Monday, April 27, 2015

Newspapers the new digital challenges

The digital landscape moves on at a terrific speed. What seemed obvious two years ago for newspapers editors does not work anymore to day. Here are some tips on 2015 situation.

The major role of social networks. For a long time, it made common sense that the homepage of news websites was all important. Journalists and tehnicians devoted a lot of time and thought to their improvement. It is not true anymore. Now, more of 50% of users access to information through the social networks and mostly Facebook. The Web giant is discussing with the N Y Times to g provide directly the news of the Grey Lady. Others will follow in the US and in Europe. Facebook could become the main news provider without hiring any journalist.

The dominance of smartphones. When the tablet was launched by Apple, five years ago all news editors were convinced they had found the magic formula to offer their content in a user friendly device. Paid subscription to newspapers read on I Pad was the solution. To day, it appears that the smartphone has won. A great majority of readers under 40 prefer to browse on the small screen of their phones , so light and easy to carry. Once again, Facebook has understood earlier what was happening and attracted most of the readership and advertising.

The success of paywalls. News websites have thought hard and much too long to attract ads. It appears now that contrary to what made legacy media so profitable a long time ago, advertising will play a minor part in the financing of news and for two reasons. First, Google and the social networks attract most of the cash through their gigantic audiences. Then the small screens of smartphones are not attractive to advertising. The main anglo saxon media, the NY Times, the FT, the WSJ have built up a profitable subscription system with big figures, 900000 subscribers for the NYT, 800000 for the two others.  For getting a quality news service, people will have to pay.

Last but not least, pure players are offering successful alternatives to legacy media websites. Think of Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice, Quartz and also Politico. In France, Mediapart is thriving. Ther will be other players in a crowded field. The battle for information is not over.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bollore and the great French media group

A few weeks ago, Vincent Bollore, chairman and main shareholder of Vivendi said that he wanted to build up a huge media group, the size of Bertelsman. Up to now his policy has not been very convincing. He has sold several important branches of Vivendi, including the telecom operator SFR and has pulled out of the biggest Polish TV channel. As far as digital activities are concerned, Vivendi has been lagging far behind Springer or Schibsted which are now the most notorious media operators on the Web in Europe.

What is striking is that France, which has a brilliant past in, owner of  media history, has not been able, these last 20 years to build up a credible strategy. Lagardere group, once a major world player has sold most of its magazines and has never been able to make it in digital and audiovisual activities. The newspapers Figaro, Monde, Ouest France are moving slowly, probably too slowly towards a digital future and the most promising start up are bought by American of German investors such as Springer owner of Aufeminin, Seloger and Carboat, three promising French ventures.

Still, Vivendi remains France's last hope to be a global player in the media world. The Guardian said recently that Bollore could buy the share of Murdoch in Sky, the giant British pay TV operator. If it worked it would be a late but stunning success.