One topic we've talked about a lot has been in online advertising. Advertising is one of the keys to the free web. Without online advertising, companies like ours can't make money and provide content to you without charging you. Therein lies the main problem with ad blockers.
Until recently, blocking ads on your mobile device was uncommon. Lately, however, it has become a norm. Many mobile browsers allow ad blocking, including Apple's own Safari. Fortunately for content providers and carriers, it is still an opt-in feature.
That could begin to change next month as UK wireless carrier Three will begin testing network level mobile ad blocking. The initial roll out will allow 500,000 current customers to opt-in to the test. This will prevent the devices from accessing the advertising content at all.
The company claims that the move is all about data costs. They believe that the consumer should not be responsible for paying for the bandwidth to transfer the ads. The problem with that theory is that the consumer isn't the only one paying for bandwidth. Anytime an advertisement is accessed, the provider is paying for bandwidth as well. The consumer is also aware that they are visiting a free website that is advertisement supported.
The problem here does not lie with either the consumer or the advertiser; the problem lies with the carrier. If Three truly believes that the consumer should not be paying for bandwidth on certain content the consumer is asking for, then they should stop charging for bandwidth. By making sweeping accusations and a move like this, Three's customers will see a decrease in their data usage, but mostly from sites that are going to block the carrier.
If a site is providing content free of charge, they have to find a way to monetize that content. If a carrier is going to strip a content provider of its ability to pay to produce that content, then the consumers of that content will eventually be penalized.
The trend toward blocking mobile advertising is going to change the Internet, but not for the better.
In the United States, it's been a long time coming. Videogames are a big deal here, but somehow professional gaming has never taken hold on television. Sure, sites like Twitch have given a rise in popularity but never in the mainstream.
This week TBS premiered ELEAGUE, both online and on television. Tuesday through Thursday we saw content online with the programming jumping to TBS Primetime on Friday. This isn't the first time we've seen a television network attempt to broadcast professional gaming, but previous attempts never quite felt serious. TBS however has definitely taken a different approach.
By pumping up the audience online during the week and then shifting to cable, they encouraged more people to view it. They brought in the best teams from around the world. They brought in announcers who knew what they were doing. They built sets and studios that are appropriate for the content. They even conduct floor interviews.
With all of that said, how did it go? In their first week they saw 92,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch during the week, and over 509,000 viewers on TBS Friday night. For a basic cable show at 10 PM on Friday night, a half a million viewers is great. For professional gaming on television that number is unbelievable.
They didn't just dominate in viewers either. They received over 700 million Twitter impressions during the week, with 360 million of those impressions being Friday night. Those social media numbers alone are worth being proud of.
The problem, of course, is that this was a look in audience. People wanted to see what ELEAGUE was going to be all about. Would the broadcast be good? Would it be worth watching long term? First week numbers are never a good indication of what's to come. However this is definitely specialized content. I can't imagine people stumbled across it on accident and stayed for an extended period. The people watching wanted to be there. The important question for TBS is will they be there again next week?
In 2012, Apple was sued by a patent holder, VirnetX, for violating their patents with FaceTime and iMessage. In particular, VirnetX owns 4 patents that describe a particular process for secure, highly available communications, which they claim several of Apple's products use without permission. Apple first
lost this suit in 2012, then vowing to fight the ruling, which would cost them $368 million. After redesigning the software and another court loss, the result is $626 million in penalty.
To add insult to injury, VirnetX is asking for additional relief in the form of an additional $190 million, and a permanent injunction blocking Apple from providing these features until such a time that the two companies can reach a licensing agreement on the patents. Assumable, the redesign of the software did not get it far enough away from the patents to protect Apple from additional penalties or suit.
Apple is asking, in exchange, for a new trial, claiming among other things that the lawyers for VirnetX misrepresented the evidence, and even the false information did not support the infringement claim. They claim that the company is going for a broad injunction in hopes of finagling a larger licensing fee; essentially extortion.
The judge has not yet ruled on the additional requests, but said he would "get orders out as quickly as possible."
Six weeks ago, the increasingly confused Kayne West released a new album,
The Life of Pablo. The release came with a strange caveat, though: it would be available exclusively to Tidal, the beleaguered streaming service owned by fellow rapper Jay-Z. There would be no purchasing anywhere, or streaming anywhere else - only on the one service. West was adamant about this decision, tweeting,
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale... You can only get it on Tidal.
This decision, while appearing to be supportive of a new version of the music industry, was actually a sign of confusion. More and more people are moving to streaming, but very few are moving to Tidal, and some people do still prefer to purchase an album to own. The movie industry knows this and continues to support DVD/Blu-Ray. The scenario this created for Kanye was no one switched to Tidal to listen to his music, and a digital version of the album became almost immediately available on torrent sites worldwide.
Kanye's initial reaction was as rational as his decision to go Tidal-exclusive: he threatened to sue The Pirate Bay, an organization with no entities in any country where Kanye could file said suit. Assumedly after a lawyer explained this very large roadblock to this plans, he abandoned them.
Apparently time does makes fools of us all, as this week all of that became nonsense. As of right now, the album which will always be a Tidal exclusive, is available on
Groove, iTunes, Spotify and more. The availability is not just streaming, either, as it is available for purchase from the Windows Store. If you are a fan of Kanye, go enjoy his latest album on your favorite platform. If you're not, just wait a little while for his next confusing tweet.