Posts filed under “Web/Tech”

The Great Unbundling

Nobody wants to watch the Discovery Channel. 2.9 million people viewed “Naked and Afraid.” But a hundred million paid for it. More than a buck a month. The CEO made $156 million. Now what?


Verizon is following the customer, allowing its FiOS TV subscribers to pick and choose channels. And the content providers are going nuts!

Sound familiar?

Let me analogize for you.

A CD cost $12. But people only wanted to hear one song. There was no other way to get it than to purchase the album. The labels liked the income and the acts believed the other nine tracks had value, but not to the ultimate customer, who didn’t care and oftentimes didn’t believe in the act at all, moving on to someone else soon thereafter.

What changed the equation?


Piracy is disruptive, sure it’s theft, but it breaks the logjam. You might be bitching you’re making less money on recorded music, but you’re simultaneously complaining about your cable bill.

You can’t have it both ways.

Napster begat the iTunes Store, the great unbundling already happened in the music business, and the acts still haven’t recovered. Turns out most people only want the single, and with everything available they don’t want your music, maybe not at all. Kind of like in cable… The three networks used to have 90% of the audience, but now the four and a half networks get a fifth of the viewers, with the rest spread amongst a zillion outlets. And these outlets get paid by the cable company, via extortion. That’s right, the providers consolidated the channels, such that if you turn off one, we won’t give you the other. As a result, customers are paying for what they don’t want to watch. And they’re sick and tired of it.

Now in music we’re ahead, you can get all the programming in one spot, whereas in TV you’ve got to have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, cable, internet… They’re inviting you to pirate. However, we’re also moving in the wrong direction in music, with the exclusive. Once Apple/Spotify/Tidal all have different product people will return to piracy, or stop paying all together, as they’re doing with cable, cutting the cord.

HBO is going direct. You no longer need a cable contract, you can subscribe on the internet for $15.

But HBO is a winner, Discovery is not.

Taylor Swift is a winner, you are not.

That’s right, the old model was different. Very few people could record and distribute. Radio was the only way to get traction, and the major labels controlled the slots. And, as stated above, music was sold in a bundle for a high price. So, if you ran this gauntlet, you were a winner, you made money, whether it be the advance on your deal, even if you were a failed artist, or the royalties you got as a songwriter. But now that old system has been decimated, via the internet and piracy, and it turns out most people don’t want most music and you just can’t make what you used to.

Like Discovery. I’d cancel it tomorrow if I could, I haven’t watched it in years.

Nor have I viewed the vaunted ESPN, which costs every cable customer six plus bucks. That’s right, the success of sports is built upon a fiction, that we all care. But we don’t. Go a la carte and sports turn niche. Well, they tumble to a level far below the perch the media puts them upon now. As for the value of live sports… That’s to the advertiser, other than the Super Bowl, which is a national holiday, most people aren’t watching the game either. And if we all stop paying six plus bucks a month…

Everybody makes less money.

The corporations didn’t beat you, the public did!

It turns out people have time for great, they’ll even pay for it. HBO has got over 30 million subscribers, it costs $15 a month. Just like people will pay triple digits to see a superstar in concert. But they won’t pay to see you.

Superstars are making more than ever before. Sure, recorded music is a smaller piece of the pie, but ticket prices have far outpaced inflation and sponsorship offers are legion.

But it’s hard to become a superstar. You have to be great, you have to have promotion, to gain traction and stick you have to be at it for years.

And there are very few shortcuts. Ignore the U2 tour hype. They scaled down from stadiums, their new album was distributed and not heard. The people going are all Gen-X’ers who still believe, there are no new fans, because U2 is irrelevant, because the band doesn’t have hits.

You hate that you need hits.

But that’s what “Game of Thrones” is.

No one wanted to watch “John from Cincinnati.”

And that obscure show you love on Animal Planet… It’s being paid for by those who never watch, who aren’t even aware of it. It’s going to disappear when the great unbundling appears.

Which is happening now. In five years the TV landscape will look totally different. You’ll pay less, but there will be fewer high quality shows available. Then again, maybe TV should be made on the cheap, for YouTube.

You can be on YouTube. You can put your music up there and get paid just like the superstars.

But you won’t make much because most people don’t care, you have a tiny audience not because your promotion sucks, but you do.

Sorry to wake you up.

But what killed you was the customer. Turns out the customer only wants great. And if something is superior, there’s seemingly no limit to what he’ll lay down for it.

Them’s are the rules, that’s the game we’re playing, don’t shoot the messenger, your cheese was not only moved, but completely stolen, you can complain all you want but it ain’t gonna make any difference.

Note: Partially inspired by “How Cable Lost The Remote”


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Category: Really, really bad calls, Television, Think Tank, Web/Tech

10 Quick Content Marketing Tips

10 Quick Content Marketing Tips (By DNN Software. Redesigned by Ethos3.) from Ethos3 | Presentation Design and Training

Category: Web/Tech

Nasdaq Bubble Stole From Future Returns

Yesterday, we discussed why the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gone sideways for the past few months. The prime suspects were rich valuations, earnings crimped by falling energy prices and higher returns to be had overseas. Today, I want to look at the Nasdaq Composite Index. It closed at 5,056.06 yesterday, surpassing its March 2000 dot-com…Read More

Category: Markets, Psychology, Sentiment, Valuation, Web/Tech

Google Antitrust Case

It’s the beginning of the end. Once someone starts investigating you for the sins of the past, your future is screwed. Google is in trouble. Because tech is like music, it’s all what have you done for me lately. Only in tech, you can’t tour profitably on your hits of yesteryear, you can’t tour at…Read More

Category: M&A, Web/Tech

Protect Your Assets: Common-sense Cybersecurity for Investors

Let’s get the scary stuff out of the way upfront: Cybercrime costs the global economy $575 billion annually, according to reports. The United States takes a $100 billion hit, the largest of any country, according to Politico. A report from former U.S. intelligence officials counted 40 million people whose personal information was stolen within the past year.Online theft…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Web/Tech

60 Minutes: Hack Attack on Sony

North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures exposed a new reality: you don’t have to be a superpower to inflict damage on U.S. corporations

If most people remember anything about the North Korean government’s cyberattack against Sony Pictures last November, it’s probably that there was a lot of juicy gossip in leaked emails about movie stars, agents, and studio executives. There was also an absurd quality to the whole episode, which was over an ill-advised movie comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s leader, which the North Koreans did not find funny. The weirdness of it all has obscured a much more significant point: that an impoverished foreign country had launched a devastating attack against a major company on U.S. soil and that not much can be done about it. In some ways it’s another milestone in the cyberwars which are just beginning to heat up, not cool down.


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Category: Video, War/Defense, Web/Tech

Common Sense Security for Your Portfolio Assets

    My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we look at how to avoid usual errors when you are managing your online banking, investment, and retirement accounts: Protect your assets by practicing common-sense cybersecurity. Here’s an excerpt from the column: “We spend most of our time in financial markets looking at ways…Read More

Category: Investing, Web/Tech

Internet Rules

NEVER TRY TO CORRAL THE CUSTOMER People balk at being controlled. Once you place limits, the public abandons you or finds a way to circumvent what you are doing. Give people the opportunity to do more, to expand their horizons, to share. Once you tell them what they cannot do, you’re screwed. This is why…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Corporate Management, Web/Tech

60 Minutes: Wikimania

Meet the Wikipedians. Those “persnickety,” techy types who keep your favorite Internet information website brimming with data.



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Category: Video, Web/Tech

Hate Mail Rules

1. CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR No one’s going to take you seriously if you use “there” instead of “their” or “your” instead of “you’re.” Maybe you should write your missives in Word first, where there’s a grammar checker. Or maybe run your prospective words by your mother, since you want her to be proud of you….Read More

Category: Humor, Psychology, Web/Tech, Weblogs