Daily Marauder

October 20, 2009, 7:52 PM
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , , , , , , ,



Just launched about a month ago now, mSpot allows consumers the opportunity to watch movies on 30 phones domestically. Interested in taking in Zach and Miri Make a Porno? Now, you can introduce your fellow train mates to comedy nudity as well. Incidentally speaking, this was the movie playing when mSpot was demoed to me. Currently, over 350 movies are available on the service and a few TV shows as well.

The business model:

I had the opportunity to sit down with Darren Tsui , CEO of mSpot, today at Digital Hollywood LA. The service in available both in a rental and monthly subscription model ($4.99/movie and $9.99/month for 4 movies). When asked why the service wasn’t available in an unlimited monthly Netflix type of model, Tsui responded that this model wasn’t compatible with the way studios make money on their content.

I questioned viewers’ desire to watch full length movies on a cell phone. Tsui responded that this was more of a challenge two years ago but not at this point. Of the audience using the service, consumers tend to rent rather than subscribing via the monthly model.

The competion:

The other players in this space include iTunes, and possibly if rumors are true and you know they are, the Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix apps to come. mSpot attempts to differentiate itself from iTunes with a streaming content model. “People don’t plan when they want to watch something,” Tsui tells me. In essence, iTunes requires some forethought to download the content in advance whereas mSpot is available on the go. That said, clearly iTunes has its advantages in its ability to allow viewers to watch on planes, subways, and anywhere else where cell service isn’t available…like the panel rooms at Digital Hollywood.

To come:

Currently the service is only available as a mobile website but applications are sure to come.

Marauder Weigh-In:

I continue to wonder how many people will truly watch full length movies on any type of mobile service…only because I would never do such a thing if offered the option between my laptop and my phone. That said, I’m not a parent and I clearly see the advantages that this platform offers the parental units.

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Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid




Digital Hollywood

Being that I’ve just come from SXSW in Austin, it’s a bit of a culture shock arriving at Digital Hollywood this morning in NYC.  Before I give you the highlights from today, how about I start with a top ten list on the major differences between SXSW and Digi Hollywood?  I tried to make it a mix of pros and cons for both but by and large, my mission here is simple humor.  I’m good for that.

The Top Ten List: SXSW vs. Digital Hollywood

1) Digital Hollywood attendees think ‘monetization’ whereas SXSW attendees think ‘audience size’…by and large.

2) DH peeps rock a suit.  SXSW…more like whatever they rolled out of bed in after a night of binge drinking at Pure Volume.

3) DH: Wine. SXSW: Beer and the more the better.

4) DH: Dell  SXSW: Apple

5) DH: More coat check. Less filler.  SXSW: More stickers.  More graffiti.  More idea generation.  Less shampoo.

6) DH: No Wi-Fi (except in the conference center using some convoluted means to log on)  SXSW: Wi-Fi convention-wide (with small exceptions) AT&T…not so much.

7) DH: Overheard in the bathroom: Nothing.  SXSW: Overheard in the bathroom… Friend1: I just joined twitter this morning. Friend 2: JUST this morning?!? Friend1: Yah. (obvious embarrassment)

8) DH: What’s twitter? SXSW: Holy sh#t! Did you see that last guy’s tweet?! Someone just won SXSW Bingo.

9) DH: Keynote: Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC)  SXSW: Keynote: James Powderly (Co-founder Graffiti Research Lab)

10) DH: The entire traditional media universe peppered with some digi distribution folks.  SXSW: The entire web development community with little to no content creators.

In case you need another visual to drive this one home, have at it…





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Today at Digital Hollywood in NYC, Steve Adler (Business Week Editor-in-Chief) interviewed Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS. Summing up Moonves, the man definitely speaks his mind. At times, this prompted laughter and at other times general anxiety.

Favorite quote from the keynote: (In regards to American Idol) “I wish someone would kill that show. I would greatly appreciate it.” Well, OK. But only if I can take Paula Abdul out first.

The Highlights:

Shift of Advertising Dollars

  • 70% of CBS’ business is advertising
  • Conventional wisdom says that internet will draw ad $$ away from TV –> CBS has not seen internet advertising to be competitive but instead additive to TV ad revenue
  • In 2007, CBS saw online revenue of $200 million
  • Instead of TV, the first to see the hit in ad revenue will be radio & print


  • In 2007, private equity was driving up the price of companies making acquisitions difficult. This year, the rules have changed leading to an open market for CBS to make some acquisitions.


  • Univision represents a missed opportunity for CBS. Moonves described the company as a fit with CBS but overpriced at the time they had looked at it.


  • When asked about Facebook, Moonves responded that the company is overpriced and not at their core business to be considered as an acquisition.


  • Moonves is considering The Weather Channel as an acquisition. Sees it as a fit for CBS.

Digital Distribution


  • CBS offers its content across multiple platforms. They chose not to participate in Hulu because Moonves prefers to control the content and ad sales à Believe that CBS can distribute on its own to generate increased revenue in relation to a Hulu partnership
  • Moonves was careful to also say that CBS would continue to weigh the value of a partnership with Hulu (i.e. the wait and see game)


  • March Madness on Demand (MMOD) offers all of the NCAA games online available to watch anytime.
  • MMOD began as a subscription model in year 1 generating $250K in revenue –> year 2: a free ad-supported model generating $4 million in revenue –> year 3: same model generating $10 million in revenue –> this year: same model with estimated revenue of $25 million. Pretty impressive. Good bye productive workforce.

WGA Strike

  • Moonves, while seemingly somewhat sensitive to the writers’ situation during the strike, commented that some of those writers will never make back the money lost during the strike. Seems a bit snarky no?
  • As a result of the strike, CBS will not be developing full pilots but instead will develop half pilots to reduce front end cost.


  • When asked about his three favorite shows, Moonves responded several more than three. Here are the first three out of his mouth. Interesting that the top two compete with Showtime.







Dexter on Showtime


  • Dexter watched by 1.4 million people on Showtime. When syndicated to CBS, Dexter now affords a viewer base of 6 -7 million.


  • CBS has sold several stations and changed the leadership at several others.
  • Moonves still sees radio as a strong industry. All CBS stations are now able to stream online.



  • Online should not represent regurgitated TV content.
  • Last.fm wasn’t simply about putting the music online but about building a community around that music.

For the first 10 minutes of the keynote click the image below. You will find 2 more videos capturing the next 20 minutes here.




Robert Iger (President & CEO of Disney), as interviewed by Business Week executive editor John Byrne, was asked if he had a Facebook profile. The answer: indeed he does. Of course, this prompted me to search for him on Facebook only to find a page dedicated to petitioning Iger as commencement speaker at USC. After reading the lengthy ,albeit articulate petition, I decided that whoever formed this page has got it all wrong.

USC Iger Petition in Facebook


Here’s one word to sum up Bob Iger as he articulated himself today: humble.

If I had to additionally capture how he communicated his thoughts on new media today:

Consumer Experience

  • It’s important not only to focus on the product but how the consumer experiences that product. It seems a strategy he shares with business partner Steve Jobs.

Here’s some of the other highlights from today’s keynote.

Social Media


· Social media isn’t an engaging medium for solely generations X/Y. The audience extends out to include younger audiences as well. Disney believed in this value to the extent that they acquired Club Penguin, a virtual world for children to engage in.

· Other virtual communities to come include one to support the movie Cars called Radiator Springs

Technology’s Impact on Disney

  • Most media companies look at technology as a challenge. Contrary to this strategy, Disney looks at technology as an enabler of content while still a challenge to figure out.


  • When asked how Iger sees deals such as the Google/Doubleclick affecting his business, his answer was not much. Strengthening the platforms empowers the content provider and therefore is good for Disney.

The Blu-Ray Smackdown to HD DVD


  • Sees the Blu-Ray win as good for DVD sales but says the real innovation will be the coming interactive features to be available on DVDs.

Global Success


  • Because of cultural distinctions internationally, product cannot simply be exported for consumption abroad. The product must be created globally to bring these cultural differences to light.
  • When designing the Disneyland experience in Hong Kong, the park was built to support the same amount of dining time typically demonstrated by American audiences: 20 minutes. After the Hong Kong park was opened, however, park go-ers were typically eating for 40 minutes on average. The accommodations that were allotted in the dining locations were found to be inadequate in this case and changes were quickly made to adjust to this.




  • Disney established two MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) for the Disney and ESPN brand. An MVNO is a company which provides mobile service by leasing spectrum from one of the major service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, etc. Both enterprises failed.
  • Iger acknowledges that these models failed and says that he does not believe in the MVNO model going forward. ESPN created a licensing relationship with a 3rd party and Disney plans to do the same. In essence, Disney will provide the content on mobile phones without acting like the mobile company part. I mean, who wants to run a billing department anyway?

New Media Cannibalizing Traditional Media


· Consumption of content on new platforms has been seen as incremental, not cannibalistic.

· Long term, film content will shift a bit in consumption on new platforms but the physical medium will never be eradicated completely.


  • Disney is self-publishing games at this point. The strategy will be to buy development talent rather than a publisher to succeed in the space.


  • Don’t feel the need to acquire companies to be successful. That said, free cash flow strong if a suitable partner comes along.

Iger seems to lead with a humility that is simply refreshing in a media CEO. I imagine the guy doing yoga in his office with a Jamba Juice ready to go post work-out.

Namaste Mr. Mouse. Namaste.

Go Time on Digital Hollywood by Marauder
March 12, 2008, 5:36 PM
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , ,

Reserved for. . .people more important than me surely. Waiting for Bob Iger to take the stage during this morning’s keynote at Digital Hollywood in NYC.

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