Friday, April 8, 2011

QR Codes Appearing In More Places

Open up The New York Times, or any other newspaper, and look at the ads. If your seeing more and more QR codes, you are not mistake. Print advertising is becoming more and more interactive and the smartphone the conduit to this information. And as consumers we seem to be getting more comfortable keeping our smartphones at the ready, whether to snap a photo, record a video, or click a QR code. Fad or future may be the question, but for now it is the it thing.

So to hear that stores are also using QR codes on the shelves to make their products more interesting should come as no surprise. "According to survey results recently published by Arc Worldwide, 50% of consumers are using their mobile devices while shopping. In response to the increase in smartphone usage and QR code awareness, Macy's, Home Depot, Best Buy and other large retailers have integrated QR codes into retail displays." While I have yet to see these codes appear in any of these stores, I will be on the look out. While TV screens have popped out in these retailers, their loop of programming may quickly be ignored. A QR code linking to a website or video can talk more directly to the consumer about a particular product or service of interest.

If you haven't downloaded a QR code App, the timing is right to start. You just might find yourself reading your morning newspaper with a smartphone in one hand and a coffee in the other; or walking down the aisle with your shopping list and phone out at the ready. But please, don't QR and Drive. :)

Cable Operator and Programmer Fight Over Streaming Rights

The legal fight is on and I suspect that more will be on there way. For the first round, it is between Time Warner Cable and Viacom, and it puts into question what rights are implied in their legal agreement. Time Warner believes that the rights to exhibit in the home extend to streaming devices; Viacom, home for MTV, Nick, Comedy Central and others, believes those are additional rights with additional fees required. "Viacom says the rights are technology and device specific to be negotiated with each distributor and that it 'has always negotiated rights to distribute our content based on specific technologies and devices to ensure that the unique business issues, such as security, product quality and audience measurement, are properly addressed.'” And while Viacom networks were removed from the TWC App, the desire is to have as much robust content available as possible.

And these streaming rights truly represent a slippery slope for operator and programmer alike. While it is nice to extend live and on demand viewing on streaming devices INSIDE the home, the real effort is to enable these same streaming devices to authenticate and receive the full channel line OUTSIDE the home. Hence, the line in the sand by Viacom.

Add to that the fact that they are receiving payment by other over the top distribution platforms, like Hulu and Netflix, demonstrates to the programmers that another revenue distribution stream exists. Giving cable operators this stream for free would seem to hurt that business model. The cable operator's concern is that customers will forsake their cable subscription for over the top. They argue that programmers may gain streaming media revenue but lose out on their cable subscription license fee. But programmers are not seeing it as a zero sum game and believe that it will indeed bring strong revenue growth.

So the fight for streaming rights will be headed to court. Most likely a settlement will be struck and this argument will continue to be negotiated between operator and programmer. Ultimately programmers want to be paid for each platform and cable operators may have to pay and also reduce their profit margin to retain their customer base.