And the whole time there's the alternative of piracy.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
And the whole time there's the alternative of piracy.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Monday, May 01, 2017
Once upon a time you got a licence, and then hired some program makers and some ad sales guys, and you had a TV station. You added a few more stations and you had a network, or bought some infrastructure and became a broadcaster or a cableco.
How things have changed.
Today you can buy a $13 mount for your smartphone, go a little wild in front of the camera and get a couple or millions of 'followers' on YouTube or Facebook. Suddenly, you're a TV mogul.
The former model, highly regulated and controlled, was, until very recently, being trashed by the new model, especially amongst 'key demographics' (read: the viewers of the future).
Then came piracy, beheadings and child murders live on Facebook and YouTube: the safe harbour provisions of the DCMA may be fine for piracy, but for murder and terrorism ?
All of a sudden we are in a brave new world of broadcasting where a lot needs to be redefined and all bets are back on the table.
But, the context is not new: the model has been seen before in the music industry.
The problem with the music industry is that they let themselves go cheap, first of all to MTV, then iTunes and then YouTube; they've done better with streaming. Despite the growing pains, Spotify is slowly becoming a gold mine. Content is king and streaming is where it's at.
So, what does it take to build a TV content service for the future ?
I'd argue the following:
Logistics - producing and distributing across multiple devices on multiple platforms at optimal quality and the lowest cost remains a major challenge, as do associated issues such as metadata management.
Rights - you need to own and control the correct rights and be aware of any residual costs; this is a hugely complex and under-estimated area.
Content - remains king; this is what draws in the punters and turning content into a brand is quite a skill; turning it into a global brand is an even bigger challenge.
Services - a linear channel, an app, an OTT service; the user interface, the content mix, the user experience; no one has aced this yet. The BBC iPlayer and Netflix are both frustrating to use, for example.
Security - how do you prevent piracy and commercial seepage ? A mix of the right pricing, availability/distribution, technology and policing. Another complex field.
Commercialisation - so, who pays the piper ? Old revenue models were simple - a cinema ticket, public service payment or advertising supported. Now, models are more complex and nuanced and need constant tweaking and development.
Audience Building - ah, the punters: the people who pay for all the above. Easy to find on Facebook or YouTube, but then they're not your audience, are they ?
It's not simple, and empires will fall. Contact us if you'd like help navigating this maze.
Friday, March 10, 2017
It is true that neither company has been even vaguely interested in being properly accountable for the money spent with them. Facebook has admitted to cheating and lying about figures over and over. And neither company is scrutinised or audited in the way any traditional media company is.
But, Mr Sorrell, you have colluded totally with this state of affairs because it benefited your bottom line, so it is disingenuous to make accusations now. If you really believe that Google and Facebook need to be more accountable (and there is little doubt that they do), then persuade your clients to stop wiping out traditional media in favour of Big Internet.
The trouble is, ad companies are really bad at technology: the quality of online video ads is shocking, something that could easily be addressed; the placement of the ads next to inappropriate content is even more worrying and, worst of all, programmatic buying is lazy, stupid and just plain wrong.
The truth is that the advertising industry is driving a race to the bottom in the media industry.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Friday, February 17, 2017
This week I was asked to brief the Chair of a major sporting body on what digital means for television rights.
I waffled on about piracy and Mobdro, about binge viewing and Netflix and about the declining audiences for NFL, but I thought that this demands a more involved answer.
So, let me take stock of the issues.
Time - there is still a huge value to temporality. The 'water cooler' discussion is a huge driver for live sports, soaps and competition TV (think bake and dance offs...). Ironically, social media and devices have made it almost impossible to avoid results and gossip, so the time slot has even more value.
But time no longer matters for drama. Waiting week on week for the next episode seems primitive now and a bit of a conceit on the part of content presenters who persevere with the model.
Availability - we consumers are just fed up of having to chase content, so we've stopped doing it. The unavailability of sporting rights is often ridiculous: on demand rights too often disappear as soon as the live event has been shown, only reappearing in measly highlight clips. If it's not available then we've started to stop watching it or we will pirate it. The younger generation of viewers find the idea of searching for content beyond YouTube or Facebook (or perhaps their parents' Netflix subscription) quaint. Anyone who resolves this conundrum will have the holy grail of TV: at the moment the prerogative is with the pirates.
Cost - a seventy year old friend of the family introduced me to Mobdro which gives access to pretty much all major live content for free. It's probably illegal, but if a religious straight Northern Irish pensioner thinks this is the way to go, then this is just the start of the wave. People will pay, but the pay has to be proportional. £30 a month to pay brattish footballers is not, £3 may be.
Accessibility - Netflix again have it right. Any device, multiple logins for a fixed monthly fee. Restricting to four devices when many homes have ten or even twenty devices (think Smart TVs in every room, smart phones, tablets and TV boxes) is just silly.
Ecosystems - television brands have long been their own bubbles, with vast proportions of the population following and discussing programming, but in the social media era the form and meaning of an ecosystem has moved on and both TV and social media are scrambling to keep up. Twitter, in particular, should have been onto a winner as the second screen app of choice, but instead it's trying to host content because of the video advertising revenue attached. Likewise, few TV services have managed to engage on a second screen or even beyond the slot of a scheduled show. But the reality is that programme brands are now easier to globalise and are often more powerful and valuable than broadcast brands.
Of course, it's easier to state the problems and issues than it is to come up with a solution, but the tackling the above issues is where everyone involved in TV needs to start.