Alumni Networks Less Helpful Than Advertised
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Colleges and universities promote alumni networks to help students find jobs after graduation, but fewer than one in 10 graduates are benefiting.

Tim Herr

Just throwing this in to argue that alumni organizations should focus less on career networking and more on cultivating lines of financial support for university programs.

The Golden Age of documentary filmmaking: How non-fiction filmmakers transformed a genre with great storytelling - CBS News
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Documentaries were once treated as cinematic spinach – films that were good for you – but now, non-fiction filmmakers have transformed a genre with great storytelling

Kari Griffith

I saw this piece over the weekend, and thought of all of the new storytelling projects we have begun work on -- it's an exciting time for film!

The Athletic gets into video by licensing a show from The Players' Tribune - Digiday
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Original video programming appears to be the newest way The Athletic is courting subscription dollars.

Jesse Greenberg

Really interesting that we are seeing the Player's Tribune, a media company with its own site, license content directly another media company, but able to retain IP and Ownership rights and will air it on their channel after some time.

LeBron Came to Hollywood. So Did the LeBron Media Machine. - The Ringer
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When King James made his exodus west, the sports media responded in kind. But with LeBron in full mogul mode, they’re going to have to compete with more than other beat writers.

Henry Martin

Interesting read if you're a Lebron-as-media-company truther.

Briefing: Spotify Signing Artists Directly — The Information
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Spotify is signing artists directly, rather than going through music labels, according to this New York Times report. As the story says, while Spotify is moving carefully, it’s a big deal. In a world where many people get their music from subscription streaming service, it’s not clear why labels need to exist. Sure, the existing companies own the rights to most music that has been released in recent decades, so they aren’t going out of business anytime soon. But their original purpose, finding new talent and then making, marketing and distributing records and CDs for that talent, no longer exists. Labels can help with marketing but so can Spotify, or other music streaming services like Apple Music. Labels act as a middleman that takes a big cut from money that should go to artists. The music companies correctly see Spotify’s steps as an existential threat.

Jesse Greenberg

Well just in the same way that Netflix and Amazon signed deals with Producers, Directors, Writers and Actors instead of deals with studios, Spotify is following suit and cutting out the middleman. Where else can they go... buy the concert ticketing process (they know what you are listening to)? If you are seemingly a "middleman" anywhere you are being asked why you need to exist as others grow their capabilities. Now will Spotify artists be able to stream elsewhere (Apple, Amazon, etc.) or only exclusive deals like Tidal has?

Bryce Ewy

It’s bold of Spotify to step on the toes of its major label partners by giving emerging artists an incentive to not bother with a middleman. Spotify gives its licensed artists 50 percent of the per-stream revenue earned, which is substantially more than the portion of the portion artists receive from their labels, according to this Billboard article. Licensing music directly seems to be a cost-effective move for Spotify, which lost $470 million last year. It can pay the artist a slightly lower per-stream percentage than it would pay the record label (50 vs 54), plus be ahead of the curve in the event that these new artists achieve stardom. 

The article also says Spotify is deterring its artists from claiming they are “signed” to the streaming service and even allow them to maintain ownership of their music, license to other platforms and keep all revenue from those separate deals – a testament to how carefully Spotify is maneuvering this venture as The Information article above mentions. Plus, Spotify’s existing licensing agreements with major labels prevent it from becoming full-on competition.

It’s unclear to me the extent to which Spotify will be able to market these artists, but a spot on one of Spotify’s “What’s New” playlists combined with the freedom to pursue other deals can be a great launch for hungry new artists. 

New WarnerMedia Chief Says "I Don't Want to Re-create Netflix" | Hollywood Reporter
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John Stankey said the streaming giant in three years won't look the way it does today given that it is working "very aggressively" to have more original content and reduce its reliance on library programming.

Peter Farrell
"We need to think about what’s unique and special at WarnerMedia and AT&T that we can bring to the table in a product that works for us,"
How NBA star Kevin Durant is turning athlete endorsements into media deals - Digiday
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The NBA star is using his existing endorsement deals to accelerate his media company's branded content business and pave his future.

Jesse Greenberg

Just another case and point of the post-Lebron era where certain celebrities are smart enough and surrounded by smart people to understand the influence model and start creating media entities around their fame. This has potential to live way beyond their playing careers and build tremendous enterprise value.

Katie McQueen

Through Thirty Five Media, KD is producing the content he wants to produce. The invitation is for media partners to join in his effort, not for him to just solely be a spokesman for theirs.

To that end, Durant has parlayed his endorsement deals with companies like Nike, Alaska Airlines and American Family Insurance into branded content deals for his media company. For example, on Aug. 21, Thirty Five Media premiered an episodic series on Durant’s YouTube channel that features American Family Insurance as the show’s presenting sponsor, as opposed to Durant pitching on the insurance company’s behalf. These deals are not only about accelerating Thirty Five Media’s business with advertisers, but extending the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s endorsement deals and the scope of those deals.

"Moving forward, I think more of the brands will just be working with us as a media partner and less as just a part of Kevin's sponsorship deal," said Durant's business partner Rich Kleiman.

One example on his page: Dream to Achieve, sponsored by American Family Insurance: “a series of candid conversations with leaders in the tech and business world about how they've achieved their goals and dreams.”


AT&T’s Plans for Changing TV — The Information
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AT&T has transformed itself into a telecom and entertainment conglomerate with the purchase of Time Warner and, before that, the DirecTV satellite service. Now the company wants to change a key part of the television business. AT&T wants audience size to determine how much cable TV-like ...

Jesse Greenberg

Fascinating article about engagement vs. subscriptions. Should we pay based on what we watch vs. just some subscription model. Should it all be a la carte? Could the business actually work. Think about all the thing we pay per use vs. subscription?

Exclusive: Amazon's internal numbers on Prime Video, revealed | Reuters
Shared from Inc's top television shows drew more than 5 million people worldwide to its Prime shopping club by early 2017, according to company documents, revealing for the first time how the retailer's bet on original video is paying off.

Jesse Greenberg

An older article, but a great article on how Amazon values its shows.

Disney’s streaming service doesn’t have a name, but it does have a strategy - The Verge
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Set to launch next year, Disney Play will be "the biggest priority of the company during calendar 2019."

ABTV Home - AfterBuzz TV Network
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Henry Martin

To the point of "meta" content, this is an entire network completely dedicated to discussing episodes of popular shows immediately after they come out.

Amazon Wants Twitch to Be a YouTube Competitor - Bloomberg
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Twitch attracts 15 million visitors a day, mostly to watch others play video games.

Jesse Greenberg

Reposting from Media Reinvention thread from last week:

Well the competition for time just got more interesting. This battle won't necessarily happen overnight as Twitch has so much catching up to do, but their focused expansion beyond gaming will surely shakeup the marketplace and give top creators a platform beyond just YouTube. Given the valuable millennial male audience that frequents Twitch for hours a day, brands will surely zero in. What will be interesting is the down-the-line potential integration between Twitch and the Amazon marketplace. This could be a big sell to influencers who also sell merchandise. I guess we won't just be able to call them just Youtubers anymore...  

Jesse Davison

This will be interesting. I agree the eventual Twitch content to marketplace integration makes all the sense in the world. Owning the video platform AND the marketplace seems to open the door for more creative ways to “advertise” a product without distracting viewers from the content, becoming a more natural process—almost like having a casual conversation with a friend and he tells you about how much he loves his jojoba oil, then offers you some RIGHT THEN AND THERE. And because you’re bros, you buy him a chardonnay later. A totally natural exchange of goods and pleasantries. But more importantly, it's seamless. 

Nobody wants to click an ad. Especially Twitch users.

Jesse Greenberg

Well interestingly enough, Twitch just announced they will be getting rid of ad-free services so you will now need to increase your membership outside of Prime to not get hit with ads:

An analysis of 16,000 stories, across 100 U.S. communities, finds very little actual local news » Nieman Journalism Lab
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"Sometimes a story was literally just a YouTube video that they were linking to."

Henry Martin

A really revealing look at something most everyone already knows in their gut: local news has completely collapsed.

All of these institutions were based on a model of providing the most efficient means for businesses to advertise to local audiences. Facebook and Google utterly destroyed that value proposition.

The million dollar question is, is there an appetite for local news? And what does it look like?

So much of what newspapers used to write was based upon aggregating eyeballs and creating space for the ads. If they have 6 full page ads, then they need stories to place next to them. The advertising needs ran the editorial operation—"wall" be damned.

I loved this one: "There’s a lot of reporting on Jay-Z’s latest tweet, for example. One thing we found was that even at the local media outlet level, Twitter and YouTube are fairly easy go-to sources of news. Celebrity news and information would come from various local news channels. The local reporters might write something up, or sometimes a story was literally just a YouTube video that they were linking to."

A new take on local news will understand what it can, and can't, offer competitively.

And it will also understand that ONE deep story on an important local issue is more valuable than an infinite amount of filler junk.

Jesse Greenberg

I think there is a serious question to be asked about where local news stories starts. Is User Generated Content the new local news? Putting the deep investigative journalism aside, what is local news providing on the local side that people aren't already doing in their social feeds? People are highlighting key events in the area that are happening. They are providing their opinion on local matters that are affecting them. There are sports highlights from local pro, college and high school teams. People have curated "local" for the most part to what they care about and able to block out other local they find irrelevant to them.

So as we define the whitespace for local it most certainly must be much more personalized. Just being informed on local matters doesn't seem to carry the same weight as it once did and not as relevant when everyone is focused on the latest Jay-Z tweet. Local is important at key moments.

A question to the group - Do you agree with local being as important as national or global on a daily basis or only around key moments or decision points in people's lives?

Jesse Davison

I feel local news can be as important as national or global news—and should be. 

It is well and good to be informed on the global “big issues,” but to what end? For most, it’s only value comes around a dinner table or at a bar to carry a conversation to prove that you know some things about things. You’re able to form an opinion about something that carries little to no consequence to you.

Whereas the issues evolving daily in your own backyard might offer a greater and more regular opportunity to be an influence on the day’s events that are more likely to affect you. Small, local issues, if not met with proper balance, become liable to evolve into much larger events.

I agree that local news will be forced to adapt and become something new in order to retain relevance.

Peter Farrell

I do think that local news (journalism) is important but as Henry states it doesn't seem to to be a viable business in its current form and delivery. I think the challenge with people consuming local news strictly through social feeds is the ability to separate truth from fiction. We've seen how social media/UGC can be manipulated to support a point of view. I'm not suggesting that journalists haven't on occasion used their positions to push their own agenda but a local news outlet with founded in strong editorial ethics can be a credible lense from which readers can triangulate the truth.

A couple of companies come to mind that are trying to influence the local news problem.

Civil, an open marketplace/platform for journalists, is adopting a funding model that gets away from traditional ad-driven revenue to one provides a direct connection between "citizens" and the journalists they support.

ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom, is collaborating with local newsrooms as they work on important local projects.

You Don't Have to React to Every Post and Text You See—Promise | WIRED
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Feeling the need to tack a reaction on everything you see is stressful. But you don't have to do it.

Jesse Davison

I almost read this a a parody for brands engaging their audience(s) desperate for views, clicks and comments. And satisfied to get them, however meaningless the engagement might be.

Forget Netflix: The Future of Television Is ... More Television | WIRED
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With nimble startups like Netflix and NewTV, the death of television seems imminent. But the old-fashioned medium is powerful, lucrative, and just might be too big to fail.

Katie McQueen

We've talked about the future disruption of TV at the hands of advertisers (brand says: "I'll just pull my money out to do it on my own"). This is an interesting piece on the challenges NewTV will most likely face.

The Daily Beast pivots to paid with $100 membership program - Digiday
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For $100 a year, members will get early access to stories, content that’s exclusive to them and the ability to have their comments appear on the site.

Jesse Greenberg

This is an interesting example of how media companies need to evolve in their product offerings in order to properly finance valuable content.

There are two key metrics that seem to matter with the media companies of today.

If you are selling ads on your site then you care about page views. How many people can I get to my site and how many pages can I get them to so they can see more ads. This is a total mass game and will determine the content you ultimately produce, how you write headlines, depth of the story and overall digital experience.

If you care about how we your user enjoys the experience on your site, you may look to time-on-site and returning visitors. Do I have a certain amount of very engaged subscribers that come to my site every single day and spend 20+ minutes exploring differentiated articles. If this engaged audience is large enough, do I now believe I can give them more valuable content that they are willing to pay for. Therefore my model may just be subscription only or a hybrid model.

How one structures the business model needs to align with audience behavior and how the organization makes money. In this fragmented landscape, media companies need to be willing to approach their offerings in creative ways and also be willing to "blow up" existing models.