Weekly Wrap-Up, 14-20 Sep 2019

Welcome to the Weekly Wrap-up, a review of the week’s culture-tech coverage here on Cybercultural. 

A Peek Behind The Paywall 🔓

First up, a list of news stories I wrote about this past week for paying subscribers. I’ve included some choice quotes from my takes.

  • How digital technology helped form the Peak TV era 📺

    • “Given the popularity of gaming for younger millennials and Generation Z, I do wonder if gaming will replace TV as the next water cooler cultural content.”

  • Music video platform Vevo celebrates its 10-year anniversary 🎹

  • Björk made music’s first “VR pop album” 🤩

    • “Perhaps VR will be the future of music videos, after Spotify and others have finished with the smartphone [innovations].”

  • Resale of e-books considered illegal in EU 📚

  • Washington Post builds ad network for publishers to take on Big Tech 🗞️

    • “So Jeff Bezos wants to join the duopoly Google and Facebook in controlling the online advertising market. I guess three is better than two.”

  • Can online advertising create a quality metric? 💰

  • SoulPancake granted some control over advertising on its YouTube videos 📹

    • “This article illustrates how little control creators and cultural sector companies have over the advertising that runs on their content.”

  • Vivendi, Riot veterans announce gaming broadcast network, VENN 🎮

Deeper Dive 🥽

In this part of the Weekly Wrap-up, I take a deeper look at one of the stories I covered this week.

I’m intrigued by the promise of VENN, a new “post-cable” broadcast network that aims to be the MTV for the gaming generation. It will feature gaming and esports content.

In case you didn’t get that it’s inspired by MTV, the company’s branding hits you over the head with it:

Here was the first tweet, which explains the company’s lofty goals:

I didn’t immediately realise that VENN is an acronym, but according to The La Times it stands for “Video Game Entertainment & News Network.” I also liked this money quote:

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, the lens to pop culture was music,” said Ariel Horn, a former executive with Riot Games and NBC Universal. “Now, we’re looking at gaming. The esports athletes are the new celebrities.”

Currently the lens to pop culture is TV. I’m not sure gaming or esports as we currently know them will be the next lens, but I definitely believe interactive media in some form will be.

Best Reader Feedback 🗣️

My feature article this week continued my series about the state of blogs and email newsletters in 2019. Focusing this time on email newsletter monetization, I presented the results of an Alpha survey of 359 general population US consumers, surveying their willingness (or not) to pay for email newsletters.

The best feedback I got from this article was via a private message. I’ll just quote the opening, as it doesn’t divulge anything personal:

“I read your latest email about whether people will pay for newsletters. It’s interesting but I typically won’t. Why? Because I subscribe to Sky tv, netflix, amazon prime, deezer music, linkedin premium and xbox gold. I’m saturated. I do subscribe to a lot of email newsletters. All are free. I have the time and inclination to read a few a week and the rest remain unread.”

I suspect many people have the same experience. As this reader points out, from the consumer point of view there’s saturation in both money and time. There’s no easy answer for producers, but bundling might help the first kind of saturation. The second kind (time) is more about cutting through the noise and providing a signal your target audience needs.

One More Thing 🙋

Thankfully, people in my network are working on monetization solutions for online media. Matt McAlister, formally of The Guardian and Yahoo, has just joined the blockchain-enabled browser Brave:

That’s a wrap for this week on Cybercultural. If you want culture-tech news and analysis in your inbox four times a week, please consider subscribing (if you haven’t already). It’s just $7 per month or $70 per year. In addition to the extra content, you’ll become a valued member of a growing community of culture-tech fans.

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