What Have We Learned From MySpace?

It used to be when you bought a business you bought something tangible. No more.

News Corp, owners of Fox News, Fox Television, Wall Street Journal, NY Post and a zillion other media properties is no longer the owner MySpace. It wasn’t pretty. This was a fire sale. Rupert Murdoch, the guy behind News Corp, has to be smarting from this.

With that in mind let’s look back and see was written not too long after News Corp bought it. Here’s some of what David Carr’s Media Equation column from the October 29, 2007 New York Times.

No snickering please!

In the United States, Mr. Murdoch’s appeal is thought to work in the heartland, where Fox News takes aim. But on the left coast, Mr. Murdoch is truly among friends. The attendees at the Web 2.0 conference know him as the ultimate market timer, the guy who swooped in out of nowhere and bought MySpace for $580 million two years ago, before its audience doubled and before social networks became the platform of the future. And this was before Facebook got a valuation of $15 billion via an investment from Microsoft on Wednesday.

“This is not just another rich guy — there are a lot of those around here,” said John Battelle, one of the summit’s hosts. “He built News Corp. from not much, with his own two hands, and this is a room full of entrepreneurs. The other thing this room respects is intelligence, and they can tell he is smart, really smart, not just from what he says, but what he has done with MySpace.”

I just read John Battelle’s writing a book that “will give us a forecast of the interconnected world in 2040, then work backwards to explain how the personal, economic, political, and technological strands of this human narrative have evolved from the pivotal moment in which we find ourselves now.” Yeah… uhhh … right.

It used to be when you bought a business you bought something tangible. No more. Was there anything to MySpace that couldn’t be carried around in a briefcase? What did Murdoch buy for $580 million in 2005? What did he sell today for $35 million?

When companies can rise or fall this quickly how can you properly value them? Maybe the lesson of the Internet era is companies should be run to earn, not to be flipped.

Note: I work for FoxCT. We are affiliated with Fox Television, meaning we run The Simpsons, American Idol and NFL Football. We are not owned or run by News Corp.

Murdoch Versus Dolan: The Two Least Sympathetic Figures In Media Are Fighting

It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

Cablevision and Fox are fighting. It’s tough to take sides. This is like the old commercial where you had to choose between a headache and upset stomach!

Seriously, it’s Rupert Murdoch versus Chuck Dolan. These are the two least sympathetic characters in media!

As of this moment WWOR and WNYW have been removed from Cablevision systems serving millions of viewers. It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

The New York Times reports:

News Corp. quickly issued a release headlined, “Cablevision Drops Fox.” At the same time, Cablevision began posting a message on the screen that accused News Corp. of “pulling Fox 5 and My 9 off air” and declared it was News Corp.’s decision, “not ours.”

I work in TV so I’m not quite an unbiased observer, but I can give you an idea what’s going on.

For the longest time TV stations were thrilled to be on cable. Cable brought our pictures into people’s homes more clearly. It was a marriage of convenience on both sides. Cable served the overwhelming majority of our viewers and we in turn provided the most watched stations.

As cable began to sell local advertising and the cable networks began to pour money into new programming the marriage became a little more strained. We were still cable’s big dog, but the cable systems themselves were becoming our competitors!

Then local TV revenue began to shrink and TV station owners looked at cable and wondered why TV stations weren’t getting the cash they were paying money to CNN, USA, TBS, The Weather Channel, and all the others. TV station owners began to demand money from cable systems to carry our signals. Our marriage of convenience was turning ugly!

Over the past few years there have been a few showdowns like the one between Fox and Cablevision. Stations have been pulled from cable systems taking away popular shows and even more popular sporting events. In New York City this weekend Fox will be carrying the baseball playoffs and the NFL. How unhappy do you suppose Cablevision subscribers will be to lose the Yankees&#185 and football Giants?

At some point one of the parties will cry “Uncle” and a truce will be declared. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen months from now!

In the meantime both Cablevision and Fox are calling each other names and trying to look like the good guy. Like I said earlier, it’s Dolan versus Murdoch. This fight has no good guys!

Here’s the video Cablevision has been running on the channels formerly occupied by WWOR and WNYW.

&#185 – I’ve got an error to correct. The Saturday Yankees game is actually on TBS and not affected. The Phillies game Saturday night is on Fox and will be missing from Cablevision’s New York area systems. In addition the Fox station in Philadelphia is part of this dispute, so Cablevision subscribers near Philadelphia won’t get to see tonight’s game nor the Eagles game tomorrow.

Roger Ailes And Fox

Roger Ailes, the Svengali of Fox News Channel, is taking on additional roles.

New York Times:

Roger E. Ailes, the media adviser to three Republican presidents who has been chairman of Fox News Channel since its inception nine years ago, was given an additional title yesterday: chairman of Fox Television Stations.

The appointment, which was announced by Fox’s parent, the News Corporation, gives Mr. Ailes oversight of Fox’s 35 broadcast television stations and a production studio, Twentieth Television.

Though Fox News has refers to itself as “Fair and Balanced,” common wisdom says it represents ‘right of center’ politics. And so, you may think Ailes will steer the Fox Network in that direction.

I don’t think so.

Seeing Fox News solely as an ideological brand is missing the point. Fox News has turned attitude and personality into high television art forms. There is nothing on the channel restrained or subdued. There are more well known people on Fox than CNN and MSNBC combined!

My guess (and it’s only a guess) that’s the biggest change Ailes will bring the the Fox stations.

Look for promotions to become bigger and bolder and more over-the-top than they are now. Look for more people driven, rather than concept driven programming.

It probably doesn’t make sense to politicize the Fox local stations, and I don’t expect to see that. I think Ailes job is to advance revenue, not advocate partisan politics.

Wait a year. We’ll see how insightful I am… or am not.