According to the New York Times, the number of households with a television set or access to a television service provider has shrunk to 114.1 million. Brian Stelter says that, while the vast majority of American homes still have functioning television sets, more than one million households “no longer meet Nielsen’s definition of a ‘TV household:’ those that have at least one television set and a cable, satellite or antenna connection.”
The declines comes just one year after Nielsen said the number of such households had dropped to 114.7 million, from 115.9 million previously, despite a rise in the number of households in the country. That 2010 drop off was the first of its kind in 20 years.
We’ve been forecasting it for a few weeks, and these numbers seem to confirm our suspicion: the television industry is on the precipice of radical change. The rise of on-demand, web-based platforms, such as Netflix, Apple TV and Hulu, seemed like they were at the center of this evolution, but most Americans use those platforms as an augment to their existing hook up. So what is causing people to ditch the set?
What these figures seem to imply is that tablets, mobile phones, and other handheld devices pose more of a threat to the television than where the content lives. Assuming that’s the case, the change more pressing is in how Americans consume programming, as opposed to how it’s delivered. Is congregating with family and friends around a TV a thing of the past? Will our experiences of coming together around an individual point of interest (something that has a long lineage in human existence) shift to a largely individual experience? Each person sitting on their side of the couch with their own programming coming through their own device? And should that happen, will viewers expect more customized, interactive content to satiate needs presented by these new perimeters?
Alyssa Camacho: Straight from South by Southwest (SxSW), David Carr’s Media Equation column this week explored the idea of a “code of conduct” for the digital age. In his lede, Carr states: “Words like ‘curation’ and ‘aggregation’ became the language of the [internet blogosphere], sometimes used as substitutes for describing the actual creation of content.” By exploring “the line between promoting the good work of others and simply lifting it,” Carr introduces the separate, but similar initiatives of Simon Dumenco (media columnist at Advertising Age) and Mara Popova (founder of Brain Pickings) to promote ethical blogging on the internet.
Like most communications professionals I know, my morning begins with monitoring for my clients and finding opportunities within those stories to share their particular brand of expertise. While I do skim the pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Times and the Financial Times reading what catches my eye, most days it’s the aggregation of news that helps me do my job better.
One of my primary responsibilities is managing a blog focused on the fixed income market and global derivatives regulation. Without newsletters like SIFMA Smartbrief that compile relevant articles that I often “curate” by using them as inspiration for comment pieces or to re-post within our news section, I would spend even more time scouring the internet for something someone already found.
Using aggregation correctly and giving credit where credit is due is important because without attribution, you are marginalizing the work of others. Like Maria Popova said: “What makes the Internet magical to me is that it is a place of radical discovery. You can click your way through a chain of attributes and links and find amazing things.” So why not cite your sources?
Maybe its because I still live in fear of disappointing my 11th grade HS English teacher by committing the 8th deadly sin of plagiarism, or maybe its because one day I would like my writing to be used as source material, but I don’t see any reason for the digerati to get up in arms over a digital code of conduct. Just do the right thing. After all, how much extra energy does it take to insert a hyperlink?
According to the NYT’s Brian Stelter, the comedian Stephen Colbert will announce on his program The Colbert Report tonight whether he wants to be a write-in candidate in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary.
Colbert has already established a finance committee, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and has explored running for political office before.
Alyssa Camacho: Talk about a way to create some excitement in the days leading up to January 21st’s South Carolina primary! While the argument can be made that Colbert’s image and message do not resonate outside the millennial age demographic, it is a fairly significant moment in popular culture that a fictional character is polling at roughly the same percentage point as a serious candidate.
In a race that has seen its fair share of media moments, Colbert’s antics will certainly add something new for pundits to dish about on their morning talk shows.
In today’s New York Times, Jonathan Levine pens an op-ed that chronicles his frustrations with America that led to him leaving his native country to seek new opportunities in China.
Within the piece, Levine throws a jab at the American media landscape by comparing it to the government-controlled Chinese press. Here’s the excerpt:
China is a nation that unapologetically rejects Western democracy — and yet I am surprised to find that Chinese citizens and the news media have as much freedom as they do. For my money, CCTV News English, a channel offered by China’s major state television broadcaster, is more fair and balanced than Fox News.
Brian Erni: Has it really come to this? Sure, the conglomeration of the media that has siphoned most traditional outlets into the holdings of four or five large corporations has limited the willingness of a rogue reporter in the spirit of Murrow’s Boys to champion against institutionalized injustices. But has the American media truly morphed to the point where someone who grew up in this country can’t see a discernible difference between a government-controlled media entity and the oft-criticized leanings of Fox News?
Undoubtedly, Fox’s programming serves a certain segment of viewers, as MSNBC and CNN serve others. And without getting into the merits of any, I think I’d be hard pressed to compare a business model influencing demographic pandering to China’s model in any way. Yes, I’d love to see more in the way of true investigative journalism and it’s my hope that viewers hold all news outlets accountable thus encouraging responsible reporting. But the sheer existence of Fox News, which has made a living these past three years by disagreeing with the President of the United States, does speak volumes about a liberty non-existent in Chinese media that is still exercised in our media on a daily basis.
According to Jenna Wortham in the New York Times, app developers are working feverishly to complete their products to submit to Apple in time to be included in the App Store before Christmas Day.
The report explains that Apple shuts down and stops taking app submissions around the holidays in order to give their employees a reprieve. That means all developers need to have any new apps or last minute tweaks or bug fixes into Apple by Thursday, or else it won’t be available for download by consumers for the following eight days.
Brian Erni: I’m intrigued to see if this holiday shut down eventually has some long-term implications on Apple as a vehicle to deliver content. Apple is unquestionably the leader in the space, being able to deliver a captive audience on their platform that most developers dream of their product gaining access to. As a result, a ton of concessions are made for the media giant, because if a consumer can’t get the app to work on his/her brand new iPad on Christmas morning, odds he/she will never download or open it again.
But as developers start to crunch to meet Apple’s demands, at what point do they start sacrificing the quality of the work? Google’s Android platform does not experience a similar shut down, therefore developers who make their content available for download there don’t have to worry about not getting a bug fix updated for, say, a new DROID RAZR or tablet owner on December 25th. As a result, could developers begin to start seeing Android as a more viable alternative to Apple, thus changing the way the market is delivered content? Or are there just too many variables (ranging anywhere from usability to brand loyalty) that prevent Apple from ever losing their current grasp on the market?
“Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died on Thursday in Houston. He was 62.”
So began the New York Times obituary of polarizing author and Vanity Fair contributing editor, Christopher Hitchens.
Alyssa Camacho: Say what you will about his politics, his opinions, and his antics (the 2008 waterboarding column comes to mind), the man was a WRITER in the truest sense of the word. And what are words but imprints of our thoughts and feelings onto paper or now mere digital footprints in the “cloud.” Christopher Hitchens was a masterful wordsmith; engaging, thought provoking and often infuriating. I am grateful to have discovered his prose in college and know I am a better story-teller because of it.
According to this Jenna Wortham piece in the New York Times, Facebook began to roll out their new Timeline format on Thursday.
Users will have the opportunity to immediately opt into the new format or wait to Facebook makes the change for them. Once Timeline is adapted across the platform, there will be no option to go back to the old look.
Wortham explains that, while the move to the new style is exciting to some users, for some it could, in Wortham’s words, “make it harder to shed past identities — something people growing up with Facebook might struggle with as they move from high school to college and from there to the working world.”
Alyssa Camacho: I’m sure this will be met with some resistance and inevitably confuse everyone for a few weeks. But the most ingenious aspect of Timeline is that Facebook will allow people to decide which memories hide away from their network. If we are each the author of our own story, then Timeline makes us all editors as well. Facebook may be the archivist of a generation, but for the most part, it’s nice enough to give us the opportunity to romanticize our own nostalgia. With the Timeline revamp, users will receive an increased ownership over their online lives, and ultimately, a chance at revisionist history 2.0.