Music Streaming Gets An Assist from Live Sports
-- ESPN and Slacker picked a good time to launch live streaming of ESPN audio shows and sporting events on the Slacker platform. The live broadcasts starts on Jan. 9 with the BCS Championship game between LSU and Alabama. Slacker's mobile apps will get the live streaming at a later date.
Slacker reached an agreement to stream ESPN content in September; it already had ABC News content. The on-demand content is available to both free and premium listeners. However, Live ESPN streams will be available only to premium listeners.
The on-demand ESPN content has gone over well, but Slacker uses have been asking for live sports, too, Slacker senior VP of marketing Jonathan Sasse said in a statement. "This new feature is yet another example of how Slacker is combining the best elements of traditional radio with our listeners' demand for personalization of music, news, sports and more," he said.
Live sports make a nice addition to what was a pure-play music service before the addition of ABC News. People have proven they are willing to pay for sports. ESPN commands the highest carriage fee on cable television -- around $5 per month per subscriber -- and satellite radio benefits from its live broadcasts of a variety of sports events.
So there's no need for a service to be limited to just music. Internet radio services should be in the business of getting listeners, not getting just music listeners. If the addition of sports makes a subscription service more valuable and increases adoption and listener retention, the music business stands to benefit. Pandora has branched out into comedy. iHeartRadio mixes in Clear Channel's talk radio stations. Sirius XM has a mix of news, talk, music and sports. So far, music services like Spotify cater only to music listening, but there's no reason other types of entertainment can't be added to subscription services at some point down the line.
Sony Squashes Exec Promo Rumor
-- Sony Corp. issued a press release Friday to squash rumors of a pending executive promotion. "Sony Corporation has made no announcement in this regard and nothing has been determined at this time." The release was a response to a report at the Nikkei business day said Kazuo Hirai, the executive in charge of Sony's consumer electronics business, will be named president this spring. Sir Howard Stringer currently has the titles of chairman, CEO and president.
In any case, it's worth taking a look at USA Today's Q&A with Hirai on the eve of CES. Hirai discusses a variety of topics, from the cloud to TV. On the Blu-ray disc (movies and PlayStation 3 games) Hirai says the physical formats aren't going away any time soon.
"Obviously, sales are declining. But a lot of people still enjoy buying a physical CD and owning a catalog they can touch, see and have in their library. The same is true for Blu-ray. From a convenience factor, if you're talking about a high-definition movie, downloading an entire Blu-ray movie takes a little bit more time than one would like to see… We give consumers the choice."
Twitter In the Theater
-- Twitter is common at concerts, but did you know it's becoming more common at theatrical events around the country? TicketsNews explains how some venues are setting up dedicated Twitter sections -- "tweet seats" -- that aren't subjected to the traditional restrictions against using mobile devices during performances.
"The use of social media at such productions, once frowned upon, now is enjoying strong support among marketers and public relations directors who see it as a gateway to an elusive market: young audiences," the article reads. "The hope is that those comfortable with the technology, on average younger patrons, will get their friends excited about what they are experiencing."
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has dabbled with Twitter, too -- real time program notes were tweeted by a staff conductor located backstage. "Time to clap!" one tweet told readers at the end of a Jan. 5 performance.
Maybe Twitter integrations will bring a younger audience, but organizers should consider the impact it could have on the overall experience. From concerts to conferences, there has been a rush to add real-time commentary from Twitter. It can be a distraction from the event on stage people are there to see.
One TEDx event I attended in 2011 had a live Twitter feed projected onto a wall of the theater. The event's organizers, I was later told, wanted to incorporate Twitter and feared not doing so would appear technologically backwards. After all, the TED crowd is quite comfortable with new technologies. But a huge Twitter display turned out to be a distraction. One of the event's highlights came between speeches when a man stood up and asked if the Twitter screen could be turned off. The crowd roared in approval and the live Tweets were no longer displayed on the wall. The rest of the event was better for the lack of distracting Twitter commentary. Twitter addicts still had their mobile devices. The rest of us could better dedicate our attention to the tremendous speakers on stage.