Monday, December 23, 2013

Media Week (V7, N52): Looking forward to 2014. Round-up of predictions.

On UK newspapers, the apocalypse has been averted (Guardian)
It's exactly four years since – at a heavyweight conference in eastern Europe – I heard an expert on the communications apocalypse predict that, only five years hence, printed newspapers would be dead and digitally buried. The trends, he said, were clear. Umm… not exactly. There's an awful lot of perishing left to cram into the next 12 months, and it shows no sign of happening any time soon. Indeed, rather the reverse. Bring on Ken Doctor, a great American guru, offering us five, 10 or more 15 years to choose from. Nemesis indefinitely delayed.
And the most fascinating thing about the ABC-sanctified print circulation results (for November) involve two politically polar opposites on the newsstand: the Telegraph and the Guardian. Both belong to the national quality market. Both, over the years, have cleared out bulk sales and other devices that prop up or confuse their sales figures. Both have solid and growing online statistics to boast about: the Telegraph with 13,855,000 unique visitors and the Guardian with 12,301,000 on the latest UKOM results. They leave everything but the inevitable Mail online far behind. But what does this mean for print, for copies pushed across the newsagent's counter or dropped through a letterbox?
In Hollywood everyone knows the same nothing (Economist)
Since everybody still knows that nobody knows, studios continue to show early cuts of films to focus groups, to determine how to tweak and market them. But even after a film’s release it remains unclear why it boomed or bombed. Why was “Gravity”, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in a tale about stranded astronauts, one of this year’s hits despite the misgivings of its studio, Warner Bros, whereas “The Lone Ranger” was such a flop, despite Disney’s high hopes for a film starring Johnny Depp?
“Hollywood is always in crisis,” jokes an unusually publicity-shy talent agent. Indeed, his office is in Century City, a district full of high-rises in Los Angeles that was once the backlot of 20th Century-Fox until it had to sell up because of the crippling cost of its 1963 epic, “Cleopatra”. Faced with bankruptcy 50 years ago, Fox might have been better off keeping the property and junking the film-making. The industry’s return on capital has been chronically anaemic. The media conglomerates that own the major studios grouse about the lousy economics of the business, particularly since DVD sales peaked in 2004 and then waned, with consumers shifting to lower-cost rentals and subscription services like Netflix. Technology should have helped Hollywood, by lowering the cost of distributing films, but it has also cost the industry dearly, as film-makers doll up their movies with expensive special effects, and negative social-media buzz kills films before they even open.

Will 2014 be the year of the eBook subscription model (Publishing Technology):
It’s quite likely that we’ll look back at 2013 as the year when publishing stopped talking about the ‘Netflix’ or ‘Spotify for Books’ and actually did something about it. eBook subscription services went from being something talked about in op-ed articles and conference platforms to real-life services, some of which launched with tens of thousands of titles and support from major publishers.
Most debate has focused on the fortunes of Oyster, the NYC-based start-up that launched earlier this year and Scribd, a service that has pivoted away from document sharing and publishing towards eBook subscription. Yet these are far from the only eBook subscription services in town. Another US-based service eReatah also launched earlier this year. Amazon has entered the market on its own terms, using eBook lending rather than subscription as a way of boosting membership of the Amazon Prime program. Meanwhile Europe’s fragmented ereading market is at risk of further fragmentation as country-specific subscription services emerge. 24Symbols continued to do well in its Spanish speaking home market and two Dutch publishers WPG Uitgevers B.V. and Lannoo Meulenhoff B.V. have teamed up to create a Netherlands-specific equivalent Riddo. In Denmark Riidr One addresses the relatively small domestic market with its own subscription service and in Germany the recently launched Skoobe boasts a 23,500 strong catalogue.

Ad agency Millward Brown's media predictions for 2014.

Digital BookWorld's list of 10 things to look for in 2014:
It’s been another exciting year for the publishing industry – perhaps the most dynamic in the history of the business. In 2013, all ebooks by publishers became subject to retailer price controls and ebook prices plummeted. At the same time, ebook revenue growth has tapered off even as many of the largest publishers still reported digital gains. A handful of ebook subscription businesses were launched and libraries won some key victories in their fight to bring ebooks from all publishers to their patrons.
From Book Business Magazine the future looks bright for 2014

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