New High Score! These are my top three video game blogs.

As an aspiring video game journalist my interest in blogs naturally revolves around several sites that cover different aspects of gaming culture and news. As much as I would love to tell you I frequent political blogs of important figures, I would be making it all up. Let’s examine my top three gaming blogs.

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AOL still hanging in there thanks to dial-up

AOL’s latest quarterly earnings showed growth in its content and advertising business as the company posted a 2% gain in revenue from a year ago and earnings per share of $0.32.

This is a big turnaround for AOL, which for years had been depending on its legacy dial-up subscription business — yes, dial-up is still a lucrative revenue source for AOL — for profit as its content and advertising business struggled.

Another good sign for the company may be a 14% growth in revenue in its brand group, which consists of its in-house media properties like the Huffington Post, AOL.com and TechCrunch. AOL networks, which represent its third-party advertising service, was also up 8%.

AOL needs to rethink its strategy for the long term because it can’t depend on dial-up revenue for long since that has been shrinking for them steadily over the years.  The brand group is proving successful for them, but they are still in the negative. The gap is starting to close as the brand groups losses shrank by 71%, but it is still bad that it is not yet profitable for them.

AOL won’t be able to hang on much longer to its thin thread of dial-up subscribers, so expect some big changes to the company in the coming years as they refocus their brand.

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ABC plans its attack against Aereo

ABC has announced that it plans to start live streaming its content to iOS users in New York and Philadelphia a 24-hour live stream of its programming this week. This is significant because this is the first time that a broadcast company has embraced complete live streaming of all of its content in real time.

This is a move to counter Aereo, a service which offers broadcast channels to be recorded and streamed over The Cloud for a fee. ABC does not plan to charge a fee however, instead they will open the service up to any authenticated cable subscribers. This will prove to be much cheaper than Aereo since people that pay for cable will now have to pay any extra fees in order  to make use of this service. 

When it comes time for streaming commercial breaks, ABC plans to swap out its traditional commercials with ads optimized for iOS devices. Things get interesting when these ads will supposedly target specific interests of the user based on their likes and interests.

Not everything is 1:1 though when streamed through the iOS device. Some shows must be replaced with alternative content since ABC simply does not have the rights to stream each and every show online.

This is the first attempt to counter the very scary Aereo service that casts a shadow over the television industry. I look forward to seeing this battle progress in the future.

 

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LinkedIn starts magazine-style news channels

LinkedIn has been making a strong push lately to strengthen itself as a business news site for people to visit on a daily basis to drive continued traffic to the site. LinkedIn has been trying hard to push itself away from being just a collection of online resumes. 

 The site now offers “channels” or categories of news, much like a magazine would, and users can follow or subscribe to those channels as well as individual authors. When a user clicks on the News heading in their LinkedIn toolbar, they now get a screen of different categories of channels or categories they can subscribe to.

 Examples include Economy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, as well as broader categories such as Healthcare, Technology and Social Media. Once someone subscribes they are taken to a page that looks like a magazine websites homepage with one large image at the top and smaller ones below it.

The difference between a traditional magazine and LinkedIn’s layout is that the stories on LinkedIn Today come from everywhere — hundreds of different sites and publications, from Wired to the New York Times. In other words it is acting as a news aggregator of sorts.

It will be interesting to see how Linkedin’s new news oriented focus plays out for the future. its ability to allow users to specifically subscribe to their target interests may end up being a really powerful tool to keep their readers coming back and staying on their page even longer.

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YouTube announces its paid subscription model

YouTube has announced that it is now offering a new subscription model, only this time subscribers must pay a fee to view the content. People will pay as low as $0.99 a month to be able to access content from a select few channels, though YouTube says they will roll this out as a self-serve feature for many other partners in the future. Here is their release statement:

“Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates. For example, Sesame Street will be offering full episodes on their paid channel when it launches. And UFC fans can see classic fights, like a full version of their first event from UFC’s new channel. You might run into more of these channels across YouTube. Once you subscribe from a computer, you’ll be able to watch paid channels on your computer, phone, tablet and TV, and soon you’ll be able to subscribe to them from more devices.”

 

This could turn into a very lucrative source of revenue for many content providers, if it is done right. Obviously if you are paying monthly you are going to want content on a regular basis, likely at least one video or more per month to make this subscription model worth it.

This could be very interesting for news networks that have YouTube shows as in the future they can start charging people for some of their more in depth reporting stories, but I am sure there will be much backlash from viewers who had previously been receiving the same content for free and now need to pay for it.

 

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The battle of YouTube vs. TV has already been decided

According to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, video on the Internet will not take over television watching because “that’s already happened.”

Google held a presentation to advertisers on Wednesday night as part of a week of “NewFronts,” essentially digital media’s version of the TV tradition of promoting programming and selling ads.

In the past YouTube was often compared to TV at meetings such as this, but this time they tried to differentiate themselves to advertisers as a completely different entity. “I thought that YouTube was like TV, but it isn’t. I was wrong,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content. “TV is one-way. YouTube talks back.” He went on to say that TV is about reach and YouTube is about engagement, engagement of more than 1 billion users per month that is.

It is certainly fascinating to see how YouTube views itself in such a rapidly evolving world for all things media. In a way they are subtly acknowledging that they are not in direct competition with television, but are instead in competition with themselves in developing an entirely different form of media that is separate from legacy broadcast and cable stations.

Source: The Associated Press

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Blogs to replace magazines?

I recently read an interesting article on The Dish that discusses the current state of blogs and how they are causing the death of magazines as we know it. Why would people want to thumb through a magazine encompassing a mess of different writers when they could go online and read a blog.

Magazines are essentially physical versions of blogs, only they are stuck in time and can’t be read or updated on a daily basis like a blog can. When most people think of a blog however, usually what comes to mind is one individual blogging about their thoughts and opinions. Many blogs today though are shifting to more of a group oriented style that encompasses a slew of writers that tend to share a common interest.

So why would people choose to read a magazine when they can just as easily pick up an iPad and read a blog, skipping over all of the annoying full page ads and avoid having a paperweight once it has been read from start to finish. 

Group blogs still allow readers to pick and choose specific interests or individual writers to follow by way of their Twitter feeds or RSS feeds for specific topics of interest. Essentially the death of the physical magazine is imminent, it is only a matter of time before they are replaced by eZines, blogs and online newspapers.

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One factual error can cost even the most prominent journalists their job

Veteran media critic Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast has been let go of his position at the popular news site. The reason? he neglected to fact check his own article that erroneously reported that NBA player Jason Collins had left out the fact that he has been engaged to a woman in his Sports Illustrated story.

Things got interesting when people realized that Kurtz had failed to realize that Collins did indeed mention his prior engagement to a woman in that article. This proved that Kurtz had failed to read up to only the eighth paragraph in the Sports Illustrated story. There is something seriously wrong when a prominent journalist is writing a story about a story they read — or in this case, did not read.

As a result, Kuntz has been essentially fired or “dropped” by The Daily Beast. The error was corrected by Kuntz to try and downplay his factual mistake, but it was already too late. So what all journalists should take away from this story is that if you ever plan on writing a story about someone elses story, please make sure you actually…read it first.

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The New York Times knows how to make the best of a bad situation

The New York Times is struggling with revenue right now in the face its transition to an online focused business model. In the first quarter of 2013, net income was $3.1 million, down from $42.1 million in the period a year earlier. Total advertising revenue declined 11.2 percent over last quarter.

Realizing the trouble it faces in the print and online advertising model, The New York Times has shifted its focus to its online business model, specifically to push digital subscriptions. Circulation revenue grew by 6.5 percent as it continues to creates more enticing and competitive subscription rates for its website. 

In order to continue on this growing revenue source, new and varying subscription rates are to be introduced that target specific audiences. People will now be able to subscribe to cheap alternative plans that allow them to only read specific parts of the website. This is so that readers that only care about the politics section or the arts section, for example, will now only have to pay a minimal fee to read just those articles. For the most dedicated readers, premium subscription plans will be made available that allow limitless access to all articles including attending actual Times events. 

I am really impressed by The Times’ ambition to drive its digital circulation and revenue. They see an opportunity to grow their circulation numbers, which in turn will eventually pay off and drive up traditional advertising revenue as more people come to using the site on a daily basis.

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Don’t wait too long to embrace digital advertising

According to an article on TheGlobeAndMail.com, The Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers will offer their employees buyouts to deal with “unprecedented revenue declines,” a result of declining revenue from the newspapers’ declining revenue from print advertising. 

This news is the stark reality of the print side of journalism, and just how dangerous it can be if a newspaper does not make the shift fast enough to increasing revenue through the digital side of advertising such as paywalls or online donation model incentives for their readers.

These two papers are part of a chain from Postmedia Network Inc. The Province was founded in 1898 and has a print circulation near 144,000, while the Sun was founded in 1912 and does about 155,000 copies a day. Both newspapers rely heavily on print advertising as their sole source of revenue. Almost 70 percent of revenue at Postmedia’s 10 big-city newspapers comes from printed advertisements.

Both papers plan on making a strong push for online digital advertising, making the paywall model the primary means of increasing revenue. This still does not undermine the fact that many employees, of the 600 that exist across both papers, will still lose their jobs in an effort to keep the newspapers in business.

In my opinion it is important for stories like this to be brought to the attention of readers and journalists alike. This way the consumers can see the reality of how important it is to support your local newspapers and also for the business side of things because it shows just how real the bleak future of print journalism is becoming. Business can’t wait to long in making their transition to online advertising, or how important it is to bolster their ad revenue spending budget for this growing side of the industry.

 

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