Consider how strange this year will be in media.
Homer Simpson will go belly-to-belly with Shrek. YouTube's audience will continue to soar higher than a Diet Coke and Mentos fountain. AT&T will launch into the satellite business. And DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen will run the presses at the Los Angeles Times.
At least that's what some of Wall Street's most astute media analysts say.
Submit your predictions:Enter our Media Prognostication Contest now
But don't depend on them to guide you for the 11th Annual USA TODAY Media Prognostication Contest. Readers have beaten them for the last six years.
This time it could be you.
The contest is open to all in three categories: readers, industry players (such as executives, consultants, journalists and stars) and other Wall Streeters.
All you have to do is enter online or by mail by the Jan. 31 deadline (address below).
1. Which of these megasequels will generate the most box office dollars in its three-day opening weekend?
a) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Fox); b) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner); c) Live Free or Die Hard (Fox); d) Ocean's 13 (Warner); e) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Disney); f) Spider-Man 3 (Sony).
2) Digital albums or their equivalent (10 tracks = 1 album) accounted for 5.3% of all album sales as of late 2006 — up from 2.5% in 2005. What share of the album market will digital downloads have by late 2007?
a) 5.3% or less; b) 5.4% to 7.0%; c) 7.1% to 9.0%; d) 9.1% to 11.0%; e) 11.1% to 13.0%; f) More than 13.0%.
3) Nearly 35.9 million different people visited YouTube.com in November 2006, up from 1.1 million in November 2005, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. In November 2007 it will be:
a) Down 50% or more; b) Down less than 50%; c) Flat or up 50% or less; d) Up more than 50%, but less than 100%; e) Up 100% or more.
4) Weekday newspaper circulation fell 2.8% in the six-month period ended Sept. 30, 2006. In the same period in 2007, weekday newspaper circulation will:
a) Rise for the first time in years; b) Either be flat (rounded to one decimal point), or fall less than 1%; c) Fall at least 1% but less than 2%; d) Fall at least 2%, but less than 3%; e) Fall at least 3%, but less than 4%; f) Fall 4% or more.
5) Which of these deals will be announced and either be closed or still be moving forward as of Dec. 1?
a) Sirius and XM Satellite Radio merge; b) EMI and Warner Music merge; c) Microsoft buys Yahoo; d) AT&T buys either EchoStar or DirecTV; e) Viacom (Paramount) buys DreamWorks Animation; f) More than one; g) None.
6) Which animated movie will generate the most box office dollars in its three-day opening weekend?
a) Bee Movie (DreamWorks); b) Meet the Robinsons (Disney); c) Ratatouille (Disney-Pixar); d) Shrek the Third (DreamWorks); e) The Simpsons Movie (Fox); f) Surf's Up (Sony); g) TMNT [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles] (Warner).
7) Which of these new ventures will be seen as the biggest success in 2007:
a) Allbritton's multimedia political news venture, The Politico; b) CBS Records; c) Condé Nast's business magazine Portfolio; d) Fox's business news cable channel; e) a YouTube-like video website created by the Big Four TV networks.
8) By Dec. 1, the Los Angeles Times newspaper will be owned by:
a) Tribune, same as now; b) David Geffen; c) Ron Burkle and Eli Broad; d) Philip Anschutz; e) The Minuteman Project; f) More than one of the above; g) Someone else.
9) About 36.4 million people saw Taylor Hicks win the American Idol finale in 2006. For 2007 the finale audience will be:
a) Down 5% or less; b) Down more than 5%; c) The same (rounded to one decimal point); d) Up 5% or less; e) Up more than 5%.
10) As DVRs become popular and more people watch shows on their own schedule, what will major broadcast networks and advertisers count in determining who watches a TV show?
a) Live-only viewing, same as now; b) Live plus same-day DVR playback; c) Live plus three-day playback; d) Live plus four-day playback; e) Live plus seven-day playback; f) Something else.
11) Which of these changes will Washington lawmakers or regulators approve this year?
a) Internet providers can't favor some websites over others; b) Cable and satellite companies must let customers subscribe to channels individually; c) Companies can own a newspaper and TV station in the same market; d) The ceiling on the number of TV and/or radio stations a company can own in a market will be raised; e) More than one; f) None.
12) The Wall Street Journal is undergoing a major redesign in January, shrinking the width of its pages to 12 inches from 15 inches. What will happen to average weekday circulation of the newspaper in the six months ending in September?
a) It will rise from the current 2.04 million (figure includes online edition); b) It will fall less than 1%; c) It will fall at least 1%, but less than 2%; d) It will fall at least 2%, but less than 3%; e) It will fall 3% or more.
13) Which of these companies will be bought?
a) Imax; b) Lionsgate; c) TiVo; d) 4Kids Entertainment; e) World Wrestling Entertainment; f) More than one; g) None.
14) Big changes are taking place in cable programming. Which stock will appreciate most in 2007 (as of Dec. 1)?
a) Crown Media Holdings (Hallmark Channel); b) Discovery Holdings; c) New Frontier (pay-per-view and VOD adult entertainment); d) Outdoor Channel Holdings; e) Viacom.
15) Which of these unconventional sports stocks will appreciate most in 2007 (as of Dec. 1)?
a) AVP (pro beach volleyball); b) International Fight League (mixed martial arts); c) United States Basketball League (pro basketball); d) World Wrestling Entertainment.
Tiebreaker counts only in case of a tie for winner:Scholastic sold about 6.9 million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the first 24 hours of its release in July 2005 — up from 5 million for the previous book released in July 2003.
How many copies of the seventh and final volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be sold in the first 24 hours?
(Put "0" if you think it won't make it to bookstores this year.)
What the experts predict:
Marla Backer (Research Associates):1-e; 2-b; 3-c; 4-c; 5-g; 6-d; 7-d; 8-a; 9-d; 10-a; 11-f; 12-b; 13-g; 14-a; 15-b; TB: 8.0 million.
Mark Greenberg (AIM Capital Management):1-e; 2-c; 3-d; 4-d; 5-e; 6-d; 7-d; 8-f; 9-e; 10-c; 11-f; 12-c; 13-g; 14-e; 15-d; TB: 6.0 million.
Richard Greenfield (Pali Research):1-f; 2-c; 3-d; 4-d; 5-f; 6-d; 7-d; 8-b; 9-e; 10-e; 11-f; 12-c; 13-g; 14-e; 15-d; TB: 7.5 million.
Hal Vogel (Vogel Capital Management):1-b; 2-b; 3-c; 4-d; 5-d; 6-c; 7-d; 8-b; 9-b; 10-c; 11-f; 12-a; 13-g; 14-b; 15-b; TB: 7.1 million.
Tom Wolzien (Wolzien LLC):1-f; 2-c; 3-d; 4-d; 5-f; 6-e; 7-e; 8-f; 9-d; 10-b; 11-f; 12-b; 13-f; 14-NA; 15-NA; TB: 8.4 million.
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