January 6 - 12, 2006
MIT C3 Industry Update
In this issue:
- yahoo to launch TV series
- reports on branded songs released
- location-free TV on PSP
--------------- TRANSMEDIA ---------------
YAHOO TO LAUNCH REALITY TV SERIES ONLINE
"Wow House," Yahoo's new show, will be broadcast in an area for technology coverage that the company is carving out on its Web site. Families participating in the show compete to outfit their homes with the latest electronics, such as theater systems, high-definition televisions and stereos. The family that wins, as voted by viewers, will keep the merchandise.
AMAZON TO HOST AUTHOR BLOGS
The New York Times examines Amazon's new experimental listings of author blogging
alongside their book entries, as well as similar experiments by Random House, Barnes and Noble and HarperCollins.
iPOD DESIGNER KNIGHTED
We are arguably living in The Age of Design – a concept lent credibility by the designer of the iMac and the iPod, Jonathan Ive, being made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by her majesty the Queen.
--------------- ADVERTISING ---------------
CALTECH EXPLORES NEUROSCIENCE OF BRANDING
A new study by Caltech explores the science of behavioral preferences. “The key message of our study is that we are able to make use of neural signals deep in our brain to guide our decisions about what items to choose, say when choosing between particular soups in a supermarket, without actually sampling the foods themselves. This is because we can make use of our prior experiences of the items through which we fashioned subjective preferences – do I like it or not? The next time we come to make a decision we use those preferences.”
STUDY: GAME-BASED ADS BEST WAY TO REACH TEENS
A new study by Forrester Research suggests that over 90% of consumers in the US and
Canada between 12 and 21 own a gaming device, and 75% play online and offline games on their computer.
MARKETERS EYE BRANDED RINGTONES
According to the latest research findings from Ipsos Insight's quarterly study on digital music behaviors, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of American mobile phone owners have downloaded ringtones to their mobile phones. According to Telephia research, over 70 percent are downloaded by women. Ringtones skew to younger demographics, but the 25-34 demographic is also strong enough to take notice. Brand marketers are beginning to realize that every promotional asset (from logos and images to sound bites) has the opportunity to become a digital sales tool -- one with a viral component.
AGENDA RELEASES YEARLY REPORT ON BRANDED SONGS
The report tallies which products were most name-dropped in the 106 songs that reached the Billboard Top 20 this year. Auto brands dominated the Top 10, with Bentley, Rolls Royce and Chevrolet also among the most-mentioned. A total of 35 percent of the songs that made the charts in 2005 contained product references, compared to 40 percent of songs in 2004. The top product categories in this year's list were automobiles, fashion labels, beverages and weapons. The brand which made the biggest gain in ranking this year was the pistol-maker Beretta, which debuted at No. 13 with 24 mentions.
--------------- FANS ---------------
FANDOMS: NO STAR LEFT BEHIND
It comes as no surprise that there are fan sites dedicated to the trendiest of new shows and stars, but the fact that active fan sites and fan communities exist for small screen actors, even those mostly known for small supporting parts, shows how dedicated fans can be. The following two sites are two of the more popular sites dedicated to television actor Paul Lynde, best known for occasionally playing Uncle Arthur on "Betwitched." Over 20 years after Lynde's death, an active fan base and fan site remains for him and the various characters he has played. That dedication shows the strength that these fan communities can sometimes carry, bringing names and stars from the past to a new audience who may continue on this fan community for another generation.
LEGACY.COM AND DEATH OF VINCENT SCHIAVELLI
Even though he has never played a major role in a Hollywood film, Vincent Schiavelli has a face no one who has seen it can ever forget. With his droopy eyes, he played memorable small parts in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Ghost," "Man on the Moon," "Amadeus," and many other films. For those who want to understand the power of fandom when it comes to stars, the reactions from legacy.com are always an interesting read. An online guestbook for Schiavelli went up this past week after his death, and there are already well over 100 posts regarding the star's death, despite his lack of major roles in American films. While Schiavelli may not have a strong online fan community built around him, these fans, none of whom knew him personally, have come together to discuss Schiavelli's death in the past few days, with the site viewed by hundreds more. The informal fan community that has built around Schiavelli's death at Legacy.com and several message boards is proof of the transient nature of fandom built around particular events.
JON STEWART TO HOST THE OSCARS
Ok, so this doesn't exactly pertain to our research, but we're all big fans of THE DAILY SHOW here, so we thought we'd share our collective woo-hoo!
--------------- TOOLS, BOOKS & TECH ---------------
SCHEDULING TV RECORDING THROUGH INSTANT MESSENGER
Not too many details on this, but it looks like the new Windows Live Messenger will incorporate many features of the “social television”. It will incorporate a “TV Buddy” bot to recommend shows tailored to your and your friends’ tastes and seems to have an embedded video player. More details and a screen grab at
NEW ADD-ON TURNS IPOD INTO VIDEO RECORDER
The iSee 360 turns any iPod, iPod mini or iPod nano into a full-fledged video recorder/player.
LOCATION-FREE TV ON PSP
With LocationFree, you can stream TV or movies from your home over broadband internet to your PSP system– virtually anywhere in the world.
GOOGLE RUMORED TO BE WORKING ON PAY-PER-VIEW VIDEO
EXPERIMENTS WITH ONLINE MAGAZINE LAYOUT
The creators of Magwerk.com have launched three online magazines with what Gizmodo, a popular gadget blog, describes as ”sublime” flash interfaces, complete with advertisments and Easter Egg popups. There’s a lot of potential there and the video ads are actually well-handled, but the sound effects associated with Probe are a bit annoying, as are the more traditional ad splashes. Still, while the content could be refined a bit, this is definitely an interesting transitional step beyond print and web magazines.
--------------- FINAL THOUGHTS ---------------
The Importance of Stepping Outside the Cultural Mainstream
by Sam Ford
In a recent post on the Convergence Culture Consortium Weblog, I wrote about the constraints that mainstream taste puts on understanding transmedia storytelling. I’m sure that you’ve noticed by now, through all my posts on the weblog and through some of my items in the newsletter, that I tend to draw on examples that lie somewhat in the fringe of popular culture, or at least in what the mainstream view of “fringe” is.
The majority of my examples come from soap opera and professional wrestling, not just because these are the two areas I study most heavily—a valid reason in itself—but also because I see so many interesting and intelligent moves being made or mistakes being made in these genres that I am almost certain the majority of entertainment companies ignore because they don’t consider pro wrestling or soaps their competitors.
But, when, for instance, Vince McMahon’s WWE has a major success or failure or tries something innovative that may or may not work (as the company often does), it would be beneficial both for our sponsors and the editors of Entertainment Weekly and Television Week and for all of those working in the mainstream entertainment business to pay a little bit of attention. After all, this is the same WWE whose recent switch from Spike TV to USA caused a drop in the ratings race for the Viacom-owned “network for men” and has propelled USA consistently over its top Turner competitors for top Neilson weekly ratings, two moves that definitely have some effect on our partners here in the consortium.
This, of course, is not to suggest that the WWE or the soap opera industry or any of the other cultural products outside of the “mainstream” that I’ve brought up are better than programs produced for TNT or “The Cartoon Network” or MTV. Instead, I’m just suggesting that they’re worth continuing to take a look at because there’s a lot we could all learn about what works and what doesn’t work from the mistakes of Vince McMahon and Procter & Gamble Productions.
Why these productions are ignored are beyond me. First of all, pro wrestling has highly successful cable ratings and is one of the highest-rated shows on UPN and has likely helped keep the struggling network afloat in difficult years. And, despite their drop in ratings over the past couple of decades, every soap opera still pulls very respectable numbers.
More importantly than that, both pro wrestling and soap opera is rich in the expressions they draw from viewers. Expressions is the term MIT and Initiative Media has used to explain the importance not of quantity of viewers but of the quality of viewer interaction—in other words, the importance of loyal and committed viewers versus casual viewers. Neilson ratings don’t distinguish this difference, but it may have quite an impact on everything from attention span of show content to the recall rate of advertisements and product placements. More information on this idea of expressions will be coming in the whitepaper on fan communities that you will be receiving in the next few weeks.
If you have not yet read my original post on the weblog, it is a response to the year-in-review in Entertainment Weekly, in which I found no references to daytime programming or to major news in the pro wrestling industry anywhere in the magazine, specifically their ignoring of the success of WWE’s Smackdown on UPN when singing the praises of UPN’s new hit Everybody Hates Chris and their ignoring of the death of WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero and the way the news effected the large pro wrestling fan community.
Compiled by Ilya, Sam, Alec, Geoff, Ivan and Parmesh
Edited and signed off by Ilya (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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