Weekly Roundup: October 19th

Observations October 19, 2014 4:05 pm


Media: À La Carte and Untethered

  • Premium Channels and Broadcast Networks Cut the Cord: Is the era of a la carte TV on the horizon? To the relief of cord-cutters everywhere, HBO has finally announced a standalone streaming service. This news was quickly followed by a similar announcement by CBS, launched a $5.99/month streaming service that will give cord-cutters access to live programming and archived shows. Both HBO president Richard Pepler and CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves subtly acknowledged the impact that Netflix and other OTT services have had on consumer behavior, and the need to provide consumers the ability to watch programming on their own schedules. What do these announcements mean for Netflix? In the short term, a massive stock price plunge. In the long term? Increased pressure to produce high-quality content.
  • Be Careful for What You Wish For: We’re already in “The Golden Age of Content,” which only stands to get better with the increased competition. But great content and a la carte programming will come at a cost. Bundling channels helps keep costs down for consumers, and by breaking the TV model, prices will be passed to consumers. Want to only purchase ESPN, HBO, and CBS? Analysts predict that could cost you more than $50– compare that price for three channels to the average cable bill of $90 for access to hundreds of channels, and a la carte isn’t quite as attractive. No one said breaking the bundle would be painless. Another consequence? It might just give TV networks more– not less– power.
  • Reaching The Mobile, Social Audience: Offering OTT services aren’t the only way traditional networks are adapting their programming. CNN and BBC are creating “snackable” versions of their programming for the mobile, social audience. Cartoon Network is taking this idea a step further, creating original, 15 second content for the app Cartoon Network Anywhere. Even performers are finding new ways to reach the social audience; the Foo Fighters livestreamed a concert through HBO Go’s Facebook page on October 17th.

New Wave of Service-Oriented Retail

  • Digital Goes Physical: Digital-only companies continue to move offline in an effort to engage consumers. YouTube announced an expansion of its production facilities to creators in New York City. The new space will be called BrandLab, and will give brands the opportunity to interact with YouTube content creators as well as give creators the tools they need to advance their skills. Amazon also announced that it will open its first brick-and-mortar stores in New York and San Francisco. The stores will be available during the holidays, and will serve as central hubs that process same-day deliveries, handle returns and exchanges, and allow customers to pick-up online orders.
  • Turning A Store Into A Platform: In an effort to bring new customers into stores, GameStop is experimenting with ways to rethink the store as a “platform.” The retailer plans to use augmented reality to bring video games to life within the store and use beacons to personalize each customer’s experience within the store.
  • On-Demand Delivery Services Heat Up: Google and Amazon both made significant announcements in the on-demand delivery service space; Google challenges Amazon Prime with a $95/year subscription service to Google Shopping Express, and AmazonFresh launches in Brooklyn.


Payments: Cash, Credit, Tweets, and Loyalty Points
  • Tweets: French bank Group BPCE will soon let customers transfer money to other people via tweets. There are few details about how the P2P service will actually work, but this news follows the launch of the Twitter “Buy” button in September.
  • Loyalty Points: A double cheeseburger on McDonald’s value menu costs $1.59, or 159 American Express points. Am Ex cardholders will now be able to use their reward points to pay for their meals at the fast food chain. Rather than having to redeem points online for McDonald’s, Am Ex users will just have to swipe their card and then choose credit or reward points. This partnership is similar to ones American Express already has with Uber and NYC Cabs.
  • Biometrics: As the world waits for the October 20th launch of Apply Pay, MasterCard announces its own secure payment system. MasterCard has partnered with Zwipe for a credit card with integrated fingerprint sensor. Similar to Apple Pay, users will be able to hold the new MasterCard credit card over a payment terminal and authorize the transaction with their fingerprint.

R/GA Originals

Tracking Ebola

  • Staying Updated Through Mobile: The BBC is utilizing WhatsApp for an Ebola alert system. The news organization will use WhatsApp to provide updates and educate people about Ebola in West Africa. WhatsApp is the most popular chat app in the region, and it’s availability on feature phones and smartphones make it an ideal channel to reach people. An Australian doctor is also raising money for an SMS-based alert system that would analyze key words associated with disease to send people to the correct treatment center.
  • The Ebola Timeline: The Financial Times released an interactive graphic that traces the spread of the outbreak from the first warning in March 2014. The graphic does not include deaths in Europe or the U.S., but instead focuses on Western Africa. Also, what you need to know about Ebola.

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