"BALANCE MASTER" MAEDIR EUGSTER BUILDS AN INCREDIBLE HAND-HELD PIECE ONE PALM FROND AT A TIME.
I’ve happened across enough contact juggling videos on YouTube to know that souped-up circus routines are a dime a dozen on the Internet. ButBalance, a short film directed by Tobias Hutzler, is the first I’ve been able to watch without laughing.
Eugster, clad only in pantaloons (and maybe some eyeliner for effect?) spends the video building a temporary sculpture, based on a single feather. Using 15 bare palm frond spines, he balances each proceeding object on the tip of the next, until he’s holding a massive kinetic sculpture overhead. Like any good performer, he kicks it up a notch for the finale by balancing the entire form on the tip of an upright frond.
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Then, thanks to physics, the whole thing collapses without Eugster’s steady hand. It’s like watching a Calder mobile blow apart in the wind.
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COMMENTARY: This guy makes this appear very simple to do, but it requires a steady hand, an understanding of physics, geometry and kinetic energy, and a very steady hand, and a whole lot of patience. The kinetic structure looks like it could come down at any time. It's very intense. You can tell by the look in his face. This guy is thinking one step ahead, making sure that the next piece he places on the structure is in perfect symetry and baalance -- nouveau art form at its very best.
Last quarter, Amazon, which has been a freight train and Wall Street darling over the last year, surprised analystsby reporting lower-than-expected earnings. Expectations were high considering the holiday shopping season, but Amazon saw net income drop 45 percent to $97 million in Q4, compared to $177 million in 2011, although on the bright side, net sales continued to increase (by 22 percent) to $21.2 billion.
Today, Amazon continued the trend, still finding itself in a bit of a hangover after missing expectations in Q4. The eCommerce giant reported earnings from Q1 after the market closed this afternoon, in which it saw cash flow increase 39 percent to $4.25 billion, compared to $3 billion for the prior year, while net sales increased 22 percent to $16.07 billion in Q1, compared to $13.18 billion in first quarter 2012.
And by mixed results, we mean that Amazon blew away earnings-per-share expectations at $0.18 in Q1 on revenue of $16 billion. Leading up to today’s announcement, Wall Street expectations were much lower for EPS, with analysts expecting $0.08 EPS for the quarter. In turn, the Street expected Amazon to report sales of $16.2 billion, which the company just missed with $16.07 billion in sales.
In spite of the mixed results, as the market has been wont to do over the last year, Amazon’s stock was trending up, closing at $274.70 per share, on rumors that the company could be launching its own TV set-top box this fall, bringing more of the company’s hardware into your living room.
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Tellingly, in today’s announcement, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t touch on the numbers or falling profits, instead plugging the company’s efforts to take on Netflix with some original programming of its own for Instant Video customers. Last week, the company launched 14 new comedy and kids pilots on Instant Video, which quickly became the “most watched TV shows on Instant Video,” the company said Monday.
“Amazon Studios is working on a new way to greenlight TV shows. The pilots are out in the open where everyone can have a say,” Bezos said in today’s earnings release. “I have my personal picks and so do members of the Amazon Studios team, but the exciting thing about our approach is that our opinions don’t matter. Our customers will determine what goes into full-season production. We hope Amazon Originals can become yet another way for us to create value for Prime members.”
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Other points of interest:
Free cash flow fell 85 percent to $177 million year-over-year, compared to $1.15 billion in the year prior, due in part to dishing out $1.4 billion to purchase new office space in Seattle.
Operating income decreased 6 percent to $181 million in Q1, compared to $192 million in the same quarter last year, while net income fell 37 percent to $82 million from $132 million in Q1 2012.
The upside for Amazon continues to rise, thanks to its move into original programming and the expansion of its selection for Prime Instant Video, which is in part due to new licensing agreements with A+E, CBS, FX, PBS And Scripps. This means that shows like Downton Abbey, Justified and Under The Dome, as well as content from Food Network, the Cooking Channel, the Travel Channel and HGTV will all be headed to Amazon. The company said that Prime Instant Video now has 38,000 movies and TV episodes in its collecton.
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In addition, Amazon touted the launch of its new MP3 store for Safari, which allow iPhone and iPod touch users to discover and purchase digital music from the company’s catalog. This comes on the heels of reports today that the influence of the company’s Appstore is growing and shows high revenue potential. Amazon also announced its Cloud Player for iPad and iPad Mini this quarter, extended AutoRip to vinyl records and announced the launch of Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.
Amazon MP3 Store Optimized for Safari and iOS Devices (Click Image To Enlarge)
Good news also came for authors and readers, as Amazon announced that it will start paying its authors their royalties monthly, ahead of the twice-a-year industry standard, along with the acquisition of popular book recommendation hub, Goodreads.
All in all, it was a busy quarter for Amazon, especially for AWS, which launched a slew of new products over the last few months and again lowered its prices. The company said in its announcement today that AWS “has lowered prices 31 times since it launched in 2006, including 7 price reductions so far in 2013.”
Looking forward, Amazon is lowering expectations, however, as it said today that it expects sales to come in between $14.5 billion and $16.2 billion next quarter — equivalent to a 13 to 26 percent increase from Q2 2012. In turn, it expects operating income to be between -$340 million and +$10 million. In other words, a potential loss.
In response to Amazon.com's statement of lowered earnings for the rest of 2013, on Friday, April 26, 2013, the market hammered Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock, as it dropped 19.89 points or down 7.24% to end trading at 254.81.
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In its press release issued on April 26, 2013, Amazon.com cited the following highlights for the quarter ending March 31, 2013:
Amazon.com expanded selection for Prime Instant Video, announcing new licensing agreements with A+E Networks,CBS Corporation, FX, PBS Distribution and Scripps Networks Interactive, bringing exclusive access to popular television series such as Downton Abbey, Justified and Under the Dome as well as shows from HGTV, DIY Network,Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel. Prime Instant Video now includes more than 38,000 movies and TV episodes that are available for Prime members to watch at no additional charge.
Amazon Studios, the original film and series production arm of Amazon.com, debuted 14 original comedy and kids pilots. The pilots, which feature stars such as John Goodman, Jeffrey Tambor and Bebe Neuwirth, are available exclusively atwww.amazonoriginals.com and on the Amazon Instant Video app for Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U, as well as hundreds of other connected devices. Viewer feedback will help determine which pilots Amazon Studios will produce into full series.
Amazon expanded the popular Kindle Fire feature “X-Ray for Movies” to TV shows, bringing the power of IMDb directly to the most popular TV shows on Kindle Fire. With a single tap viewers can discover the names of actors and what they've been in, without even leaving the TV show.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has grown to over 300,000 books available to borrow for free as frequently as a book a month, including many titles exclusive to Amazon.
Amazon announced the launch of the Amazon MP3 store optimized specifically for Safari browser. For the first time ever, iPhone and iPod touch users can discover and buy digital music from Amazon’s 22 million song catalog. Amazonalso announced its Cloud Player app for iPad and iPad mini, enabling customers to play or download music stored in Cloud Player to their device, play music that is already stored on their device, and manage or create playlists.
Amazon announced it has extended its popular AutoRip services to vinyl records. AutoRip provides customers with free MP3 versions of CDs and vinyl records they purchase from Amazon. Additionally, customers who have purchased AutoRip CDs or vinyl records at any time since Amazon first opened its Music Store in 1998 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries – also automatically for free.
Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Fire HD 8.9” — the large-screen version of its best-selling tablet —for theU.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. With the expansion of Kindle Fire HD 8.9” to Europe and Japan,Amazon also announced a lower price on Kindle Fire HD 8.9” in the U.S., with the Wi-Fi version starting at $269 and the 4G version starting at $399.
Amazon Publishing, the publishing arm of Amazon.com, announced that it will start paying authors their royalties monthly, 60 days in arrears — allowing authors to receive payment more frequently than the twice-a-year industry standard.
Amazon acquired Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love. Goodreads members can discover new books by seeing what their friends are reading or by using the Goodreads Book Recommendation Engine; share ratings and recommendations; track what they have read, and list what they want to read.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of Amazon Redshift, a fast and powerful, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud for a fraction of the cost of a traditional data warehouse.
AWS launched AWS OpsWorks, an application management solution for the complete lifecycle of complex applications, including resource provisioning, configuration management, deployment, monitoring, and access control.
AWS announced Amazon Elastic Transcoder, a highly scalable service for transcoding video files between different digital media formats. Amazon Elastic Transcoder manages all aspects of the transcoding process transparently and automatically, providing scalability and performance by leveraging AWS services.
AWS announced AWS CloudHSM, a new service enabling customers to increase data security and meet compliance requirements by using dedicated Hardware Security Module (HSM) appliances within the AWS Cloud. The CloudHSM service allows customers to securely generate, store and manage cryptographic keys used for data encryption in a way that keys are accessible only by the customer.
AWS has lowered prices 31 times since it launched in 2006, including 7 price reductions so far in 2013.
Q1 2013 Financial Reports
Below are the following financial reports for Amazon.com for the quarter ending March 31, 2013:
Consolidated Statement of Operations for the quarters ending March 31, 2013 and March 31, 2012.
Supplemental Net Sales Information for the quarters ending March 31, 2013 and March 31, 2012.
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the quarters ending March 31, 2013 and March 31, 2012 and Year-Ending December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2012.
Consolidated Balance Sheets for the quarter ending March 31, 2013 and Year Ending December 31, 2012.
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Amazon.com website traffic measured by unique visitors is tracked by Compete.com (see below) has steaily increasing since March 2012, and peaked at 138.3 million unique visitors at the end of December 2012 due to Christmas shopping, but has since declined to more normal levels. At the end of March, Amazon.com reached 129.7 million unique visitors.
Amazon.com Unique Visitors, Rank by Unique Visitors and Competitie Rank by Unique Visitors as of March 31, 2013 (Click Image To Enlarge)
What's Costing Amazon.com
Although Amazon's net income for the quarter ending March 31, 2013 declined significantly from the same quarter last year, profit margins were higher in Q1 2013 than Q1 2012 -- 26.56% vs. 23.95%, but the following operating expenses as a percentage of net sales were much higher in Q1 2013 than Q1 2012:
Fulfillment costs -- 11.18% (Q1 2013) vs 9.82% (Q1 2012).
Technology and content costs -- 8.61% (Q1 2013) vs. 7.17% (Q1 2012).
Marketing expenses -- 3.93% (Q1 2013) vs. 3.64% (Q1 2012).
Amazon.com is subsidizing a portion of the cost that it charges customers for its Kindle Fire tablets, but hopes to recover that cost by charging for its Prime service offerings and incremental sales from apps, digital music, hardcover and digital books, accessories and other retail products. According to several experts, this strategy seems to be working, but the exact amount that Amazon.com is making from post-tablet sales revenues and services is not known.
The Potential of Amazon's Cloud Computing
As an inducement for customers, Amazon.com is absorbing a significant amount of shipping costs on some orders meeting a certain amount, but this is costing the company in the bottom line. Amazon.com has also made extenive investments in its technology infrastructure in order to keep pace with its cloud computing services, increased sales volume and higher inventory carrying costs needed to fulfill orders.
According to Quartz, a digital research firm, Amazon.com now generates $2.4 billion in revenues from its cloud computing services, which Amazon refers to as Amazon Web Services. However, at the present time, Amazon.com does not charge customers for storing digital content on its cloud service. Apple, on the other hand, charges for storing digital content purchased outside Apple's ecosystem. The addition of MP3 Store for the iPhone, could eventually generate incremental revenues for Amazon.com if iPhone users start downloading digital content from Amazon.com, since there are no cloud storage costs. Amazon.com carries a lot more music and book titles than Apple iTunes, and that is a huge inducement.
Courtesy of an article dated April 25, 2013 appearing in TechCrunch, a press release dated April 26, 2013 issued by Amazon.com and
Will South Korean rapper Psy top his "Gangnam Style" video that caused an international sensation? It's hard to say so far — the video for his new single "Gentleman" was released early Saturday morning.
The song's catchy beat, charismatic dancing, and humorous video production are all there, but it's not going to be easy for the superstar to beat his first breakthrough hit on YouTube. "Gangnam Style" is still smashing records with more than 1.5 billion views and counting.
The audio version of "Gentleman" first debuted on Thursday, and now it's time to see if lightning strikes twice for Psy's video prowess.
The video was introduced in a live performance by Psy, live-streamed on YouTube at 5:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, and it's being replayed for 24 hours here:
What do you think? Do you like this new "Gentleman" video more than "Gangnam Style?" Take our poll, and then let us know you think of Psy's new video in the comments below. Here's the original "Gangnam Style" video:
COMMENTARY: Psy's new video "Gentlemen" is really a misnomer, it's more the anti-thesis of Psy's character in "Gangnam Style." If you watched the new video, Psy is definitely no "Gentlemen," based on his outrageous and zany antics, some of them quite crude, if I may say so. Just the same, I found the new video very entertaining, with the same high impact pulsating electronic music beat and dancing routines as in "Gangnam Style." It is always difficult to beat your previous successes, or even come close to matching them, for that matter. "Gangnam Style" has 1.5 billion views, more than any other YouTube video history. "Gentlemen" presently has 253,000 views. Looking forward to everybody's feedback.
Courtesy of an article dated April 13, 2013 appearing in Mashable
Some 178 million Americans—roughly 83.3% of the US Internet audience—watched more than 33 billion video content views in February 2013, with Google Sites generating the highest number at 11.3 billion and Facebook reaching its all-time high of 558 million, according to data from the comScore Video Metrix service.
Among the top 10 video properties, Google Sites had the highest average engagement.
Meanwhile, Americans viewed 9.9 billion video ads in February with Google Sites ranking first, delivering an all-time high of 2.2 billion ads, nearly one-quarter of the all video ads delivered during the month.
Below, additional findings from comScore.
Top 10 Video Content Properties by Unique Viewers
Google Sites, driven primarily by YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in February with 150.7 million unique viewers, followed by Facebook with 61.2 million, VEVO with 49.5 million, NDN with 46.3 million, and Yahoo Sites with 43.6 million.
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Google Sites had the highest average engagement among the top ten properties in February with 1,024.7 minutes per viewer (MPV).
Facebook was near the bottom in viewer engagement with an average of 19.9 MPV. Among the top 10 video sites, only Amazon recorded lower engagement with 12.6 MPV.
The duration of the average online content video was 5.6 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
Top 10 Video Ad Properties by Video Ads Viewed
Americans viewed 9.9 billion video ads in February, with Google Sites ranking first with its all-time high of 2.2 billion ads. BrightRoll Video Network came in second with 1.6 billion, followed by Hulu with 1.4 billion, Adap.tv with 1.4 billion, and LiveRail.com with 1 billion.
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Viewers spent a total of 3.8 billion minutes watching video ads in February, with BrightRoll Video Network delivering the highest duration of video ads at 859 million minutes.
Meanwhile, video ads reached more than 50% of the total US population 63 times during the month on average.
Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 61, while CBS Interactive and Google Sites tied for second with an average of 23 ads per viewer.
Top 10 YouTube Partner Channels by Unique Viewers
Video music channel VEVO maintained the top position in comScore's ranking of YouTube partners with 48.2 million viewers in February. Fullscreen held on to the No. 2 position with 36.8 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios with 30.5 million, Warner Music with 26 million, and ZEFR (formerly MovieClips) with 23.8 million.
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Among the top 10 YouTube partners, Machinima recorded the highest engagement (61 minutes per viewer), followed by Maker Studios (42 minutes per viewer).
However, VEVO streamed the greatest number of videos (514 million), followed by Machinima (374 million).
Video ads accounted for 23% of all videos viewed and 2% of all minutes spent viewing video online.
COMMENTARY: On July 15, 2012, South Korean rapper PSY set a new YouTube world record by surpassing 1 billion views on YouTube for his video "Gangnam Style."
Zynga social game players will be able to log in to the new gaming site via Facebook. The company retained the Facebook login option to ensure that existing gamers continue to have the best gaming experience without having to start from scratch
Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), the social gaming company that has relied on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) for most of its revenues, has taken one more step to distance itself further away by relaunching its website on Wednesday. Now the FarmVille publisher will allow users to play Zynga games without having to sign in with their Facebook ID and password – which had been a hallmark of Zynga games so far.
Zynga began operating its new gaming site on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, separating itself from Facebook once and for all (Click Image To Enlarge)
Founded in 2007, the company went too close to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). The two companies enjoyed a strong symbiotic relationship for years. Almost 90 percent of Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s revenues come from Facebook games, while the Menlo Park-based social networking site earned about 15 percent of its revenues from Zynga games.
Zynga inc (Blue) and Facebook Inc (Red) - Share Price Comparisons Since Respective IPO Dates - Google Finance (Click Image To Enlarge)
Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) began losing its competitive advantage as other gaming companies flocked to Facebook. It was then that Zynga realized its fault for not diversifying its business outside of Facebook site. A few months ago, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) amended the deal that used to give Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) special privileges on the social networking site. That deal had also prevented Zynga from partnering with other social networks.
Starting next week, you will see a modified Zynga.com website. Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) general manager Tim Catlin told Reutersthat changes have been made after receiving feedback from players. They wanted to create their unique gaming names which are not tied to their real names displayed on Facebook. Using a separate gaming name is a plus for players who usually don’t want to reveal their real identities. Some other gamers wanted to play with complete strangers, not just friends.
However, players will still be able to log in to the gaming site via Facebook. The company retained the Facebook login option to ensure that existing gamers continue to have the best gaming experience without having to start from scratch.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) both owe their initial financial success to each other, but they both want to diversify. That doesn’t mean a divorce, of course. Zynga and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) still earn a healthy part of their revenues from each other, and they still want a healthy relationship.
Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares were up 2.36 percent to $3.43 at 12:35 PM EDT
COMMENTARY: Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) finished trading at $3.41 per share (down .01). I think this is a very risky move for ZYNGA because it may not be able to tap into those 1 billion Facebook users like it did before. On the otherhand, Zynga no longer has to pay Facebook a 30% cut of revenues generated on Facebook. Zynga game apps no longer run on the Facebook platform, but it provides a link to the new Zynga.com social gaming site. I looked earlier today, and there were 1.5 million gamers online.
Courtesy of an article dated March 22, 2013 appearing in ValueWalk
Paperman is an Oscar-winning short, directed by John Kahrs (Click Image To Enlarge)
DIRECTOR JOHN KAHRS HAD A VISION FOR HIS ANIMATED SHORTPAPERMAN. THERE WAS JUST ONE PROBLEM. THE TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE IT DIDN’T EXIST YET.
A Pixar film is a beautiful thing. Long after Toy Story’s 3-D novelty wore off, artists refined their techniques, so Up could make us cry. But in these computer-generated worlds full of perfect shapes and gradients, we inevitably lost some of that old Disney magic--the nuance of incredible, hand-drawn lines. John Kahrs thought.
“Isn’t there a way we can bring that hand of an artist back?”
At the time, he was working on his storyboards for Paperman--what has since become Disney’s 2013 Oscar-winning animated short. It was going to be “an urban fairy tale in a beautiful world of light and shadow,” showcasing the latest in CG technology like global illumination and radiocity (light-based physics). But another thought had been haunting him. Working on Tangled alongside legendary 2-D animator Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), Kahrs watched Keane sketch on top of the CG animations during the production process. Software allowed Keane to reshape 3-D figures with his pen strokes, but ultimately, his beautiful lines were lost in the process. It seemed like such a waste.
It tells the story of any two people who share a moment on a train platform, only to never see one another again (Click Image To Enlarge)
Late in the storyboarding process, Keane’s vision for Paperman was born anew. What if it could be a hybrid of the old and new schools of animation? What if it could be 2-D and 3-D at the same time?
But, without spoiling anything, I have a feeling that things may go different, thanks to a healthy dose of Disneyfication (Click Image To Enlarge)
Kahrs began investigating that possibility in the only place he could, Disney’s R&D department. He lucked out when he met software engineer Brian Whited, who had already been working on a new piece of animation software called Meander that specialized in 2-D interpolation (using software to reason out gaps in sketched animations). With modification and refinement, it just might work.
Watch the nuance of each frame. With 117 shots in the film, Kahrs’s team focused on the composition of each shot (Click Image To Enlarge)
“You hear people talking a lot about innovation--innovation comes out of necessity. The necessity in this case was we had to figure out how to have a CG underlayer that dragged these drawn lines on top of it.”
Eventually, Meander proved capable of stunning feats. Today, an animator can draw a frown on a protagonist’s hand in one frame, then, several frames later, draw a smile. Meander can both track the position of that hand in 3-D space, and it can fill in the gaps, turning that frown into a smile, naturally. But much of Keane’s emphasis was tweaking the feel. In classic Disney animation, the character outlines do something called boiling, as the imperfections in cel after cel stack up--and they’re important, subconscious cues to the experience of animation feeling authentic.
Also, aside from the narrative plays on light and shadow, each frame has hints of hand-drawn animation (Click Image To Enlarge)
“It’s part of the human hand. Those were the sort of small details that we were big on pushing one way or another.”
Following months of preliminary testing, the team had developed two test shots that they thought were compelling. The last step would be to take a meeting with John Lasseter and the rest of Disney studio leadership and sell them on the aesthetic.
What you see is actually built on an entirely new 2-D and 3-D animation system called Meander, which layers drawings on top of 3-D figures (Click Image To Enlarge)
“I think John was a little bit skeptical. He’s a smart guy. He’s seen all these painterly effects. His concern was, does it get in the way of the storytelling, or is it a way of immersing you in this world and telling the story of the characters? Once he saw these tests, they all sat up and noticed that this wasn’t just some cheap trick.”
When your brain tries to dissect each frame, reasoning how someone can possibly draw on 3-D in 2-D, you’re bound for a mental meltdown (Click Image To Enlarge)
Indeed, Paperman is amongst the most stunning animations we’ve ever seen. It combines new aesthetics with standing traditions, marrying the tangibility of CG with the human grit of a pen on paper. And in a poetic turn of technology, it was actually the 2-D animators who got to put the finishing touches on each frame of Paperman. All of those beautiful lines that started the animation process would end it, too.
But ultimately, if you just soak in each frame for the visual paradox that it is, you’ll really enjoy the film (Click Image To Enlarge)
Check out all of this year’s Oscar-nominated short films at Co.Create.
COMMENTARY: The "Paperman" is one sweet short animation film. No wonder it won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Disney and Director John Kahrs were able to marry 2D and 3D animation into the same film, and the result is just beautiful.
Disney Director John Kahrs (centere) accepts the Academy Award for Best Short Animation Film for "Paperman" (Click Image To Enlarge)
Drawing on millions NFL team page “likes,” Facebook reveals every county’s favorite Super Bowl team
Thirty-five million U.S. Facebook users have “liked” the page of at least one of the NFL’s 32 teams. Combine that with location data and you’ve got, as Facebook says, “one of the most comprehensive samples of sports fanship ever collected.”
Facebook used the data to determine which team was the most popular in every county in the country. Here’s how it looks, mapped:
Facebook Map of NFL Team Popularity By Geographic Location (Click Image To Enlarge)
Unsurprisingly, most counties devoted to given team are concentrated in that team’s region of the country. The fanbases of few teams, though, are apparently not as bound by geography. The Dallas Cowboys are often referred to “America’s team,” and the data do indicate that the team’s fanbase covers an impressively large area of the country, stretching from Virginia to California, and pro-Cowboy counties appear in nearly every region. The Pittsburgh Steelers fan footprint is also fairly large and dispersed. Tim Tebow’s New York Jets, meanwhile, are the most popular team in only one county on Long Island.
Facebook went further in its analysis, removing teams from the mix as they were eliminated from Super Bowl contention, either when they failed to make the playoffs or lost a playoff game. You can check out each of the resulting maps here.
So who wins the Facebook likes-per-county Super Bowl? The San Franscisco 49ers defeat the Baltimore Ravens in a landslide:
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COMMENTARY: Very interesting that America's Facebook users predict that the San Francisco 49ers will win Super Bowl XLVII. However, Jimmy Fallon used a complete different way for predicting who will win this year's Super Bowl: PUPPIES.
If you haven't already done so, please read my blog post datedJanuary 31 2013 about this year's Super Bowl XLVII teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, and find out which team the pro football experts think will win the Super Bowl, and my own prediction.
Super Bowl XLVII, between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, has the potential to be one of the greatest Super Bowls in recent years — not just because of the level of play these teams have demonstrated in the playoffs, but mostly because of the story lines all over the field.
Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens linebacker, will play his final NFL game (Click Image To Enlarge)
Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers in history, will play his final NFL game, retiring after 17 seasons, hoping to win his second Super Bowl ring, making a return to the big stage after 12 years. The 49ers’ head coach, Jim Harbaugh, was Lewis’ teammate in the late 90′s, not to mention the brother of the head coach on the opposite side, John Harbaugh.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, runs for a 30-yard touchdown versus the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Playoffs (Click Image To Enlarge)
There’s the obvious quarterbacks angle: Colin Kaepernick, beginning the season as the backup to Alex Smith and emerging as an explosive runner and very patient and accurate passer in the playoffs, and Joe Flacco possibly proving he’s part of the elite group of QBs in the NFL after years of criticism. One of the two — Randy Moss (49ers) and Ed Reed (Ravens) — will finally win a Super Bowl ring.
The 49ers enter the Super Bowl as the favorites, but as you can see by the roads both teams have taken to the big game (see the infographic below), there isn’t that much of a difference between them in quality.
This is probably the best ingredient to make sure Super Bowl 47 will be among the most exciting we’ve seen in recent years.
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Harbaugh Bowl, Harbowl, Harbaughl, Brobowl, SuperBaugh or my own personal favorite, Super Bowl XLVII. Whatever you want to call it, come Sunday the only thing that will matter will be what happens on the field between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. With that in mind, here's how the teams will match up against each other this Sunday.
The Harbaugh Brothers - San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh (Click Image To Enlarge)
Baltimore Ravens offense vs San Francisco 49ers defense
The Baltimore Ravens' expectations have changed on offense since the beginning of this playoff journey. The Ravens were the 10th-best scoring offense in the regular season, but their production from week-to-week fluctuated dramatically throughout. But those regular season statistics mean next to nothing for the Ravens after sweeping through the AFC playoff bracket scoring 90 points in three games.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (Click Image To Enlarge)
Much of that is due to quarterback Joe Flacco once again bringing a greater level of consistency, composure and focus to the field in the post-season. Flacco's individual performances have improved significantly for multiple reasons, but maybe the most publicized is the impact of Jim Caldwell. Caldwell took over the offensive co-ordinator role from Cam Cameron at the beginning of December. He has improved the offense in almost every conceivable way. The Ravens' play-calling is less predictable, the execution is sharper than it was under Cameron and Caldwell has an understanding of how to best utilize his weapons, something Cameron consistently failed to do.
In the Super Bowl, the Ravens will face a much stiffer challenge.
For the past two seasons the San Francisco 49ers have ranked second in the NFL in points allowed. They are the most physically intimidating group in the league and the most consistent from week-to-week. The unit combines a rare mixture of superstars leading the way, with high quality depth throughout the whole defensive depth chart and the type of coaching that keeps every player clued into their responsibilities on every single play. Unlike the Colts, rarely does this unit need to be bailed out by their offense. Unlike the Broncos, this defense doesn't need a soft schedule to rank amongst the very best in the league. Unlike the Patriots, one or two injuries to key players won't stop them from being competitive.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell (2) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith (99) as defensive tackle Justin Smith (94). These two have terrorized opposing quarterbacks during the 2012 regular season (Click Image To Enlarge)
San Francisco 49ers defense ranked No 2 in the NFL in points allowed during the regular season (Click Image To Enlarge)
Flacco's production for the Ravens has primarily come on throwing the ball downfield. He is averaging over nine yards per completion, while Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are averaging over 22 yards per reception in the playoffs. Even Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice are averaging over 17 yards per catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Flacco throws over 25% of his attempts further than 20 yards downfield and has completed over 50% of those during the playoffs. That won't intimidate the 49ers. Through a combination of an excellent pass rush and quality coverage, the 49ers only gave up 38 passes of more than 20 yards during the regular season, good enough for third fewest in the league. Of course, during the regular season you don't see a player like Torrey Smith every week. Smith has the speed to beat any defensive back in the NFL on any given play. However, that speed is only valuable when teams leave him in one-on-one situations like the Denver Broncos did in the Divisional round. The 49ers don't typically expose themselves like that, nor are they under pressure to inadvertently do so by focusing elsewhere.
Atlanta Falcons' superstar wide receiver Julio Jones was able to expose the 49ers' deep coverage in the NFC Championship game. Jones finished the game with 11 receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns. However in the second half he only had three receptions for 23 yards before catching a 24 yard pass on the final play against prevent coverage. It took a monumental effort from Jones to take over the first half of that game, but once the 49ers adjusted their coverage his way in the second half, he was limited to short gains. With two weeks to prepare, they should take the same approach towards Smith. When teams do that, they expose themselves to Dennis Pitta, Jacoby Jones and Anquan Boldin. Boldin and Pitta are able to overpower most defensive backs/linebackers in single coverage, while Jones is always a threat to go deep with his speed. However, Boldin and Pitta won't be able to bully the 49ers' defenders the way they have most this post-season. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are two of the most physically intimidating coverage linebackers in the league, not to mention the two best all-around inside linebackers in the NFL. Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner are big-bodied safeties who can run and hit in space, while cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers play consistently physical football. Jones was able to expose the 49ers' physical approach in the NFC Championship game, but outside of Smith, who the defense can focus their coverage on, none of the receivers present the same matchup nightmare that Jones' athleticism and straight line speed did.
San Francisco 49ers linebackers Patrick Willis #52 and NaVorro Bowman #53 are two of the most intimidating linebackers in the NFL (Click Image To Enlarge)
The receivers should be able to get some success – they are still a talented group - but will it be enough? An obvious solution would be to run the ball, but that will be playing into a 49ers strength. Jim Caldwell must get creative with his receivers to free them from the 49ers' secondary. Maybe more importantly, he must also be creative in how he approaches running the ball.
Baltimore Ravens runing back Ray Rice #27 runs for a touchdown in the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots (Click Image To Enlarge)
Ray Rice, arguably the best all-around running-back in the NFL, and explosive rookie Bernard Pierce have combined to create a very productive rushing attack in the playoffs so far. Pierce is a home-run hitter who has longs of 78 and 43 yards in this season's playoffs. Although he is averaging more per carry in the playoffs than Rice, Rice's ability to make defenders miss in space and his receiving talents could see him become the focal point of the whole offense. Rice has been featured prominently in the offense since Caldwell became the offensive co-ordinator, but hasn't produced to his potential. Excluding the final week of the regular season when he was rested for most of the game, Rice has averaged 22.6 touches (receptions + rushes) for 94 yards per game since Caldwell was promoted. The last time he faced the 49ers, he had similarly ordinary-looking numbers, finishing the game with 24 combined touches for 83 yards, although that game was called by former co-ordinator Cam Cameron. On the biggest of stages however, teams typically look towards their biggest performers to carry them to glory. While it doesn't always work out that way, Caldwell should still gameplan to ride Rice as much as possible.
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith #94 celebrates after making a quarterback sack during in a game versus the New Orleans Saints (Click Image To Enlarge)
The 49ers' front seven is a special group, led by all-pro defensive end Justin Smith. Smith is the kind of interior defensive lineman that plays so fast it often appears he knows what play the offense is running before the ball is even snapped. He has the ability to stack blockers at the line of scrimmage while still stopping running-backs up the middle and his ability to chase down plays designed to run away from his area of the field. Smith has been dealing witha serious triceps injury, but it hasn't affected his ability to stop the run in recent weeks. In New Orleans he will have a very favourable matchup against the inexperienced Kelechi Osemele. Osemele is a rookie right tackle who recently became the Ravens' starting left guard. His ability to contain Smith, even with double team help, will play a major role in deciding the outcome. As a tackle, Osemele is better in space rather than fighting off bigger defenders at the point of attack. Therefore, it makes sense that the Ravens will look to put Rice in space with short passes taking the play away from Smith. Rice consistently turns short passes into big gains, not just that famous fourth down in San Diego.
San Francisco 49ers offense vs Baltimore Ravens defense
Just like the Ravens offense, not a huge can be learned from the 49ers' regular season statistics. With Alex Smith starting the first 10 games of the year, the 49ers not only had a different quarterback under center, but also a less aggressive offense as a whole and a completely different schematic approach. Having replaced Smith with second year professional Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers offense went from a conservative unit working hard to adequately complement a dominant defense, to an offense that has all the capabilities of blowing out an opponent.
Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Foxboro, Mass (Click Image To Enlarge)
Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game (Click Image To Enlarge)
The 49ers' young quarterback has the ability to beat the Ravens with his arm or his legs, or a combination of the two. However, when it comes to stopping the 49ers' offense, the Ravens must remain disciplined and not focus too much on Kaepernick. That was the downfall of the Atlanta Falcons, as they allowed Frank Gore and LaMichael James to combine for three easy rushing touchdowns at the cost of containing Kaepernick. Considering the Packers did the opposite, allowing Kaepernick to run for 181 yards with only six coming after contact, the Ravens must find a balance between the approaches.
LaMichael James #23 for the San Francisco 49ers runs for a touchdown versus the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the NFC Championship game in Atlanta, Ga (Click Image To Enlarge)
Baltimore Ravens DTs Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody (Click Image To Enlarge)
Much of the 49ers' running success comes from the option offense: the key aspects of this are that the offensive line deliberately doesn't block the last defender to one side of the field. Instead of blocking that defender, the quarterback reads and reacts to what he does after the snap. If the defender moves inside, the quarterback takes the ball away from the running-back and sprints outside. If the defender stays outside, the quarterback gives it to the running-back who runs up the middle against less defenders. This offense puts a huge amount of pressure on the defensive linemen and outside linebackers. The Ravens tend to flip between a 4-3 and 3-4formation, but should primarily play 3-4 in this game to counter the 49ers' running game. The 3-4 will allow the Ravens to keep three of 340 lb defensive endHaloti Ngata, 340 lb nose tackle Terrence Cody, 315 lb defensive end Arthur Jonesand 345 lb nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu on the field as often as their fitness allows, while Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger primarily start as outside linebackers. On any given option play, one outside linebacker will be left unblocked and it will be that player's responsibility to contain Kaepernick. Presuming he contains Kaepernick, the Ravens' big bodies inside must then swallow Gore by beating the 49ers' excellent offensive linemen. That is the best way to stop the option, but it requires discipline. The Atlanta Falcons attempted the same approach in the NFC Championship game, but they didn't have the talent or size on their defensive line to stop Gore and the team's other backs. The Ravens will feel comfortable asking their defensive linemen to make plays consistently enough to contain the 49ers offense in those situations.
Baltimore Ravens DT Arthur Jones (Click Image To Enlarge)
49ers pass receivers Vernon Davis #85 and Michael Crabtree #15 will be big targets for quarterback Colin Paeternick when the Niners play the Ravens (Click Image To Enlarge)
The 49ers' receiving options are horrible matchups for an injury-plagued Ravens' defense. Superstar cornerback Lardarius Webb would have been the perfect matchup for Crabtree. Webb is probably the best tackler in space in the whole league and Crabtree does most of his best work running after the catch, 626 of his 1,281 yards on the season came that way, but Webb tore his ACL earlier this year and hasn't played since the regular season. Cary Williams, a solid but not great cornerback, will likely take on the responsibility of stopping Crabtree depending on the health of Jimmy Smith. The Ravens are also without starting inside linebacker Jameel McClain because of injury. McClain is more consistent in coverage than his replacement Dannell Ellerbe, while being much more athletic than Ray Lewis at this point in their respective careers. Lewis is too slow to cover Vernon Davis, while the Ravens likely won't trust Ellerbe or Bernard Pollard to do it consistently. Those injuries will force the Ravens to play a lot of zone coverage because they simply can't match the athletic ability of the 49ers' weapons.
Ravens cornerback Cary Williams, center, celebrates his interception and touchdown with teammates cornerback Lardarius Webb, left, and defensive back James Ihedigbo during the second half against the Browns (Click Image To Enlarge)
Since Kaepernick became the starter, the 49ers have only been held under 24 points twice. Both times they faced off against talented defenses who played disciplined football on the day. However, even in those games, against the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks, Kaepernick only turned the ball over twice. One of those turnovers was a missed pitch that was recovered in the endzone by the Rams' Janoris Jenkins, but Kaepernick was also forced into a safety in that game. The Rams were able to pressure Kaepernick into making two game-changing plays because they were disciplined and aggressive. That is the style the Ravens need in order to win this game. Game-changing defensive plays do come from pressure more often than not, but the Ravens normally look to Ed Reed for their game-changing defensive plays. Reed has had a relatively quiet season - dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder hasn't helped - but he has proven to be a big-game player.
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Perrish Cox, Michael Thomas and Darcel McBath answer questions during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orlean (Click Image To Enlarge)
There are two contrasting matchups within this game. The Ravens offense needs to get creative and knock the 49ers defense off balance. The 49ers offense knows exactly what it is going to do, as does the Ravens defense. One side should see plenty of creativity, while the other will simply come down to who can execute better on the day.
Baltimore Ravens field goal kicker Justin Tucker #6 scores a field goal in a game during the 2012 NFL season (Click Image To Enlarge)
AsNFL Network's Rich Eisen will tell you, punters are people too. Not only are they people, but they are very important players even if they are rarely appreciated by fans. Both of these teams understand the value of a quality punter. Andy Lee has been considered a valuable weapon in San Francisco for some time now.Sam Koch isn't on the same level as Lee in terms of leg power or accuracy, but he has been a consistently reliable performer.
Baltimore Ravens. Jacoby Jones #12 returns a kickoff for a touchdown in a game versus the Dallas Cowboys during the 2012 NFL season (Click Image To Enlarge)
Jacoby Jones vaulted the Ravens' special teams returns to the top of this year's rankings, as well as adding three touchdowns. Jones' ability to break free at any moment could make the difference in a tight game, but Ted Ginn and LaMichael James offer similar potential to the 49ers' special teams. James and Ginn have incredible straight line speed, while Jones has the elusiveness to make defenders miss in open space.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers embraces his brother Head Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens prior to the game at M&T Bank Stadium, Nov. 24, 2011, in Baltimore (Click Image To Enlarge)
What Jim Harbaugh lacks in coaching experience, he makes up for in expertise. Jim has only been an NFL head coach for two seasons, but he also started 140 games as an NFL quarterback, developed an extensive relationship with Bill Walsh (a coach who played a major role in developing the passing ideals that many teams live on in today's NFL) and a very successful four-year stint as head coach at Stanford. That expertise has allowed Harbaugh to turn the 49ers from a 6-10 team in 2010, into a team with a regular season record of 24-7 over the past two seasons, two NFC Championship games and now a Super Bowl.
Much like his brother, Jim is able to unite his players and get the very best out of them. Although he is known for his work developing quarterbacks, most notably Andrew Luck, and the rebirth of Alex Smith's career from 2011 onwards in the NFL, Jim has also elevated the 49ers' defense into arguably the best unit in the league. The 49ers ranked 16th in points allowed during the final season of Mike Singletary's reign, but since then they have finished second in both of Jim's seasons as head coach. He and his staff's ability to identify key free agents such as Donte Whitnerand Carlos Rogers, while drafting/developing key contributorsAldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Chris Culliver allowed the defense to grow around superstars Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.
COMMENTARY: The Super Bowl game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens is going to be a historic defensive battle. If this holds true, the game will turn into a low scoring affair, dominated by the defenses of both teams. Special teams will be critical. 49ers field goal kicker David Akers must come through for the Niners to have a chance to win. The team that can create scoring opportunities with their special teams and commits the least turnovers and mistakes will win. I think the game will be decided by a field goal or touchdown. My prediction: San Francisco 49ers 20, Baltimore Ravens 17 in double overtime.
Super Bowl XLVII has been scheduled for Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens, and the game is being nicknamed the Bro Bowl because of coaches John and Jim Harbaugh. The following is a complete TV schedule for the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVII TV Schedule
6 a.m. EST, NFL Total Access (NFL Network)
7 a.m. EST, First on the Field (NFL Network)
9 a.m. EST, NFL GameDay Morning (NFL Network)
11 a.m. EST, Road to the Super Bowl (CBS)
12 p.m. EST, New Orleans: Let the Good Times Roll Sponsored by Pepsi (CBS)
1 p.m. EST, Phil Simms All-Iron Team: Super Bowl Edition (CBS)
2 p.m. EST, The Super Bowl Today (CBS)
5:30 p.m. EST, A Football Life: Ray Lewis (NFL Network)
6 p.m. EST, Super Bowl Kickoff Show (CBS)
6:30 p.m. EST, Super Bowl Kickoff, San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens (CBS)
10 p.m. EST, NFL GameDay Overtime (NFL Network)
10:30 p.m. EST, NFL GameDay Final (NFL Network)
10:30 p.m. EST, Toyota Super Bowl Today Post Game Show (CBS Sports Network)
Courtesy of an article dated January 30, 2013 appearing in Visual.ly and an article dated January 28, 2013 appearing in The Guardian
In December 2012, Music lovers tuned into Pandora, the Internet radio service, and it set the following records:
1.4 billion listener hours -- up 54% compared with the prior year.
67 million active listeners -- rose 41% for the month.
Pandora members collectively listened to the equivalent of more than 5,692 years of music on December 24, 2012.
During the holidays, 31% of people in the West preferred new holiday tracks compared with classics. Midwest listeners were the earliest adopters of holiday music. Some 52% of people in the Northeast care about music more than food at holiday parties, compared with other regions across the U.S.
There are 67 million U.S. users, listening about 20 hours per month. One million are paid subscribers.
The company is on track to generate between $422 million and $425 million in revenue in 2013, according to estimates. Pandora CRO John Trimble said the Chrysler Group recently joined the extensive roster of automotive brands to integrate Pandora into its vehicle, making it the 20th automotive brand partner.
The service generates revenue from audio and visual ads, tapping into a wide audience across desktop and mobile, from cars to tablets and smartphones. Brands also run promotions to sponsor 30-day trials, Trimble said. Ads get targeted through signals from the member's registration data, such as gender, age, genre, and location. Pandora doesn't use services from companies like Triton Digital, which teamed with eXelate to target in-stream audio ads to digital radio listeners.
Pandora, spawned from the Music Genome Project, a DNA map for each musical piece, relies on word of mouth marketing, email, advertising within the music service to listeners, search engine optimization and social.
COMMENTARY: Listening and sharing music online couldn't be more convenient or crowded. Options are easily found at the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse: the algorithm, Pandora's radio-style personalized music streaming; Spotify's social-sharing streaming platform; iTunes $1.00 per download music model for Apple-only devices and the cloud-based music downloading services of Amazon and Google on almost every other device. Then there are the smaller streaming and subscription players: Rhapsody (who has missed the social boat so far), Slacker, Rdio, MOG and more. Or, there is straight-up piracy.
There are essentially three business models for online music right now:
Ad-Supported Revenue Model - Advertisements running before download -- a highly scable business model, but a costly and money losing revenue model.
Subscription-Based Revenue Model - A fixed monthly or annual charge for an unlimited number of music streaming downloads -- a more viability long term strategy for sustainable and predictable revenues.
Mixed Revenue Model - Includes both elements of the ad-supported and subscription-based revenue models.
What complicates the issue further is unique to the music industry:
Too Much Competition - Too many separate, competing interests fighting for a piece of the music streaming pie.
Costly Royalty Deals - Music labels, music publishers, and artists themselves (to a much lesser extent) all have certain terms in their favor including most favored nation, minimum payments, per-play costs, percent of total company revenue, and one of the most head-scratching, detailed reporting of the competition.
It's difficult to make a profit in the music streaming industry as you can see from the revenue and net loss comparisons between Pandora and Spotify:
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The problem: The high cost of music content. Although Pandora and Spotify are rapidly growing revenues, the cost that they pay the music companies for all that content is rising faster than revenues are growing, and neither company can seem to make a profit from all their efforts, as you can see from Pandora's content costs and revenue growth.
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As a result of Pandora's high content costs, it continually operates below the breakeven point, with expenses very often exceeding revenues.
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It makes you wonder whether there is an optimal revenue model for music streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify. Although Spotify active users reached 20 million in December 2012, of which 20% or five million were paid subscribers (nearly five times Pandora's 1 million paid subscribers), offering unlimited downloads to those paid subscribers comes at a higher cost -- higher royalties to the music companies and no advertising (no ads appear for paid subscribers).
Spotify Losses Mount
Spotify will likely pass the $500 million revenue mark for 2012, more than double that of 2011's $244 million, and with losses still on the books the company is expected to seek a new round of funding, money that will value the company at more than $3 billion.
Pandora's Red Ink Continues
Pandora also expects to lose money in 2012. Like Spotify, Pandora has never generated a profit. For the first nine months of fiscal year endng January 31, 2013, the company generated total revenues of $302.056 million and a net loss of $23.59 million. For Q4 2013, Pandora expects revenues to be in the range of $120 million to $123 million. This would bring total revenues for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2013 to $422 million to $425 million. Non-GAAP loss per share is expected to be between ($0.06) and ($0.09). Non-GAAP loss per share excludes stock-based compensation expense, assumes minimal tax expense given our net operating loss position, and 171 million weighted average basic shares outstanding for the fourth quarter fiscal 2013.
Pandora Increases Listening Hours
For the third quarter ending October 31, 2012, users logged 3.56 billion listener hours, 67% over the same quarter the prior fiscal year. Active users reach 59.2 million growing 47% year-over-year. This averages to about 19.73 million active users per month for the quarter.
According to J.P. Morgan, 70% of Pandora's users will be listening to their music via a mobile device (see below) during the fiscal year ending January 31, 2013. Like Facebook, this means that Pandora must shift its advertising focus from the desktop to mobile devices. For its part, Pandora has generated more listener hours, but it must pay the music companies each time a song is streamed. 95% or 18.73 million of Pandora's active users are non-payers (only 1 million are paid subscribers). Paid subscribers during the first nine months of the current fiscal year represent only 11% of total revenues.
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Pandora's Music Royalty Paradox
How much should "free" music cost and who should pay for it?
That's the deceptively simple question at the heart of the latest round of legal wrangling surrounding Pandora, which has launched an effort to get federal legislation passed to lower royalty rates paid to musicians so that it may remain competitive.
In response, more than 100 artists, including high-profile acts like Rihanna,Pink Floyd and Katy Perry, have signed an open letter opposing the move. The letter states.
"Pandora's principal asset is the music. Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That's not fair and that's not how partners work together."
Pandora argues that Internet radio royalty fees should be in line with those of other services, such as cable and satellite radio. According to the company, it paid 54 percent of its revenue to record companies and artists last year. By comparison, Sirius satellite radio paid 8 percent. Pandora, however, agreed in 2007 with the artists' and labels' representative organization to its royalty rate.
Pandora, like Spotify, is treading water, with a revenue model that cannot be sustained over the long-term, and the company must either charge more for its music streaming, obtain royalty concessions from the music companies, or modify its advertising products to satisfy mobile listeners while generating more mobile adverting revenues.
According to Pandora's fourth-quarter financial report, 90 percent of its revenue comes from pop-up and audio advertising, which in the online world not only tends to drive away users (in many cases, to music pirating outlets) but have yet to prove effective, especially as more users shift to mobile devices.
Dave Allen, founding member and bass player for the bands Gang of Four and Shriekback, who blogs frequently about developments on the digital music front says.
"Mobile advertising is not taking off for many reasons so, like Facebook, Pandora is struggling to make any sizable revenue from mobile ads."
Courtesy of an article dated January 11, 2013 appearing in MediaPost Publications Online Media Daily, an article dated January 18, 2013 appearing in WebProNews, an article dated November 12, 2012 appearing in The Blog Herald and a press release dated December 4, 2012 issued by Pandora, and an article dated December 5, 2012 appearing in eCommerce Times and an article dated November 29, 2012 appearing in SFGate.com