What is a "Snipe" in the Digital Television Age?

I want to thank my colleague and friend Dr. Douglas Ferguson for pointing me in the right direction in the following blog entry. Update: lostremote.com has the following in the google cache:
snipe (n)
A promotional animation that rolls in along the bottom of the screen during a TV show. (For example: "Coming Up: Law & Order" with the animated NBC peacock.)

I'd like to think there are some strong, silent types out there reading my blog. I really want to invite EVERYONE to express yourselves. You don't even have to disagree with me. Maybe I need to be radicalized. I and our world will learn more from discourse about the future of interactive television and I actively solicit your involvement.

Now, back to one of the most interesting things to come about in television promotions in quite some time: it's those animated promos that appear suddenly onscreen during the airing of a television program. What a phenomenon, and what are they worth? Doug is a long-time expert on the television industry, so I asked him these intrusive animations that take advantage of our prehistoric, genetic inability to ignore motion within our visual field. Yes, some of our more despised web advertisers have banner ads that do nothing but "vibrate" and it takes a concerted effort on the viewers part not to be distracted. (Perhaps we should be distracted so we can call these clowns on the carpet.)

Well, television has answered with its own "pop-up ads" (as I have seen them referred to in the trade press). From my own experience, they seem to be limited to promotions for others shows and not for soap or automobiles. Doug told me they have a name: "snipes." Currently, a web search for this term turns up precious few hits (unless you include Wesley Snipes).

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


Me: Poor Quality Video Driving Youth Away from Mobile Video

OK, so I used my interpretation of the write-up of this story that I was lead to in the LA Times. The title the paper used is "No Big Demand for Small Screen: Tech-savvy young people aren't as eager to watch TV on their cellphones and iPods as networks might think." When you read the article, however, it becomes clear that some of the video services are not ready for prime time. A viewer's tolerance for jerky or intermittent video are is hardly going to be limitless. This could be a warning to IPTV providers who should not roll out their services until they really are ready for prime time.

"[A] new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found that teens and young adults" are not embracing the technology.

About half of young adults and 4 in 10 teenagers said they were uninterested in watching television shows or movies on computers, cellphones or hand-held devices such as video iPods, the poll found.

While more than 2 out of 5 teens and young adults indicated they were open to viewing this kind of content online, only 14% of teenagers said they wanted to watch television on a cellphone, and 17% said they would view programs on an iPod.

The questions appear hypothetical and, if so, should be interpreted with caution. I continue to remind readers that my father had a Casio TV that was around an inch in height or width. The picture was high definition, given how small it was, and it worked great. No one in my house wanted it, including my dad. I personally am not convinced that viewers will wish to watch traditional television shows on such a small screen. I would suggest that there might be unexpected uses such as an ESPN Sportscast or even the local weather forecast.

I believe one focus of research ought to be an investigation into the tolerance of focusing one's eyes on a small screen, even if the picture is better than whatever is available today. It reminds me of the research available for years in the library sciences that library patrons will melt down if the PAC (public access catalog) took up to 10 seconds for a response on the CRT. That's old research; I wouldn't be surprised if it were even shorter now.

So, the bad meal during the first trip to the new restaurant may be rearing its ugly head again. A bad experience with a new media service may force providers to come back with an even better product with which new users might be perfectly happy to view. Oh, by the way, never underestimate the power of audio. Poor audio for whatever reason will certainly make a new media experience seriously compromised.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


Major TV Markets by PayTV & Broadband penetration

The credit for this interesting graph goes to:

Report: IP Television: Business Case Analysis & Global Forecasts (January 2005)

Author: Herve Utheza

Executive Editors: Michael Greeson, President, The Diffusion Group

May not be reproduced for commercial reproduction without permission.

Source: http://www.dslforum.org/latestnews/analyst_corner.html accessed 9 August 2006.

I appreciate visuals like this one (the day is approaching in which presenters will use three-dimensional projections. Think about walking through the data display of a future presenter. It will happen. (c) 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

Good Laugh: "Interactive television's ship is still leaving"

My research and writing has pointed out that market research firms probably will sell fewer reports if they conclude "Status quo, nothing will change in the next five years." But how about this?

NEW YORK -- Interactive television's ship is leaving, and the time to get aboard is now, Jupiter Media Metrix analysts said yesterday during pre-conference sessions of the Jupiter Online Advertising Forum.

Interactive television has been a buzzword since the 1990s. It has yet to live up to its potential, but is poised to earn its place among direct-sales media, said David Card, vice president and senior analyst at Jupiter.

"We believe this time it's really happening," Card said. "Some of the technology the cable companies and satellite companies are rolling out is taking hold."

Source: http://www.dmnews.com/cms/dm-news/shows-assns/16555.html

I always view these reports with a very skeptical eye. Oh, the quote above looks reasonable to me, except that it was published 8 August 2001! Jupiter mined the dot.com revolution for all it was worth before being discredited shortly after a report published at about this time. How do you decide if such a report is right on? Well, LOOK FOR THE ASSUMPTIONS. Any market research report that does not clearly state its assumptions is open to question.

I literally stumbled across this citation today and had to laugh when I saw it was published exactly 5 yeaqrs ago. Jupiter should have predicted the status quo. Actually, because everyone was so bullish at that time, a report that investigated why iTV was not ready for the marketplace might have sold as many copies.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


Defining Interactive Television: It's a Process

Throwing humility aside for the moment (a student crowned me so it has more meaning)...

Let's go back to school! Which of the following is not an example of "interactive television:"

  1. Google Video
  2. Web site supporting TV channel or program enhanced television
  3. Two-way video and audio teleconferencing
  4. Ordering items directly from television via your remote control (think "As Seen on TV!")
  5. TiVo
  6. Viewer control of program content (i.e., choose an ending of a dramatic program or select different camera views of a sporting event)
  7. Viewing a PBS documentary while additional information about the topic is downloaded to your TV set's DVR or other memory storage device
  8. Video on Demand (digital version of Pay-Per-View systems from the last)
  9. A child jumping up and down in concert with playmates on television

The trick for any definition is to make it precise enough to be meaningful and robust enough to really include any form of interactive television. School's about to start so my daughter and me only have a few days left to enjoy the pool, and today's one of them. But I really want comments on the definition of interactive television than includes actual offerings in service today or planned for the future. For the moment, audience control of the viewing experience keys my personal attempt to define interactive television.

Of course there is an iTV dictionary, but the site appears to be growing into a tower of Babel. That's not meant as a negative criticism but rather an acknowledgement of all the activity that is now ongoing that appears to be "interactive television."

Readers, take me on! Critique my definition above so we can make it better. The earliest definitions of interactive television come from the education literature as information technology school specialists saw the incredible potential for linking students with a myriad of interesting contacts outside the school.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


An Explanation of Pay-Per-View

There is a nice introduction to the economics of television pay-per-view using a hypothetical boxing match at www.secondsout.com accessed 7 August 2006. Should the link no longer work, search the site for ABCs of Pay-per-view by Jeff Fried. My contention is that lower prices for pay-per-view events could lead to larger revenues with little or no incremental costs. Assuming proper server and telecommunications infrastructure capacity, Viacom stands to make more money by showing SpongeBob SquarePants with advertising and no charge to the viewer. Perhaps content providers like Viacom want to limit redistribution of the content online. This brings me to another proposition: anyone who charges for content like SpongeBob SquarePants is more likely to attract pirates who will make the content available on file sharing networks.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

SpongeBob SquarePants Coming to Google Video

OK, this is probably a function of my having a 10-tear-old daughter who is a devoted SpongeBob Square Pants fan, but I had to include this. I do, however, have an important question (read on):

Google gets its MTV
Google Inc. later this month will begin distributing clips from 100 hours of MTV Networks shows -- including "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," "SpongeBob SquarePants" and MTV's Video Music Awards -- to other Web sites. Under the deal, which is in a test phase, MTV parent Viacom reportedly would receive more than two-thirds of the ad revenue; in addition, the companies will sell 17 Viacom shows for $1.99 each via Google Video. (This was reported in a variety of publications 7 August 2006.)

My question is what are consumers willing to pay. Once again it would be great to sneak a peak at industry proprietary research (if they have it) and see what prices viewers are willing to pay. I, Bruce Klopfenstein, maintain that viewers (especially of SpongeBob SquarePants) will accept advertising in lieu of pay-per-view. In other words, I'd pit a Google video site with SpongeBob preceded by a 30-second spot and no charge for the episode against an identical site that instead charges $1.99 per episode which also slows down the process as many viewers enter their credit card information for a $1.99 purchase. Please, cite me. It's been my view that the PPV industry would have generated much more interest (and revenues) had it priced movies lower than it did in the last 10 years. (See my earlier posts in this blog documenting advertiser-supprted context elbowing out pay-per-view online content.)

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

European Newspapers Following U.S. New Media Business Model?

This is a bit of a surprise, even to me. According to a story published in the International Herald Tribune:

When free newspaper publisher Metro International arrived in France four year ago, established competitors cried foul and some of their workers took to the streets, writes Eric Pfanner in the International Herald Tribune. Now, Metro and other free papers are a fixture on the French cityscape, accounting for one in five papers read in France. Publishers of paid-for dailies are considering free editions of their own. The about-face reflects a broader shift in Europe, as free papers grow rapidly and publishers of existing papers increasingly turn to giveaways. News Corp. confirmed plans to start a free newspaper in Britain next month. In France, Le Monde and Le Figaro are said to be working on free newspaper projects. "Almost all over Europe, you see circulation going down for paid newspapers," says Piet Bakker, associate professor of communications at the University of Amsterdam. "At the same time, the economy is improving, helping the advertising market. Free newspapers are seen as the best way to take advantage of this."
Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/08/06/
business/free.php accessed 7 August 2006.

I tend to swim with the new media and watch how old media evolve in the face of the new. I'm no expert on the European newspaper industry, but this appears to be potentially a major shift. As you know, this is what happened to U.S. online newspapers like USA Today and other news media (e.g., CNN) who tried to charge for content and are now offering it at no charge but with advertising.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!