Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the revolution will be televised?

Heard Alex Cameron from Digital TX giving it the big one last night at Chinwags TV on the Web thing. I’ve been a bit of a fan since his glorious, if slightly flawed, Hendrix inspired rant at BT Vision’s iptv-lite last year.

Difficult times for network tv for a while, of course.

So heres the thing as I understand it.
Old style network tv existed mainly through advertiser funding. Digital and cable exploded as the first wave of fragmentation, advertisers don’t get the eyeballs they need for the critical mass so ad spending gets similarly fragmented. Less revenue means less new programming gets commissioned/made/bought and we get cheaply produced reality shows etc. More viewers switch off, advertisers get twitchy, programming gets worse etc etc – downward spiral.
Next wave of fragmentation, web delivered content, extends the long tail even further, mass media advertising becomes even less effective, media spending diverts even more to digital and interactive, more viewers desert tv.
In fact the tv content gets so poor that consumers end up making ther own instead.

What now?

In the Q&A Project Kangaroo was mentioned. As far as I can glean this is an idea around consolidation of all the media players and on-demand services. from the major UK broadcasters. The BBC is working with ITV, Channel 4 and the service will be built on the same P2P basis as the iPlayer, and later as a digital TV service. Can’t get my head round this working against the Long Tail distribution though? Dunno.

At the end of the day, we the viewers want great content, movies, live sport etc, same as ever, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it. Whether the broadcasters like it or not this is the model going forward so that’s what needs to be figured out.

But who is going to pay for it? The advertiser funded model is not really sustainable is it?

One heckler correctly noted that the future may be in a return to a sponsorship model from the old days of soaps (I’d forgotten that The name soap opera stems from the original serials broadcast on radio that had washing powder brands as sponsors)

Maybe, but perhaps a more evolved sponsorship model where the brand as sponsor is integral to the content. Theres a movie precedent of course with product placement – FedEx famously supplied all the transportation facilities for production of the movie Cast Away in which they were heavily featured (although no dirty cash changed hands)
I keep coming back to Where are the Jones’s partnership idea. Production co and community co-created, corporate sponsored (Ford) and Long tail distributed. (Though I’m not 100% sure the sponsor is integral to the content, keep me right here Dave!)
Brands as providers kind of thing.

As an aside, what does stuff like X Factor and those awful Lloyd-Webber find a star things mean? It's a kind of stealth product placement. The ’entertainment’ is the deconstructed production process of the one hit wonder fodder or whatever.
Although this has being around since The Monkees – but at least they had a few good tunes.

more perspective on the Chinwag Web TV take-over
Fiona Blamey
Rags Rupta