Start Up Blog

The reality of the screen

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 12, 2014

Old Abandoned Drive in Cinema

The reality is that all screens are created equal now. Every screen can serve up the same content. Every screen is connected to the same world. Every screen doesn’t care whose eyes and ears are at the other end of it. Every screen can deliver the same data, on the same day, globally. There is no such thing as TV anymore. And so it then begs the following question:

Why do people who profit from screens treat them as different entities?

It seems the people who work in TV still think their screens are different. It seems the people who make movies think their cinemas are different. And pretty much anyone else who created content for the screen pre-broadband era thinks the new screen reality does not apply to them. And while the screens don’t care what they show, the people also don’t care which screen they view it on. In fact, they’d much prefer to have the choice over which screen they can use. I’m pretty sure many of these people, like me, would possibly a premium for such a convenience. And yet, in 2014, decades into this shift, the powers that be, sorry the powers that ‘were’, are still avoiding their potential revenue. And here’s why:

They love their infrastructure more than they love their customers.

Or more correctly, they believe their ultimate success is decided by their supply chain and not by the end consumer. Serving business partners at the expense of the ultimate paying customer down the line is a strategy fraught with danger. Especially when we are now in a phase where the middle man is quickly evaporating. Many of those business who could go direct to the end user choose not to, as they may ‘offend their existing trade partners’.

I like movies: I love seeing new release movies. A night out at the cinema is a fun and reasonably inexpensive night out. But now that I have very young children, getting out of the house to grab a movie is more difficult than it used to be. And so my wife and I just don’t go very often. But here’s the kicker – I’d pay a premium for the right to be able to watch a new release at home. $30 for a stream via Apple TV? – I’d pay that. It’d still be cheaper than paying for parking, ice creams, inflated corn and everything else at the cinema. And to this day I still can’t do it. No doubt I’m not alone. No doubt, this entices piracy. And I know what those in the movie business would retort with. They’d say the cinema chains would cry foul and stop distributing their films. And when they both claim this, they’d both not be understanding the true reason we go to the cinema – The night out. The movie is only part of the deal and the real competition is not watching a movie at home, but going to a pizza a restaurant, or a bowling alley. They’re also forgetting the margin enhancement opportunities of low cost digital distribution.

Here’s some simple advice for every screen business: If you have the opportunity to serve a customer directly, then without delay consider releasing all content in all forums simultaneously. Not only will it create a new direct relationship with those who actually pay for the product, it might just stop another startup eating your lunch.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

Super Bowl Advertising – Tor Myhren

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 14, 2011

I’ve been a big advocate for the web changing communications and advertising forever. I’ve been heard to say that TV is in irreversible decline in terms of broadcasting. I believe it’s future is one of narrow casting.  But before we close on the Super Bowl for another year, I wanted to share this interview with Tor Myhren, Grey NY explaining what the hype is really all about:

The Best $3 Million You Ever Spent

One commercial, 2.9 million bucks. Who buys this stuff? Crazy, outdated advertisers who haven’t been told that TV is dead? Or the smartest marketers on the planet, taking advantage of the biggest bargain in today’s scattered media environment? I say the latter. And here are three reasons why;

1. Pregame buzz – You’re not buying 30 seconds; you’re buying two weeks of pregame hype as well. And amid all this media madness, the advertisers get as much attention as the football players. The PR and buzz is unparalleled. Late night and morning show hosts, news anchors, magazine and newspaper writers, bloggers, and tweeters are all talking about who’s on the game and what to expect. Most importantly, this is all free media, consumed by people as editorial content rather than paid advertising. This is the kind of brand exposure that’s nearly impossible to buy. Last year the E*Trade baby was being talked about by Jon Stewart, ESPN, Good Morning America, The Colbert Show and The O’Reilly Factor—all before the Super Bowl even started.

2. Game time – 110 million viewers, all experiencing the exact same thing at the exact same time. The Super Bowl is America’s last campfire. It’s the only event left that we as a nation sit down and watch together. All those emotions you feel watching the game, and watching the ads, are being shared by 110 million other people at the same time. And shared experiences make for better stories. Period. More than one-third of all Americans watched the game last year, and more will watch this year. In this way, the Super Bowl is an anomaly in today’s fractured media landscape, which is why the actual 30 seconds you’re buying is worth its weight in gold. TV isn’t dead, but must-see TV is—with one exception: the Super Bowl.

3. Postgame echo – You’ve got a day or two of conventional media buzz to extend the life of the idea, but that dies pretty quickly after the USA Today poll and other news flurries. Postgame is where digital and viral take over, exponentially increasing the value of a Super Bowl ad with each additional view, comment, blog posting and Twitter comment. The firestorm a great Super Bowl ad can start is pretty awesome. Pop culture sites pick up the content, and news sites feature it. YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, Hulu and thousands of other popular sites all heave their Super Bowl ad contests that get not only massive viewership but also great two-way dialogue going on about the brand. And all of this doesn’t cost a dime. It’s part of the package—the nearly $3 million value package that we like to call a Super Bowl ad.

The Super Bowl is America’s last campfire. It’s when we all sit around and watch. And talk. And pass along our shared stories for days and weeks to come. It takes courage (and a boatload of coin) to play, but I, for one, believe the rewards outweigh the risks.

It all sounds like a pretty valid viewpoint to me – so long as the product and brand is already established, and it’s not a 30 second gamble on the company like it was in the late 90’s for many web startups.

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Why Masterchef works

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 26, 2010

Masterchef has truly been a phenomenon in Australia over the past 2 seasons. A ratings boon which is rare in our fragmented media environment. In fact it was watched by an average 3.54 million, up from 3.29 million last year. This makes it the most watched non sporting event in Australian history. It’s not hard to find a Masterchef fan, but not being one I was curious what all the fuss was about so I endured a few episodes. I didn’t catch the bug and so asked some colleagues why they believe (from an advertising, marketing and media perspective) it did so well. The best description I got was from Paul Gardner who summarised it as follows:

He said there has been three distinct phases in the evolution of reality TV.

1. Hoons & Havoc. Lock up a group of  highly charged youths in a house filled with alcohol and sexualy energy and see what happens. Think Big Brother.
2. The Challenge. Take a group of normal people outside of their comfort zone to compete in a Spartan like fashion.  See what behaviour humans will stoop to in order to win and prove superiority. An observation of social interaction at a draconian level. Think Survivor.
3. Denied Talent. Take a group of people who have some genuine flair for something, who have not been given the chance (for whatever reason) to display their talent. Give the competitors potential for a new start, to chance become entrepreneurs. Make the show inclusive, yet competitive. Add a sense of collaboration and educational good for all. Build a result into the show which isn’t purely financial but provides recognition and a new direction. Overall, make it represent the values of a modern civilised society. This is what Masterchef has done.


The thing that’s really impressive about Masterchef from a marketing perspective is that they took the well worn genre of ‘cooking’ understood the important nuances of human behaviour and made it something much bigger than anyone ever expected.

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Media Exponential

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 12, 2010

The speed at which media consumption has grown is mind boggling. So I thought I’d pull together a little info graphic titled Media Exponential using my Artline 725. Makes you wonder what’s next? Answer = what we create.

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The end of television

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 24, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk about the end of television lately. You’ve heard it all. But one simple fact I heard today reminded me today of why television is doomed.

The end of the ratings period.

Yep, that old chestnut. But let’s stop and think for moment what it means and the legacy issues associated with the concept of the rating and non-rating periods.

It was something television could do. It could ‘have a holiday’. It could do this for one simple reason, it had no real competitors. TV broadcasters justified their actions too. They told us that their TV stars needed a break. They told us they were getting ready for the new season with great new episodes and shows. They told us we could enjoy our favourite re-runs. Sure we could go down the the video rental store, but it was much harder than turning on a television and a poor substitute at best.

Today, the end of the ratings period is a continued legacy which proves that broadcasters still don’t get it. We don’t care what time of year it is, we don;’t have to. We still spend money. The economy keeps churning. We still want current, new, exciting information and entertainment. Good news for us is that now we can go elsewhere to get it. And it’s more convenient than TV. It’s on demand, and uninterrupted. The fact that the ratings period still exists today has me flummoxed.

And as long as the television broadcasting industry thinks it can get away with it’s ‘holiday’, it is yet to understand what is happening. It alone is proof TV as an industry, is doomed. This little thing, the non-ratings period, is proof they don’t believe that is the end of their cosy little attention monopoly.

Good bye television, hope you enjoyed your stay.

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Seek.com.au – Trolley Radvertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 22, 2009

Seek has pulled off another piece of radvertising with Trolly.

This is spot on for seek. Classic single minded proposition showing breadth of jobs.

Well done Seek marketing crew.

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