Traditional TV programmers should feel uneasy about some of the findings out today from consulting firm Deloitte’s seventh annual State Of The Media Democracy study. Only 64% of U.S. consumers ranked TV watching as one of their three favorite media activities, down from 69% in 2011 and 71% in 2010, the firm found in a November online survey of 2,129 people. Just 40% of 14-to-23-year-olds put TV among the Top Three. About 51% of TV viewers have connected their sets to the Internet — and another 16% have the equipment to do so. And there’s a sharp increase in the number of people who frequently watch shows on platforms where ratings aren’t measured, or where ads can be avoided. Some 21% (up from 11% in 2011) watch free online video services while 14% (vs. 9%) watch discs of previous seasons and 13% (vs. 4%) watch on a smartphone or mobile device. The number of people viewing shows from an online peer-to-peer network was up to 8% from 3% in 2011, and includes 16% of Millennials. Viewers also are distracted: Just 19% said that they always or almost always just watch TV when they tune in. But 27% said that they browse and surf the Web, 26% read email, and 23% either send text messages or use a social network. Here, too, the numbers are much higher among viewers under 30. The changing behavior “impacts both the entertainment and advertising industries, and highlights the continued importance of using multiple platforms and devices to build brands and engage consumers,” says Deloitte Consulting Director Alma Derricks.
The change could give cable operators a powerful edge in their competition with phone company broadband services — Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett calls the strategic implications “profound.” It will enable broadband subscribers at Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Bright House Networks to access the Web for free at about 50,000 hotspots. Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable already had a sharing agreement covering the corridor from Connecticut to Philadelphia. The new arrangement will provide more access in that area as well as major cities including Los Angeles, Tampa, and Orlando. The announcement kicks off The Cable Show, the industry’s annual trade gathering, being held this week in Boston. Here’s the release:
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Oscar’s move to online voting is off and running. The Academy confirms that a very impressive 83% of the membership had returned cards requesting their email address by the deadline date of June 30, but an Academy spokesperson assured me “it’s an ongoing process,” so if you were one of the stragglers, get that email to the membership department.
This is a first step in a very methodical and careful move to online voting for the Academy just as most other guilds and voting orgs have already done. And it is also a first step toward potentially moving the Oscar telecast up earlier in the season to the end of January or beginning of February. An expedited voting process would certainly help make that difficult prospect easier to pull off.
The Academy sent out the request to members in May, and considering the advanced age of some AMPAS voters, the response is encouraging. Common wisdom is that older voters might be the most resistant to change, but officials are happy with the way potential online voting is being embraced so far.
As I wrote recently, there was also some concern about A-listers not providing their direct emails, which is a problem because the Academy does not want to put an electronic ballot in the hands of Brad Pitt’s or Barbra Streisand’s assistants (even though it’s no secret that there are some assistants who have been known to help their boss by filling out the snail-mail ballots anyway). Academy president Tom Sherak tells me confidently that even that part of the process is now “going fairly well” too.
Sherak says the Academy hopes to have a firm that can conduct online voting in place by this month and it is actively involved now in the selection procedure for that. “We’re getting closer” is how Sherak puts it, but he emphasized to me that online voting for Oscars will not be ready for next year’s 84th Academy Awards. He says they are taking a very methodical approach and after securing a firm will begin testing by putting some kind of vote online while still using paper ballots (which will be the only ones that count in the test case) to see how the online method is initially received. Then they will probably test it again leading to its first official use, perhaps in the selection of governors for the board next May. ”It will not be implemented until we’re sure it works, but all of this preparation is necessary so we can move it methodically into a proper voting cycle for the Oscars,” he says. Sherak adds they are aware that even though they want to move this process online, some members don’t have emails. The Academy will be providing an alternative for those concerned voters (likely the old standby paper ballot) just as the guilds do now.
“We will give all our members an opportunity to be part of something they have always been a part of,” Sherak says, meaning no one among the approximate 6,000 voting members are about to be disenfranchised by new technology creeping into the notoriously slow-to-change Academy.
Of course, many of those members already have experience voting online in their various guild contests since most Academy voters are also likely guild voters. The bigger problem here I think for the Academy is that unlike those contests, Oscar, being the highest-profile awards show of them all, may provide an irresisible target for hackers — and the Academy knows it. A key reason they are being careful about diving into online voting is the danger of having its air-tight voting system compromised. After all, WikiLeaks proves no one, even the most closed doors of the U.S. government, are immune to a cyber violation of its top secrets.
3rd UPDATE: Ever since it was announced last week that Google CEO Eric Schmidt would be stepping aside in April and that co-founder Larry Page would take over the day-to-day operation of the search giant, everyone’s been wondering if Schmidt would make the move to TV. Today in Germany, at the Digital-Life-Design conference, he addressed those rumors simply by keeping the door open. When asked how long he plans to stay at Google, he responded, “As long as it’s exciting.”
2nd UPDATE: Just days after announcing that he’ll be stepping aside as Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt is getting a pretty big bonus. Enormous, actually. He’s set to pocket $100 million as he steps into another role, with co-founder Larry Page taking over the day-to-day leadership. The whopping amount is a comprised of stock options and vests over four years. The $100 million award also comes as a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week reveled Schmidt could be selling up to $335 million in stock — and also revealed how much stock he has actually amassed over his 10 years in the top job: 9.2 million shares.
UPDATE: Big Media moguls only can wish they’d reap a stock bonanza like this. In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed that Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, stepping aside in April after 10 years as CEO, will be selling what could amount to be $335 million in stock. As of the end-of-year 2010, Schmidt owned 9.2 million shares in Google. The company’s stock closed at $626.77 a share on Thursday. So what he’s planning to unload represents only about 6% of his total stock ownership. In Q4 earnings reported on Thursday, revenues rose 26% growth vs last year. Co-founder Larry Page will be taking over the CEO role.
2ND UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Relativity Media will be in the distribution business sooner rather than later as it attempts to become a mini-major. Hmm.
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