Monday, April 29, 2013

Morning Brief: HuffPost Live lands on cable TV; the Koch Brothers-Trib bid story proves to have legs; claims its mobile web efforts are producing results

Mark Cuban's cable channel AXS TV has signed up The Huffington Post's own HuffPost Live to provide six hours of content each day, according to the NYT. The move is being made as efforts to get cable providers to add HuffPost Live to their channel offerings has failed to achieve results.

Cuban's AXS TV, previously called HDNet, now shows mostly repeat programming. HuffPost Live programming with features live commenting and eventually an app which will attempt to drive viewership.

According to the NYT neither party is paying the other in the deal as AXS TV needs original programming, and The HuffPost needs a TV audience. “It’s an opportunity for both of us to grow our audiences during the day,” Roy Sekoff, the president of HuffPost Live said.

The Koch Brothers-Tribune story now has a life of its own.

It started with a blog report in the L.A. Weekly asking whether the Koch Brothers were about to bid on the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune. The move would not be totally unexpected – with newspapers becoming less profitable, the motivation to own a paper turns from one of direct financial gain to one of indirect financial gain through political influence.

But the L.A. Weekly story was simply speculating and trying to connect some dots. What has followed is another example of the herd mentality of the press, this time exemplified by the media reporting community. Despite the fact that bids are not due yet, and despite the fact that the Koch Brothers have been tight lipped about their plans, media reporters have been repeating the story as fact, and even writing commentaries on an event that has not happened.

Today USA Today gets into the act.

No doubt if the bids for the Tribune Company are revealed and the name of the Koch Brothers is not included among the bidders the story will be that they were dissuaded by the publicity. Well, I have a scoop for you, too – Donald Duck will be bidding on the Tribune Company newspapers, unless dissuaded by a leaked report of his interest.

The Guardian this morning features an interview with managing director Rob Grimshaw in which Grimshaw gives readers a status report on the financial newspaper's mobile media efforts.

According to Grimshaw, 12% of the FT's digital advertising revenues are currently coming from mobile devices, and 34% of total web traffic is coming from mobile devices. "The investment and time we have put into mobile is really paying off. The audience is clearly moving to mobile, and we need to be where the audience is. 15-20% of new subscriptions each week are being sold on a mobile device," says Grimshaw.

The problem I have with the claims is that they may be taking interesting information and coming to the wrong conclusion. Rathe than the growth of mobile as a share of readership reflecting anything the paper is doing maybe it is true that the reason mobile traffic is growing is simply that more and more readers are using their mobile devices to access the web. TNM's mobile traffic has also grown tremendously over the past two years and yet I've really not done much to make that happen – it is happening simply because readers are changing their behavior, not because I have done anything to promote mobile traffic (or, at least, very little).