Mediatwits #45: Rafat Returns!; Cord-Cutting Rising?; Google Surveys Instead of Pay Walls

    by Mark Glaser
    April 6, 2012
    Rafat Ali bikes around Inle Lake in Burma while the rest of us are working
    i-6c572452a14f1ceca32fc1f24c3da678-rafat in moheli.jpg

    Rafat off the coast of Nioumachoua village in Moheli

    Welcome to the 45th episode of the Mediatwits podcast, this time with Mark Glaser and the Rafat Ali as co-hosts. That’s right, Rafat Ali is back in the saddle after a nearly three month trek to India, Burma and Iceland. And he’s back just in time to talk cord-cutting once again, this time after new research showed that cable lost 1 million subscribers last year. Special guest Seth Shapiro, an analyst and educator, tells us that the reality is that 1 million is a drop in the bucket for cable companies that have more than 100 million subscribers. Shapiro details why Netflix, Hulu, Google and Apple have a very long road ahead in trying to compete with cable and satellite services.

    "What was not possible 6 months ago [in Burma], with images of Aung San Suu Kyi everywhere, including in newspapers...The fact that they could do all that was incredible." -Rafat Ali

    And now for something completely different. Google is offering up Customer Surveys that will allow people to answer a question or two in a simple survey instead of paying for content behind a pay wall. The marketer pays 10 cents to 50 cents per survey answered and the publisher gets 5 cents each, with Google pocketing the difference. Special guest David Cohn helped pioneer this survey model at Spot.us with its Community Focused Sponsorships. He explains what they learned about surveys at Spot.us and how Google might be doing an even better job with this idea, which could prove to be a worthy alternative business model for online publishers.


    Check it out!



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    Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio’s Music Alley.

    Here are some highlighted topics from the show:


    0:20: Rafat Ali is back as co-host

    1:10: Rafat misses the Pinterest craze

    3:30: Burma has changed drastically with more optimism, openness


    Seth Shapiro

    5:45: Rundown of topics for the show

    1 million people cut the cord to cable in 2011

    7:45: Special guest Seth Shapiro

    9:30: Popular TV shows have been subsidized by cable revenues

    11:20: Shapiro: 105 million to 115 million paid TV subscribers total, so 1 million isn’t that much

    13:50: “Modern Family” would rather not be available in streaming services

    16:20: Cable companies don’t care if you pay for cable or streaming — just pay them!

    18:00: Shapiro: Even Steve Jobs couldn’t get TV content despite his power at Disney

    Google surveys to get around pay walls

    i-a63260a46a5947c0a0c62f2a4039f1e2-david cohn grab.jpg

    David Cohn

    20:50: Special guest David Cohn

    22:10: Spot.us pioneered surveys, but they were more extensive than Google surveys, and they charged $5 per survey taken

    26:00: Reader could avoid survey by signing up for publisher’s newsletter

    28:20: Rafat would consider using surveys at his new website to make revenues

    More Reading

    Over 2.6 million U.S. subscribers have cut out cable since 2008 at VentureBeat

    Cord Cutting is Real: 1 Million TV Subscribers Lost to Streaming Services at The Wrap

    Netflix, Hulu drive U.S. consumers to cut cable cord at CNET

    Estimated 1 Million Pay-TV Users Cut Cord for Web in 2011 at Bloomberg

    Google Unveils New Revenue Option for Web Publishers at Adweek

    Google gets into market research, turns online surveys into paywall replacements at VentureBeat

    Google offers paywall alternative at ITWeb

    Google Consumer Surveys

    Take a Survey Instead of Paying? Google Follows the Spot.us Model at Idea Lab

    The Battle for the North American Couch Potato: Online & Traditional TV and Movie Distribution report from Convergence Consulting Group

    Weekly Poll

    Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about what you’d do to help pay for quality journalism:

    Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

    Tagged: burma cable tv cord cutters google hulu microsurveys netflix pay walls rafat ali spot.us surveys travel

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