Monday, March 12, 2012

March Monday morning media madness

Nothing to do with basketball, but I've just noticed a couple of articles from the world of media that have my head spinning a bit.

First, from, the news that talk-show titan Larry King has partnered with Carlos Slim to create a digital television network.

The article says the network will be headed by one Jon Housman, who "previously served as president of digital journalism at News Corporation and was the publisher of the Wall Street Europe."

The New York-based network, dubbed Ora.TV, will begin programming later this year.

This is just the latest example of full-blown networks seeming to appear out of thin air since most U.S. broadcasters made transition to digital television on June 12, 2009. Back in September, Bounce TV, geared towards the mature African-American demographic, made its premiere, less than six months after its founding last April. 

According to Wikipedia, "The founding group and initial ownership team includes former Atlanta mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, and Andrew "Bo" Young III; the group also includes Rob Hardy and Will Packer, the co-founders of Rainforest Films, a top African-American production company."

Fifty years ago, creating a network meant building stuff. Now it seems to mean - primarily, if not exclusively - just making the deals. The stuff - the hardware, the infrastructure - is already there. There's even enough programming already in existence to launch a network without creating any new material (Bounce's first program was an airing of "The Wiz."). And if your deal is for a single channel rather than a network, you can just run video of chickens being roasted. Snag the asset, and you can figure out what to do with it later.

Anyway, a talk show host and a telephone magnate are creating a television network to be headed by a guy with a mainly print background. Verrrrry interesting.


Granted, Mashable's 20 million readers a month make it "one of the most popular sources of technology information on the web," but does Mashable make enough money to justify a $200 million pricetag? Or is CNN, more than a decade after the dot-com bust, just buying eyeballs?

Well, maybe the big boys are just looking for eyeballs again. The third piece of news that made me blink is from the Wall Street Journal: Instagram is preparing a round of financing that would value the company at $500 million.

This, in spite of the fact that Instagram's "success in attracting users has yet to translate into significant revenue in the way it has for some desktop-oriented Internet companies."

This, in spite of the fact that Instagram is only an app, "that lacks the real estate of a desktop for displaying advertising."

Ah, but it has 15 million users on iPhones alone, and the company has plans to port the app to Android.


Over the past year, dealmakers have been partying like it's 1999. And that was before Yelp's IPO trading pushed its valuation to nearly $1.5 billion. In eight years, Yelp has yet to turn a profit.

Really makes me wonder what kind of valuation Luminaria Productions could fetch if I devoted myself to getting eyeballs on "Homewood Nation." Maybe I should stop asking what it would take to make $5,000, $10,000, or even $50,000 or $60,000 a month (the latter figure based on the datum from Mani Saint-Victor, CEO of game development company Marveloper, that the average online game pulls in $2,000 a day), and start asking what it would take to build a billion-dollar company.

Whoa, Elwin - do you seriously believe that you can build a billion-dollar company?

Not necessarily. But I absolutely believe that if I act like I can, I might.

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