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Big Media's checkmate over many of the internet companies that were supposed to put it out of business has been inevitable.

But that inevitability is just now becoming clear to some internet idealogues as they recover from their kool aid-induced stupours.

As such, I thought it'd be worthwhile to look at three recent stories that exemplify how Big Media is slowly but surely starting to demonstrate its strength over many supposed internet threats.

1. Rupert Murdoch laughs all the way to the bank with Google's money

You'd have to imagine that the arrogant smiles flashed by Google management have become a little less beaming over the past month.

On December 31, Google's stock closed at just under $700.Yesterday, the stock closed at just over $506.

Its disappointing fourth-quarter earnings led to an admission: the company has been unable to successfully monetise social networks. This is problematic because in its rush to secure as much inventory as it could, it entered into agreements that guaranteed payments to social networks.

When Google guaranteed Rupert Murdoch's MySpace $900m in payments through 2010, it's doubtful that Google management thought Rupert Murdoch would end up playing them for fools.

Rupert would look smart for inking a $900m deal after purchasing MySpace for $580m, but the invincible management team at Google surely thought that they would get the better end of the deal.

They didn't - they're losing money on the deal. Given that it's increasingly becoming clear social networks aren't the super marketing platforms many thought they were, it looks like Rupert Murdoch sold the geniuses at Google the Brooklyn Bridge.

Of course, anybody who knows about all the shrewd moves he's made in the past wouldn't be surprised, but the arrogant, nouveau riche techies at Google didn't see it coming. As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted.

2. Viacom still has an audience - who woulda thunk

As observed by Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, Viacom's Flux social network which launched in September 2007 is "taking off".

The social network, which is used to run communities for many of Viacom's properties, including MTV, already has over a million registered users.

While there is a traffic data issue that comScore is resolving, it's clear that Viacom's failed attempt to purchase Facebook for $750m in 2006 isn't stopping the company from implementing a social media strategy that seems to be working fairly well.

The most important implication of Viacom's initial success with Flux is that despite the claims that Big Media is dying, Big Media properties still maintain solid mainstream audiences and these audiences can be driven to Big Media-owned online properties.

Flux is not going to become the next Facebook, but social networking is not Viacom's core business and therefore it doesn't need to become the next Facebook (unlike similar pure-play social networking startups that have raised big money).

Flux simply gives Viacom an additional platform to connect with its viewers. It's likely that when the social networking market has returned to earth, these types of focused social networks that are part of larger properties will make the most sense.

3. Podcasts apparently making a "comeback". But Big Media is the one cashing in

According to research firm eMarketer, podcasting, a space that many thought was dead, "is unquestionably creating a listening audience".

While I'm personally not impressed that the total US podcast audience reached 18.5m in 2007 and am always sceptical about future projections provided by research firms, it's clear that the growth seen is more a direct result of Big Media leveraging podcasts than a result of startups, a number of which have failed.

Interestingly, TechCrunch's Duncan Riley, one of the biggest Web 2.0 kool aid drinkers, admitted:

"While greater awareness of podcasting is growing the overall market for podcasts, the mainstream media is taking a big slice of the pie".

When Duncan makes such an admission, it can't be a good sign for the legions of internet startups looking to destroy Big Media.

Drama 2.0

Published 6 February, 2008 by Drama 2.0

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