Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football

BoSacks Speaks Out:

Everybody in this list knows that I am a proponent of a strong digital future of reading by the masses. As each year goes by, more and more of the reading public will be gathering their news, their information and their thoughts from a digital screen of one sort or another, and with the advent of a workable e-paper solution, that process will accelerate ten fold. Digital distribution is cheap, and paper distribution can only become more expensive.

A generation has grown up within the digital distribution sphere. Yet, today there is still a very strong place for printed magazines. This will change over time, in fact, it is changing now, and with the success of WiFi connected e-paper on the visible horizon it will surely be as great a watershed moment in reading history as Guttenberg's movable type.

There are two reasons I am bringing this up, one is the article below, and the other is because it is football season. What difference does that make? Well, it's like this. I have purchased not one, not two, but three different fantasy football magazines this year. I have purchased them at an exorbitantly high price for a newsprint magazine with extremely dated editorial material. But to a niche reader like myself, I must have them. They are so out of date that some players highly touted in the magazines are no longer playing in the NFL. Still I flip through the pages seeking wisdom and insights into my publicly admitted addiction to Football. I am sure that the same idiocy is endured by other niche readers in there own little pools of interest. Perhaps, you are a boater, a model builder, a knitter, or some other craft. If you are, you know what I am talking about. The passion of reading tied to the passion of a very special interest.

That all being said, someday soon there will come a workable e-paper solution that is near as cheap as dead trees and is always up-to-date. At that moment in time, my addiction will shift to the new model of information distribution, and I will no longer be reading about football guys who are no longer in the NFL.

I will still be reading words, but those words will no longer be out of date. That is, of course, unless I want to read one of the great classics, which are old words that I choose to read because they are good words, put in the proper order and have stood the test of time. And even then the great classics will be read on a screen of one sort or another. It's the ideas in the words that count and not the method of delivery.

Do you think differently? Do you agree? Tell me about it.


Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.

Bill Shankly, In Sunday Times (UK) Oct. 4 1981

Buyers see tougher go for older media
Survey: They see a continuing erosion for print
By Lisa Snedeker

Here are three words that have already dramatically reshaped American media and promise to do a lot more reshaping:

"Digital, digital, digital."

And for media buyers those three words sum up the state of media and its prospects looking ahead to fall 2007, according to a Media Life reader survey that was posted over the long holiday weekend.

Buyers believe traditional media will continue to suffer against the internet and other forms of digital media, and they are particularly pessimistic about newspapers and magazines as they attempt to confront the erosion of readers and advertisers brought on by the web.

More than three fourths of readers see an acceleration in the decline of newspaper circulation.

The question: Do you think the current slide in newspaper circulation will slow down by the end of the year or accelerate?

Nearly half, 45 percent, agreed with this statement: "It's bound to accelerate, especially now that some papers are trimming back on marginal circulation in outlying regions."

Another 31 percent agreed with this statement: "Actually, the slide will moderate for the coming year or so but then really speed up as more readers go online for their local news."

Just 22 percent believe the slides will continue but at a slower pace than in some recent reporting periods, in which declines averaged just over 2 percent. And a mere 2.3 percent think the slides will stop.

In magazines, which have seen a string of closures, buyers were asked to identify those most at risk. Nearly a third, 29.4 percent, picked the teen category as most likely to see another title folding.

Second, at 17.5 percent, came the celebrity category, which many believe to be overcrowded. Just behind was the women's category, at 15.1 percent, and business/personal finance at 10.3 percent.

Of the two titles believed to be at risk, Business 2.0 and Radar, Business 2.0 leads in the minds of media buyers, at 11.1 percent versus 7.1 percent for Radar.

Most media buyers think magazines have done a poor job of coming up with creative ways to insulate themselves from the ravages of the internet, and by a large margin.

The question: Generally speaking, how good a job have magazines done in insulating themselves from further losses of readers and advertising to the internet?

Just 11 percent agreed with the statement: "Many have done a lot to integrate their online and print editions, which is key."

But 49 percent agreed with this statement: "Not nearly the job one might have expected, considering their vulnerability. They're still chasing ad pages to the exclusion of everything else."

Another 32 percent agreed with this statement: "Not much and for good reason. There's just not that much they can do to fend off the inevitable. Ad dollars are going to move online regardless."

And 8 percent agreed with this statement: "A terrible job. The industry is in deep trouble, and we are going to see a lot of titles suddenly closing."

But buyers' concerns go well beyond print. They're also pessimistic about broadcast TV this coming season, largely because of the flush of unscripted shows, whose numbers are equal to scripted dramas in primetime.

Readers were asked how the emphasis on reality will affect ratings.

Just 9 percent felt ratings would rise. And another 27 percent felt they would remain about the same, or dip slightly, agreeing with the statement: "People who watch network TV will watch whatever's put in front of them, and reality works as well as comedy, if not better."

The remaining 64 percent thought ratings would suffer, agreeing with the statement: "This is not about putting on shows that pull in viewers but about saving production dollars. The networks, particularly NBC, are shooting themselves in the foot to save a few dollars, and it will cost them dearly in the ratings this fall."

Buyers believe by a wide margin that broadcast will continue to lose viewers to cable, with 71 percent agreeing with the statement: "Yes. With one of baseball's league championship series moving to TBS and the continued success of ESPN's 'Monday Night Football,' cable could have a record fall."

Just 29 percent think broadcast will halt the slide, agreeing with the statement: "I think there are a number of compelling broadcast shows that will keep viewers engaged, while cable networks save their best shows for summer."

Further, most believe the networks will see the top shows continue their decline from last spring, with 69 percent agreeing with the statement: "This is a notable trend that I see continuing for some time. While it's not time to panic, it's certainly something to keep an eye on."

Fewer than a third, 31 percent, think last spring's slide will not continue, believing ratings will bounce back with the new season.

Buyers believe ABC has the best fall schedule, at 52 percent, followed by CBS at 18 percent and Fox at 17 percent. They believe MyNetworkTV has the worst lineup, at 32 percent, with NBC just behind at 26 percent.

Among other findings: Two thirds believe Don Imus will return to radio by Christmas and 46 percent believe Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones to bolster his soon-to-launch cable business news channel, rather than being motivated by ego (26 percent) or an intense desire to challenge The New York Times (28 percent.)

As for pegging the emerging trends that media buyers and planners should stay abreast of this fall, one reader summed it all up with this observation: "The internet is making everyone face changes in print and broadcasting."

"Buyers should be aware of the increase in online advertising, video on demand and interactive television spots," wrote another.

Here are some of the other predictions:

--"Viewers watching the new season episodes online will be a big trend."

--"More and more television shows are going online, it's only a matter of time before one of the big four puts a series exclusively online. Maybe NBC will test it out with its younger 'My Name Is Earl' or 'The Office' viewers, but buyers must beware of this happening and it will happen soon."

--"The big trend will be the increase in TiVo households and ability to skip ads becoming more widespread and all that entails. Also the increasing preponderance of digital options of all shapes, sizes and types."

1 comment:

Printer, media enthusiast and aspiring futurist said...

I am, by some standards, a fantasy football rookie - entering my 6th season. I purchased a magazine my first year and got burned by old info. Sporting News offers a downloadable draft kit for less than a magazine and you can update info all the way through your draft date. Both of my drafts this year were held in a WiFi location. Since I have decided to dedicate the next 17 weekends to Football, I am not going to go in blind,