Monday, January 7, 2013

Digital Disney Kingdom and TV

Obscure cable channels are feeling the heat from major cable distributors that increasingly are talking about dropping underperforming channels from their lineups. As Brian Stelter reports, distributors have talked for years about belt-tightening, but two things are different now: potential Web competitors are creeping up and programming costs are soaring, particularly for sports channels and broadcasters. Independently owned channels are more imperiled than low-rated channels owned by media conglomerates like the Walt Disney Company and Viacom. VH1 Classic and ESPNU are not going away any time soon, but on New Year’s Day, Verizon FiOS yanked Youtoo TV, a fledgling channel that features videos submitted by viewers, and Time Warner Cable dropped Ovation, which bills itself as an arts and culture channel. At the same time, in a move criticized by the programmers of some low-rated channels, distributors continue to give new and unproven channels a chance. Time Warner Cable, for example, started to carry BBC World News and RLTV, formerly called Retirement Living TV, in the last few months.

Walt Disney World plans to begin introducing a vacation management system called MyMagic+ in the coming months that will drastically change the way Disney World visitors — some 30 million people a year — do just about everything. Visitors will wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information allowing them to buy everything from corn dogs to Mickey Mouse ears with a tap of the wrist. Smartphone alerts will signal when it is time to ride Space Mountain without standing in line. The ambitious plan, as Brooks Barnes reports, moves Disney deeper into the hotly debated terrain of personal data collection. Like most major companies, Disney wants to have as much information about its customers’ preferences as it can get, so it can appeal to them more efficiently. The company already collects data to use in future sales campaigns, but parts of MyMagic+ will allow Disney to track guest behavior in minute detail for the first time.

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