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Is Bit Torrent really a threat for Old Media ?

March 16, 2011 3 comments

Whilst on the surface the Bit torrent application using Peer to Peer technology has the capacity to do harm , again I look at the response to this in a productive viewpoint, how can the studios benefit from this obvious market potential …

For software applications, it is only a threat if the license key operates with the software –  this comes back to the software providers own encryption and licensing software system.

For Video, it is obvious, from the numbers of users, it is well proven point that there is a market for TV shows and Movies … this can be shown by the number of Torrent participants in the data stream … why isn’t it an option to pursue, that the content producers offer a legal stream of product, such as the Australian ABC does when product is broadcast within Australia, OK it is downgraded and in Mp4 Video format, but for those who have missed the show, or want to keep it for their amusement, what is the harm ? – it is a domestic only quality. Alternatively I can view the content in high quality using the i-View program replay service … for a limited time ?  Excellent interactive relationship for a transparent relationship with your customer.

For those outside of the studios primary market, which is primarily that of the continental USA, it is impossible to gain access to the content legally –  due to the Networks own licensing restrictions, people outside the studio zone, cannot view the product on-line … so the Bit torrent Software was born and is used as a response to this limitation. I am speaking primarily here of TV programs, the software allows someone to upload a program that was in the Public Domain, as it has been broadcast, so they can viewed in another geographic zone … In Australia none of the Video Streaming services allow access to the content for users in Australia, due to licensing issues, why is this ? Surely if I was subscribing to a US content provider –  streaming content, my own internet id (Geo location) would identify what geographic zone I was in, and thus my licensing region, and thus the content licensee for this zone … in my view the money I pay for access could be quite easily sent to the applicable country license holder for a particular content, by the i/p address as a subscriber … you guys need to start thinking outside of the box, and there is a substantial  increase in income that will flow once you do something so simple, for no appreciable increase in costs, as well as the increase in net due to increases in good will and lack of a confrontation relationship and the lack of a divisive enforcement arm – which lacks any credibility.

Stripping of a DVD to obtain the Video Stream is something that is another kettle of fish all together, as it was a licensed program, for one viewer only (household) –  I can see the harm here, all though it is no way to take as credible the loss of income the studio pundits claim, you cannot view the numbers and directly equate them to lost profits. However I do not agree with the commercial use of the Bit Torrent service where people pirate these streams to produce pirate copies to DVD’s …. however from the research I have undertaken, talking to users past and present, for a single user .. I have been told by many people I have spoken to actually go onto to buy legitimate licensed products, using the downloaded product as a trial if you like.

The content creators themselves have used the Bit Torrent facility, in the recent past and continue to do so. Recently there was the much heralded release of almost the final installment of a major franchise – (one more to go) … a program full topped and tailed (a teaser .. less than 40 minutes long) was released onto the Bit torrent before the theatrical release date … I have written about this as a use by the studios, when it suited them as a “legitimate marketing channel”, they used the Bit torrent facility, that obviously created interest and did make a positive difference at the box office.

However, by creating scarcity, the studios, the content creators / providers have created a secondary market that is so substantial –  what is their response, instead of being constructive and transparent, and working with the internet, to provide a access channel to provide access to this content, they go to these facilitator organisations that further exacerbate the situation, they troll the internet for alleged offenders. I have been so informed that the content providers / studios supposedly farm out their enforcement to self styled cowboys who I have been told send out unsubstantiated claims of infringement … for which they have no way of gaining anything positive from, except that it creates distance between the two parties and a them and us mentality. Nothing will be resolved … hopefully though, we are looking for a solution here … right ?

Surely if the studios, created a way whereby people could legitimately download a copy of the content, a downgraded quality for free or via something like an i-store or similar content provider at a reasonable cost of say $1 per TV episode (bear in mind there is no medium and the user pays for the data downloaded), the problem would essentially evaporate ….. or provide a encryption licensed video feed on something like a i-View format file, to provide the content …. or invest in a new Video file format that could not be hacked with a one user only encryption key.

Further to these claims of loss that is put forward by the license holders and their cowboys, this is substantially a fallacy, as it looks at the numbers of downloads and equates them to sold product at a sell price, this is such manipulation, as those downloads will not transfer to income unless the studio actually puts a 21st century procedure in to capitalise on this … if those that are seeking content could legitimately source product from the studios, free for a lower quality downloaded copy of pay for it at a reasonable price for a quality product then I believe the problem, much of these I am a victim mentality the content providers, particularly the spin the TV studios are pushing, is substantially a beat up and the problem would essentially evaporate.

If we view the actual financial performance of studio licensing, in context of the United States Balance of payments for 2008, 2009 and now in 2010 –  you can see increases in licensing income for overseas content sales which has increased over these years.

Incidentally there is only one major TV network in the USA that gets it … and coincidentally only one in Australia … that is making an attempt to provide access .. unfortunately the worst network is someone who should know better and I thought that they did

I wrote about this and other aspects of the affect of the internet on Old Media models in a white paper as far back as 2008 … with different ways to re-structure their business models even then, it is obvious that no one is yet ready to see a solution here and start thinking outside of the box now or then.

My view of the Internet and Older business models, is a couple of things, (1) The internet user demands a different relationship with content providers & (2) Use the internet to form communities, and build a sustainable interactive relationship – this is its strength (3) Please think outside the box … you cannot win this – make some money by approaching it another way … and what you can do best, that is to produce excellent content .

My advice to the studios, capitalise on the opportunity …. focus on your craft instead of sending all your profits to the lawyers.

Invitation on LinkedIn

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment

This is the edited context of a message I sent to a contact of mine on Linked In ….

For myself I tend to write a bit in my blog and ask the simple question why do companies continue to do it this way … or that ? Whilst websites are “your virtual windows to the world” they are only part of a virtual strategy along with those such as Twitter (@intmf) and even Facebook .. actually Facebook surprises me, I went on there in the past few weeks for a personal page to stay in contact with my friends around the world and it is quite amazing the contacts you receive …

Organisations cannot ignore the internet –  you do so at your peril.

I would say in passing I am not a fan of unsolicited direct marketing in any shape or form – even subscription based direct marketing has serious flaws in its business model, it doesn’t nurture or interact, it generally just dictates.

The Internet is about building relationships and through that communities, too bad (to name just one, who should know better) Television, Publishing and Films (old media attitudes) just don’t get it, they need to realise (there are organisations that do) that this is the 21st Century (I say that lot) and start using it properly as a real part of their strategy instead of alienating your virtual family by using them as Email fodder.

I have written about this a number of times, old media needs to think laterally and develop a new business model, for the internet, especially in the world of copying of digital files …. they could make money out of this … but instead they make the lawyers rich and damage their brand and lose their business focus in the process – by trying to control the uncontrollable.

Old media, has thrown money at buying internet operations, to try and fill a hole in their own business model, however as one example only you just need to look at what a disaster News has made of MySpace by forcing them to comply with old media philosophy (about control – which is such b/s) as with the internet the truth is that no one is in charge.  You are either on the internet or not .. trying to be on the internet behind pay walls will not get you a wide audience …. of those who will subscribe, many will have the the same antiquated values as your own, or those who relate to the scarcity of this “resource”. There are many ways to make money on the internet, advertising seems to provide a handsome return for the majority.

News’s idea of an Digital Newspaper subscription is likewise flawed –  guys and girls get with it.

People do want to be a part of something that interacts with us, asks our views, nurtures and supports the relationship .. they do not want to be dictated or lauded over … these days people vote, in the idiom of Facebook by unfriending (disconnecting) you – all connections are about choice, and the normal basis of the decision is the status of the two way relationship. When people purposefully disconnect this seriously damages a organisations brand in the view of the ex subscriber, people talk about their experiences … but because there is no way to measure why people really disconnect (no there isn’t) even though people try.

Other organizations who are deeply involved with the internet and its technology are the legacy carriers who are stumbling forward and falling over continuously, in Australia one who comes to mind is Telstra –  I talk about them here superficially –  I hear from various sources that AT&T is suffering serious problems with their customer service and network as well. This may be similar to the issues with Telstra which from where I sit is evidently a lack of a strategic vision from the board and a very flawed organisational culture.

The only way to operate in the internet, or anywhere in fact, is to operate with ethics and honesty as your base values, with a total accountable and transparent culture actually giving a dam about your customer –  too many organisations say they do, then like with the ANZ Bank –  someone in their organisation didn’t get the “this is our new culture memo” ingrained into their own values and personal culture, their lack of personal integrity and values damages the organisations as a whole … this reflected very badly on the ANZ Bank especially after being recognised as a sustainable bank on the world stage.

The whole flawed philosophy of business is expedience …. whatever gets it done, the trouble is it doesn’t – these flawed strategies just widen the gap between the provider and the customer.

Anyway, way too much to talk about here … if you like we can chat one day or I can give you one of my blogs to check out .. (I have three) …

I am working towards clarity and simplicity

Broadcasters need to change – to stay relevant and viable

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment
I wrote the below to a company in the UK about their response to a submission of mine.
 

“ I am not sure you will read this, but I am taking the chance you may, I have been all across media, from Radio, Television and Content production, now more focused on strategy for current and future delivery systems, and how companies, particularly those former monopolistic media companies, such as Television will survive and prosper.

What I wonder, and perhaps you can enlighten me, why Traditional (old) media does not view the Internet as a partner instead of a threat, it is the ideal resource to allow them to form “true” partnerships, rather than the current viewpoint of most broadcasters where they treat these “communities” in anything but an accountable and collaborative way, they either totally ignore their feedback or treat them as a target for Email fodder… the potential for the internet to build support, communities and a future (though a more accountable and transparent one) for old media is there, it is profound, it just needs to be tapped with the right strategy.

Traditional (old) Media needs to be more open and inclusive, they need to provide content that their customers (which isn’t the advertiser) want to view, value them and treat them with respect, why not to start with a treat,  for example, like asking your customer base what they want to see, or how they see this character or that character or that relationship develop, this is the essence of the difference between old and new media ( although the whole idea of being tied to the end-user would be impossible and abhorrent for a really creative soul, Broadcasting is not about true creativity … it is about putting bums on seats ), however if those in Broadcasting are not responsive with a collaborative strategy, traditional media will be about as relevant to the future of content production and delivery, as the current manufacturer of buggy whips are to mass transit.

Old media has to become relevant to the future, they need to stop lamenting about their past glories. For instance the Internet, will not have in the short term, the capacity to deliver product to all, as Television and Cable / Satellite technologies do…I wrote a paper about this and other new growth business models back in 2008, though currently some aspects are changing, conventional broadcasters do have a real positive, and that is unlimited “connections” if you like, the true mass media model, something that under current and short to medium term prediction of capacity, the internet does not – but that gives old media a breather, it is not a reprieve.

Broadcasters need to change direction, as I guess I am doing, re-inventing themselves in a new guise, they need to find a different business model – but I guess my point is, just as in the past, the dire predictions from the other old media such as Radio and Cinema has had to do, they had to find a different way to prosper, they will have to specialise, but first of all they need to listen.

When Rupert bought MySpace .. it was a disaster waiting to happen (and I thought so then when I wrote this and this about Fox and old media), MySpace is now floundering because of the stereotypes and the inflexible and unrealistic short term strategies that Fox tried to impose on the organisation – Fox, like many in the industry are just not structured or psychologically equipped to operate in the internet, as they like most conventional media is looking for the quick fix, the magic bullet, when there is none

They need to face and change, not only change to their structure and the organisation, but more importantly to their old viewpoints, a true change of culture is needed … do get with it, please remember what century you are in ( I am saying that a lot lately ),  your consumers do not want what you think is best or spin, they want respect and to be valued, especially the future generation s –  the up and coming new consumers, including my sons ‘Y” generation  … respect them, ask them what they want and listen and that will help you mold your future.

There is so much more to this .. but finding someone who will even listen, and is open to the inevitable changes needed, that will make them a force in the future is almost impossible to communicate to those who can make the change – now that is irony.

I don’t really want to be the one to say I told you so when it all crumbles and the jackals are there looking to the future picking over the remains of the carcass of old media.

Thoughts anyone –  or send me an Email

Google – was it Hubris or Hype ?

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Google Vice President, Linus Upson, recently told The New York Times that when (?) the Chrome OS deploys, some 60% of all businesses could get rid of Windows for good and switch to Chrome overnight.

I think this article below gives a balanced look and asks some pertinent questions about this revelation which seems to be full of hype about the second coming.

If the following report here from Renee Oricchio is any indication –

I think that Google has a problem. It’s called arrogance! or in this case one might even be called hubris, for your information this word is defined as “ being out of touch with reality and overestimating one’s own competence or capabilities ”

If you don’t believe arrogance can fell an empire, just go back and study World War I. or for a more recent cautionary tale, look at Wall Street over the past couple of years and the resulting Global Financial meltdown.

I regard Google as a very good resource, however the idea of cloud computing from a risk management point of view is a nightmare waiting to happen …. cloud storage as part of a strategy yes, but as a end in itself, no thanks definitely not at the moment.  There are way too many points of failure within the access path and when there is a failure within the network or with Google, what exactly would you have left of your business ?

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Australia – Telstra and the NBN plus 10-15 years

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Research , tells us that the sale of Telecom Australia which was established in 1975 (to eventually become Telstra) had been an issue of public policy debate for well over a decade. It was talked about in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the Hawke Labor Government implemented a micro-economic reform agenda that included the privatisation of a number of Commonwealth assets including AUSSAT, the Commonwealth Bank, Australian Airlines, the Commonwealth airports, the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) and Qantas. Labor generally opposed any sell-off of Telstra, but did consider the splitting of Telstra on a number of occasions

From the attached link here we can see that the Australian Senate has just passed the legislation to split Telstra into a retail and wholesale (network assets) parts, Telstra, the monopolistic legacy provider of all Telecommunications infrastructure in Australia.

To me this whole situation is moot.

The Australian Government sold Telstra when it went private under a former Australian Government, and the government was paid for this assets and the remainder of this , though there is not that is left (approx 10%) is owned by the  Future Fund a government entity which was established in 2006, basically to meet the long term commitments of Public sector Superannuation payments…. see here.

My point is that we are using some of the same money that went into the coffers which we ere paid when Telstra went Private to exchange the Privately owned monopoly that was Telstra for another monopoly which is the National Broadband Network … the only difference being that this one is a government monopoly.

In a few years when the Government has spent tens of billions of our dollars on the NBN and its implementation, they will probably privatise it. Then essentially we will be back where we are now, with a Private enterprise monopoly –  funny does anyone else see something here that looks like Telstra, feels like Telstra and smells like Telstra  –  ah… then its Telstra by another name.

Surely it would have been cheaper just to buy back Telstra, just wait a while, until its shares lose more value they will be giving them away with your breakfast cereal.

Or perhaps they didn’t want the aggravation of trying to institute the massive structural and cultural changes that would be necessary for Telstra to change from a  former monopolistic anachronism with no customer focus into a relevant, sustainable, transparent, accountable customer focused organisation, in short a viable business model … Wow !! No wonder they are going for an alternative, actually I agree, it seems to be an almost impossible task.

For this to actually happen would perhaps require the board of Telstra instituting (and paying for) the changes, they would have to care and give a dam, a necessarily focused team would have to be imposed on Telstra –  independent of the operational structure, and finally the will and commitment to spend many billions of dollars over perhaps 7– 10+ years.  Then if successful, Telstra might have a possibility of resurrecting a worthwhile business model … this is part of what I do …. I am so aware of the enormity of the task. However there is no choice, Telstra has to be rebuilt from a organisational, structural and most important a cultural point of view, otherwise it will be as relevant to the future of communications technology as is the current manufacturer of buggy whips. Personally I see much of Telstra’s problem is a lack of a coherent vision, including the active involvement of all stakeholders, until this happens Telstra will not be relevant and competitive – long term.

Such transformations are possible, I once had hopes that the culture of the ANZ Bank which I considered such a success story, however my previous article about Green-washing here – has shown me, that the changes appear to be only skin deep, the culture has not appeared to change as I had hoped… greed is still greed – a sustainable accountable culture does not seem to have taken … very sad.

Well back to the article, I foresee a long term career here, as after working on Telstra for about 10 years a few short years later (or even sooner) we would have to do it all over again, to refocus and change the culture of the NBN after it goes back to private ownership …. so I could move from Telstra to the NBN … to institute similar organisational and culture changes …. then I could retire and write about the experience … but what an experience it would be.

Does anyone else see a cycle here…. ?  The real problem is that these decisions are not driven by anything other than incompetence, short term strategy, expedience, and ego –  after all,  they are politicians.  Could it be that the Labor Party is trying to correct the fact that Telstra was privatised in the first place ?

You know we are all making a couple of big assumptions here, given the Labor parties ( and governments is general) absolute failure to implement even the simplest of new strategies, for instance the roof insulation project or the huge cost overruns with little value delivered that was associated with the School hall projects, what makes us think this won’t end up as a huge white elephant … with huge cost and service delivery timing blow outs .. to provide us with a infrastructure that may indeed be obsolete before it is complete. ?

Essentially the problem is that nobody learns from the past, they always think this time it will be different …. without a underlying commitment to an ethical and sustainable culture as the basis for the paradigm, our egos, will screw it up … do you think it is possible for us to put aside our egos and actually work together  … pretty please ?

Warner Brothers & Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 1

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been told that a limited length watermarked copy of a new theatrical release has appeared on a torrent site, and it strikes me as very fortuitous that this content ( well the first 36 minutes anyway) of Part one of the latest Harry Potter film, the Deathly Hallows has been uploaded, it can only work to the advantage of the producer.

If Warner Brothers are in anyway involved in this marketing ploy, one has to congratulate them for finally realising that the internet is a tool, and can be an ally,  so why not use it as a partner …  and to their advantage –  in my view the long term viability of the traditional content producer could be described as a sunset industry … so if they (Warners) were driving this, then, you guys and girls, congratulations again. Please get with the new technology, and take advantage of it. I am sure it will be to the producers advantage and enhance your sales, especially after the interest, that this internet upload will generate.

If Warners and many others want to have a long term life, I would suggest that they generate a future relevant Strategic goal, in line with the 21st  Century, build their operations plan and again become relevant to the market.  If they don’t they may make some great entertainment, but they will go the way of Polaroid and be as relevant to the future as is the last manufacturer of bull whips.

Start living for tomorrow and stop living in the past.

just a thought !

Media, New Media: Convergence – is misleading

October 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I wrote a paper about this – if you like I could post it here – convergence as a term with Media & New Media is misleading – TV and the mass media models will never be replaced by the Internet as they are effectively two separate markets – TV, Newspapers and cable including satellite are true mass media technologies whereas the Internet is not – and with the current pipes and technology it is not going to be – I am not saying here that the Internet will not have a effect on the media (old media if u like) because it will – any use of the Internet for access to entertainment or even other purposes whatever that might be – will effectively take away part of the market from Broadcasters – but not in the way that most people postulate – there are new technologies in place Using the next generation of interactive video technology and services, through the global adoption of the Real Time Content Media Platforms – this will allow potentially companies that I work with in New York and San Francisco to use their technologies and enterprise platforms for the formation of personalised TV channels on the Internet – targeted directly to you and hence paid for by targeted advertising.

I keep saying this – Old media needs to use the facilities of the Internet – for forming communities – to involve all viewers into supporters of a particular show or network – sort if you like like the old fan web sites – but in this case to actually involve them and listen to what they have to say.

Hard copy versions of Old Media, Newspapers, magazines will be hit fairly hard in the long term – but it will not obliterate the media – what may be the death knell for Newspapers as we know them, primarily me thinks due to the costs of distribution via costs of production and transport, printing costs and the long term backlash for Sustainability in all media.

Have a look here for the download of my original paper..however my views have changed from earlier this year as well – now I don’t consider the impact will be as profound.

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