Why Facebook needs to take a break

TV shows like 30 Rock, The Office, Modern Family etc have all come to an end for the summer and will kick off again in September. The break is a well established system for sitcoms and drama series.  It gives the actors a chance to have a break and the writers a chance to create new material during the months where viewers spend less time in front of their TVs and more time outdoors.  For those still glued to their screeens there’s plenty of reruns to keep them happy.  At least that’s the theory. But with more and more people spending time online versus sitting in front of their TVs and with more people using their smartphones as a means of accessing the internet, there is a real danger that during this summer hiatus, viewers will find more reasons to avoid their TVs and unlike migratory birds, not return.  After all, Facebook and Twitter don’t show rerun updates and tweets over the summer.  Can you imagine of they did?

For this reason I wonder whether the networks need to rethink the summer hiatus.  I can see it being tough to change and it brings with it a fresh set of challenges.  One of the benefits of having short seasons and breaks is that low quality content and production values get the boot.  We’ve all noticed when a show runs out of ideas – Happy Days, invented the expression ‘Jumping the shark’ which means a show has taken things too far and lost the plot, when it had the Fonzie, literally jump a shark on water skis.  We can also tell when actors tire of a role.  So perhaps there is a role for the break.  Perhaps the formula is what needs a rethink.  Instead of putting all the best shows in the Spring and Fall, they could experiment by putting some of the stronger shows during the summer to keep the eyeballs on the TV and off their computer screens.  After all, I’ll say it again, can you imagine if Facebook and Twitter took a summer break?  Bring on the re-retweet.  Not.


How to make people pay for media

We all consume media on a daily basis.  We love the stuff but we are paying less and less for it as our parents die and we all get our content online.  And as we all know, news online is almost all FREE.  Free isn’t a business model that really works for media.  Good journalism is expensive and tough to support through online advertising.  Rupert Murdoch has responded aggressively to this by putting a charge on many sites such as WSJ.com.  This hasn’t worked too well in part because you can still get to the content through a Google search for free.  He’s threatening to change all that though for the simple reason that they are struggling to make the economics work even with an online subscription model in place.

I have a suggestion for Mr Murdoch and other media moguls.  In the same way that we pay a cable fee in this country and even a TV license in the UK, why not charge a monthly media fee that would enable you to access all the media without having multiple subscriptions.  You’d need an aggregator such as Apple’s iTunes to get in to the mix but I’m pretty convinced that in the same way as people will pay $10 a month for satellite radio, they’d pay $10 a month to access the top 100 publications in the US.  Now there’d be a challenge figuring out which magazine or newspaper got what out of that $10 each month but I’m pretty sure it could be worked out.  It would also enable one player to take over the challenge of managing the online advertising for a host of publications, instead of having a fragmented model as they do today.   It would also mean as a user that you would only need one login.  I’d almost pay $10 a month just for that as I keep forgetting what username and password I have for various online titles.


NBC’s ‘Live Coverage’ of the Olympics isn’t that.. Live

NBC reportedly paid a $1 Billion for the rights to show the Olympics in the US. I guess when you have paid that much you don’t want people to feel like they are watching a re-run and instead want them to feel they are watching it as it happens. Sadly, given the time difference with Beijing, this means many of the events would drop out of prime time if shown live. NBC’s answer is to say the event is live, as they did with Phelps 200m butterfly event, even though the event happened hours ago and you can easily find out who won by surfing the web. Indeed by the time Phelps dived into the pool for the 200m race on NBC, he was already warming up for his next race, a team relay (which he also won). Given how good the NBC.com coverage of the Olympics is, I know they are web savvy. So why don’t they just admit that their coverage isn’t really live or at the very least not try and pretend it is? As it is I now find myself checking bbc.co.uk in the evenings to see the results of things that NBC keeps saying is ‘coming up live in the next hour.’ Come on NBC. In a world where people use the Internet as much as they do their TV you really need a better solution than to try and pretend your coverage is live.


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