Friday, May 15, 2015

Core Response #5: The Second-Screen Experience and Venture Capital Cyclicality

One particularly interesting transformation of television as incited by Henry Jenkins' concept of digital media convergence is the second-screen experience. For those unfamiliar, the "second screen" refers to the screen of a mobile phone or digital device; applications are used on these devices during the airing of television shows, in a theoretical attempt to further engage viewers with what they're watching. These applications first started enjoying popularity and media attention in 2010, popularity that mounted in significant fashion within the next two years and enjoyed a subsequent surge in venture capital investments. App GetGlue, leading the pack in terms of userbase and engagement, made almost $25 million through venture capital coming from media and tech conglomerates. Many of the corporations that once pushed them, however, quickly disavowed them for several reasons, claiming that users found them "annoying" [1] or that they were a "distraction" that didn't actually augment the act of watching television in a significant way. Most of these applications attempted to incentivize their use in an attempt to maintain their userbase, but invariably went extinct.

A strange reoccurence of this seemingly-failed entertainment paradigm has emerged once again with the arrival of Viggle. Viggle is another second-screen application that presents itself, first and foremost, on the basis of the rewards it can offer to users for checking in to television programs. After accruing a certain amount of points - one point per minute of television watched, "bonuses" excluded - users can spend those point on anything ranging from a $5 Starbucks gift card to a trip to a taping of the finale of The Voice. Services like these are meant to function as databases that can provide content creators and distributors with more sophisticated, tracked information about user demographics and their consumption habits, which presumably inform the decisions of those creators/distributors in deciding what to produce. Despite the failure of the first round of second-screen applications - GetGlue shuttered barely six months ago, for instance - there has been another noteworthy surge in investor confidence around Viggle. This article notes a massive uptick in Viggle's stock value that surrounds its increase in userbase, despite noting that they've posted $20 million losses in the last quarter alone. Divine there notes that the shortsightedness of these investments, acting in spite of a financial calculus that should otherwise dictate their decisions, follows a similar "line of logic" to the dot-com bust that occurred from 1999 to 2001. Is user engagement really a reliable metric for determining whether or not to throw tens of millions of dollars at a relatively new app? Can television monetize sufficiently enough to support both itself and the venture capital that relies on its frequency of content production?

Works Cited


Saturday, May 9, 2015

If you're looking for a laugh...

I'm obsessed with basketball (NBA and college) and love being able to watch it live. One of my favorite parts about watching the live telecast of basketball games are the halftime reports with Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley. The other day, Shaq took a tumble after tripping over a wire and it went viral. While it's really just a silly video, I thought it's interesting to think about in terms of live television going viral. Before Youtube, if you missed something live, you missed it for good. Now we can watch incidents on live television over and over again. This video, alone, already has over 1 million views. Live TV isn't really the same anymore, because there's no threat of not being able to catch it again. 

Bruce Jenner: Keeping Up With the Kardashians Special

Since we discussed Bruce Jenner in our last class, I thought I'd post a link to this. On May 17th, E! will air a two-part special documenting Bruce Jenner coming out to his family as transgender. What do you all think of this? E! didn't announce the special until after the Diane Sawyer interview. Will you watch? Considering "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is typically associated with fake and vapid issues, it will be interesting to see how E! handles the subject matter.

RIP Mindy

Fox announced this week that it would not renew "The Mindy Project." While there are rumblings that it may find a life on Hulu, I'm really bummed about this. It was one of the only comedies on air that starred and was created by a woman of color. It definitely had it's ups and downs and problems, but overall, I really enjoyed it and am disappointed that Fox decided not to renew it.  Did anyone else watch?

Multi-Cam Resurgence?

For anyone interested in TV Comedy or comedy writing. Here's an interesting take on the state of the sitcom in the modern TV landscape. Multi-Cam shows like "The Big Bang Theory" have had continued success while many single camera shows struggle to gain and maintain a fanbase. Do any of you have a preference between viewing single camera shows or multi-cam (shot live in front of a studio audience)?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Call it a Renaissance?

My final project will be a radio report critiquing the second season of BET's sophomore hit "Being Mary Jane" which stars Gabrielle Union in a pretty dynamic role as yet another African American leading lady. I'm looking at feminist themes along with melodrama as associated with race and ethnicity. As we've all witnessed, TV has really embraced the black female leading lady in the past several years and this is due in large part to Shonda Rhimes and ABC's #tgit lineup. I am seeing today that Shonda Rhimes is teaming with Dee Rees (director of Focus Features' Independent Spirit Award winning film Pariah) for an FX limited series adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson's acclaimed "Warmth of Other Sons" which chronicles the migration of African Americans from Southern rural town to bigger bustling Northern cities in search of better lives. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, this development comes on the heels of the upcoming remake of "Roots" by A&E, the History Channel and Lifetime (yikes). It will be interesting to see Shondaland's transition into producing for cable television as well as how this new project will be received. Here's an interesting article on the implications from The Guardian...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Amy Schumer

I've never watched Amy Schumer's show, but this article was in my feed so I thought I'd post it because I think it might be enough to get me to watch her show.  I find it fascinating the way she manipulates genres for comedy and that she's seems to not be afraid to address issues of images.  Here's the clip that inspired me to set my DVR....

Is Amy Hot Enough to Have Her Own Show?