Apps Begone! Smart TVs … I Want a ‘Monitor App’ That Kills ‘Smarts’ that are NOT USED.


Speed-to-MarketI have to continually update the LG Smart TV at home (Again last night) – ‘Internet Apps’ on the SmartTV means that I have to follow an upgrade path regardless of whether I use any of the Smarts on the TV or not … When are they going to offer a Monitor App that looks at what you use on a SmartTV then remove the unused items in order to save on Memory and CPU use and therefore reduce ‘updates’?  My TV is connected to a PayTV STB with everything I need – I don’t do 3D and Google on TV or any other silly App that expects me to register and pay for content…I already pay for content that I am satisfied with!

Apps begone!

Why Me? The Art of Social Media – Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick


the art of socialI was priviledged, and a little bit bewildered at the same time, when invited to review the book ‘The Art of Social Media’ by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. I had volunteered by the way, signing up to a website, but had never anticipated the fact that I may be among the frontrunners for this task.  I wasn’t sure what to think because the mighty man that is supposedly ‘Mr Social Media’ had indicated to his publishing house that I, a mere midget of a blogger, might be able to participate in its success: Why Me?  Perhaps a few thousand others are in the same position scratching thier heads wondering as to why they may have been picked.  It is probably all about geographic spread – there not many people in Switzerland writing in English or have the faintest idea who Guy Kawasaki or Peg Fitzpatick are.  It’s certainly not my writing skills that had me selected, that’s for sure (know thy weaknesses)!

As such, I have read the book and am going through it again for a second time.  I can tell you that it is an interesting read, especially if you are very much starting off and you would like to have the Social Media aspect completely aligned across all the options now available on the market.   The book is packed with ‘how-to’ information, albeit some rather common sense items, and many that reference Guy’s other business interests ;-) naughty, naughty – Nnnnno, just promotion and Social Media machinations.  Isn’t that the point of marketing?  If you are an old-timer in Social Media the book may just seem like teaching Grandma to suck eggs.  As it stands I got quite a bit out of it but it was much more helpful to my spouse, who is just starting off in this domain.  Like I said if you are starting out is is a great guide.

My journey in ‘networking’, the old term for Social Media,  & ‘marketing’ was back in the late 90s .  I spotted LinkedIn early whereupon I was around number 550 to sign-up.  When I received a thank you letter from the CEO some many years later it only made me realise what a plonker I had been not having entered into this business intrinsicly.  I have merely followed Social Media as things have come and gone.  I have Blogged and Social Media’d my way in and around a number of different topics.  In my real life I am do B2B Marketing and it is not a place that Social Media has any real benefit…No, that is not defeatist, it is the voice of a realist who has understood the merit and the place that this medium is made for.  In the industry that I cater for sales cycles are 18 months to 2 years or even longer, with extremely comlex systems-selling-scenarios.  There are no commoditised items and a small circle of companies fighting it out for the market.   Marketing and Social Media feature but the SM part is very small as we do not have enough valuable sories.  We need to be discreet and not tell the competition what we are up to.  Many of the things we do are done in order to aid customer get to the consumer.  So we facilitate Social Media in a sense just not our own directly.  What is your point?  Well Social Media seems to be about combining a plethora of systems, writing and tools that have ultimately fragmented marketing.  The Art of Social Media guides you through that admirably, developing a cohesive strategy from A to Z.

Going back to an earlier blog-piece on Social Media that I feel is relevant to the book (something that is missing in its pages) – If you have clearly and concisely used ALL of the techniques : What do you do if it does NOT work – then what?

BlackFWhat I wrote a short time ago was the following:  There are a huge amount of failures in Social Media but you do not hear much about them unless they are huge Company cock-ups.  Social Media is in the main only about success and good news stories.  Those aforementioned failures are hidden and never discussed.  There are many overly optimistic types that can turn around a failed campaign into a good enough positive to drive a success story, such is the overly exuberance of Social Media experts.  We see hundreds of thousands of people, all using the tool of self proclamation and the title of expert or guru.  In the book Guy and Peg tell us to stay away from them which is clearly contradictory, as that is what he/she is often described as – a Social Media Expert/Guru.

I have a handful of personal experiences in failed Social Media…Not because I am bad at it but because I have found that if you are in early and hit the sweet-spot you can potentially flourish; the Big Fish in a Small Sea situation – if you are only the Small Fish in a Big Sea then you know where that potentially leads – often to failure no matter how hard you try.

Let’s look at Picasso as an example (a great marketeer) … who was originally a traditional painter yet only one amongst many in his era … In order to stand out from the crowd he invented a different style (cubism) that went against the grain and the establishment.  Look where it led!  However, today there are millions upon millions more people on the planet equally talented, equally imaginative, equally trying to be different, yet the opportunity for ‘differentiation’ and inventing something new is rapidly diminishing.  Most things, styles, products have been invented and many things, which are being offered up as if they are new, are not.   It is just that people do not look deep enough or far enough back to see if their stuff is original.  For all the successes, just as for all the inventions, there is a minuscule percentage that make it.

Social Media is no exception to the ebb and flow of success and failure.  However, if at first you dont succeed then you must, if you are a true Social Media believer, try and try and yes, try again.  Get the book as and when you feel the time is right or the price is right – I personally find the price tag a little high considering this book is swimming in a sea of equally clever Social Media self-help books.  Nonetheless if you do dip in to the waters you must follow the tips, do the exercises and report back as to whether or not it helped.  That will be the measure of this book.  Not how many copies it sells, ever filling the pockets of the money-making authors (their words not mine), but just how many people actually benefit from its guidance.

A White Christmas not a Black Friday


BlackFWe dive deep into the darkness of human nature, as the USA’s sordid shopping phenomena Black Friday’s creeps into Europe. Even here in sleepy Switzerland all manner of marketeers jumped on the expression ‘Black Friday’, from food to electronics it seemed nothing was sacrosanct.  It has become a disproportionate gluttony fest the day after ‘Thanksgiving’ where the phrase, ‘For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful’ is ultimately belittled.

The scenes witnessed in the UK are a sad indictment of European retail and a very distressing view on society itself. We have traditional sales periods in Europe (that vary by country) with bargains galore to enjoy.  Shopping the ‘sales’ is a way to cost effectively smarten your wardrobe or get some gadget that is just a little out of your price range.  It is also a lottery as not everything is on sale and if you are an S or XXL then you are generally well catered for in the clothes arena.

Unfortunately it looks like that has all been tarnished with people now wresting people to the ground in rucks similar to those of the autumn rugby internationals. Punters punching each other out for a bargain that appears to be related, in the main, to electronic devices.  Maniacal shopers grappling with each other in scenes aking to starving refugees at the back of a UN Aid truck. It is abhorrent!

Call me old-fashioned but I would rather hear about White Christmas rather than Black Friday.   I hanker for the good-ol-days when people were more civilised not just on Black Friday but also – on the street, in their cars and on public transport.

 

UK and USA Live TV Viewing STILL Dominates


A shout out to my good friend Colin Dixson at nScreenmedia for this report on Live TV – worth reading.

http://www.nscreenmedia.com/uk-us-live-tv-viewing-still-dominates-ott/

FTA TV prospers in Australia


Figures from Freeview show that the free to air networks continued to dominate Australian viewing throughout in 2013

FTA TV last year reached a daily audience of 15.2 million Australians. It also once again attracted by far the biggest proportion of overall television viewing, with free to air TV capturing an 83 per cent share of the prime time metropolitan audience during 2013.

In terms of time spent watching TV, Australians watched more than three hours of live TV every day last year. Time-shifted viewing remained popular in 2013, with Australians recording more of their favourite free to air shows to watch later. Alongside live viewing, 8.6 per cent of viewers time shifted programmes.

“Once again free to air has remained the television destination of choice for the overwhelming majority of Australians in 2013,” Freeview General Manager, Liz Ross, said. “Viewers are more engaged than ever with free to air TV.”

Article courtesy of: http://advanced-television.com/2014/01/20/fta-tv-prospers-in-australia/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

How Content is Funded – Affiliate Fees


IMG_3228I have to bring this back into the limelight because all you youngsters out there that want ‘a la carte’ and all OTT as in, ‘what you want when you want where you want’ need to know what that means in terms of revenue and the financing of content. Despite the age of this post it is still relevant today.

http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/

‘televisionis horribilis’ – The TV Industry Bringing About the Demise of it’s Own TV Content Business


IMG_1707‘televisionis horribilis’ – 2009 – “Don’t be fooled by the technology gurus and those who would build a better mousetrap each week thus disrupting the status quo of Television. We don’t always need a lot of what is offered but unfortunately, in this day and age, we believe that in Digital TV, technologically speaking, we need to offer such complex products even down to Twitter, Google and all that other Social Media access; and even Widgets…Deployments however are struggling to make sense of the business models and technology is leapfrogging technology before chosen deployments can take place”.   I will highlight the issues, mock the troublemakers and generally comment on what the world of Digital TV is doing in the race to capture our money…because after all that is what it is all about – making money from the customers and increasing that well know acronym; ARPU.

That aforementioned piece was written in 2009 when it was clear that fragmentation and disruptive technology had been identified as the future mess that was to befall Digital TV. I did highlight issues, I did mock certain pretenders to the throne but like all modern businesses there is a desire to keep rolling along regardless of whether things are indeed required or not. In fact, during this period, fragmentation was mainly about the plethora of different transmission, middleware, security, applications and a whole swathe of other technologies for TV. It is now 5 years on with fragmentation about the only word we now hear at conferences, seminars and during interviews with TV Tech personalities. Finally! Has the penny dropped? – Well it is not quite as simple as that. Yes we have a huge fragmentation problem but it is now multi-faceted. What we have now are both technology and business model fragmentation, all mainly due to the surge in larger bandwidth offerings, cheaper memory, more powerful chips and content available just about anywhere at all; even when you buy a Starbucks [1]coffee. Fragmentation of technology is one thing and there is a lot of scrabbling about to have standards and common software principles in every sector both old and new (as there always has been)… but now the fragmentation at content level is wreaking havoc.

Yes technology fragmentation (there I said it again!) has handed the market an additional problem which is the unravelling of the TV business into individual content providers, on a provider by provider, App by App basis with some of them offering unique content. The term ‘A La Carte’ has been bandied around for many years but it has finally unfolded with Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Google, and others trying to be the unique supplier of TV content to consumers. Not entirely a la carte but not bouquets and bundles as per the payTV providers either. This week, someone was heard announcing on a UI-UEX panel at Connections Europe, that consumers have been asking for ‘What They Want -When They Want – Where They Want’, and as a result of this need has seen them abandoning traditional payTV services to achieve that. Not all of the TV industry believes in that 10 year-old made-up mantra.

The reality of ‘What I Want When I Want, Where I Want’ is quite different in different markets, especially outside of the USA where ‘Local Language, Broadcast Rights and Release Windows’ are a sport in themselves. At Connections Europe the Roku representative had the answer to our terrible TV fragmentation problem – ‘We have addressed the problem of fragmentation with Roku TV, an OTT device, which allows all content to run on a single platform’ – Dah! Dah! Well I was flabbergasted to say the least, sat there wondering if anyone at Roku has ever really been in the TV industry.   Apple TV got there first, some years ago, dear Mr. Roku and failed to be able to solve the common platform for all content issue even with their world-wide deployments. We saw them naturally defaulting to local language, an inability to provide access to a wide range of content because of the very convoluted licensing issues that abound in a complex European marketplace. iTunes default by offering up mostly the Top Ten (most popular content) … and that dear friends is perhaps a sign of things to come for all the others now entering this market.

We know that we can listen to music over and over and over again but Video Content, TV Shows, Movies etc. is a different proposition. It is in the main a single viewing experience. We want NEW and WE CANNOT WAIT and we even BINGE voraciously (well some tiny percentage do) and then we sit pensively awaiting the next show to be produced. In the meantime we have other Top Ten shows to consume and we are like sheep we all follow the masses from Walking Dead, Game of Thrones to House of Cards and Braking Bad as if there is nothing else interesting to watch. Well that is what we are led to believe by the protagonists of OTT TV who only mention these ‘hot’ shows during all discussions concerning the future of TV viewing. Gardeners World, Living Planet, The Simpsons, The 10 o’clock news never gets a mention!

In the world of TV the channels are not helping themselves much – programming is becoming unusually boring in some sectors. On certain nights in France you can see 4 to 5 same genre shows transmitted one after the other on the same channel. The average viewing time in France is a mere 3.5Hrs/day/person.   With 4 NCIS in a row you are already close to that … as is 4 episodes of Bones or 1 news, 1 quiz-show, 1 movie and perhaps another programme added to that line-up makes 4 hours easily reached.   The film could come off a VOD catalogue or a PVR not from live broadcast. So little time for all that content but such a choice! My point is that the over-abundance of channels with thousands of hours of shows, films et al cannot be consumed. Tastes are so diverse that any ‘personal’ line-up will be diverse. We also believe that everyone KNOWS what they want to watch. However if they have not seen it how will they know what it is all about? Marketing works. TV advertises forthcoming shows on TV, Magazines also, Billboards too.

So what will happen if it gets to the point that you pay ONLY for what you watch? Will we arrive at a situation whereupon we will have to re-hash the way the content is packaged – It will be impossible to please 100 million people each evening with their individual viewing packages and for a sufficient panorama of content to always satisfy all the tastes of all the people.  TV programming is a little like running a restaurant with the need to stock up the kitchen ready to serve a public who choose meals randomly from a menu ; done so that you have some control of the purchasing of ingredients and delivery process ‘n’est ce pas’? Splitting everything up into individual suppliers will quite frankly only lead to a dog’s dinner of a situation for the consumer. We also all know that ‘A La Carte’ in a Restaurant is more expensive than a ‘Set Menu’.   Imagine that you can only get a full meal by having to pay to go into each restaurant in order to have a satisfying array of limited choice. An entrance fee per restaurant – Fish from one, Meat from the other, Dessert elsewhere, Cheese in another, Wine from elsewhere. You would soon look for someone who could supply you a one-stop-shop location offering up a whole bunch of variety I would imagine. I know I would!

The debate about ‘A La Carte’ [2]and individual content suppliers always turns around a made up work at Connections – ‘recency’ i.e the most recent TV Shows and Movies without anyone considering the other content that is very heavily consumed such as News, Documentaries, Light Entertainment and many other genres. So we all clamber for the ‘Top Ten’ and the masses pay for the ‘Top Ten’ and all that other content just gets ignored or is badly served – long-tail or back-catalogue and then eventually dies away due to lack of funding…

It may be the younger generation who don’t watch TV like their parents or so we are told. There is constant scaremongering regarding cord-cutting and the millennials and their refusal to pay for content that they don’t watch; add to this the fact that they don’t want advertising either, begs the question – Who will fund content? Is the TV industry heading towards an era of ‘televisionis horribilis’.

I found this very informative piece at Variety.com (reference below for full article) … A quick aside about a la carte. If the government forced networks and distributors to offer individually priced channels at retail — yes, that could lower the total cost of someone’s bill. But the cost per channel would skyrocket (ESPN could go up to $30 per month, according to one analyst estimate), and consumers would end up paying much more for far less. A broad shift to a la carte would spell doom for many networks.

Quote reference: http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/pay-tv-prices-are-at-the-breaking-point-and-theyre-only-going-to-get-worse-1200886691/#

[1] http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/wireless-internet/starbucks-digital-network

[2] http://www.rapidtvnews.com/2014112336161/ott-bundles-will-cost-as-much-or-more-than-regular-cable-subscriptions.html#axzz3Jy26uWhB

Why TV Companion Screen Tech is Struggling – Yes It’s no longer on Zee Box, nor on Zee Tablet


The marriage of many parties in the Interactive TV systems has always been the Achilles heel for a fully integrated homogenous interactive environment. We have had other pre-2nd screen (i.e. 2nd-Window) systems since the 1990s that have suffered from the same issues described in this rather oldish article: (considering Zeebox has already walked into the sunset) http://edit.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/zeebox-s-anthony-rose-people-589252 – However it is worth some reflection:

Programme/TV Show/Film producers (Pre-Production and Post Production) are still unable to have a “write-once” for a “read-anywhere” business plan due to competing (proprietary/standardised) technologies that are all designed for the same job of Value Added Services. There were and still are proprietary and standardised CMS systems available but that still did not answer the age old problem of incompatibility across broadcasters, operators selection of technology in the global TV eco-systems. The DVB Consortium made something that tried to answer this early on with something called DVB-PCF (Transcoding across different VAS systems) which the BBC worked heavily on. It never saw the light of day.

Therefore creating and franchising a show using a SocialTV / Companion Screen technology and single back-office system is seen as a pre-requisite in the conquering of this Value Added Service arena. The Show the Voice in Holland was successful using Social TV but this cannot be sold as a package into Belgium for example for techno-political-business reasons.

2nd Screen technology technology fragmentation is the same issue as in ALL previous Interactive TV middleware issues. Then add to this new Non-TV technologies (i.e. designed for the Internet all trying to latch on to the TV eco-system). Fit-For-Purpose is an issue that also dogs the TV eco-system. Different Social TV and Companion Screen offerings now numbers in their 30s with Civolution, Egonocast, Shazam, WyWy etc. integrating on-screen, 2nd-window, off-programme and full dual-screen synchronisation.

There are lots of other things that are around in the new world of TV Tech – the failed 3DTV and now UHDTV and 4K etc. that are at least keeping us occupied.

Social Media Success Stories


IMG_0387
There are a huge amount of failures in Social Media because Social Media is in the main only about success and good news stories. Those failures are hidden and never discussed. There are many overly optimistic types that can turn around a failure into a good enough positive to drive a success story such is the overly exuberance that many Social Media Experts (of which thousands use the tool of self proclamation) utilise. I have a handful of personal experiences in failed Social Media…Not because I am bad at it but because I have found that if you are in early and hit the sweet-spot you can flourish – A Big Fish in a Small Sea – if only a a Small Fish in a Big Sea then you know where that leads – often to failure.

I take Picasso as an example…who was originally a traditional painter but only one amongst many in his era…In order to stand out from the crowd he invented a different style that went against the grain and the establishment, and look where it led. Today there are millions upon millions more people on the planet equally talented, equally imaginative, equally trying to be different, however the opportunity for differentiation is rapidly diminishing. Most things, styles, products have been invented and many things which are being offered up as if they are new when in fact they are not because people just don’t look deep enough into what they have…For all the successes just as for all the inventions there is a minuscule percentage that make it. Social Media is no exception. However if at first you dont succeed then you must, if you are a true Social Media expert, try and try and yes, try again.

Thought Leadership is Not About Corporate Sales Pitches


I presented at the #screen4allforum this week on the subject of ‘The Future of Television and User Interfaces’.  There was a mixed bag of panellists on a variety of sessions at this rather unusual academic style event held in Paris.  I found that the ‘production and creative side of the business’ much more open to discussing real issues and tricks of the trade; including opening up about their real life experiences in their respective sectors.  You could tell by the audience participation that this was seen as interesting by the amount of questions thrown at them.

However, a large percentage of the ‘TV technologists’, especially on the panel on which I participated, insisted on doing their ‘Corporate Sales Pitch’ as if the audience was full of potential ‘buyers’ of TV everywhere, specific flavoured user-interfaces and middleware.

The audience present, I imagine, expected to hear about the ‘future of television interfaces’.  They were there, I imagine, to understand where and how their TV shows might be accessed, displayed and how the consumer of the future might interact with the TV.   This was ever so lightly covered by what had been deployed TODAY and where it was deployed TODAY, as if this was the answer to today’s complex world of and the future of television interfaces.

Quite frankly at these kind of events the audiences do not come to hear and see ‘glammed-up’ product pitches, corporate videos and sales promotion.   Our industry is soooo guilty of this right across the board, in all the conferences that I attend.  I know that people don’t like hearing this particular truth about this aspect of seminars and forums, but it is true.  I am sorry if I am accusing people, but it remains a very true fact that we see, all too many times, the Corporate Sales Pitch and absolutely no real discussion and no real ‘thought leadership’ on the topic in hand.

When you only have roughly 10 minutes and that is taken up with who you are and what you sell, dont you think this is not just a little sad and desperate.  The session always ‘runs out of time’ and the audience has no time for questions nor are they inspired to ask any.

I go back to the title Thought Leadership … which is what we were supposed to deliver in order to be interesting, informative and in-line with the subject.  This is going to get much more kudos I would have thought … Or am I perhaps just being a little naive in expecting more from these very clever people?  I am very saddened by the Corporate Sales Pitches approach from almost all of my peers in the television technology sector, however I know for a fact that it will not change, even if highlighted to the the world or my 1/2 dozen readers ;-).

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