How Many Channels are You Using?

Are the efforts being poured into building a company actually producing growth? Are you scaling? Well, most of the time, the answer is an uncomfortable “no”. The reason — there is no “traction” being developed. So how do you build traction? Good question. The answer is in how you connect with your potential clients. More precisely, what channels you use and how you use them. Gabriel Weinberg has a new book about this — here is a link to a podcast where he explains what it’s all about.

So how many channels are there? At least 19. Here is a short primer.


The Streaming Revolution

t took the radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, TV 13 years, Internet 4 years, iPod 3 years, and Facebook 2 years, but now through live streaming you can easily reach a few hundred million people within 24 hours.

That is 38 to 13 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 24 hours

Video as a media is rather new. I mean to say that it became mainstream in the 20th century. Because it is still new, we are still figuring it out. So we went from movies to TV to cable TV channels to youtube relatively quickly. But as we did so, we have not radically changed how we use video. We use it as a set piece or art or entertainment or information delivery.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above. Except that this particular use does not foster more and deeper connection to the people around us. Indeed, video games may actually limit real world connectivity. Can video become a better connection tool?

Good question. The answer depends on how we understand the word “connection”. We connect via stories. Video can distract us from real world stories (as perhaps video games do). They may also distort our understanding of the real world. Some say that Fox News does this. But they also help us see more clearly stories that are unfolding around us.

One can argue that the more video we car create, the better our chances that at least some of it will have that enhancing or engaging effect. And the ability to make and stream video via mobile devices means that that we are likely to be exposed to a lot more video over time. Hence the “streaming revolution”.

What will this mean? Here are some thoughts.

  • better education tools – imagine more stuff like TED)
  • better advocacy – imagine advocates showing us what we need to see
  • better reaction to disaster – we can wee the problems unfold and record that
  • better markets – closer connection to what gives us value
  • better innovation – seeing what we can get next

Bloomberg’s Re-Org – Being both Global and Local

Bloomberg is reorganizing. Here is the key idea

In essence, Bloomberg will follow what seems like the paradoxical imperatives for any media company, especially those that aren’t flush with venture capital cash: become more niche but also more global; and get leaner while also spreading to as many platforms as possible.

Being more niche means being more local – able to get to the root of a story in one of Bloomberg’s core areas no matter where that is found. Being more global means giving stories to the broadest possible exposure.

That means developing connections that are outside of their usual sources. Bloomber’s editor in chief writes

“Bloomberg is still too focused on developed markets, established finance and the Western world (especially America),” he writes. “By contrast capitalism is moving to private markets and the emerging world. To chronicle it, we must follow it. Such international expansion is something other media and content companies, from BuzzFeed to Netflix, are looking to do, too.

And here is the challenge

But of course, for news, heading overseas doesn’t just mean a website in a new language. It means reporters on the ground who understand the places they’re covering. Ultimately, the challenge for any news organization in the Internet age is that journalism doesn’t scale the way a purely digital product does. Code can travel the world with a click; but news, at least for now, still needs people.

Good point. Journalism doesn’t scale the way digital products do. It is a people based business. Let’s see how this plays out.

Cord Cutting Madness!

The cable business is not what it used to be. And I, for one, think that is great! Why? Think about it. Cable originally was supposed to be a way to get better TV reception in cities. That was ok because that was the era when TV dominated everyone’s entertainment agendas. But then the cable companies began to realize that they were a gatekeeper to something valuable. And so they started jacking up cable fees. And man was this profitable! They grew big, bigger and bigger still.

That is ok. Nothing wrong with being big. But … when you get this big, you better hope that the REASON why you are big doesn’t change. So Microsoft dominated the PC world — Oops. With mobile eating the PC’s lunch, Microsoft has a big problem. So what is eating cable’s lunch? That is a very interesting question.

Two things. The first is streaming. Web streaming is so much cheaper and easier than cable. And it is mobile in a way that cable can never be. The second is non TV entertainment. TV is getting eclipsed by a variety of alternative modes of entertainment. These are just starting to go mainstream. As they do, TV is trying to compete by going upstream. And that is ok, but it means TV becomes more of a niche player. And cable is wedded to TV.

So cable cutting is about to go mainstream. Check this out if you want to learn more.


Is YouTube Destroying TV?

Google thinks so.  But before looking at why, consider what is at stake (From BI)

And TV is … advertisers’ biggest outlay. Global TV advertising spend reached $230 billion last year, according to estimates by the media agency Carat. Yet online video advertising spend in 2014 was just $11 billion, according to ZenithOptimedia. It’s growing quickly — expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 29% between 2014 and  2017 — but even then, at $23 billion, video ad spend will just be a tenth of what TV ad spend is today.

IN other words, there is a huge amount of advertising money at stake. So why is Google so bullish about YouTube?

Omid Kordestani, Google’s chief business officer, kicked things off with this standout stat: “YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds in the US than any US cable network.”

Not bad. But that does not tell us much about how much they are using it.

Not only is YouTube apparently dominating in terms of reach, but people are treating YouTube like their television set.

Kordestani said: “The number of users coming to YouTube, who start at the YouTube homepage similar to the way they might turn on their TV, is up over three times year-over-year. Plus, once users are in YouTube, they are spending more time per session watching videos. On mobile, the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, up more than 50% year-over-year.”

Is YouTube better than TV? It is different in one important respect. You can access a YouTube video anytime you want to. You don’t need to wait for the network to air it. I think this, more than anything else, will do TV in.


ECHR on Internet Speech

Europe and the Us take differing positions on the limits of free speech. In short, European law looks less favorably on speech that may injure – even if true or mere opinion. In the US, this type of speech is protected.

With this background, consider a recent decision of the ECHR on a digital platform’s responsibility for hate speech appearing on its website. The decision fits with the more traditional view in Europe that hate speech must be controlled. But will it make the European digital platform network less robust?

Good question. My own view is that it will tend to push web development in Europe in a slightly different direction than what you see in the US.