Category Archives: Media & Entertainment

Digital Ramblings: LONG Post Warning

As I write this, I’m sitting in a Starbucks on 24th and 6th Ave and have been trying to collect my digital media thoughts over the past few weeks.  Apologies up front as they are eclectic.

•    Techmeme needs to launch an iPhone app as this would be my news source, displacing NY Times and WSJ.  I’d gladly pay for this.

•    I downloaded and played Zynga Poker on my iPhone 3G this weekend and loved it.  BTW, I am more of a fan of blackjack than Poker but the thought of social gaming was fantastic.  Nicely executed, Zynga.

•    The more screens there are in our society, the more they need to be cleaned.  I’ve spoken at length about starting an iPhone wipes company, but haven’t been able to get a supply source with enough margin to make it worthwhile.  My iPhone is filthy and I’m sure yours is too.  How do you clean yours?

•    I used to run the darrenSalon’s – they have been dead for the past year or so.  I’m thinking of doing a day up at a remote location about an hour north of the city.  We would focus on a specific topic – would this be of interest?

•    The way we learn and play instruments are changing.  Nintendo Wii is going to revolutionize the music space.  Yes, Rockband exists on Xbox 360 and PS3, but kids start with Wii prior to graduating to the more “intense” systems.  I’m curious to see how this is going to play out.

•    My friend Noelle took a job over at Indaba Music.  Congrats Noelle!

•    Boxee is really interesting for many reasons, but the first of which is getting digital content onto my living room TV.  I can watch everything from Fast Lane Daily to TED Talks, Hulu to Netflix.  Genius.  I want to see Boxee expand to the desktop as well in terms of a content distribution system inside of widgets.  Think PointCast model.  I’d be very interested in talking further about this.

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The Positives of Tough Times: Revenue Innovation at it's Finest

  • In good times, advertising dollars could be the primary revenue stream of many companies, especially in the digital media world.
  • In the tough times, advertising dollars are a revenue stream of many companies, but companies must diversify their revenues beyond ad dollars.

In these tough times, I’m excited about companies who can create new revenue streams or fine tune their existing streams.

In the video game world, game developers and publishers were selling their product on store shelves and their margins were falling fast.  One of the main reasons margins were falling is because game development costs were rising due to the next gen consoles (PS3, XBox 360, Wii).  We created IGA Worldwide to help game developers/publishers recognize new revenue sources (ad dollars).  Other people created virtual goods platforms and in-game messaging systems.  Entrepreneurship at it’s finest.

Like I said earlier, I’m excited about the new potential revenue sources that are/will be created for the digital media world.

Disrupting a Disrupted Industry

When an industry is in the middle of being disrupted, it’s the perfect time to add more logs to the fire. Today, lets concentrate on the music industry.  While everyone is focusing on distribution, recording, and digital rights, I’m focused on touring and concerts (btw, a money maker).  In the past, I’ve written quite a bit about how important the experience of music is.

 See this idea over at inefficiencies.  Think “living room shows.”   Read the post and would love to hear your thoughts.

Retail Game Cards

Such a genius business.  Extracted from the original interview.

And why do retailers love these cards? The economics work in their favor.

Now, there’s an interesting fact about these cards. Retailers love them over any other product they have in their store, because the cards themselves don’t take up any inventory.

They’re not activated until they’re purchased, so they don’t sit on the balance sheet of the retailer. They feel like “free money” to retailers. So it’s a very positive business for retailers to get into, and it really lowers the bar for any retailers who are unsure about it, they don’t need to worry about losing money on it.

The really big untapped market for these digital media companies is gift giving. No matter how much someone loves an online world no one is going to say “hey, merry Christmas. I logged into your account and gave you 25 bucks.” Not to mention the impulse buy.

Virtual Goods Summit Notes

It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted about virtual goods, but read Mike Gowen’s recap of the Virtual Good Summit that occurred recently.  Here are some takeaways that are extremely important:

  • Teens expressing themselves may take more to branded items as they like to align with them.
  • People creating UGC are creating their OWN branded content. Others follow their brands as the would real world ones.
  • If an item doesn’t promote status the price goes lower.
  • We’re moving more towards activity. Goods should extend activity. Wave of the future
  • Don’t just think about goods for you…think about gifting. There’s only so much you can have/wear
  • You need ~$200,000 a month of primary sales before you can get into the secondary market.
  • Secondary markets allow the trade of time and money.
  • No demand for virtual items, only demand for games, then demand within context of game.

As you can see, this was a fascinating conference.  Check out more hereClick to see pics from the event.

Picture of Avatar Downloads

Concert Art: Dave Matthews Band Style

It took lots of negotiating to make this happen, but I’ve convinced Sherri to let me professionally frame and hang some of my concert posters of The Dave Matthews Band in our living room.  This is the most used room in our home when guests come (the bar is second) and it’s only fitting to have these gorgeous limited edition pieces of art hang to share with everyone.

DMB Wall Art

Each of these posters are part of a limited edition (hand signed and numbered) by Methane Studios.  For each concert, Methane creates a totally unique poster and only runs a limited edition of each (250-400).  Generally, these sell out QUICKLY (within 5 mins of the concert doors opening) but you can get them on the second hand market such as eBay.

DMB Long

Each of these posters are extremely intricate and it takes a good 15 minutes to stare at each one to find all of the hidden gems.  I’m always looking to expand the collection and add shows that I may not have, so if you are a collector, please don’t hesitate reaching out.

Fantasy Sports Business Opportunity

Every so often, I like to write posts on this blog that list potential new business opportunities.  Some of these opportunities in the the past have included mobile phone wipes, virtual world real-estate agents, virtual good trading platforms, amongst others.

I was first exposed to fantasy sports back in the 90s with the online Small World games with buddies from highschool (one of them finished 53rd in the world out of 500,000+ players).  From there, it progressed to SIM Hockey (played in a league for 4 years and NEVER met the people I actually played with) and recently, to the ESPN and Yahoo! hosted fantasy games (NFL).

It’s amazing to see how much time and effort people put into fantasy sports.  Using myself as an example, I spent $39.99 on Draft Analyzer, $14.99 on RotoWorld subscription, and $7.99 on a fantasy football magazine prior to the season starting.  The reason why I spent $62.97 on all of this is because I want to see just how much help the addition of in-depth stats and analysis help in this sport.

I believe there is an opportunity to have a beautifully designed hardcore fantasy football league outside of ESPN and Yahoo!.  In any industry, there are different tiers of competition and I believe that ESPN/Yahoo! in their current form are very mainstream.  If someone was to come out with a league platform that was beautifully designed and geared for extremely hardcore fans (instead of locking up rosters for the week, change them quarterly for example), they could potentially capture a piece of the market.  While the market that they may capture isn’t as large as the mainstream, it may be extremely lucrative based on expenditures of the participants.

There is also a great opportunity around statistics – most notably, visual statistics.

I’m interested in watching how this market plays out and would love to have some sideline conversations.

Visual NFL Statistics

I’ve been playing around with dashboards, statistics, and different ways of reporting information lately and there are endless ways to visualize information.  There is an entire industry for this.

Since the NFL season has just started and there is a wealth of data that comes out of every game, I thought I’d crunch it and visualize it so we can look at it in different ways.  This is also self-serving because I’m in two fairly rigorous fantasy football leagues and I want to see the data as well.

Take a peek at, my new site that showcases NFL data.  In the coming weeks, I may add a fantasy football show (weekly show 3-5 mins) but for now, check out the data each week.

NFL Rushing TDs

The above player clowd showcases rushing TD’s.  Please note it only includes this past Thursday and this afternoon’s games, excluding the late game this evening and tomorrow’s Monday night game.  I don’t see LT on this, do you?  Michael Turner??

Technology, Stats & Fantasy Football

It’s that time of year when all of us football fans get excited and eagerly anticipate Thursday night’s opening game of the NFL’s 89th season.  As many of you know, I’m a Giants fan and am coming off a Super Bowl season so there is increased interest amongst many NY’ers as it’s not often we get to be ontop of the NFL.

In the office, we have a pretty rigorous fantasy football league that 12 of us are participating in and there has already been quite a bit of trash talking occuring.  This is my first year participating in fantasy football and I’m really looking forward to it.  From 1995-2002, I participated in an NHL Sim league and each year, I have the brackets filled out for the NCAA basketball, but never really participated in a full-on sports league.

Last Wednesday evening, we drafted our teams in the conference room and I came with roughly 50 pages of printouts of statistics and mock-drafts and a magazine that I had spent $7.99 on that was dedicated to Fantasy Football.  One of my colleagues sitting next to me only had his iPhone which was loaded with an app called Fantasy Football Draft Central.  No papers, no magazines, he was ready to go with just his iPhone.  Genius move.

Throughout the entire draft, he marked off who was taken and the application told him who was the best available player for his roster – saved him a lot of time and made him a ton more efficient than me who had to scramble through multiple sheets of paper which became totally inefficient at times.

I did some research after the fact (I wish I had done it prior) and came across Draft Analyzer, which is a player recommendation engine for fantasy football drafts.

Both the iPhone application and this Draft Analyzer process through thousands of players to make recommendations based on player statistics.  Are the top players recommended going to perform best?  Not all the time as you can never predict injuries, overachievers, etc – but it’s great for guidance.

Fantasy Football is a big industry.  In 2006, I wrote a posting about Fantasy Sports for Marketers and how it’s a $1.5 billion dollar industry.  Fantasy Football alone, as a search term has 71,400,000 results in Google.  Google AdSense has filled all paid search results around the term and I imagine it’s hyper competitive.

What’s most interesting to me here is the use of technology in a Moneyball like setting for fantasy sports.  I didn’t use it for my work draft but will test it for my league with my buddies from my home town.  Lets see if it works.

There’s even a Social Media league in which some of my friends including Joseph Jaffe and David Knox are playing in.  You can read an updae of their draft over at David’s blog.

Olympics & Election Technology Impact

Technology has disrupted many industries over the course of time which in most cases has brought positive long-term change. Within 24 hours of each other, I read a post by Mark Cuban entitled, My Olympics 2016 Business and Technology Predictions and Auren Hoffman’s Technology is the Deciding Factor in Election Campaigns.

Both Cuban and Hoffman touch upon a major/premiere event (Olympics, Election) and how technology is creating new opportunities, creating efficiencies, and has the ability to scale the event itself much greater than it is currently today.

Cuban writes about how the Out of Home (OOH) market is going to create new opportunities for viewing the Olympics:

o what can NBC, or really any bidder do to give themselves an advantage ? What technology could they monetize in 2016 that would help get a return on their bid that doesn’t exist today ?

The answer is simple: The Out of Home Market

How many people can they convince to leave their homes to watch the games in a unique viewing venue. Would people pay 20 bucks to watch Michael Phelps go for medals 17 to 25 in a theater on a 3 story screen in the highest possible quality HD with a thousand other screaming fans ? Would they pay 30 bucks to watch it in 3D ?

Could they get 10mm people into theaters (thats the equivalent of a movie that did about 70mm in box office in 2 weeks). Would people get more excited about the Olympics than they did Batman ?

Would people go to the Royals stadium in KC to watch any of the games on a Daktronics screen that is 12 stories tall with 40k of their friends ? Would they fill 100k in the new Dallas Cowboys or the new Yankees stadiums whose HDTV screens will be even bigger ? How many different nights ? Particularly given that in 2016, those screens will be “old” and probably smaller than the current generation of screens in arenas and stadiums.

Of course it would also not be a stretch to place the biggest screens in existence in open air locations where huge gatherings and related events can take place. Would families pay 50 bucks for a day of Olympics fun outside on 100 acres ? Olympicsalooza anyone ? Why should it be any different than all the events that take place SuperBowl, or NBA or MLB All Star weekends ? Make it a huge party. In 100 cities across the country.

Could you sell 20mm tickets to attend out of home Olympic events at an average of 20 bucks each ? Thats 400mm minus the cut to the theaters, locations, etc of 50pct, or 200mm. Plus of course there is all the non stop advertising that will be built into all of these events. On screen, at stadium/field/farm/theater………

I would mostly agree with Mark. I’ve been saying this for a long time in regards to watching concerts such as the Dave Matthews Band in theaters. We’ve seen hints of concerts touching the big screen such as the Beastie Boys movie back a few years and recently, the Rolling Stones. When we go to the theatre, even though we’re watching with a group of people we chose to go with (surrounded by other potentially like minded individuals), it’s still a solitary experience. If you talk during a movie, you can expect to get a few looks from people who are displeased. With concerts, it’s all about the EXPERIENCE. The stage show is one part of it, but the crowd, smells, energy, and all of the intangibles make the experience. The Olympics is just like a big U2 concert… lots of hoopla, lights, great performers, but we should be able to watch and witness in a crowd of likeminded people to really share in the experience. I would love to see this happen for the Olympics.

Next, we’ve got the election. The media attention is switching from the global stage of Olympics to the national stage for the Election and we’re about to have a media blitz that will own the airwaves for the next few months. Hoffman talks about the 3rd Ask as noted below:

The Third “Ask”

In politics, supporters traditionally get two “asks” from candidates: one for money, and one for a vote. That’s it. That means most of the campaign work is done by a few paid staffers. Not a very participatory democracy.

The Obama campaign has turned this notion on its head and built a community involvement strategy. Axelrod and his team realized that supporters of a political candidate are passionate and want to help. And while most have full-time jobs and families, and can’t spend weekends knocking on doors, they all have five minutes to spare to help out. The Obama campaign has brilliantly taken advantage of this by actually asking people for help. They’re letting a large number of people do a small amount of work each.

So if you go to an Obama rally (or just sign up on his Web site), you might be asked to call three voters in a swing state. Or if they know you are a member of Digg (the popular site that lets users vote on articles of interest), Obama’s people may ask you to Digg an article that is favorable to Obama or critical of his opponent. Or they might ask you to put a bumper sticker on your MySpace page.

In 2012, all major candidates will be leveraging their supporters more effectively. But for now, Obama’s campaign has the technology advantage.

He’s right. Technology is allowing us to unite supporters, create an experience between everyone, and then have them go off and be brand advocates, in this case, for the Obama campaign. Hoffman may be quietly inferring that the successful candidate will utilize the Wisdom of Crowds model to move from a top down campaign to a bottom up.

What’s interesting in both cases here is that technology is making a real difference in both the Olympics and Elections. The Olympics was the most viewed event in U.S. TV ratings history (source) but the experience of the games could be much larger. Technology allowed us to watch most of the Olympics coverage whenever we wanted it (if you could find your way around NBC) and those access points weren’t figured into the ratings so it’s even higher.

I’ve always been a fan of how technology can penetrate an industry and picking two premium events in a 6 month time span is certainly fascinating to watch.