Category Archives: culture

RedBox Taking the Lead in the Video Rental Showdown

I’m not sure if Netflix(or should I say Quikster?) is worried about losing DVD rental subscribers. I think they may be angling to get out of the DVD-by-mail business, eventually. Netflix has a bigger battle to fight, and that is with their online streaming content foes, and it is going to be a tough road.

Some Netflix customers already cancelled their DVD rental plans as a result of the de facto price increase. I think a whole lot more will cancel when Netflix separates the DVD website from the streaming website, and makes it somewhat more inconvenient for customers to make their rental selections.

But, there is a RedBox kiosk seemingly on every corner. Customers can easily log on to the Redbox website or phone app, check movie availability and reserve their copy. It beats visiting a Blockbuster store and hoping they have what you want, when you want it. And getting that movie from Redbox is a whole lot cheaper.  For a vigilant and cost-conscious customer, they can get probably twice as many rentals in a month from a Redbox than they would ever be able to get with a mail service, for about the same amount of money. Plus, they can get them when they want them, which means they are most likely going to watch them right away, instead of getting them in the middle of the week and leaving them lying on the counter for a few days.

If the streaming services continue to struggle for content, especially more recent content, they could easily start to see their subscriber numbers fall off, and customers may start using that more Redbox rentals.

Sure, Redbox doesn’t have new releases on day one, but in the current economy, most people aren’t going to suffer through the inconvenience of Blockbuster stores, not to mention the prices, to get them. And customers certainly aren’t buying the new releases, since the latest sales numbers continue to show a downward trend.

I think that at least in the short-term, Redbox is going to make a killing. And if they are smart, they will continue to install those kiosks at every available location to take advantage of it.

Netflix, Content Providers and the Future of Entertainment

Media Companies are trying to stop the future from coming.

After Netflix announced their new price structure today, the most common question from commenters was if Netflix was going to increase the size and scope of their streaming catalog.

The problem with this question, is that Netflix is not entirely responsible for which titles are available for streaming. The main resistance to allowing those titles to be streamed comes from the content owners themselves who are either clamoring for more licensing fees or trying to ‘encourage’ customers to buy physical media copies by making a physical copy the only availablilty.

What the media companies really want is to continue to make piles of money selling a physical product that is very inexpensive to produce, where they take most, if not all, of the profit. The problem is, with the state of technology in this day and age, consumers want media at their fingertips. They want it available on their computer, smartphone, tablet and through their set top box. They don’t want to own a piece of physical media (most of the time). We are living in the age of the e-reader and the portable music player and smartphones that do all of that and more. We are moving music to the cloud, and still, media companies are clinging to their old business model while it shrivels and dies.

All the while, the media companies are crying about online ‘piracy’, when most of the ‘pirates’ are either people who would have never bought their product anyway, or others who just want to get the media when they want it, in the format they want it in and not be encumbered by draconian copy protection schemes.

If media companies would make their products available when and how the customers want them, at reasonable prices (not $30 for a Blu-ray, thanks), they would more than make up in volume what they lose in profit per unit. Would it negatively affect physical media sales? Perhaps, but those are most likely going to continue to decline regardless, due to the changes that technology is bringing to the culture.

The movie and television industries need to take a look at the music industry and see how much it has struggled due to its failure to change its business model to capitalize on technological advances. The technology shift affected the music industry much earlier than visual media, and should serve as a warning to the movie and television industries to get some vision, or get ready for a very hard road in the years to come.

Blame NBC – My take on Leno vs Conan

I don’t write a whole lot about television, as I usually don’t watch a whole lot of it. When I do watch, it’s only for specific shows, and most of the time it is time-shifted (DVR, Hulu, Netfilx, etc).

I’m not taking sides in this very public fiasco involving the Tonight Show, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian, because I don’t care that much. I do disagree, however,  that Jay Leno should be bearing the brunt of the criticism here, because NBC created this problem.

NBC wanted to avoid the kind of issues they encountered with the last Tonight Show transition, when Jay Leno took over for Johnny Carson, and David Letterman jumped ship to CBS, taking with him the larger share of viewers in the Tonight Show time slot, at least, in the beginning.

Leno would later reclaim the #1 ratings spot from Letterman and hold on to that spot for 12 years, up until he left the show last year. As Conan became more popular, he began to get offers from other networks, and NBC cooked up a disastrous plan to keep Conan at NBC without losing Leno.

As we all can see, NBC’s plan failed miserably.  Conan didn’t do nearly as well as Leno in the ratings at the outset, but NBC expected that to pick up after Jay started his prime-time show this past fall.  They were wrong again.

It’s obvious Leno didn’t want to quit. But NBC wouldn’t release him from his contract for fear of him going to another network. NBC didn’t want to lose Conan to another network either, and risk him taking ratings from Leno. And so the dueling talk-show set up was born.

Personally, I don’t think NBC can easily recover from this.  Word is they are paying Conan $40 million to leave the Tonight Show, so that they can put Leno back in.  They are rushing to fill in the blank spots in their prime-time line-up.  And NBC’s ratings are taking a nose-dive in the process (although Conan’s have been better during the scandal, they still never reached Leno levels).

At this point, I don’t think NBC will recover from this. Leno may be going back to the Tonight Show, but due to all of the ill will created by NBC, his ratings probably won’t recover.  Conan will get his own show somewhere else (next year maybe, due to his contract with NBC), and the late night ratings pie will get sliced a little slimmer everywhere.

I blame all of this on NBC’s bad karma. It’s what they get for canceling “My Name is Earl”.

Top Twitter Links – Monday, October 5, 2009

Here you go, more of my favorite links tweeted by my twitter pals:

Interview with the FTC’s Richard Cleland – Blogger Edward Champion questions the FTC’s assertion that bloggers who receive products from companies for review are being compensated when they keep the product they received.

10 Things to Tell People Who Swear You’re the Lennon to their McCartney – A very intelligent response to a common problem for artists and musicians – the uninvited collaborator.

How Much Should You Reveal About Yourself Online? – Being 100% honest without revealing 100%.

My Experience With Commenting – Some advice on the how and how not to comment on blog posts.

Would Mother Teresa Have Used Twitter? – Thoughts on living in an increasingly connected society.

The 46 Stages of Twitter – How you get from Anti-twitter activist to twitter addict.

September Favorites

Over at Elizabeth Esther’s blog, all of her readers are picking their favorite posts from last month.

She has had 80 plus participants for this iteration, so take a visit over and check out everyone’s picks.

I picked my first post of the month, Looking For a Window, which actually kicked off my busiest month of blogging ever.  I feel that this post was my most honest so far, and may be the best I’ve written so far.  If you haven’t read that post yet, hit the link and take a read.

Top Twitter Links: Friday, September 25, 2009

Here are my favorite links tweeted by my twitter friends today:

Protecting My Teen Daughter: One Dad’s Story

A Secret Your Husband Needs You To Know (But Won’t Tell You)

Popular Logos With Hidden Symbolisms

Five Keys to Building Forever Followers

Seven Ways to Catch Your Breath

Arkansas Football Player Ends Game with Noble Gesture

Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

Landlord Goes Back to Work to Let Unemployed Tenants Stay Rent-Free

Top Twitter Links: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Here is today’s collection of my favorite links tweeted by the folks I follow on twitter:

Joel Rosenburg’s Response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations

Am I Honest Enough to Be Authentic?

Tylenol Recalls Some Children’s and Infant Products

I Am Not Your Personal Tech Support Monkey

Aids Vaccine Shows Some Success in Trials

Tainted Love: A Sneak Peak at HalogenTV’s newest program

Unbelievable Posters Created for the Support of Organizations Fighting Human Trafficking