Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Party's Over

The news that Warners has ended its agreement with YouTube is the latest evidence that the economies of TV 2.0 are not the equivalent to those of TV 1.0.

TV was once called a licence to print money; an all encompassing, powerful medium that dominated life in the developed world for almost half a century.

Now, it is time to write an eulogy to television. A medium cruelly taken from us (well, taken from its executives) before its time and, er..  Well, who knows.

Predicting the future of television at the end of 2008 is as difficult as predicting its invention in 1929, the last time we faced a global meltdown of this magnitude.

This is an industry that will have to tear itself apart before it can reinvent itself.

The economics of the Warners/YouTube situation are depressing. Warners showed good faith in signing with YouTube, but YouTube failed to deliver any kind of sensible revenues. So, Warners started to treat YouTube just like any other commercial distribution platform. Otherwise, they would have been cannibalising their traditional partners and outlets fore free - and to the benefit if the world's largest media distributor.

YouTube have singularly failed to monetize YouTube, and DivX's decision to close Stage6, at the time one of the most popular sites on the web, shows that audience actually isn't everything. Delivering monetized audiences is what counts. YouTube clearly is failing to do this.

The inability of internet TV to deliver revenues is clearly a major - indeed, the only - issue.

This problem starts and ends with media agencies, who are shorting traditional TV, but really not dedicating much to accountable TV in the meantime. 

Television is going into purgatory; in my view the UK has two decisions - we either nationalise all TV (well, this has practically happened to banks, and may soon happen to car manufacturing), or we disband the BBC and create an open market for commercial bodies.

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