I remember joking with colleagues when Michael Grade was appointed as CEO of ITV plc, the UK's dominant national commercial broadcaster, that it was a job twenty years ago which I would have totally aspired to and now I wouldn't touch with a bargepole (even in the unlikely event that I was asked, of course).
Certainly, Grade has made huge improvements to the company's programming, but their online initiatives are predictable. Rather than learning from the lessons they learnt when multi-channel came along, they've gone down a dark alleyway again. There's only so far you can take simulcasting and you're basically cannibalising your own audience.
If any company could be benefiting from the long tail, it's ITV. They could be leveraging their back catalogue and relationships, along with their powerful sales machine. But apart from hyperlocal service, ITV Local, which will take three of four more years to find traction, they are trying to hang on to their mass audiences rather than recognising that the future for television is the same as the future for publishing was in the mid eighties.
They're not big enough to play with the international players like NewsCorp, but they are big enough to buy saturated services like Friends Reunited only to see them implode.
ITV plc don't get online and for all their CEO's inimitable abilities, the radical move they need is too much for such a traditional business. And where has the 4% of revenue lost by ITV gone? Well, that's easy to answer - to the ultimate long tail business, Google.
In the spirit of the biggest cliche in current TV parlance, they should be getting more 360. Buying Magicalia and adding a strong video element would be a great first step.