Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 31, 2021

After the initial shock from this early-morning’s news of Disney buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in cash and stock, my reaction was, well, it’s about time.

I always thought that Marvel’s intellectual property — namely, those iconic superhero characters like Spider-Man, Hulk, and Iron Man — was ridiculously undervalued. That was apparent a decade ago, when the Carl Icahn-Ron Perelman fight over the bankrupt company was playing out. It wasn’t until those blockbuster movies started rolling out that the business world suddenly realized what unique commodities Marvel possessed, which led to this payday.

Beyond the pure business angle, there is a bittersweet aspect to this deal. This is Marvel Entertainment being validated by that $4-billion pricetag — not Marvel Comics, per se. Had the company not unlocked the value of its creative holdings through those box-office performances, it would still be considered “just” a comic book publisher. And that core business isn’t enough in the media world. That’s not new, as Marvel’s post-bankruptcy life under the former Toy Biz Inc. management was as a feeder system for toy/collectible products. No matter what, the comic-book heart of Marvel gets lost.

As for Disney, the synergies from the movie business are paired with this bulking-up of their strategic refocus:

One point of the deal is to help Disney appeal to young men who have flocked to theaters to see Marvel superheroes such as Iron Man in recent years. That contrasts with Disney’s recent successes among young women with such fare as Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers.

Marvel television shows also already account for 20 hours per week of programming on Disney’s recently rebranded, boy-focused cable network, Disney XD, and that looks likely to increase, [Disney CEO Robert] Iger said. The shows are “right in the wheelhouse for boys,” he said.

So this means Disney’s designated “kid whisperer” is out of a job, I guess.

Back to that “it’s about time” idea: Marvel will now be a creative cog in a big-media behemoth, after years of mostly stand-alone existence. This was in stark contrast with its chief publishing rival, DC Comics, which has been part of the company that’s now known as Time Warner ever since 1969. Again, it’s a long-overdue assimilation of a creative stable into a broader media organization.

So now, finally, Superman and Spider-Man are on equal corporate footing. And, it should be noted, both work for rodent-based mascots: Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Rich.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/31/2009 08:25:25 PM
Category: Business, Media, Pop Culture
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If speed dating is making an emotional mess of your social life, then I suppose the pro bono shots of “speed shrinking” found in bookstores and cafes is an appropriate remedy.

Otherwise, it sounds like cracking open a fortune cookie would be just as effective as this three-minute therapy. And a lot quicker. And tastier.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/31/2009 02:35:26 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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Despite overall user growth for Facebook, Virginia Heffernan detects the beginnings of disenchantment, backlash, and decline:

Is Facebook doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit? Sad, if so. Though maybe fated, like the demise of a college clique.

To answer that question: Yes, Virginia, just as every other online community site has fallen to the fickleness of the Web, Facebook too will eventually succumb to the social networking lifecycle:

1. They launch amid much hype over attracting groups of enthusiastic, hip, pretty young things

2. They attain a critical mass of a couple million members

3. They start to cross-promote and sell ads like crazy, cashing in on what’s assumed to be a captive audience

4. They roll out premium add-ons for nominal fees

5. They get so large and ad-driven that they turn off the very members that flocked to them in the first place, leading to defections and a loss of cool-cachet

6. They sputter on, devolving into purely affiliate-marketing/spam-generating subscriber rolls of questionable value

And so on, until a new crop of sites roll out. What I can’t figure out is why people continually buy into them, swallowing the hype about how they’re new and innovative, when they’re far from it. Maybe the average joiner goes into it knowing that it’s got a short shelf life.

It’s been years since I cooked up that stage-by-stage progression/regression. I can’t say I’ve detected anything different lately about the interaction between people and their favorite Web hangouts to necessitate any changes to that list.

I’d say Facebook is well along this course; MySpace is further down the same road, and yes, Twitter is also on this ride. Nothing new, since has-been socnets like Friendster have already covered this territory. A limited shelf life for social media hubs is looking like a predictable fact of online life.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/31/2009 01:06:54 PM
Category: Social Media Online, Society
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