Ten years ago the word ‘media’ only meant ‘news media’ to most people. Today many people understand ‘media’ as ‘all the stuff on my computer, phone, tablet and other tech devices.’ This is almost entirely thanks to the ongoing tech revolution that has brought the big screen to our little screens. And it’s not just movies — all our games, music, photos, tv shows and the internet are now easily accessible on a number of devices. And along with the ever-increasing mediums by which we consume our media, there is also more media to be consumed. HD video cameras are more affordable than ever, considering they’re the stock hardware on all the latest mobile phones. Free software for music recording and editing is rivaling it’s multi-thousand dollar professional software counterpart. And delivery of media has never needed fewer corporations and managers since YouTube and Vimeo channels with millions of subscribers are often run by one or two people.
So why does this all matter?
The future of media consumption — we’ll just say “TV” to keep it simple — is in a very transitional state right now. Ever since Netflix and Hulu have been offering streaming TV shows, many people have “ditched the dish”, “cut the cable” or otherwise gotten rid of their subscriptions for tuning in to their favorite shows in exchange for the more convenient (and often cheaper) streaming alternative. Television networks have started to catch on by offering their programming online after it has first aired on television. However, I think that their business model needs to evolve further to keep up with the quickly changing methods of media consumption… I mean, “watching TV.”
There are many restrictions to the current model and I know some of these have to do with licensing restrictions and all that, but those TV execs and their lawyers can surely figure something out if it means keeping profits up and consumers happy.
- Many shows are not available in all countries. You’re missing a global audience. Figure it out.
- Shows are only available for a limited time. This might have something to do with saving bandwidth or server space , but also to retain value on the Season Box Sets when they come out on DVD. Guess what? Keep ’em online and you’ll be able to get real data on which episodes are the most popular. Learn more about what people like and deliver. People are buying fewer and fewer DVDs anyway. They are more likely to pay to stream it or do streaming rental.
- The current approach focuses too much on the tv market. Sure commercials are more lucrative with TV, but many people mute the TV, use that time to take a bathroom break or get a snack. Not to mention that pervasive commercials on TV are a big reason people are loving the switch to streaming media. Get your commercials out of the way first, then enjoy the show. Also, I for one actually enjoy getting targeted ads rather than ones for used cars, tampons and sham-wow.
Who’s doing it right?
I realize that ad revenue for the tv market is probably the highest going right now, but that will soon be fading away and those that get a jump on the next way of doing things will be able to adapt and prepare for tomorrow’s media demands. Here’s a few of the big guys in streaming that are doing it (or some of it) right.
Microsoft Zune Video Marketplace (available through XBox360) has a videos available for rental or purchase. It’s a great interface with lots of brand new movies, but you’re paying a bit more than some of the other guys. Sidenote: Microsoft uses “Microsoft Points” which is a way of obscuring the actual price. Although, it might create distance between perceived price and actual price allowing people to justify purchases more easily (“Oh, it’s only 480 points”), I find it to be annoying (even though it has worked on me a few times.)
Netflix has the right idea with a monthly charge so you aren’t constantly reminded of the money you’re spending to watch tv and movies, but I think $1/viewing wouldn’t cause people to pause too long if it meant they could watch newer movies. Netflix has been expanding their selection and creating some good partnerships to offer more popular titles in movies and TV shows. One of the biggest things they done right is their accessibility. Computers, smart phones, tablets and now even TVs are coming packaged with Netflix (among other apps) that only need an internet connection — no hooking up your computer to the TV anymore.
RedBox might be poised to give Netflix the best run for its money. The RedBox model was brilliant from the start: If you make it easily accessible (inside every McDonald’s), affordable (~$1/night) with a decent selection of content (usually fairly new releases) you will make bank. I know there are a lot of details with deals and licensing and all, but I’m surprised RedBox hasn’t attacked the streaming market yet. My guess is that Hollywood is so scared of streaming media that they charge exorbitant licensing fees for those that want to stream (Netflix & Hulu.) The other day RedBox announced that they will be entering the streaming media market in partnership with Verizon FiOS. This is still very new and we’ll have to wait and see if it pans out to truly rival Netflix.
Some YouTube channels have millions of subscribers and a majority of these are amateurs recording something in front of their webcam. This is huge. It tells me that people love fresh and original content. Even if it’s not polished with make-up artists, engineered audio and post-production video editing — people care more about the content! So this one’s for you Hollywood producers and writers: You’ve gotta move beyond repackaging the same ol’ stories and shows.
Also, you can’t count out what Amazon and Apple offer with top content for rent and purchase through their own outlets.
Catch up Hollywood – Technology waits for no one
This is what Hollywood and the TV networks have to realize: TVs are becoming like home phones. They’re less convenient unless you have extra accessories (Caller ID = DVR, Call Waiting = Cable, etc) and the internet is willing and ready to offer all the bells and whistles people want. Slowly but surely, people will begin to enjoy shows that are more convenient to watch instead of waiting and putting up with sub par methods to watch shows they used to like.
Also, you can’t legislate your way out of good content. Like I said about some of the most popular YouTube channels — they spend next to nothing and attract the masses with original content, but you are spending millions to keep exclusive control over crap stories that you’ve repackaged a thousand times.
What do you think?
Should the TV and movie industries work towards (more) subtle, in-program advertisements or do you think that would taint the quality of the show? Or should they work together with retailers to have, “Buy what you saw in this episode”? So people can buy clothing, phones, interior decor and food/drink seen in the show with a streamlined process.