Interview with Nick Savell

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Cheap buses – good for some

A bill is under consideration in New York to restrict where curbside operators, such as Megabus, can operate. The New York Times highlighted that many complaints had been made by business owners who feel that the parked buses block their businesses from view, thus reducing the potential market. In the Times article pub owner Martin Whelan stated,

“The buses line up on the whole block, so if you’re across the street you can’t see the businesses.”

If the bill was to pass then companies could have to ensure that they hold a permit in order to travel around the city. Specific pick-up and drop-off spots could also be established. Despite the potential inconvenience it appears that the bus companies would welcome any changes, BoltBus spokesman Timothy Stokes said,

“As long as each curbside carrier is treated equally in their operations, we are fine with any changes the city deems necessary.”

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This is certainly an interesting development for these cheap fare companies and it could be the start of more restraints for the likes of BoltBus and Megabus.

Who ate all the pies?

2009/10 may not have been a good year for many financially, but for Europe’s top football teams it was one to savour. An article on WebWire highlights that the top 20 ranked teams raked in a staggering €4.3 billion between them. Dan Jones of the business group Deloitte stated,

“The game’s top clubs have proved themselves well-placed to meet these economic challenges given their large and loyal supporter bases, ability to drive broadcast audiences, and continuing attraction to corporate partners.”

Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal highlights that Real Madrid were the most profitable team in the latest rankings, which accounted for the year 2008/09. The Spanish giants revenue totalled €438.6 million. It is clear that despite the economic hardships fans are still more than willing to support their team by attending games, purchasing merchandise and of course the pie stall. English teams were the most prominent in the top 10, with 4 representatives.
Paul Rawnsley, a Director within Deloitte, believes that this trend will continue next year,

“Despite the difficult economic times we would not be surprised to report that revenues have grown again when we cover the current season in next year’s report.”

With a loyal fan base and the many other methods of bringing in revenue it is apparent that sports teams will continue to thrive despite the financial maladies.

Chart courtesy of caughtoffside.co.uk

Where’s my CD?

It appears that the Compact Disc is finally dwindling away as a source of music. Aidin Vaziri of the San Francisco Gate highlighted that Cake’s recent number one album ‘Showroom of Compassion’ became the lowest selling number one album in history. This clearly highlights the impact of new forms of technology, such as iTunes, alongside illegal downloads and file sharing on the music industry.

The decline in CD sales is very apparent when compared with ten years ago. Jennifer Lopez’s ‘J-Lo’ album sold 272,000 copies in its opening week in January 2001 whereas Cake’s latest offering sold a mere 44,000 copies in January 2011. File sharing websites offer fans the chance to obtain songs for free, albeit illegally. This is obviously attractive to those who don’t wish to part with their cash. Fans who use iTunes have the chance to buy individual songs directly off albums, which means they can decide to buy the ones the prefer the most as opposed to the entire album.

The impact of music piracy has been chronicled on Web Business in Johannesberg, which highlights that, “Due to these kinds of piracy, recorded music market in the country, has experienced a decline over the last two years losing 17.3% in 2009.” It is clear that the recording industry faces a huge struggle in the coming years and with the ever-growing influence of online downloading it will be interesting to see if it can survive.

Cutting out the middleman could cost passengers

American Airlines and reservation websites Orbitz and Expedia have had a very public disagreement regarding ticket sales. After American Airlines prevented its tickets being sold on Orbitz last year Expedia retorted by abstaining from selling the airlines tickets on its website.

As highlighted in the Los Angeles Times American Airlines believes that by staying clear of these middlemen ticket prices will eventually fall, which of course will benefit potential passengers. However the Times also suggests that this is where the two sides disagree. Many business travel managers believe that if airlines sell tickets without a mediator then the cost of travelling will increase. In a recent Global Business Travel Association poll of 244 managers 90% believed that this would be the case. It could be the case that American Airlines will become a trendsetter with their latest move as, if it proves to be successful, many of the United States’ other major flight providers could see it as the best way to sell their tickets to passengers.

American has the highest operating costs among the major airlines and the company experienced huge net losses of $471 million in 2010. As highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal blog, American makes a loss of around 1.7 cents per mile that is flown. What compiled the misery for American was that its major rivals all made healthy profits in the same year, Delta Airlines made $593 million while Southwest earned roughly $500 million.

The financial troubles that American Airlines experienced in 2010 could well have sparked their decision to pull out of operating via Orbitz. However with Expedia snubbing their business American could now face more troubling times as passengers frequently check with the middleman first to find the best deal possible for themselves.

If other flight operators decide to follow in the footsteps of American Airlines then it could will be the passengers who pay the price as there is the distinct possibility that ticket prices will experience an increase.

The Excessive Factor

In March 2011 the United States will join a long list of countries that broadcast ‘The X-Factor’ on television. The program, which will air on Fox, will undoubtedly provide more success for its creator Simon Cowell. The show is already a huge hit in the United Kingdom, where last season’s finale claimed over 16 million viewers. Contestants can apply from as young as 12 years old.

However, what is most striking about the show is that the overall winner will sign a record deal worth around $5 million, more than three times the prize handed out in the UK version. Say a 12 or 13-year-old was to win the inaugural American series. Is a $5 million prize really necessary at that age? It is incredible to think that one act can walk away with this huge sum for, essentially, just being a good singer. To a company such as Fox $5 million resembles a collection of pennies, which is why game show prize funds are often so extravagant. It could also be a sign of the strength of these companies in the current climate.

It certainly signifies that Cowell is keen to build on the success he had with ‘American Idol’ in the US. Cowell is already a huge player in the music industry in the United Kingdom, and with the arrival of ‘The X Factor’ in the US the 51-year-old clearly has ambitions to amass that level of power across the pond.


Patch.com may still be relatively youthful in the world of online news but there are signs that the AOL owned website could become an increasingly reliable news source in the long run. The Fairfield, CT version of the site is easy to navigate with drop-down menu’s that simplify the search for what you want to read. It is very similar to the online version of the Fairfield Citizen.

The main problem with Patch.com’s coverage of the Fairfield area is the lack of regularly updated stories. At times there is only one story per section a day on Patch.com in comparison to the frequently updated Citizen, which is updated on at least an hourly basis. As a result Patch.com provides a much more in-depth version of stories found on the Citizen. Regarding the death of former state representative Carl Dickman the Citizen provides a very brief obituary of his life. However Patch.com goes further and describes an encounter with Rep. Brenda Kupchick just before his death. It could be that the lack of overall news coverage on Patch.com allows for more information. However it is questionable as to where Patch.com’s volunteers gather their information from. The author of the Dickman story on Patch.com, Andrew Brophy, provides a brief description about himself.

One thing that Patch.com has in its favour is the events section. This provides a day-to-day guide to events and exhibitions occurring in the Fairfield region. There is community page on the Citizen’s website however this provides details of only a few upcoming events and already passed ones. Again detail plays a big part in Patch.com’s coverage of these events, dates, times and duration all included for each event.

A noticeable difference between the two websites is how they cover the incoming weather for the next few days. The Citizen’s article gives a detailed description of what to expect each day and refers to the storm as “historic” in the headline. The article on Patch.com focuses more on the human element of the story and the effects it could have on local schools.

There is a lot of potential for Patch.com to be a legitimate news source however it seems that there is a lot of work to do in order for this to happen. With more development we could start to hear a lot more from Patch.com.