FOX BE­GINS DIG­I­TAL SER­VICE FOR PEO­PLE WHO WANT MORE OPIN­ION

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The new stream­ing ser­vice Fox Na­tion that launches Tues­day is aimed at peo­ple who don’t think Fox News Chan­nel of­fers enough opin­ion.

Fox is be­com­ing the lat­est tele­vi­sion news op­er­a­tion to stake out dig­i­tal turf. Rather than an at­tempt to seek out young cord-cut­ters, Fox Na­tion is a sub­scrip­tion-based ser­vice de­signed to com­ple­ment Fox News Chan­nel.

The bulk of its orig­i­nal of­fer­ings will post be­tween 9 a.m. and the TV prime-time hours. While Fox Na­tion will of­fer video on de­mand at all hours, the in­tent is not to com­pete with FNC’s most pop­u­lar opin­ion-based pro­grams “Fox & Friends” and the evening lineup with Tucker Carl­son, Sean Han­nity and Laura In­gra­ham.

“With our mas­sively loyal, ded­i­cated fan base, it gives us an op­por­tu­nity to give them more of what they want from us,” said John Fin­ley, the ex­ec­u­tive over­see­ing Fox Na­tion.

Daily pro­gram­ming will em­pha­size short­form com­men­tary from con­ser­va­tive hosts, many of whom Fox view­ers are fa­mil­iar with. Tomi Lahren of­fers “Fi­nal Thoughts” on the news at din­ner­time. Britt McHenry and Tyrus an­chor a reg­u­lar show called “UN-PC.” An­drew Napoli­tano has a reg­u­lar morn­ing show. Each morn­ing the ser­vice of­fers high­lights of what Fox’s prime-time hosts said the night be­fore, in a pro­gram de­scribed as a less-snarky “Talk Soup,” as well as full-show streams for peo­ple who miss them on TV.

In­gra­ham will co-host a pro­gram with Ray­mond Ar­royo, one of her prime-time show’s reg­u­lar guests. Although Fox Na­tion has promised Han­nity and Carl­son’s in­volve­ment, their roles haven’t been an­nounced.

The last new pro­gram at 7 p.m. each day will be a trivia game show hosted by comic Tom Shillue.

“Cre­atively, it’s very ex­cit­ing be­cause we can try a lot of things ... that are go­ing to sur­prise the au­di­ence, dif­fer­ent sorts of projects that might not have found a home on the news chan­nel,” Fin­ley said.

“We thought we were in a unique po­si­tion to of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent,” he said.

“Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy is do­ing a show tied to a cook­book he’s re­leased. Dana Perino will have a book club high­light­ing new re­leases. Morn­ing co-host Brian Kilmeade, a his­tory buff, is host­ing “What Makes Amer­ica Great,” a show where he will travel to places like Mount Rush­more and An­drew Jack­son’s home, The Her­mitage, to tell sto­ries.

“We are so con­sumed in the elec­tions, who’s win­ning and who’s los­ing and who’s do­ing what to whom,” Kilmeade said. “Maybe we can re­mem­ber when we were just for­mu­lat­ing, what brought us to­gether back them.”

The ser­vice will also livestream video of Kilmeade’s ra­dio show, which be­gins min­utes after he steps off the “Fox & Friends” set.

Fox Na­tion is also build­ing a li­brary of doc­u­men­tary pro­grams, in­clud­ing shows on fa­mil­iar con­ser­va­tive talk­ing points like Chap­paquid­dick, White­wa­ter, Clarence Thomas’ con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings, Robert Bork’s failed Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion and Gregg Jar­rett’s the­o­ries on an at­tempt to “frame” Don­ald Trump.

Fox Na­tion is the lat­est of sev­eral at­tempts by TV news di­vi­sions to reach a dig­i­tal au­di­ence. The CBSN stream­ing news ser­vice, much like a ca­ble news op­er­a­tion on­line, is the most es­tab­lished and has op­er­ated since 2014. Be­sides be­ing avail­able on the CBS News web­site, it is also part of the CBS All Ac­cess sub­scrip­tion ser­vice.

CNN streams its do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional net­works on­line, but con­sumers need an au­then­ti­cated ca­ble or satel­lite sub­scrip­tion for ac­cess.

ABC News Live be­gan op­er­at­ing on Roku in May and has now spread to other plat­forms. It of­fers a mix of filmed news re­ports, de­briefs, some orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming and live cov­er­age of big sto­ries. NBC has ag­gres­sively sought younger news view­ers on­line and next year will launch the 24-hour stream­ing ser­vice NBC News Sig­nal.

What most of these ser­vices share is an im­plicit at­tempt to en­tice younger view­ers who don’t watch much news on TV. That isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the mis­sion at Fox Na­tion.

Fox Na­tion has of­fered en­tice­ments to char­ter sub­scribers, in­clud­ing a $1,200 pack­age that in­cludes a three-year sub­scrip­tion, a “deluxe gift box” and cus­tom­ized watch. A monthly sub­scrip­tion costs $5.99.

Like CBS, which has closely held in­for­ma­tion on how many peo­ple use its stream­ing ser­vice, Fox won’t dis­cuss how many peo­ple have signed up or what the ex­pec­ta­tions are.

One an­a­lyst likened Fox Na­tion to ESPN’s ef­forts to reach an on­line au­di­ence, say­ing there’s a be­lief that Fox — con­sis­tently the most pop­u­lar ca­ble news net­work — has enough ded­i­cated fans to make it fi­nan­cially vi­able.

“The only ques­tion is they tend to have an older au­di­ence that is not par­tic­u­larly dig­i­tally savvy,” said Alan Wolk, co-founder of TV(R)EV, a me­dia con­sult­ing busi­ness. “Will this be some­thing that they get dig­i­tally savvy for?”

Get­ting names, de­mo­graphic and credit card in­for­ma­tion about their most ded­i­cated fans may also be of great value to Fox, Wolk said.

COM­MU­NI­CA­TION REIN­VENTED

Whether you’re shar­ing your baby’s first steps on FaceTime or col­lab­o­rat­ing with your busi­ness part­ner on What­sApp, it’s im­pos­si­ble to deny that tech­nol­ogy has changed the way we com­mu­ni­cate. Emoji are part of our vo­cab­u­lary, pay­ing our share of the bill on iMes­sage is the norm, and aug­mented re­al­ity helps make ev­ery­day mes­sages more fun. This week, we ex­plore how our iPhones have trans­formed the way we speak, look at the im­mense power of the Chi­nese mes­sag­ing app WeChat, and con­sider where we’re headed in the fu­ture…

THE RISE OF EMOJI

It’s hard to imag­ine what life was like be­fore we had emoji on our phones. Those grin­ning yel­low faces have be­come part of our ev­ery­day lives - and whether you’re a fan of them or not, they’re hard to avoid. More than five bil­lion of them are sent via Face­book Mes­sen­ger ev­ery day, they were the sub­ject of a movie that gen­er­ated more than $200 mil­lion at the Box Of­fice, and one emoji - the cry­ing with laugh­ter face - was con­tro­ver­sially named the Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary’s Word of the Year back in 2015. In short, emoji are ev­ery­where, and to­day they’re as much a part of our cul­ture as the iPhone.

Along with so­cial me­dia, emoji have be­come so en­sconced in our day-to-day lives that they have trans­formed the way we com­mu­ni­cate. In­deed, when we ‘talk’ on­line, we now pre­fer to use emoji to of­fer so­cial clues, rather than typ­ing. It has al­ways been hard to in­fer the user’s emo­tions when com­mu­ni­cat­ing via our smart­phones or com­put­ers, but with emoji, it’s pos­si­ble to add depth, ex­pres­sion, and cre­ativ­ity to our con­ver­sa­tions and dig­i­tal per­sona.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing things about emoji is in­ferred mean­ing. If you show an egg­plant emoji to an older per­son, they’ll likely think of it as an egg­plant - mil­len­ni­als, on the other hand, un­der­stand the emoji to be some­thing else en­tirely, thanks to shared knowl­edge. In some ways, emoji have cre­ated an en­tirely new lan­guage, and one some have yet to grasp.

A SLEW OF MES­SAG­ING APPS

Black­Berry Mes­sen­ger cer­tainly wasn’t the first in­stant mes­sag­ing ser­vice to ex­ist, but it be­came one that gripped the world and trans­formed the way we chat. Orig­i­nally launch­ing as a busi­ness plat­form, celebri­ties in­clud­ing Kim Kar­dashian helped to spear­head Black­Berry to suc­cess, and soon ev­ery­one - in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama - had a Black­Berry. The tech­nol­ogy was so pop­u­lar that singers such as Sean Kingston, Lana Del Rey, and Soulja Boy all in­cluded BBM in their songs, singing “BBM me ev­ery day.”

When Ap­ple re­leased the iPhone, how­ever, things changed and the idea of a phys­i­cal QW­ERTY key­board soon fell out of fa­vor. iMes­sage came pack­aged with iOS in 2011, in­stant mes­sag­ing went through some­thing of a re­nais­sance, and soon ev­ery­one could send mes­sages, im­ages, videos, GIFs and emoji to their friends and fam­ily with­out mes­sages eat­ing into their cell plan. Since then, a whole host of fea­tures have been added to make iMes­sage more ap­peal­ing to its users, such as 2017’s An­i­moji with the iPhone X, and more re­cently Me­moji, al­low­ing users to cre­ate their own emoji and send mes­sages and videos as an an­i­mated char­ac­ter when­ever they want.

But iMes­sage wasn’t alone in the in­stant mes­sag­ing rev­o­lu­tion. In­deed, a whole host of com­peti­tors have en­tered the mar­ket, in­clud­ing Face­book Mes­sen­ger, What­sApp, Tele­gram, and Viber. Data sug­gests What­sApp is the most pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing app in the world with 1.5 bil­lion users, closely fol­lowed by Face­book Mes­sen­ger with 1.3 bil­lion users. Viber, LINE, Tele­gram, and IMO are other key play­ers, each con­nect­ing users around the world for free. And per­haps price is the big­gest rea­son why in­stant mes­sag­ing has changed the way we speak with our loved ones…

A FALL IN CALLS

Ten years ago, if you wanted to speak with a friend or busi­ness con­tact on the other side of the world, you’d pay a small for­tune. Those prices re­main in place to­day, with A&T charg­ing users in the US an eye-wa­ter­ing 99 cents per minute to call the United King­dom and Europe, and $1.29 per minute to call

Aus­tralia. With our smart­phones, those fees are a thing of the past.

But it’s not just in­ter­na­tional call­ing that has changed the way we think about pay­ing to keep in touch. Just as we are see­ing with ca­ble net­works and home en­ter­tain­ment pack­ages in the United States, where 33 mil­lion home­own­ers cut ca­bles with Dish and Com­cast this year, switch­ing to In­ter­net­based ser­vices like Net­flix and Ama­zon

Video, we’re also see­ing a shift in the way con­sumers ac­cess data plans. Rather than spend­ing up­wards of $100 on a cel­lu­lar data and iPhone plan, many con­sumers are opt­ing to choose no con­tract cell phone plans and switch­ing to SIM-only deals in­stead. In­deed, in the United King­dom, it’s es­ti­mated that 20% of con­sumers pay for their cel­lu­lar data plan sep­a­rately from their phone, which is help­ing to bring down the av­er­age cost of phone plans and en­cour­ag­ing big net­works to re­duce their plans in or­der to re­main com­pet­i­tive.

The same is hap­pen­ing in the United States, with many con­sumers opt­ing for data-only and pay-as-you-go plans, mov­ing away from the tra­di­tional pack­ages to save money and cus­tom­ize their ex­pe­ri­ence. T-Mo­bile of­fers con­sumers plans from as lit­tle as $3 per month, far re­moved from the av­er­age cost of data plans in the United States. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union, the av­er­age phone plan with 500MB of data in the US costs a stag­ger­ing $85 per month, which is ex­pen­sive when com­pared to China ($24.10) and as lit­tle as $8.80 in the United King­dom.

When you con­sider the fact we’re mak­ing fewer tra­di­tional phone calls than ever, un­lim­ited in­clu­sive min­utes seems like a re­dun­dant of­fer­ing.

Savvy con­sumers no longer need to be tied into ex­pen­sive two-year-long plans with voice and SMS ser­vices - mod­ern con­sumers only need data to sur­vive in our al­ways-on world. As such, we’ll likely see a new push to­wards a more stream­lined and per­son­al­ized cell ser­vice, with Google Fi be­ing a great ex­am­ple of that.

THE WECHAT MODEL

There’s no doubt­ing that mes­sag­ing apps have changed the way we com­mu­ni­cate, but to­day they do much more than that. Open Face­book Mes­sen­ger, and you’ll see op­tions to play games with friends, con­tact busi­nesses, con­nect to Spo­tify or even or­der food. On iMes­sage, you can send money with Ap­ple Pay Cash, play your fa­vorite mu­sic and ac­cess the iMes­sage App Store, home to hun­dreds of third-party ser­vices de­signed to make life eas­ier and keep users en­gaged with their smart­phones. To­day, mes­sag­ing apps are much more than mes­sag­ing apps.

Nowhere in the world is that truer than in China. Home to more than 690 mil­lion smart­phone users, China has an ‘al­ways on’ cul­ture, and con­sumers use their phones in vir­tu­ally ev­ery part of their lives. WeChat, de­vel­oped by Ten­cent Hold­ings, is much more than a mes­sag­ing app - it’s China’s ‘app for ev­ery­thing’ al­low­ing con­sumers to do ev­ery­thing from book­ing ap­point­ments to pay­ing for lunch. WeChat is more than just chat soft­ware - it’s a life­style.

Within the app, you can book tick­ets, rent cars, have food de­liv­ered, chat with friends, give tips, in­ter­act with busi­nesses, and buy prod­ucts from just about any e-com­merce brand in the coun­try. WeChat is also the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar chan­nel for ac­cess­ing news and other forms of me­dia con­tent, but it has been crit­i­cized for its lack of se­cu­rity fea­tures. With com­pe­ti­tion laws in the West so tight, the chances are that we’ll never see an app be­come as pow­er­ful or dom­i­nant as WeChat in the United States, but the busi­ness model shows just how im­por­tant com­mu­ni­ca­tion can be to con­sumers. Earn­ing 10.69 bil­lion yuan in the first quar­ter of 2018 alone, WeChat is one of China’s big­gest suc­cess sto­ries - but with brands such as Google and Face­book plan­ning re-en­try into the coun­try, its time at the top may be lim­ited.

It’s hard to deny just how much the way we com­mu­ni­cate has changed over the past ten years - part, in thanks, to the iPhone. FaceTime helps fam­i­lies on op­po­site sides of the world keep in touch, What­sApp is great for ev­ery­day chat and busi­ness, and new tech­nolo­gies, like aug­mented and vir­tual re­al­ity, 360-de­grees cam­eras, and the rise of an­i­ma­tronic lovers are set to take our con­nec­tions to the next level. It’s hard to imag­ine what the fu­ture of tech will bring, but it’s clear it will make keep­ing in touch eas­ier, sim­pler, and more life-like than ever.

Im­age: Ger­ald Martineau

Im­age: Justin Sul­li­van

Im­age: Eli­jah Nou­ve­lage

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