Plugged: Merger Mania
The merger bug hit the music industry hard this week with the newly proposed $4.9 billion merger between Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio.
While regulators and consumer advocates immediately fall into a defensive stance over such proposals, citing a concern over "anti-competitive" or "monopolistic" consequences, the reality is such mergers are both a good idea and necessary in today's digital environment.
Consumers just want content, and aren't overly concerned with the distribution method to acquire it. Consumer advocates fear a combined XM/Sirius will result in higher prices and less content. That's ridiculous.
Sirius and XM are not competing against just each other. They're competing with terrestrial radio (which is free), HD Radio and every iPod that consumers bring into their cars. Limiting the discussion to the exact mode of music delivery is a dangerously prosaic view that fails to consider the bigger digital picture.
As an XM subscriber, I have no problem with the merger. XM and Sirius both have some great exclusive content that subscribers of their competitors can't access. Combining networks would consolidate the best programming of both, resulting in a better overall service.
That's certainly more consumer friendly than forcing subscribers of one provider to buy all new equipment and sign up for a new service plan with the other should either XM or Sirius go out of business.
Now that was a fast honeymoon. YouTube in less than two months has fallen from media darling to whipping boy.
I have to start this off with a confession -- despite the 100 million downloads it gets a day and the cultural phenomenon it has become, I've always thought YouTube was kind of a crappy experience. Traffic aside, I never really understood why big media companies wanted to work with the platform, other than to find a way to monetize the copyrighted content users were uploading for no cost.
YouTube tried to play hardball with a skeptical big media industry by saying only those who strike deals with the company will benefit from the still-in-progress content filtering technology. The company backtracked this week on that strategy by saying it will make the filtering technology to all. Oh and that filtering process will be ready... soon. (Just when did Google turn into Microsoft anyway?)
YouTube is not the place to showcase professionally produced video. It's for user-generated short clips. Media companies should monetize YouTube user behavior where they can and get a cut of the companies ad proceeds to avoid messy lawsuits, but they shouldn't bother with custom channels or in any way try to alter the existing behavior on the site.
Instead, I applaud Viacom's strategy of partnering with Joost, which is by FAR a much slicker presentation of longer-form video and professional content. The business model is build in from the start, not slapped on as an afterthought.
Plugged: Merger Mania