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Issues: Media – It’s The Content Stupid – Why Old Media Can’t Get It Right
By Mike Archer. When Jian Gomeshi, host of CBC Radios’ ‘Q’ public affairs show, asked two experts on American television how NBC managed to make such a mess of the Jay Leno Tonight Show debacle, the answer was as simple as it was profound. Click Photo For Full Story
It was a stunningly simple description of what has happened to traditional media and it provides an important insight into the nasty battles going on between TV networks and cable companies in Canada. The same argument underlies the difficulties faced by the newspaper industry.
‘The television networks stopped making any serious investment in new content 20 years ago. Those who are looking for content are finding it on the Internet.’
Gomeshi’s guests pointed out that since the early 90s television executives have been reduced to playing with their schedules rather than devoting any intellectual or financial capital to developing good programming. Similarly, in Canada, the two private national networks (CTV and Global) compete with each other every year to see who will buy the most successful American rebroadcasts.
Newspapers, especially in areas like the Lower Mainland and Metro Toronto, have focused on delivery and distribution rather than content to get their circulation numbers up. Instead of charging a nickle to 5,000 potential readers, why not give it away for free to every household and pick up the flyer business.
Both business models worked but now both TV and newspapers are only two among literally millions of other delivery methods – ways of providing people to advertisers. Both are expensive/cost-prohibitive and can’t seem to adjust to the loss of their monopoly status. Prior to the Internet newspapers, magazines, radio and TV were the only places we could find daily or weekly information updates. Because of that ‘gatekeeper’ status they were able to control the timing and flow of information and charge for access to their readers/viewers.
They’ve been able to successfully deliver large, captive audiences to advertisers but information is not what they possess anymore. Now anyone can get the information they want, updated to the minute, on Twitter, on Facebook or on any of a million websites.
Information is now free, immediate and uncensored by those with hidden agendas. We’re all gatekeepers now. What they own is distribution and delivery.
The fact seems to be that the audience once referred to as elusive has actually left the room. Young people are no longer trapped by the TV or Dad’s newspaper sitting on the coffee table in the living room. They’re getting information on their phone or their laptop, they’re either texting or in front of their own TV playing video games.
Furthermore, those same people will watch their favourite TV shows on the Internet when they can instead of sitting down dutifully at the TV network’s appointed hour. Anyone can watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the next day on Comedy Central or House at a time more convenient to them than Monday evening at 8 p.m.
The audience is no longer bound by the artificial constraints of the programming schedules of network executives in New York, Toronto or Winnipeg.
An indication of just how much the TV media moguls aren’t listening can be found on such websites as Postadvertising.com where the following post sums things up nicely for the 18 – 24 demographic:
“The 18Ã¢â‚¬â€œ24 demographic has a message for the traditional advertisers in the audience: Please stop.”
“Sorry ad-man, but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re dropping the ball big time. Come on, slipping Justice into a car commercial to catch my attention? Really? TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re cool and all, but that ad would have been a lot cooler if Justice hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been nominated for three Grammys months ago.
“Besides, the electro house kids (if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a traditional advertising type you probably donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what electro house is, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably for the best if we just keep it that way) have long since moved on to the likes of SebastiAn and Danger. Plus, everyone knows that this summer belongs to Santogold.”
If you didn’t get the references or understand some of the statements don’t feel bad. Like me, you’re not in the 18 – 35 demographic. If you advertise it’s also probably why you don’t have many 18 – 35-year-old customers.
Perhaps the largest danger to traditional media is the video game industry. College dorms still have TV’s in the lounge but nobody is watching. Students often have TVs in their rooms but they aren’t hooked up to cable and they aren’t used to watch TV shows. Mostly, they’re used as the delivery screen for video games. The statistics for what is still called ‘prime time’ television viewing are even more disturbing for network executives and may go along way to explain why they have basically stopped investing money in content.
It turns out that gamers and the majority of the 18 – 35 demographic are simply not watching any prime time network broadcasts at all*. Late night news and David Letterman seem to be the only mainstream television they watch. This is terribly important for the future of television. Just like newspapers, television will continue to exist but it’s reign as the major provider of information and entertainment programming is already gone if the 18 – 35 demographic is only watching late night news and Letterman.
Similarly, newspapers will continue to exist but, without readership, they will be reduced to what many have already become, i.e., flyer packaging with information separating the ads. Once they drop the pretense of maintaining an old style editorial department and costly management structure they will be able to survive doing what they do cheaper than the post office – distribute.
Newspapers in suburban communities, will have a much harder time than newspapers in smaller towns and cities in the interior where most residents have a closer relationship with their community.
*The Long Hello: Games ‘Arrive’ as a Threat to Network TV
Excerpts From Kotaku.com
Anyone old enough to remember RF switchers knows that video games and network television have long competed for the same eyeballs on the same TV set.
. This discussion has reconstituted itself over the past two weeks with the NBC’s intramural turf war over late night programming, which involves the Tonight Show – the seventh-longest running television series in history, begun in 1954. Interestingly, and I can’t be alone, I have not seen a single second of it play out on any of the network broadcasts themselves, which might be indicative of problems even deeper than those posed by video games.
TiVo, cable television and the networks’ own throat-slitting content decisions are all manifestations of the past 10 years or so; but video games have been something of a fifth network for NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox to contend with all along. It’s an entertainment decision well older than the Internet, as anyone who whined about wanting to play on the den TV, or left family night to play a game in their room, can well remember. But only now, as game playing children of the 1980s and 1990s are adults making decisions in the 2000s is it really coming home to roost.
Nielsen [.pdf], the same folks who’ve given us television ratings for decades, found console gamers are most active between 3 and 10 p.m., with a dip around 7 p.m. If the PlayStation 3 is any indication, they’re not watching any primetime network broadcasts at all. None of the top 30 network programs seen by PS3 users were seen in prime time. The network programming viewed by this heavy-user demographic was either the network news, David Letterman, or NBC’s Late Night (hosted by Conan O’Brien at the time of the study).
Cable programs did marginally better with this group – 17 percent of the shows watched were seen in prime time. And that’s for a segment Nielsen described as a “medium” television user. Xbox 360 players were characterized as “light” TV users.
This is for an 18-to-24 demographic, but if you were to compare them with older ages that share the same traits – single, childless, some college education – I think you’d find similar behaviors. It rather reflects my experience; when my television is on, it’s almost always in the background. Only rarely is it tuned to non-sports or news programming and even then, it’s typically something like Mythbusters – a fascinating show, but not a narrative. And I’m 36 years old, only a year older than the average video gamer age, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
Only recently does it feel like games are getting credit – or blame, rather – for contributing to the decline of prime time programming
And finally, don’t overlook the content offerings. Notably, of the three biggest drama genres on network television – legal, medical and police – two have practically no console game analogue and the modern police drama like CSI (in addition to doing terribly as a game adaptation) is more procedural than action-oriented. It’s a chicken-and-egg debate, of course, but remember when action shows like Knight Rider, Street Hawk, Airwolf, the A-Team and MacGyver, to say nothing of their police-action counterparts in earlier times, dominated prime-time programming? I argue these viewers’ needs, cultivated as adolescents, are now served by video games, and television – especially on networks – is largely retrenching on islands that are either uninteresting to gamers, or haven’t yet been reached by games.
Treating games as a serious competitor doesn’t necessarily expose some nugget of wisdom that will save network television. But they do combine the serious content offering of cable alternatives or DVDs with the self service of TiVo or Internet viewing. That makes them more than a diversion; they’re serious competitors, and unlike others, one gestating for more than 20 years now.
For The Original Article Click Here.