media, Uncategorized

media musings

tv_screensI work in media. For the past decade or so the powers that be were worried about online versus TV. Was online going to “kill” television the way television “killed” radio? The way it “killed” the major record labels and newspapers? By “kill,” lets’ admit we mean “lessen the social and economic impact of.” It does not mean “destroy or make extinct.”

Sometimes less is more but when billions of dollars are on the line, not so much.

As an industry, we focused more on the platforms than on audience behaviors. Our economic models are wrapped up in the platforms … but users don’t care. We just want what we want (I am counting myself among the users here). Mostly, we want options. Make it easy, make it simple, make it entertaining.

In the case of television, the question is not when and how online will “kill” TV … the question is how will people choose to watch their video?

… will they watch it live? … will they watch it timely (close to the original airdate … or weeks, months or years later?) … will they watch it on demand?

And how can we influence that decision? How can we incentivize (sorry to use that cheesy business non-word but it works for me) people to pay attention when where and how we want them to?

The cable guys are all freaking out because the chord cutting phenomenon is becoming real. Consumers are deciding that they don’t need to spend $100+ a month to get a giant package of content when all they want is about 10% of what’s offered. Now people can cherrypick what they want through other means (Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Boxee, etc.). It’s the same thing that happened to albums. People were tired of paying $15 – 20 for a crappy album when all they wanted was a song or two. They wanted it unbundled and they got their wish!

Broadcasters, who are the content engine of the entire media ecosystem, are divided on what to do. They are fine with distributing online as long as they can monetize it meaningfully and not cannibalize their existing business. Cable chord cutting wouldn’t really bother them so much … except for the fact that the cable guys pay them retransmission fees. If the cable guys are hurting, then they have less guaranteed income to return to broadcasters.

It’s pretty complicated. If you care to read a bit more, this is a decent article.


Distribution matters aside, the intersection of search and social and video on demand is what’s very much on my brain at the mo. Yesterday I signed up for a social search service called aardvark. It lets you tap into your social nets to ask questions and get and give answers from real people in real time.

For example, I am moving to the East Village on Friday and want to get an idea of Yoga studios in the hood. I typed my question into a browser and within less than a minute I had an AIM message with an answer. A good answer. I got an email a few hours later with more good answers. A few hours later, another email came, with more options. So now I have a list of Yoga Studios in the East Village provided by people who use and like them – not by the studios that paid the most for SEO. Pretty cool.

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  • I know all about your aborbs Diane but I missed the engagement part. Mazel Tov!

  • superdave524

    Shoot, Col, I’ve mentioned Diane a bunch of times. Figured you’d be up to speed on that. Oh, and a bit more on topic, you should check out internet buddy Chase, as he opines on the issue.

  • Col

    Amanda. Welcome to NYC … and the nabe! Just checked out your blog. Good 4 u 4 taking the leap. I shall email ya the yoga list next time I get some solid computer access. (Am sans Internet and compie and experiencing major Internet withdrawal.)

  • Hi there! I’m a virtual friend of Christa’s, which is how I found your blog… I’m about to move to the East Village myself (tho I’m coming from farther away: DC), and would love to know what yoga studios people recommended to you. Will feel much more confident about places recommended word-of-mouth than places I unearth with Ye Olde Google.

  • Greg, thanks for stopping by. Cell phones will ultimately become our remote controls not jut to TV but also to life in general. The important thing to note is that they are viewed as utility devices. We want basic functions from our mobile phones and therefore it’s more or less a commodity. Research bears out that given the choice people will always go for the best content on the best available screen. The key will be in getting all the moving parts to work together.

    Brady, yes sports is one of the places where live has the clear
    advantage. Interestingly the major sports franchises like NFL, MLB and others have spent the past decade building up their OWN distribution networks like the NFL channel and They charge the bcast and cable networks handsomely for rights, but if it becomes clear that they can go direct to consumers themselves and monetize it on a mass scale, they’ll do it. And btw, you are welcome to come downstairs any time to watch the Yankees in the World series or to see your Pats lose to the Giants.

    SD, your FIANCE?! I need to swing by Life in the Boro and learn more about this very exciting development!

  • superdave524

    Loved the post. I learned a bit, and it was entertaining. And Brady’s sentiments mirror mine: I basically have a t.v. for sports. More to the point, my recent college-graduate son watches all of his t.v. well after the fact (my fiance is more old school: she does watch network t.v. regularly). He asked me recently if I’d ever seen Twin Peaks. He watches Japanese anime series, YouTube, and FaceBook on his laptop, but almost never watches regularly scheduled programs on the telly.

    I also loved your oxymoronic “Yoga studios in the ‘Hood”. Now, that there’s funny!

  • Brady

    Not your usual fare, but I like it. And here are my thoughts. I used to have a TV. I don’t anymore. I’ll probably get one again, and soon. Why? It’s not for The Office. Or for Dexter. Or Mad Men. (I can watch all of those via Hulu, or Netflix, or, if necessary, through some illegal streaming site.)

    I’ll get a TV again for sports. I miss sports acutely. The internet or Netflix or whatever has yet to find a way to handle the immediacy that is inherent in sports. You cannot watch the game two weeks later — it has lost all importance. You cannot watch it even the next day unless you are very careful what you listen to, what you overhear on the street and what you see online. And even then you know you’re watching it after everyone else already knows the result, and that honestly feels deflating and lame. Sports does not work “on demand” very well. It just doesn’t. We want to watch sports as it is being played out live. We don’t care when the content in question is Californication — they shot that episode months ago anyway. Why should I watch it when the network suggests I do? — but we do for sports.

    Sports (and news in general, I’d suggest) are the only things you need “now.” So I have to pay for a whole slew of cable crap just for the Pats game, the World Series, college hoops and boxing? I do?

    Well that sucks.

  • Greg

    Very interesting comments, Colleen. The situation truly is complicated and will not “sort out,” but will rapidly evolve in ways we cannot yet imagine. To me, a powerful influence ~ somehow ~ will be the smartphone. There simply are too many people using their phones in too many ways for the phone to be ignored in this mix. On one hand, the smartphone seems to be “off topic,” but I suspect it may, in fact, become pivotal in this media (r)evolution.

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