Uncle Rupert Wants Your Phone

Posted: February 7th, 2006 under journalism.
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OK, I think that his politics are, in many ways despicable.  OK, make that “almost without exception are despicable.”  Rupert’s father was a true journalist hero (look up how he had a hand in printing the uncomfortable truth that finally stopped the senseless slaughter at Gallipoli in WWI), and the integrity and ethics have quite clearly skipped a generation (viz how Lachlan bailed off the gravy train last year). 

But that don’t mean the old Fox is a moron when it comes to business and spotting things that nobody else quite sees yet.  Rupert had to fight it out in the 70s in the tabloid world, and I can tell you from experience, you have to be absolutely psychotic and quick on the trigger to make it there.  The dotcommers who used to smugly chant “If you have lunch you are lunch” wouldn’t have lasted a minute working by, with or anywhere near the rapacious Fleet Streeters. 

And so it was that I read this recent interview with Rupert about how he’s moving hard, fast and strong into the New Media world.  That was always the advantage of working for Rupert over corporate America (the suffocating bureaucracies of Time/Warner/AOL and Disney/ABC come immediately to mind), because when he saw an opportunity, he went for it.  The guy made decisions.  The people who worked for him made decisions.  They weren’t always decisions I agreed with – but hell, it beats sitting around with your thumb firmly lodged in your posterior orifice waiting for something to happen…

So here’s Rupert’s strategy for taking his Fox content and putting it on your phone/mobile net device – dunno if people will hold up their phones in bars as he claims, but I can see taking a few minutes while waiting in the DMV line to watch last night’s Fox Sports highlights…

Click on this link to check out the article in its entirety: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11180767/site/newsweek/

Most newspaper companies still have their heads in the sand, but other media companies are aggressive. And there are completely new start-up companies. There is a great pace of development, which is very exciting. At News Corp., we have been developing online extensions of traditional media for the last few years. What’s happened now? We’re seeing the spread of broadband. In the whole world today, only 190 million homes can receive broadband. That’s going to go up in the next 10 to 20 years to at least 3 billion homes. We’re just now at the very beginning of the shift to digital media.

Millions of videos, some from GE’s NBC and Disney’s ABC, are being downloaded onto iPods. Why aren’t your Fox shows on it?

We’re not knocked out by iPod so far. We’ve talked to them, to Google and others. But how many people really want to get video on a tiny screen when they already have TiVo or a similar service from their cable company or DirecTV? How many will want to pay $1.99 on Monday morning if they missed "Desperate Housewives" the night before? What’s been announced so far with iPod and Disney and NBC is very small-time at the moment.

There are so many things you can do, particularly in other parts of the world, where mobile-telephone service is a lot more developed. We’re downloading minute segments—original "mobisodes"—of the Fox hit "24." Soon we’ll be downloading the funniest joke of the week in "Family Guy." People will be sitting in bars and holding up their phones and laughing. It’ll be a pretty serious piece of revenue for us someday, probably. We’ll be into all these things, some quite original and some of what others are doing.

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