I'll be the first to confess that set-top box data is not perfect. Not every television in every cable/satellite/telco household has a set-top box. In a privacy-compliant data set, no demographic data is attached to the tuning information other than the zip code associated with the account. The set-top box is blind with respect to which person(s) may or may not be watching. While these and other issues are unquestionably important, I believe they are all resolvable with high quality, granular tuning data and sound mathematics. We may disagree, but we should be able to debate the issue.
So the question really is this: is fragmentation good or bad? Well, it all depends on your definition of fragmentation. In the traditional sense of the word, one thinks of the negative effects that fragmentation has had on the entertainment industry and its audience -- less time, fewer eyeballs, less interest, less valuable inventory, less of well, everything. For once, though, I am going to suggest that we look at less as being more.
Monday's TV Board featured a rousing call to action from Tracy Scheppach of Starcom, urging all sides of the media business to do their part in making set-top box data an everyday part of the research, planning, buying and selling processes. It's a call that most of us (myself included) would heartily endorse as the prospect of wholesale and routine access to such data continues to move closer to reality, yet still remains tantalizingly out of reach (with a few notable exceptions).
Last week, MediaPost was kind enough to publish my first book, "Trials & Defibrillations: Interactive TV in the U.S." It is a compendiasaurus, a term that my wife coined, of historical and present day adventures (deployment and advertising) in the burgeoning iTV realm primarily focusing on the four major sectors: Video on Demand, Addressability, Interactive Program Guides and Digital Video Recorders. The following pages contain excerpts and set-ups from each.
Change will literally be "in the air" when, just about a year from now, the Federal Communications Commission and all involved parties transition over-the-air broadcast television signals to digital, freeing the trusty old airwaves for other applications. As a result, we can likely expect increased production and transmission of HD content; reduced duplication of broadcasts across different distribution systems; and government auctioning of the airwaves, which can help us chip into the national deficit -- and maybe yield a nationwide wireless network, among other possibilities.
Online content is providing a development laboratory for networks and studios, agreed panelists at yesterday's JackMyers Future of Media event hosted at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. "Fox TV has begun using the Internet to seed properties and use it as a development and R&D lab to plant certain ideas, grow them, and find out if there's some interest in a concept, especially in comedy and animation," commented Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.
OK, so you all know my propensity for British television And as we move toward a whole new television season this fall, I am chomping at the bit for the latest, great import from the U.K.:"Top Gear."
There's been a fair bit of chatter lately about the likelihood of a full-blown recession and its subsequent effect on the advertising and media industries. Yet it seems to me that the implications of the digital switchover in a year's time are being overlooked by many forecasters. While a recession may start to make itself felt before the switch -- and while no one in his right mind expects TV to totally change overnight on Feb. 17, 2009 -- we may be surprised by how quickly the industry moves to take advantage of the opportunities to leverage new revenue opportunities.
I think the communications issue between different divisions within corporate monoliths is of great importance to our media industry and one that is often neglected. As media companies evolve their cross-media platform offerings and value propositions for consumers and marketers alike, they need to be aware of the consumer interactions across all of their media assets.
This season's "Celebrity Apprentice" is one of the most nuanced versions of any "reality" program to date. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, Trump elevates the "celebrity for charity" concept, made famous by other game shows, to a new level. Beyond the standard reality TV fare of weaning by backbiting attrition, this season's "Apprentice" raises an entirely new series of questions, including: "How much humiliation is a celebrity willing to tolerate in the name of charity?"