《经济学人》:网络媒体分销,愤怒的公牛
日期:2011-04-28 11:09

(单词翻译:单击)

Online media distribution网络媒体分销Raging bulls(注)愤怒的“公牛”
Music and television firms fret about their distributors’ new business models
音乐影视分销商创建了新商业模式,制造商却烦恼不已

New ways to enjoy songs and shows音乐影视欣赏新招迭出

RELATIONS between the companies that create media products and those that distribute them have long been poor. But perennial arguments about the price that ought to be paid for content are turning uglier as digital distribution transforms the media landscape. Like ageing boxers, big media firms have twice climbed into the ring to slug it out with high-tech outfits that seem to be building new business models with their property. In both cases the media firms are morally right. Yet both encounters have left them bruised.

媒体产品制造商与分销商一向不睦,双方围绕媒体内容售价,常年争执不休,而随着数字分发改变媒体格局,吵得更是不亦乐乎。媒体巨头就像老拳击手,一把年纪了还要两次爬进拳击场,与高科技公司一决雌雄,后者貌似正在构建具有自身特质的新商业模式。这两场对决,媒体公司均占理,却都被打得遍体鳞伤。

Time Warner Cable (TWC) was, until a couple of years ago, a part of big-media veteran Time Warner; now it is in the other corner of the ring, keen to prove its tech chops. On March 15th TWC launched a feisty little iPad application that lets its customers watch some of the television channels they subscribe to on their tablet computers. Customers were so enthusiastic that the system promptly crashed. Many media firms were not. They say TWC has no right to redistribute their content without permission, even within a subscriber’s home, and complain that iPad viewings do not count towards a programme’s ratings. Cease-and-desist letters have been sent.

时代华纳有线(TWC)数年前,还是老牌传媒巨头时代华纳的一部分,而今却站到拳击场另一角,急于表现自个的技术实力。3月15日,TWC推出了一款相当火爆的iPad小应用,可让其用户在平板电脑上观看自己订购的某些电视频道。用户趋之若鹜,致使系统旋即崩溃。但许多媒体公司却不以为然,称TWC未经许可,无权重新分发它们的内容,哪怕在订户家中分发也不行,还抱怨用iPad看电视未计入节目收视率,纷纷发出勒令停止通知函。

The second challenger is a heavyweight. On March 29th Amazon launched a digital-locker service for media. This will let the e-retailer’s American customers upload music from CDs or digital tracks (not just ones bought from Amazon’s store) to remote servers. They can then play their collections through a variety of devices—with the notable exception of some sold by Apple, the firm that dominates the music-download market. As with digital books, Amazon is trying to create a “buy once, consume anywhere” service.

第二位挑战者,是一名重量级选手。3月29日,电子零售商亚马逊推出了一项媒体“数字寄存柜”服务,可让其美国用户上载CD音乐或数字歌曲(非仅限亚马逊商店所售)到远程服务器。随后,用户即可用多种设备播放收藏曲目,但有一明显例外,那便是,称霸音乐下载市场的苹果所售装置不在此列。借助电子书,亚马逊正试图打造“一次购买,处处使用”的服务。

Sony Music complains that Amazon does not have the right to stream music. Like TWC, the e-retailer is pushing ahead without the content owners’ permission in the hope that the public will come to regard its service as an inalienable right. For music firms that have been quietly negotiating with Apple and Google, which want to build locker services of their own, Amazon’s tactics are below the belt.

索尼音乐公司抱怨亚马逊无权让音乐任意流动。亚马逊跟TWC一样,未获内容所有者许可,就在推进内容分发业务,它希望公众会慢慢将之当作一种不可剥夺的权利。苹果与谷歌也企图打造自己的“寄存柜”服务,音乐公司一直在默默与之谈判,故对其而言,亚马逊的手段有欠正当。

Even so, are the record labels wise to fight back? Their position is a tricky one. Digital music downloads, which had been growing quickly, stalled last year in America and Japan, according to the IFPI, a trade group. Piracy is one reason; another is that the limitations of digital downloading are becoming clear. Mark Mulligan of Forrester, a research firm, says music fans now expect to be able to play their collections of tunes on all sorts of devices. Some are finding, frustratingly, that they cannot. Amazon’s new service is designed to solve that problem.

即便如此,唱片公司反击就明智了吗?它们处境也颇棘手。据商业团体IFPI称,数字音乐下载一直迅猛发展,但去年在美日却陷入停顿。盗版是原因之一。另一个原因,则是数字下载的种种局限正日益明朗。市场调查公司弗雷斯特的Mark Mulligan称,音乐爱好者如今期望各种设备都可播放自个的收藏曲目。但有些人沮丧地发现,无法办到。亚马逊的新服务正打算解决此问题。

Anything that makes digital downloading more appealing should be good news for the record labels. They should also welcome strong competition for Apple, which has held sway over digital music for a decade. On the other hand, collapsing CD purchases are making them desperate for new sources of revenue. If there is going to be money in digital-locker services, they want a cut. Some have stayed quiet about Amazon’s move so far because they regard it as the foundation of a more ambitious music service that will provide new revenues for them. It may be, for example, that consumers will be offered the chance to listen to each other’s music for a fee.

无论哪种方式,只要能让数字音乐下载更吸引人,对唱片公司而言都是喜讯。它们也会欢迎针对苹果的激烈竞争,后者左右数字音乐市场已达十年。另一方面,CD销量急剧减少,唱片公司亟需新收入来源。倘若媒体“数字寄存柜”服务有利可图,它们也想分一杯羹。对亚马逊的举动,有些唱片公司至今默不做声,概因其认为,那是一项更具雄心音乐服务的基础,会增加收入。这种服务,打个比方,或许是消费者有机会付费收听彼此收藏的音乐。

If the record companies are understandably torn about how to respond to a new distribution model, the television firms are simply wrong. It is hard to imagine a less disruptive innovation than TWC’s iPad app. By letting people who have already paid for a programme watch it on another screen, the app raises the value of a television subscription and strengthens the pay-TV ecosystem on which media firms depend. They may win their fight, but it might have been better not to enter the ring.

在如何应对新分发模式一事上,唱片公司左右为难尚可理解,电视公司却大错特错。TWC的iPad应用创新破坏之少,殊难想象。用户可用其跨屏收看已付费节目,从而提高电视订购价格,巩固媒体公司倚赖的付费电视生态系统。自相残杀,电视公司或许会赢,但最好别进拳击场。

注:Raging bulls

语带双关。原是1980年出品、 马丁??斯科塞斯导演的一部电影,一般译作《愤怒的公牛》;本文中作者将网络媒体分发市场比喻为ring,即“拳击场,角力场、竞技场”,而将媒体巨头(包括唱片公司跟电视公司)、高科技公司、电子零售商等比作进场决斗的encounters,也就是标题所指的bull,该词既有“公牛、雄兽”之意,也指“力大如牛的人,粗壮如牛的人,声粗如牛的人,粗汉,彪形大汉”。这里将媒体产品制造商(唱片公司与电视公司)比作力大如牛的拳击手,它们面临与分销商和高科技公司的两场激烈对决,恼怒不已。

分享到
重点单词
  • streamn. (人,车,气)流,水流,组 v. 流动,流出,飘动
  • appealingadj. 引起兴趣的,动人的
  • promptlyadv. 敏捷地,迅速地
  • challengern. 挑战者
  • applicationn. 应用; 申请; 专心 n. 应用软件程序
  • swayv. 摇摆,摇动,支配,影响 n. 摇摆,动摇,支配
  • distributev. 分配,散布
  • fretv. (使)烦恼,(使)焦急,(使)磨损,侵蚀 n. 烦
  • desperateadj. 绝望的,不顾一切的
  • enthusiasticadj. 热情的,热心的