For Big Media, The End Of Last Week Was Really The End

I enjoy stories that announce The End of something that is still very popular. I mean, I’m a sucker for The End of Suburbia stories that note an influx of people moving to once-deserted center cities.

Currently, I’m reading The End of Donald Trump stories, which are not so satisfactory, in truth because every near-death notice seems to be spur him on.

And for the last week or so, the once-a-trickle End of Television stories have begun flooding the market. They come complete with stock market tumbles for some big media stocks and usually, at least one “We’re jumping out of windows!” quote from an unnamed network executive.

Today, Re/Code’s Peter Kafka reproduces a stunning chart from Moffett Nathanson Research that shows how pay services like cable and satellite services were still growing, albeit at a modest 2% or so through 2007. That figure continued to decline into positive but near nothingness until by 2013, those teeny-weeny gains turned into little losses every quarter.



In Q2, the loss of subscribers was 0.7% but the trend is unmistakable. What’s happening is that online video and cord-cutting and cord-nevering is really showing up in numbers.

On its Website, MoffettNathanson trots out financial numbers (and under-delivering numbers) for cable and broadcast numbers. 

They’re scary bad if you’re in the TV business.

“One of our favorite charts,” they write, is one that shows cable television’s target demo ratings  “where the gap in growth decreased from 1,000 basis points in 2Q 2014 to +800 basis points in 2Q 2015. We believe this gap is being driven by three key factors: (1) more commercial hours and (2) increased online viewing which is being monetized but not measured and (3) higher scatter pricing.”   

It’s the second point, of course, that has online video purveyors reading the same “End Of” stories I am. 

THE DUMBEST DOWN OF NEWS: A “shocking new survey from Facebook,”  as it was described on “Good Morning America,” shows that haha is the preferred way users respond to something funny on Facebook. That’s how 51.4% do it; 33.7% employ an emoji; 13.1% write hehe and just 1.9% use the always repugnant “LOL.”

As you might imagine, (but only if you are in the news business), this story, as irrelevant as it is, has now been appearing everywhere. And is it me, but do those numbers add up to 100.1%? Haha.

I have now read the research on Facebook’s research blog and can recommend it for a bevy of other stats and probing insight, signifying nothing. Facebook looked at laughter for the last week of May and found that 15% of its users laughed, but 46% of them only laughed once. 

“Age, gender and geographic location play a role in laughter type and length: young people and women prefer emoji, whereas men prefer longer hehes. People in Chicago and New York prefer emoji, while Seattle and San Francisco prefer hahas.

And so on.

This is a terrifically useless piece of research, so it’s fun to read. Facebook analyzed the data because it was fascinated by a New Yorker magazine story in which Sarah Lawson guessed at some of the sociology behind laughing online. Possibly, her best observation is that a “ha” is used like a Lego block. They build. More are added the funnier the quip or video. 

Facebook explains: The most common are the four letter hahas and hehes. The six-letter hahaha is also very common, and in general, the hahaers use longer laughter. The hahaers are also slightly more open than the hehe-ers to using odd number of letters, and we do see the occasional hahaas and hhhhaaahhhaas.

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