The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Earlier this week, I was asked for input on a top-ten list of current and upcoming trends in the media. My scribblings may or may not appear in MediaPost in the near future; regardless, I thought I'd put 'em up here. They're in pretty raw form. I could supplement them with about a million hyperlinks, but I don't feel like it on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Some of the ideas I've written on in this blog in the past, so a search through the archives might bring up further material.

Top 10 Intriguing Things to Watch in Media for the Rest of 2003

10. Blogging as a Marketing Vehicle: Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. is experimenting with using blogs as viral marketing devices for its new Raging Cow product. If it's successful, it could lead to an explosion of such blogs, both among kids and other markets. If it flops, blogs become persona non grata for commercial use (at least so blatantly).

9. AOL Time Warner's online magazine pullback: Pulling People and Entertainment Weekly off the Web should be an interesting experiment, especially because AOLTW has made it accessible enough for people to still get at the content. In particular, the access code printed in each copy of the magazine represents the best of both worlds: Copies get sold, and readers are rewarded for their purchase with limited-time access. If this model succeeds, other publishers big and small will follow suit.

8. The reality of Reality TV: Most people are expecting a backlash against Realitymania by this summer. But what will the final result be? Some expect the format to become a settled standard on the TV landscape; others think it'll fade away entirely. Important to note that the last Big Thing, the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire phenomenon, is all but spent now, and it didn't really even give the general gameshow category much of a boost.

7. Post-theatrical movie marketing: While this has been done in the past, I've seen more and more examples of markedly different selling approaches for certain movies between their theatrical releases and their DVD/video debuts. This is especially the case where a movie might have had a weak box office. Lion's Gate Entertainment seems most adept at this; notice campaigns for the movies The Rules of Attraction and Secretary. Also, Disney seemed to slap its name on the Tuck Everlasting home video product, after declining to do so (at least prominently) for the theatrical release.

6. Cross-branding: TV and print: Disney and Hearst have launched Lifetime magazine this week, trying to capitalize on the Lifetime TV brand among women in their 30s--not coincidentally, the prime magazine-reading audience. Success here will spawn a parade of similar efforts; failure will scare others away.

5. Copyprotection of digital media: As more and more endproducts (music and software CDs, DVDs, etc.) come equipped with copyprotection methods, what sort of reaction will consumers have? Will they boycott such products, or just buy them without a squawk? How will it affect the filesharing programs/sites that depend on a fairly easy method of ripping content and uploading it? And will this be enough, or will those industries continue to go after ISPs to choke things off at the source?

4. Satellite Radio: This could be a make-or-break year for Sirius and XM. Both are starting to put together substantial subscriber rolls, which will fuel their growth and make one or both juicy takeover targets. Especially by year's end, after holiday sales could give both a big boost, the future of satellite radio could create a turf war in this medium akin to the cable-broadcast battle in TV.

3. TiVo Nation: Are consumers that willing to add another service bill to their home media universe? If cable systems across the country really start rolling out their own DVR settop boxes in earnest, this device will really have arrived, and the start of radically new media consumption will have begun. Accordingly, a lot of proposed countermeasures for advertising will at long last be put to the test.

2. Another ad downturn?: The last thing we need, but consider: The much-ballyhooed Iraq effect did nothing but provide a short-lived boost, for advertising and the economy in general. As the postwar experience drags out on shaky ground, and the cost of the war comes home, we could be right back where we were, or worse, by year's end.

1. June 2nd, 2003: The date of the FCC's decision on whether or not to change media ownership rules. 'Nuff said.