Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Playboy Goes PG-13

Before there was HBO or Skinemax (Cinemax), there was Playboy.  For every teenager seeking a look at a nude body, the choice was this or National Geographic.  And while Playboy can be credited for its part in America's sexual revolution, the revolution passed them as cable television and then the internet could offer even more explicit fare.

Playboy's competitor, Penthouse, tried a different approach to match changing morals.  Like the movie The Untouchables. Penthouse tried to match them, a knife for a knife, a gun for a gun.  But trying to be as explicit as cable and the web only seemed to hasten its demise.  Playboy suffered too.  But in a new approach, Playboy is trying a 360 and starting in March 2016, the nudity will go away.  Instead, the focus seems to move toward better editorial and articles.  Heck, among the things that made Playboy great, beyond the photos, were articles from such renown authors as Jules Pfeiffer.  The hope is that they find that right blend of stories and humor that will catapult Playboy to a profitable position.

Can this new strategy work?  As long as it doesn't try to dumb down its features like other, more teenage boy, magazines, Playboy may have a chance.  It may go counter to how they started but shaking up society is how Playboy first got noticed.  It seems time to do it again. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

NAB Wants To Leverage Merger To Reform Broadcast Rules

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) hopes to gain rules reform for broadcast ownership by tying its attempt to the Charter -Time Warner Cable merger efforts.  And the NAB hopes it has some leverage to suspend merger talks till it gets its own reforms.  While the link may not be apparent, the need for new rules is.  Still, it is unlikely that the FCC will pay attention to such a move.

Consolidation in the cable industry makes sense, especially given the connectivity issues to create efficiency for wire and wireless speed and usage.  Separately, broadcast ownership rules should also be reviewed given the changing relationship between broadcaster and viewer.  The rise of broadband applications have created new opportunities that compete head on with broadcasters. 

So if the NAB feels the need to argue for more reforms given the changing landscape, they should.  But their argument should in no way be linked to what the FCC is reviewing to allow Charter and Time Warner Cable to merge. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Remember When ... Asking Your Cable Company To Get A Channel

The good ole days!  Remember when your cable company had maybe 20 or 30 channels and networks would buy ads asking you to write your cable company and request their channel?  It led to the rise of so many channels from Bravo to Game Show Network, from Animal Planet to Romance Classics.  And some networks that have since changed their names or shortened them to just initials. 

Today we have more than a hundred channels on our cable lineups as well as thousands of on demand movies and shows.  And now those same ads are used during contract renegotiations to stop those same cable operators from dropping those channels.  But now, the real interest isn't in launching new channels, but in buying streaming subscription services. 

It seems that now the best new shows are found, not on cable, but on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.  But how many subscription services are we willing to buy.  In the old days, we would request our cable company to add a channel and hope that it wouldn't significantly affect the cost of our monthly subscription.  Eventually, it did but those initial adds meant pennies to us.  Buying into a streaming service could add about ten dollars per service per month.  For all the cord cutting we may be doing, our costs look to only rise as we pay more if we want to watch all the shows on all the streaming services.  Still, at least now we have the choice to buy the channel to watch it and not wait for our cable company to turn it on first. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ABC Family Rebrands With No Clear Shape

If you have children in the house, they probably know where to find ABC Family on their cable box.  Between 25 Days of Christmas and X Days of Halloween and Y Days of Summer, ABC Family has created event programming to help package its shows and movies.  And with all the Harry Potter Films and Pretty Little Liars and other movies and shows, it is an easy channel to watch.  That is if you can handle all the commercials.  Heck, one Harry Potter Movie could take 4 hours to watch.

But not satisfied with the ABC Family brand, and others might know that before Disney purchased it from Fox, it was Fox Family, Disney has come up with a new name for the channel.  Beginning January 1, 2016, it will be called Freeform.  It seems "Family Friendly" may not be such a positive brand distinction.  To cast a wider net, the new name is meant to reflect the notion of being a "Becomer", according to Variety.

But for me, the name invokes shapelessness, without form or structure.  And while it may be trying to say that the channel will be something for everyone, such a lack of uniqueness will only make it seem like one more generic channel.  Changing the channel's name is like when news channels "refresh their set" to update their look and attract new eyeballs.  But a fresh coat of paint doesn't always work.  Can a new name like Freeform do any better than ABC Family.  I'm not so sure.  Especially as viewers have been much more directed toward shows, than channels.  At the end, it might not really matter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sports Has Let Gambling Enter Its Business

As Captain Renault of Casablanca once said, "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!"  With such an advertising blitz of commercials from FanDuel and DraftKings, it must be naive not to expect that some illicit gambling has been going on.  In this case, the use of inside information to make winning sports bets.  Who would have suspected that something like this could happen.  Certainly not Captain Renault while he was picking up his winnings.

That major league sports have welcomed these two gambling businesses into their world makes one suspect that the rise of fantasy leagues and money could ultimately lead to players underperforming or trying different things to affect their ranking week by week.  Heck Pete Rose only bet on his team to win.

It is a bit unnerving and sad that the appeal of fantasy sports and the acceptance of ad money by leagues is allowed to continue.  It feels more like we are slipping down Alice's rabbit hole with little chance to remove ourselves from our fate.  The notion that gambling should have no connection with sports needs to be upheld.  Calling it a fantasy is like painting lips on a pig; it is still a pig. Somethings need to be absolute and gambling and sports should never mix. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Facebook Doesn't Own Your Stuff

As you scroll down your Facebook feed, you might see various people posting this gem:

Now it's official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: $5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to "private". If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste

Better safe than sorry is right. Channel 13 News was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of September 26th , 2015 at 01:16 a.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement atleast once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste

As Business Insider tells us, this is a waste.  Facebook never owns what you post.  What is amazing is how many people cite a TV news broadcast that they personally have not seen.  And posting this notice does not change anything.  The only way to keep anything private is to simply not post it at all.  Of course if that doesn't satisfy you, you might try this little idea:

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'd Rather Have A Waterproof Apple Watch

The Apple iPhone 6s has just been released and already there are rumors floating that the next iPhone model will be water resistant.  To that news I say so what.  If your phone is going to get wet, it is more likely that it will get a good dunking.  Some say dropping a wet phone in rice helps to dry it out and perhaps even get it to work again, but I say don't risk it.

Instead, Apple should be developing a waterproof Apple Watch.  That means you can take it into the pool or shower or ocean and it will continue to work.  It certainly would open up new opportunities for apps to make the iWatch more useful.  And with little cause to worry if the watch gets wet, even when just washing dishes or the baby, the Apple Watch becomes a much more practical device.  Until then, you might just be safer wearing your Timex or Casio. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Verizon Lets iPhone Users Upgrade Annually

For Verizon Wireless customers, the good news is that you don't have to wait for your two year commitment to expire to upgrade your phone.  According to re/code, "a program that will let iPhone customers upgrade to a new phone every year if they have paid off half of their device’s cost and turn in their old device." Good news for my kids who just pre-ordered their 6s and are waiting with bated breath for the phone to arrive later today.  Of course, given all the competitive offers from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, this marketing move seems required if Verizon seeks to keep its customer based happy. 

And who else should be happy, Apple.  With their habit of introducing a new iPhone model every year, with new must-have improvements, making it easier for customers to purchase new phones will certainly help improve their revenue stream.  The more customers capable of upgrading, the more phones that can be produced and sold.  In our technological world of faster and faster obsolescence, we have shrunk the lifespan of the Apple iPhone down to just 12 months.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is Apple Music Successful

Despite the high competition in subscription music between Pandora and Spotify, Apple felt that there might just be an opening for them as well.  Seeing that itunes purchases of music were at risk, Apple created Apple Music to offset the purchase revenue model with a subscription one.  Apple seems to have no problem recognizing the need to shift as they did with the entry of the iPhone, knowing it would hurt future iPod sales.

And many believe that Apple Music is already a success with 15 million users signed into the free period.  That free trial ends in 9 days and we can only watch and wait to hear how many start to pay.  According to the NY Post article, if a third convert to pay, then Apple Music is successful.  So far half of the trial base has yet to turn off the auto pay feature.  If they all convert, 7.5 million users would make this new business a very successful launch.

Content is King and Howard Stern likes to tell us that he is the King Of All Media.  That being the case, Apple Music might want to sign him up onto their subscription service.  He did wonders for Sirius and could do the same for Apple.