MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

The new chair of the FTC and antitrust 2.0

TIM MULLIGAN | June 22, 2021

The appointment of Lina Khan on June 15th to chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is poised to be a transformational one in the history of the world wide web. Khan came to prominence with an article in the Yale Law Journal, Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, which identified the paradox of hegemonic tech service providers which bypass the US’ strict competition laws by offering lower prices to the end consumer. Under US antitrust law, the driving indicator of market monopolies are higher prices for the consumer – under this strict definition, none of the tech majors which dominate the digital economy are monopolistic. Indeed, some such as Alphabet and Facebook do not even directly charge the end user for their services. So, while both Google and Facebook dominate the global digital ad market, making an antitrust case against them under the current 20thcentury era regulatory framework is nigh on impossible. However, the absence of meaningful competitive challengers to these two incumbents in search and social advertising over the previous 15 years, despite the lucrative high margin business opportunities, implies that the competitive market is not performing according to classical economic theory. Khan has built a subsequent career on trying to square this circle, and now the Biden Administration has empowered her as the key instigator of the sweeping regulatory update required for a digital-first century.

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VIRTUALIZATION

Instagram continues to perform strongly despite inconsistent brand identity

Article | June 30, 2021

Over the last few months Instagram has done its best to capitalise on the latest social media success tactics, often at the cost of its own original user proposition. The photo-sharing app for friends now offers Reels, imitating TikTok’s success. It has rolled out an option to hide Likes, the iconic feature which has characterised social media as a whole since inception. And it now is introducing ‘suggested posts’ to users’ feeds, sorted by topics a profile states they are interested in – potentially putting these ahead of photos and videos shared by profiles they actually follow. Directly mimicking TikTok, this seems to diverge very little in practice from hashtags, which are its original discovery feature. Instead, it seems to want to emulate the usability which younger users are familiar with from TikTok, in order to entice them to increase their Instagram engagement.

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VIRTUALIZATION

Marketing a game? Put enough focus on Discord and TikTok

Article | June 7, 2021

TikTok and Discord are essential channels for effective gamer targeting. MIDiA’s Q1 2021 survey states that weekly active user penetration of the two services over-indexes among mobile and console gamers the most of all tracked social media. This is similar with PC gamers, with the exception of Twitter ranking slightly higher than TikTok.

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TECHNOLOGIES

Ongoing transitions in gaming industry

Article | January 19, 2021

The gaming industry is continuously evolving with current transitions derived from VR/AR, blockchain, 5G and cloud computing. The aim of this transition is to fulfill requirements of gamers such as reducing the cost of gaming, developing more immersive experience, converting tools bought in games as transferable assets, enabling gamers to play graphic intensive games on low cost devices. Currently popular games are on the go to create augmented reality versions to be played on AR headsets with their mobile phones. The google stadia platform(a platform where graphic intensive games run in data centers and gamers can play them via web browsers) has also enabled the gaming industry to eliminate the computing limitations imposed by running games in mobile devices. The only barrier in coupling both technologies to have the best of both worlds is low bandwidth of 4G which will soon be expanded when 5G rolls out in the market. TRANSITIONS IN GAMING INDUSTRY The real time game play is currently not possible for games running in data centers and being rendered on web browsers of a gamer’s device as there is latency in reflecting the character’s action on the press of a button. Such a transition will eliminate the need for highly expensive gaming consoles which has been curbing the growth rate of the gaming industry. One more concern from gamers that’s being a barrier in revenue generation for the gaming industry is that the weapons, power packs, kits and tool kits bought in any game are simply virtual and become useless when they are done with the game. The idea to buy such time bound utility becomes insensible for players. So, now the gaming industry is evaluating the option to register these buyouts in games on blockchain which can later be used as a non tangible asset by players to trade easily. The gaming theory that’s getting popularised these days will eventually leverage the AR and VR technology to transform the education industry. The idea to provide customers with user manuals running in augmented reality that can enable a non trained worker to operate the machine is also booming. Solidworks by 3Dplm is one such tool that’s heading in this direction. The transitions mentioned above are quite exciting and the way gaming industry and mentioned technologies are evolving we can expect to get our hands on such exciting gaming technology soon too at a fraction of current costs.

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MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

FILM PRODUCERS FLIP BARGAINING TABLE WITH UNIONIZING EFFORT

Article | May 21, 2021

Movie producers often find themselves negotiating with talent and crew members, and/or their production union representatives, over pay and benefits. But a group of 108 producers flipped the script Thursday in announcing they were looking to form a union of their own.Higher minimum pay and health benefits were cited as the two major reasons. While the group, called the Producers Union, boasts some heavy hitters such as Chris Moore (Manchester by the Sea) and Rebecca Green (It Follows), they made it clear that the traditional image of a Hollywood producer is misleading. Many are just getting by, project to project, looking for a breakout hit to up their quote. According to a survey released this year, 41% of producers made less than $25,000 in the pre-pandemic boom times of 2019. The Producers Union has developed a constitution with provisions for dues and diversity initiatives, with the aim of eventually negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with distributors and other film financiers. Previous efforts by producers to unionize have been thwarted by the courts and the National Labor Relations Board, according to Variety, as the NLRB saw them as supervisors and employers – which creates a high barrier to organizing.

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