Discover more from Cybercultural
Amazon Publishing muscle, Netflix interactive tv, Spotify tipping, & more
Welcome Cybercultural subscribers! Like chiselled Jeff Bezos, I’m ready to get straight down to the business of the day… 💪
What You Need To Know 👀
Amazon's Plan to Conquer the World of Publishing 📚
Fascinating analysis of Amazon Publishing, the retail giant’s book publishing subsidiary, by The Atlantic:
“As Amazon Studios does with movies, Amazon Publishing feeds the content pipelines created by the tech giant’s online storefront and Amazon Prime membership program. At its most extreme, Amazon Publishing is a triumph of vertical engineering: If a reader buys one of its titles on a Kindle, Amazon receives a cut both as publisher and as bookseller—not to mention whatever markup it made on the device in the first place, as well as the amortized value of having created more content to draw people into its various book-subscription offerings.”
My take: What Amazon Publishing has done over the past decade is undeniably impressive. It now has 16 imprints, such as the science fiction and fantasy-focused 47North. Earlier this year I interviewed one of 47North’s authors, Eliot Peper. He told me that Amazon Publishing has “helped me reach more than a hundred thousand new readers I would not have been able to reach otherwise, and I am earning more out of the gate than I have with any of my self published books so far.”
So if authors and readers alike are giving Amazon Publishing the thumbs up, what’s not to like? Well, here’s one thing: the potential monopoly power Amazon is building in the publishing industry. It’s quite alarming, especially given Barnes & Noble’s struggles in the US (see the ‘Deals’ section below for the latest on that front).
Netflix Bets on Interactive TV With Wave of New Kids Shows 📺
According to a Bloomberg report, Netflix is turning three of its popular kids programs into “interactive specials” that will take a “choose-your-own-adventure approach to TV.” The report continues:
“The episodes are a hybrid of traditional narrative TV series -- where the viewer just sits back and watches -- and video games, where the viewer controls the protagonist. Each episode presents the viewer with choices to select what a character does, or where they go next.”
My take: Much like the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ books I occasionally read as a kid, this seems more like a novelty than a meaningful trend in tv. If kids these days want interactivity, they can already get it via sophisticated online games such as Fortnite. An interactive Netflix show might have four or five decision points per episode, but the choices are necessarily limited by how many scenes the producers film. By comparison, when playing Fortnite you’re making choices all throughout the game. I guess Netflix has to do these experiments, but I think it’ll be about as successful as interactive books were (which is to say, not very).
Twitch has released its own broadcasting software 📹
The live streaming platform has just released new software for newbie streamers to get started. According to The Verge:
“Twitch Studio is aimed directly at new streamers, and it’s not meant to compete with any of the more advanced options to get a stream on Twitch, like Streamlabs or Xsplit. The idea is to expand the range of people who are streaming on Twitch. Right now, the platform overwhelmingly plays host to video game streams, though it’s expanding into other domains of live entertainment, like sports and music.”
My take: The key here is that last sentence. Twitch, which remember is owned by Amazon, wants to expand beyond the boy-gamer audience it is currently known for. This new product seems designed to entice YouTube vloggers over to Twitch. The more YouTubers doing entertainment and sports content it can poach, the more attractive Twitch will be to video consumers and advertisers.
Spotify Wants To Enable Fans To Tip Artists 🎹
Chris Castle from Music Tech Solutions thinks Spotify will enable users to tip their favourite artists, because Chinese social network Tencent has already proven it can be a big revenue driver. Castle quoted this from CNBC’s Jim Cramer:
“Tencent Music is a major part of the micropayment ecosystem because they let you give virtual gifts,” Cramer said. “If you want to tip your favorite blogger with a song, you do it through Tencent Music. In the latest quarter we have numbers for, 9.5 million users spent money on virtual gifts, and these purchases accounted for more than 70 percent of Tencent Music’s revenue.”
My take: I’d love for Spotify to implement tipping, if for no other reason than it would allow me to send some coin to my favourite indie artists. But the comparison to Tencent is not quite an apples to apples one. In China, consumers are already used to paying and tipping via the sophisticated mobile chat apps in that market (in particular WeChat, which is owned by Tencent). But in the Western world, micropayments have yet to take hold. Although Facebook’s Libra project, which will go live next year, could finally enable that functionality. Perhaps Libra will allow Spotify to trial tipping, but even so there will be a lot of cultural obstacles to overcome in getting consumers to actually use the feature.
Wall St Journal: Entercom Communications to Acquire Two Podcast Companies; Entercom is the second-largest U.S. radio broadcaster by revenue. 📻
Crunchbase: News App SmartNews Now Worth $1B+ After New Capital; the Japanese news aggregation company reportedly has 20M monthly active users in the US and Japan.🗞️
PublishersWeekly: Private Equity firm Elliott Advisors completes its $683M purchase of Barnes & Noble. 📚
VentureBeat: Swedish company Hiber raises $800k for its user-generated browser game platform; “enables players to build and share their own games.” 🎮
Variety: Podcast Startup Glow Raises $2.3M; the platform enables listeners to make payments directly to creators. 🎙️
Tweet of the day 🐦
The author of The Atlantic article on Amazon Publishing, Blake Montgomery, tweets out a visual timeline of Jeff Bezos’ evolution to “muscle daddy.”
That’s the Monday update, hope you found it useful! Coming up on Wednesday is this week’s in-depth analysis post, which will be made public to help get the word out to non-subscribers. Your early support of Cybercultural is much appreciated. 🙏