We’ll admit to having a soft spot here for ‘80s pop. Perhaps it’s an escapist thing, but jangly guitar riffs recall a time less fraught with fear and loathing. That helps explains why our Media Outlook for 2010 really should be subtitled “Crawling From the Wreckage.” The classic Dave Edmunds tune seems to sum up the mood of the entire media industry as it crawls toward the end of what has been a brutal and transformative year. It’s been tough for some—and downright devastating for many.
But the faint sense of unclenching you’ll pick up throughout this report is real. The end of 2009 seems to be trending, well, not down. And most media companies ravaged by the recession might still be able to salvage their businesses and plan for a better 2010. That’s not to suggest that it’ll be a cake walk come Jan. 1. As Mediaweek senior editors Lucia Moses and Katy Bachman report, print and radio owners will have to really branch out into new ways of doing business if they want to stay out of the morgue in the coming year. Even the out-of-home industry, which has seen tremendous gains via entrepreneurial zeal and digital technology, has a relatively subdued near-term guidance.
National television’s proving ground will come in fourth quarter when massive bets on the health of the scatter market will either pay a windfall or push doom into first quarter and beyond. Unlike broadcast, cable had a pretty positive year thanks to the ongoing development of high quality originals, as Mediaweek senior editor Anthony Crupi reports.
The Emmy count was proof that cable, in the form of breakout series like AMC’s Mad Men, can hang with television’s biggest hitters. Even the broadcast networks look to be enjoying a decent start to the fall season, notes Adweek media editor Steve McClellan.
That brings us to the mixed bag that is digital. While search continues to roll forward as direct response messaging proves both effective and cost-efficient, display advertising, as Mediaweek digital editor Mike Shields reports, has yet to convince marketers of its value.
Web video seems to have captured the imagination of the industry, and Hulu and YouTube continue to prove that long-form programming can work well online. Ad dollars are following that buzz, but they can still only be counted in the millions, instead of billions. Perhaps the most hyped sector highlighted in this report is mobile. Everyone wants to be there, but it’s clear that just where there is is not completely clear at the close of 2009.
What is clear, though, is everyone is eager to move past the year that found many in the industry, with apologies to Mr. Edmunds, “scattered in the trees and in the hedges.”
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