Friday, January 22, 2010

Freakanomics Can Put a Price Tag on Anything -- Even My Emotional Connection to the Vikings

Well, I guess an economist can put a monetary price tage on anything ... or at least they think they can.

This weekend, my Minnesota Vikings are, at long last, again in the NFC Championship playing for the Super Bowl. Is this our year? I think it is (we have Favre, the Ageless Wonder, after all, who gives hope to all of us digital media veterans). Does this have anything to do with digital media? Of course not. But, this is a huge weekend for me so indulge me.

Back to economists and the monetary value of my emotional connection to the Vikings. Freakonomics recently concluded that the Vikes are "worth" about $531 annually to each Minnesotan (that means me).

$531? Are you kidding me? I have watched every single game this year -- and have usually forced my family to watch them too. I have purchased jerseys and flags. I even went to paint-your-own pottery place "Color Me Mine" with my kids and painted myself a Vikings helmet!

Is that $531?

Or, is that priceless?

Well, it all depends on whether they win this weekend and go to "the Show."

YouTube Opens Up Pandora's Box -- New Online Music Service, PLUS Videos

YouTube just quietly launched a major shot across the bow to Pandora and other online radio services -- it is called YouTube Music Discovery and, for now, it is buried on YouTube's "TestTube" section of its site (which is YouTube's equivalent to Google Labs). Just like Pandora, YouTube Music Discovery (YMD) enables you to pick an artist -- press the "Disco!" button -- and automatically generate a play-list featuring your selected artist and other "similar" artists via its music discovery engine.

But, here's the cool thing -- YMD does not just generate a playlist of songs -- it generates a playlist of music videos (so that you can both watch and listen if you so choose). So, YMD really features a media discovery engine. And, YouTube's partnership with new online music video service Vevo makes this possible (at least for some of the served up videos, since the Vevo logo is prominently displayed in the lower right-hand side of the video).

YMD is free, of course. But, just like Pandora's free service, YMD serves up advertising. When I selected Coldplay and pressed the "Disco!" button, my generated playlist included 3 Coldplay videos in the first 5 videos on the playlist, and I saw my first 15 second ad after those 5 videos.

Should Pandora and other similar online music services be worried?

Absolutely. YouTube's new YMD service is now buried. But, you can bet this won't be for long. And, when YouTube talks, people listen ...