Google to buy New York Times?

John Ellis speculates on what would seem to be the final nail in the old media coffin:

In the last five years, the New York Times has declined in value by an astonishing 70 percent. There is no indication that things will get better any time soon. Indeed, as the specter of recession looms, there is every reason to believe that things will get worse. At some point here in the near future, the market capitalization of the New York Times will fall below $2 billion. At that point, a psychological floor will have collapsed and the company will be in play.

The company that has the most to gain from buying the New York Times is Google. If it proffered a Murdoch-like, no-auction bid of $4 billion, wouldn’t the Sulzberger family have to accept it? Every single class B shareholder would accept the offer. It’s their only exit. It is also likely that Times employees and retirees would enthusiastically support the deal; it’s their only exit as well. So it would all come down to whether the Sulzberger family (smaller in number and not as far-flung as the fractious Bancroft clan that owned Dow Jones) would accept the deal.

The choice for the family would be basically this: double your money or double down on “young Arthur,” as the NYT’s Chairman and CEO is sometimes called. In the back of their minds, the prospect of doubling down on “young Arthur” could only mean that the company’s stock will continue its relentless decline. The prospect of doubling up with Google offers realized value, a global platform and thus a much clearer path to future growth. Everyone would be a lot richer than they are now. Assuming a cash/stock transaction, some might be a whole lot richer in the future.

I am told by smart people who know the business that the Sulzbergers will never sell; that their identity is the New York Times. It’s also said that they take their role as stewards of journalistic “excellence” and “integrity” seriously. They’re plenty rich as it is, if not as rich as they once were, so it’s not about the money. It’s about the Statue of Liberty and justice and righteousness, all of which they feel The New York Times embodies. And I believe that they believe all that.

But as everyone knows, and the Sulzbergers know better than most, the game has changed. Classified advertising has been gutted by Craig’s List (and a thousand other web-sites). Department stores have consolidated and newspaper advertising budgets have consequently declined. The way people access information has fundamentally changed, thanks to the Internet. On and on it goes.

But perhaps the biggest change is that The New York Times is squarely in the cross-hairs of the aforementioned Rupert Murdoch…


It’s 20:08, Do You Know What Your Kid Is Doing Online?

My 11-year-old son asked me how to download videos and music from the Internet and within a few minutes I turned him into a pirate downloader using Ares and VideoDownloadX. I did a P.O.S just to see what his favourite searches were. They turned out to be: Soulja Boy and Breakdance.

My nine-year-old daughter has also latched on to Flash games and social virtual sites Habbo and Zwinky, neither of which she’s old enough to sign up for.

As long as they don’t start ordering pink convertibles, I guess we’re safe.

An NPD Group survey of mothers of two- to 14-year-olds suggests the most popular digital activities are playing games, followed by listening to music and watching video (Note: reading not essential).

They are also spending on average, US$6 to US$12 per month for digital content, a statistic obviously not lost on marketeers.

Online ads growing in Europe

BBC news item on Forrester findings:

The annual value of pan-European online advertising is set to reach 16bn euros ($22bn; £10.8bn) by 2012, more than double that of 2006, says a study.

The report by research body Forrester said online adverts would leap to 18% of market share, up from 9% currently.

The UK will continue to see the most online advertising in the next four years, ahead of Germany and France

It said 52% of people were now regularly online, spending more time doing so than watching television. European internet users now spend 14.3 hours a week online, compared with 11.3 hours watching TV, and 4.4 hours reading newspapers or magazines, the research group said.

As a result of this increased internet usage, 36% of people who go online said they spent less time looking at the television as a result.

The report said search engines would continue to dominate online advertising spend, followed by display advertisements and e-mails.

“After five years of dipping their toes into the online marketing waters, firms have come to realise that the net is a valuable medium for client acquisition, retention and market expansion,” said the study.

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