of teaser online news excerpts leading to fuller, more in-depth news stories behind a pay wall at subscription prices starting at $2.95 a week to $7.95 including the daily printed paper.

Ross Dawson, Richard Freudenstein, Tim 'Mumbrella' Burrowes - photo garyphayes

The basic details of the plan were dutifully and immediately blogged in traditional journalistic style by Ross Dawson and Tim ‘Mumbrella’ Burrowes (both featured above with Richard Freudenstein CEO of the Australian). But alternate opinions are surfacing from other online ‘influencers’ who were there – including Laurel Papworth (who just published a thoughtful Paywall for News.com and Online Community Social Media), Gavin Heaton (his tweet compilation) Tiphereth GloriaKatie ChatfieldCraig WilsonBronwen Clune and Karalee Evans. Some were feeling privileged to be at this briefing (in advance of traditional media – who of course are competitors so why not invite the ‘independent voice’) but others were confused regarding the actual value proposition being put forward.

Firstly hats off to the large News Ltd operation for taking this ‘if we don’t were damned’ and ‘if we do were also damned’, step. Also for setting up a no-mans land, bridging site, looking at the Future of Journalism. It is really the only thing they can really do at this juncture – so it all comes down to ‘how’ they do it. I and others pointed out during the session that regardless of the mammoth ‘back-end’ production, business and editorial systems upgrade, it really boils down to IF users like the taste of this particular flavour of digital content. Is there a demand for your ‘paid for’ product?

Some heritage news orgs are starting to turn the corner of this ‘experiment’ of course while others have just crashed and burned. Yesterday AdAge reported on New York Times just keeping it’s head above the water with it’s 324 000 and climbing, digital subscribers. It announced that, as it’s print ads decline by 10.4% a quarter it’s digital ads (up 6.2%) and increasing subscribers online are balancing the books, just.

Within the company’s news media division, which includes The New York Times itself as well as the Boston Globe and other newspapers, digital-ad revenue increased 6.2% — slower growth than in the second quarter — while print-ad revenue dropped 10.4% — a sharper decline than last quarter.

In a world of scarcity asking people to pay for ‘information’ or stories about themselves and the wider world makes sense. Get that. But in a world where digital, to a growing number, means free access, open re-distribution, self-publishing and outright plagiarism of those same stories, will ‘paid for news’ ever work?

Lets step back from the granularity of price points and production challenges covered by others for the moment and without getting bogged down in journalistic integrity or endless ‘manipulative’ stats, lets get back to basics.

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Apr 042010
 

Been heads down writing, commercial development, life & course dev. I am now lecturing on (and running one of) two Multi Platform courses in Sydney, plus just out the other side of a big personal move to a new part of Sydney. All this combined with other blogs I am group posting on (eg: transmediadesign.org) and lil old twitter becoming a good micro-blogging, link alternative means this blog is starting to be devoted to article, resources or richer content – when I get the time. But I have a back-log of 15 drafts that will be pushed out (excuse the pun) in the next few weeks! Also busy putting a book together called ‘Networked Media Design – Multi Platform Production’ – so some of the good stuff trickling out there, more distilled rather than the temporary stream of consciousness here – but that will all change very soon.

1. ANECDOTAL CHANGING MEDIA FAMILY – HEAVY RAIN ON EASTER SUNDAY

How much time do we spend with different media forms? I am with my partner’s family down in Adelaide, Australia for the hols and on Easter Sunday have just been part of a bizarre ‘new’ ritual. I say new because in the past Easter sunday may have constituted a quick morning choco egg hunt, followed by lunch, a film or two, some topical TV and even radio later in the day during meal times. How far we have come?

A family group of two pre 10s, three early 40s and two seniors have been gathered around the hot family PS3 playing Heavy Rain for 7 hours! Yes you heard right, from 10am to 5pm we played, talked about, watched, shouted, got emotional to a ‘video game’ – all the time discussing the next moves, ethical questions, plot points, social aspects and production value. The kids were doing most of the driving while the rest of us took the back seat giving them directions and choosing some more of the subtle ‘conversational’ or plot options. I tweeted this ‘social’ game event as Parallel Access Gaming – as in this new form of media consumption some of the family simultaneously experiencing the game as play, others as an emotional cinematic event (complete with film music & inciting narrative) with everyone cycling between, action and passive. Typical?

@garyphayes easter sunday revelation – Parallel Access game Heavy Rain – kids play/drive, moms/aunties strategize, grandparents discuss story arcs

2. SURVEY HERITAGE MEDIA CREATORS AND MANAGERS – DAILY MEDIA vs LIFE TIME

This reminded me to do a post on another special demographic group who are often (anecdotally) associated with spending more of their daily time with cinema, the arts, TV or radio (traditional / heritage media). At several seminars I have been running over the past couple of years for traditional media creators/managers I have asked over 105 of them to fill in a little survey I devised – imagine a typical week or month and construe from that an average day spent with media & life events. So over the past week if you averaged it out, how much TV per day would you watch, how much on social networks, how much playing games and so on.

Two sets of questions:

Heritage media and life time – Sleep, Eating, Travelling, Books, Live TV, Live Performance, Conversation, Sports, Live radio, Cooking, Newspapers, Family Stuff, Cinema, Education, Pubs & clubs

Social, online entertainment – Email, On-demand music, On-demand video, Console games, Social network, Online games, Online video, Shopping online, Mobile – SMS, Uploading, Twittering, Collaborative writing, Writing blogs, Research, Forums

The purpose of this was to see how closely their life/media time balance matched the stats I was presenting from the likes of Nielsen, Forester and other ‘notable’ research who were obviously taking larger samples than my 15 at a time and what I publish here – 120 anonymous respondents. The results were rather surprising and the age ranged from around 19 up to early 50s across heritage aspirants and established creators. I start with a couple of charts at the Gen Y end, film foundation students which shows some detailed online time followed by my special aggregation that compares key groupings.

On-demand and online entertainment


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