There was a lot of big news in the digital media realm this week, with Q2 reports, acquisitions, investments and rumors galore. Here we present a selection of some of the key developments.
AOL, BSkyB, Virgin
In a week that saw AOL announce $531m revenue for Q2 2012 – its lowest revenue decline in 7 years, we might add – the former Internet lynchpin launched its music app PLAY for Kindle Fire, noting in its announcement that it had been entirely redesigned for the Amazon-made device.
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PLAY is a music player that lets you listen to MP3 tracks on your device, while discovering new music via AOL’s weekly album selection, CD Listening Party. The app was already available on iOS and Android and, according to AOL, it has been downloaded around 1 million times since it launched last year.
Countering AOL’s fortunes, Amazon credited Prime and Kindle Fire as key drivers for its Q2 sales of $12.8 billion. And interestingly, a Staple executive hinted that Amazon may be about to release a 10-inch tablet to accompany its existing 7-inch Kindle Fire. This could see Amazon heading in the opposite direction of Apple, which is reportedly working on a miniature version of its all-conquering iPad. It’s all speculation though – the tight-lipped tech titans aren’t giving anything away.
In the same week that Virgin Media announced 1m TiVo users, UK competitor BSkyB (Sky) acquired Parthenon Media Group, with at least one eye on creating an international content distribution arm. Despite chaos elsewhere in Murdoch’s media empire, there is no denying that 2012 is shaping up for one helluva year for Sky – the company reported a 17% rise in profits, and also pumped a cool $45m into Roku alongside News Corp. this week, in what was deemed a ‘strategic investment’.
Vimeo, YouTube, Netflix & Google
With 4 million videos, YouTube now has the largest collection of Creative Commons videos in the world. However, Vimeo’s gearing up for global expansion too, adding Spanish support, with German and French to follow shortly.
But no online video discussion is complete without Netflix entering the fray. With Redbox and Verizon getting closer to rolling out their streaming Netflix competitor, Netflix itself revealed its numbers for Q2. Earnings of 11 cents a share on revenues of $889 million were announced, when Wall Street had been expecting something more like five cents per share.
However, hopes that the perennially popular broadcaster HBO will be ending up on Netflix were soon quashed by HBO itself – though Netflix would clearly love to be able to offer HBO programming, it could take Netflix to the next level.
Finally, you can always rely on Google to make the headlines, whether it’s for Search, Maps, or TV…as it did this week. The Internet giant announced that it’s getting into the Internet Service Provider (ISP) game. Its new offering, Google Fiber, was announced in Kansas City where the service is only available for now, but from what we can tell, it’s ridiculously fast.
For $70 a month you’ll get “gigabit” Internet service, which is 100 times faster than your standard cable modem. Throw in an extra $50 a month and you’ll get cable-TV-like-service too. Google is calling this service “the next chapter of the Internet”.
Meanwhile, on its existing Google TV platform, the company is working on bringing AirPlay-like functionality, which will see second-screen features developed for its Nexus Q and Google TV devices
(Social) Media musings
In a week that saw The New York Times drop support for its BlackBerry app, the media giant reminded the world just where the newspaper industry is heading.
As Poynter reported, The New York Times’ circulation revenue lags growth in digital subscriptions, with the latter passing the 500,000 mark – a 12% growth since March. Over in the UK, the Financial Times announced that digital subscriptions now outnumbers print. Moreover, digital revenues now account for half of all sales in the FT Group.
But digital trumping print aside, one of the other big shifts we’re seeing in the media sphere is the tight integration with social channels, something that was most evident this week.
Not long after NBC’s partnership with the mighty Facebook to promote Olympic-related chat on its own Facebook Page, TechCrunch reported on NBC’s link-up with Storify to include real-time streams of Olympic content across Today.com “as well as NBC’s 10 owned TV station websites.” That said, NBC was rightly criticized for its poor coverage of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Elsewhere, Digiday queried whether Pinterest is of interest to publishers, and The New York Times asked the on-going Twitter question – is it a media or technology company? Gigaom argued that due to its NBC Olympics deal, this very much boosts its credentials as a media company, while also noting that Buzzfeed could teach the mainstream media a thing or two.
Finally, the Associated Press (AP) updated its social media guidelines this week, which was good news for journalists seeking to tweet about breaking news.
“Under the updated guidelines AP journalists are told their ‘first obligation’ in the case of a big breaking news event, ‘is to provide full details to the appropriate newsdesk for use in AP services if the desk isn’t tuned in already'”, wrote Journalism.co.uk. “But once they have informed the newsdesk and taken care of ‘any other immediate AP work’ they are now ‘free to tweet or post information about the news development’ on Twitter.”
This change represented the third social media policy turnaround in a year for the AP, with Muck Rack charting this evolution nicely.