When Fans Attack: The Perils of an Internet-Enabled Audience | TIME Ideas | TIME.com

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Article from Time about the relationship between audiences and producers. Yes, indeed, this is Reception Theory in action, folks:

All this goes to show that the relationship between those who create art and those who consume it can be a fraught one, liable to turn on a dime at the slightest misstep but difficult to reverse once it starts moving in the wrong direction. A dynamic can emerge in which fans’ love for a product turns not to indifference as the result of that product’s decline or sudden denial, but outrage.

via When Fans Attack: The Perils of an Internet-Enabled Audience | TIME Ideas | TIME.com.

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Upcoming iPad App ‘The Daily’ – a perfect Unit 3 case study?

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Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad in San Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

John Gruber links to a story from the Guardian about the forthcoming Daily – the first “newspaper” designed for the iPad. Not a web version of an existing title, but a news source you can only get through the iPad.

The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world’s first “newspaper” designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple’s iPad, with a launch planned for early next year.

This is an interesting story in itself, but even more interesting for a media student because it’s based on an audience study. It’s a perfect example of how research into audience habits (reception studies, for example) leads to innovation in media forms and changes in the business model of media institutions. That’s three of your key concepts right there. The fourth, representation, will be revealed when we see the actual product, which (and here’s a clue) is said to be ‘Intended to combine “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence”’.

Hmm. Do I really believe that 79-year-old Rupert came up with this idea, surrounded as he is by much younger tech-savvy people?

The 79-year-old Murdoch is said to have had the idea for the project after studying a survey that suggested readers spent more time immersed in their iPads than they did — comparatively speaking — on the internet, where unfocused surfing is typical. (emphasis added)

So the four key concepts, plus the context of the impact of the iPad on the media industry, the loss of advertising revenue and sales for print newspapers, and the ongoing debate about whether people are willing to pay for content and/or news. You could add in the debate about Murdoch being too powerful, add another one about Steve JobsReality Distortion Field (is Murdoch trapped in it?), and a fourth about whether information wants to be free.

In terms of theories, you could do no worse than look at the power law distribution, and the hard data that shows that iOS users seem far more willing to pay small amounts of money on a regular basis than the users of other operating systems. In other words, iOS users are the whales of content consumption.

Finally, to round off your case study, you could compare the upcoming launch of The Daily with the recent print-only launch of the i newspaper. Different approaches to the same problem? Interesting to note that the i too has a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence, whatever that means

via Daring Fireball: News Corp’s Upcoming iPad App ‘The Daily’ to Pioneer New Recurring Subscription Billing.

Television: The lazy medium (The Economist)

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Might be worth your while picking up a copy of The Economist, which has a special report on Television.

One of the main features of this report is a reception study carried out by Sarah Pearson of the University of Sussex. Pearson has been studying how people actually use their PVRs, and is especially interested in the number of TV commercials they watch live as opposed to skipping through. In one 2007 study, she found that 70% were viewed live, for example. In other words, studies are beginning to emerge which show that the impact of PVRs on exposure to commercials is limited.

On the other hand, the increase of TV channels is making audiences shrink, and this is especially true once you get beyond the top-rated shows.

[A] change in expectations is not quite the same as a change in behaviour. Although it is easier than ever to watch programmes at a time and on a device of one’s choosing, and people expect to be able to do so, nearly all TV is nonetheless watched live on a television set. Even in British homes with a Sky+ box, which allows for easy recording of programmes, almost 85% of television shows are viewed at the time the broadcasters see fit to air them.

“People want to watch ‘Pop Idol’ when everyone else is watching it,” says Mike Darcey of BSkyB. If that is not possible, they watch it as soon as they can afterwards. Some 60% of all shows recorded on Sky+ boxes are viewed within a day. Often the delay is only a few minutes—just enough to finish the washing up or to make a phone call. For the most part, internet video is used in the same way. Matthias Büchs of RTLNow, a video-streaming website, says online viewing of a programme peaks within a day of that programme airing on TV

Another interesting finding is that people under-report how much TV they watch and over report how much online video they watch. See this graphic for details.

This research shows the importance of reception studies, or at least more ethnographic observation of people’s actual habits. Undertaking a survey has little use value unless it’s backed up with scientific observation. This is called ACB, or Actual Customer Behaviour research. A survey becomes useful in revealing how deluded people are about their own habits! To base a research finding on a survey alone will lead to misinformation – and this ends up costing the industry money. You ask people what they want and then give it to them, and it turns out it wasn’t what they wanted. This means your product flops badly and costs your company money.

The relative failure of Apple TV in comparison to, say, the iPad, is a great example of this. With the iPad, Apple ignored what people say they want and just produced a new gadget that (suddenly) everyone wants. There are still complaints about missing features, but that hasn’t stopped them selling a million or so of the thing in the first month. On the other hand, Apple TV allows people to get programmes and films on demand, download them, and watch them when they want to. Hardly anybody has one, and we all sit in front of our TVs and watch what’s on.

I think downloading does have an impact – when the most enthusiastic fans of a programme choose to download episodes instead of waiting for them to be broadcast, the show often gets cancelled – but it’s certainly not having the impact that the industry claims.

If they made decent, original, and innovative programmes, people would watch them. If they ask people what they want and then give it to them, the audience will continue to shrink.

David Hepworth on the the difference between upmarket and downmarket magazines

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David Hepworth’s blog is very insightful on media topics, especially relating to magazine publishing. The link below takes you to a short entry about Vanity Fair’s coverage of the Tiger Woods story, making useful comparisons to coverage elsewhere. This is all about institutions (publishers and their advertisers) and audiences. As Hepworth says, almost everybody is interested in smutty stories like this, but your upmarket titles have to be very clever in sneaking it past the advertisers, who are paying a premium to reach the top end of the market (not the “low hanging fruit” as marketeers call it):

And Another Thing: The different between upmarket and downmarket magazines.

Hugh Laurie finds happiness in LA – Times Online

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This brief interview with The Times is to promote the forthcoming new season of House on Sky 1 in the UK (another News Corp property – this is what the media institutions like to call synergy). It makes the claim that House is now the world’s most watched TV show. If so, it’s an interesting step up from what it was a few years ago: CSI Miami, which is utter tripe. I was reminded of this when I watched episode 1 of the current CSI Trilogy being shown on channel Five at the moment.

The CSI trilogy is another example of synergy (there’s a lot of it about) – persuading fans of one show (the Vegas original, perhaps) to watch episodes of the other two. I only watch Original (the one I used to call Beardy). I never warmed to the New York one, and David Caruso, in Miami, is hard to take.

Meanwhile, Doctor Gregory House, modelled on Sherlock Holmes, a drug-addicted misanthrope, is the world’s most popular TV character, and Science Fiction once again proves itself to be the most popular TV genre.

Whether it’s CSI (forensic science), or House (medical science – and, most importantly, the scientific method), we just can’t get enough of geeky people on TV solving mysteries (medical or otherwise) using science and technology. Isn’t that interesting?