While I’ve been in California I’ve been spending a lot of time reading the newspaper (that’s right, like the printed one). I don’t read the paper often at home, maybe once or twice a week at most, but I always enjoy myself. What’s amazing to me every time I sit down with a paper (or a good magazine for that matter) is how I always end up reading and enjoying things I never thought I would. Online we’re so selective, scanning and choosing carefully what to read and what not to. With the paper in hand I find the process completely different, I read almost everything. Maybe it’s because I’ve actually invested in it (all $1.25) or maybe it’s just because reading the paper is much more of a leisure activity for me (I usually am just hanging out somewhere with plenty of time).
Now I would never say one is better than the other, however, I think it’s safe to say that I read a lot in the newspaper that I’d never think about spending time reading online (and vice versa, much of what I read on the web wouldn’t ever make it into the paper). Now I’m not really sure where to go with all this, but I find it to be an interesting phenomena.
With that out of the way, this entry was actually supposed to be about some themes from today’s New York Times business section. As I was reading through I was struck by the strings that seemed to run through all the articles (of course it’s entirely possible that I am imagining their existence). Anyway, bear with me as I try and run through some thoughts I had …
My thinking got rolling with this quote:
In truth, Wall Street is in for a radical makeover. Fewer people, lower margins, lower risk, lower compensation — and ultimately, fewer talented people. It is likely to change the culture of an industry that for nearly a century has been the money center of the world.
That is an almost perfect explanation of what’s happening all over the business world at the moment: You could use the same words to describe the music business or the advertising world. Maybe what we’re seeing at the moment isn’t some sort of radical shift, but rather a market correction. I’ve written before that I believe success is a relative, not absolute, measure. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten so used to things like year-on-year growth and, in the case of the media/entertainment industries, mass audiences that we’ve forgotten that success is about how much you put in as well as how much you get out.
Continuing the theme of market adjustments is this quote from an article about cable’s recent success.
“The natural shift of dollars to cable will continue,” said Jason Kanefsky, a senior vice president and account director at the media buying agency MPG. “It just makes sense. Why pay more for eyeballs on CBS when you can go out and buy eyeballs on Turner for half the price?”
Now I’m no economist, but if you have two things of equal value and one costs less than the other it’s only a matter of time before the prices equalize. Cable beating network TV isn’t revolutionary, it just a market doing what a market does. Ultimately the only reason we’re surprised (whether “we” are the advertising industry or television executives) is because we’ve gotten comfortable with the incredible profits. Once again, it doesn’t mean that network TV is going anywhere, just that it will see lower margins. The sky isn’t falling, it’s just lowering slightly.