Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, November 26, 2021

It’s as made-up as a holiday can get:

So what’s up with this Cyber Monday idea? A little bit of reality and a whole lot of savvy marketing. It turns out that Shop.org, an association for retailers that sell online, dreamed up the term just days before putting out a Nov. 21 press release touting Cyber Monday as “one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.”

The idea was born when a few people at the organization were brainstorming about how to promote online shopping, says Shop.org Executive Director Scott Silverman. They quickly discarded suggestions such as Black Monday (too much like Black Friday), Blue Monday (not very cheery), and Green Monday (too environmentalist), and settled on Cyber Monday. “It’s not the biggest day,” Silverman concedes. “But it was an opportunity to create some consumer excitement.”

But now, the joke is on all of us, as enough buzz germinated over the past two years to make Cyber Monday all too real:

“When something’s pushed down your throat continuously and the Internet becomes more part of your life, the customs of the Internet become more part of your life,” [Ice.com Marketing EVP Pinny] Gniwisch said. “So they finally got a holiday for the Internet.”

I still think the underlying premise — that loads of people are e-shopping from the office because of faster connections than their home computers — is bullshit. In fact, most broadband households probably have faster Internet hookups than business endusers, both because of more optimized equipment and dedicated connections. And really, “cyber”? That qualifier reeks of InterWeb circa 1997.

Even with that debunkage, it’s not surprising that Cyber Monday would become embraced into reality. Another excuse for buying trinkets, with free shipping thrown in? Nothing more American than that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/26/2007 11:31:48 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (4)

We all endure it: Subscribing to a total package of 800-odd cable/satellite channels, just to get access to the half-dozen or so that you ever actually watch. It’s a rip-off, right?

Yes and no. The familiar bundling of tiers of channels is actually, due to the economics of television advertising, a cost-saving measure for consumers that the pick-your-own-channels alternative couldn’t match:

True, if you decide to take only one or two channels, à la carte pricing will save you money. But how many people are going to limit themselves to one or two channels? In fact, even if you pick as few as a dozen channels, à la carte will almost surely cost more than your current “exorbitant” cable bill.

The reason is that unmoored from the cable bundle, individual networks would have to charge vastly more money per subscriber. Under the current system, in which cable companies like Comcast pay the networks for carriage — and then pass on the cost to their customers — networks get to charge on the basis of everyone who subscribes to cable television, whether they watch the network or not. The system has the effect of generating more money than a network “deserves” based purely on viewership. Networks also get to charge more for advertising than they would if they were not part of the bundle.

Take, for instance, ESPN, which charges the highest amount of any cable network: $3 per subscriber per month. (I’m borrowing this example from a recent research note by Craig Moffett, the Sanford C. Bernstein cable analyst.) Suppose in an à la carte world, 25 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers take ESPN. If that were the case, the network would have to charge each subscriber not $3, but $12 a month to keep its revenue the same. (And don’t forget: with its $1.1 billion annual bill to the National Football League alone, ESPN is hardly in a position to tolerate declining revenues.)

And that’s one of the most popular channels on cable. What percentage of cable subscribers would take Discovery, or the Food Network, or Oxygen, or Hallmark — or the many, many more obscure networks that you can now find up and down your cable box? Five percent? Ten percent? According to Mr. Moffett’s analysis, if every African-American family in the country subscribed to the Black Entertainment Network, it would still have to raise its fees by 588 percent. He adds, “If just half opted in — still a wildly optimistic scenario — the price would rise by 1,200 percent.”

Ironically, the free-for-all under an a la carte system sounds awfully like the Web — a decentralized media outlet filled with mostly isolated content aggregations (channels/websites). Such a fragmented environment poses challenges for both building audiences and, subsequently, attracting serious ad money — thus the jacked-up subscriber fees. The counteracting solution would be an overarching advertising syndicate for the a la carte television universe, ala Google AdSense (which has actually made the Web advertising viable, for a change).

The big difference is that, while it can cost next to nothing to maintain a website, it costs tons to keep the lights on at a television network. One effect might be tightly-focused programming for each network, just like ESPN for sports (or perhaps more likely, single-purpose channels for each sport, etc.); but they’d have to have pretty large audiences to stay afloat, with high premiums per pair of eyeballs for ad placement. Pretty soon, the dollars simply don’t make sense.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/26/2007 11:06:58 PM
Category: Business, TV
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (1)

If you just can’t get enough of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” — and if so, who can blame you — then Ovation TV has your ticket punched: The artsy-fartsy channel is head-to-heading four different performance interpretations of the classic holiday ballet:

The contenders in the inaugural Battle of the Nutcrackers cover a wide range of styles, from the staidly classical to a kaleidoscopic hallucination. In the first category are a 1989 performance by the Bolshoi Ballet, featuring Irek Mukhamedov as the Nutcracker Prince, and the 1993 film “George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker,’” staged by Peter Martins and featuring Darci Kistler as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker. At the far-out end of the spectrum are “Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!,” a 2003 performance of the colorful fantasy that begins in a Dickensian orphanage, and “The Hard Nut,” a 1991 piece by the Mark Morris Dance Group, which uses the Tchaikovsky score but transports the setting to 1960s American suburbia.

Sight unseen, I’m going to have to go with that George Balanchine joint, only because the presence of Macaulay Culkin would give the production a definite Home Alone vibe. Although I admit The Hard Nut sounds appealing too.

Actually, I’m not high on any particular interpretation of ballet, conventional or not. But I do admire Ovation for staying true to its roots with this attention-getting programming stunt. Plus, I just wanted to use “Battle of the Nutcrackers” as a post title.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/26/2007 10:30:16 PM
Category: Creative, TV
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback