Is this the beginning of the end for the 20th century mega-corporate media model?
Traditional TV broadcast companies dipped their toes into the web media realm several years ago, and the recent trend is them jumping in completely.
Traditional broadcaster’s are facing the disintegration of their tier package oligarchy with its dual-stream revenue (advertising & subscription). Perhaps the annoying cable-provider code necessary for input before content arrives via the web will also meet its well-deserved demise.
The rise of non-traditional broadcast companies (with no broadcast towers) such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, and more, along with their original programming long ago telegraphed the demise of the CATV tier package. NetFlix subscribers surpasses CATV.
Who desires to pay for the mandatory package of TV stations? It is as foolish a concept as subscribing to 50 magazines just to receive one we truly desire. The total viewing audience continues to splinter among a growing menu of choices, good thing. And traditional media audience capture is splintering along with the expanded TV smorgasbord.
Would anyone willfully subscribe to magazines in this manner?
“Yes, that’s correct Ms. Jones, to receive your subscription to Cosmopolitan and all the snappy photos with anorexic-photoshoped-wafferthin-waifs, you must also subscribe to Popular Mechanic, Golf World, NASCAR Today, Time Magazine, Life Magazine, History Illustrated, Football Weekly, Newsweek, Playboy, Cigar Aficionado, Wine and Cheese Illustrated, and TV Guide. All for only $150 per month!”
Perhaps content may truly become king as the top-down content creation universe goes lateral.
The ala carte universe is here and the tier package will soon splinter into a million pieces. YouTube is the juggernaut leading the obliteration of 20th century media model. Total video viewing per hour via YouTube is ready to surpass all video consumption via traditional broadcasters (Wall Street Journal, Feb2017).
According to the WSJ article, the majority of YouTube’s content is pedestrian uploaded. The article reports that 400 hours of video uploads each minute, (“equivalent to 65 years of video a day.”) Let that number sink in for a moment.
NBC, CBS, ABC, HBO, TBS, or any such stations never allowed pedestrians to load content onto their broadcast equipment. YouTube is flipped the pyramid of central broadcasting upside down.
What is YouTube? Frankly, it’s just a massive collection of data servers with a single name and 20th century throwback logo. It’s more likened to a video library of Congress on steroids than a Jurassic Media company. This author chooses to label most 20th century legacy mega-corporate media “Jurassic.” The generations raised on media before the arrival of the Internet are the Jurassic media generation.
YouTube uses fancy algorithms to serve up content; that’s great and all, but it is basically a massive data management system serving video. How many “channels” are there on YouTube; this is Jurassic lingo, please forgive. The concept of a “channel” is truly lost in the YouTube model. There is a reason we don’t call websites “magazines.”
If another organization arises tomorrow calling itself “OurTube,” and begins streaming massive quantities of video product, will people surf to it and use it too? Perhaps. Brand loyalty to YouTube is about as solid as the 70’s dude naming and affection for the broadcast antennae 30 miles from his house. Heck, 70’s dude didn’t even give his own house antennae a loving name. In fact most people kind of hated the damned things.
Does YouTube enjoy some sort of brand loyalty? Yes, miniscule. There are no YouTube amusement parks. No YouTube celebrities. No gobs of YouTube branded media products. Does anyone proudly sport a YouTube hat or T-shirt. Keep a look out for one.
YouTube is the equivalent of a massive broadcast antennae transmitting local TV station signals 50 miles in concentric electromagnetic circles. Remember UHF and VHF? Anyone under 30 needs to look this up, or they can just watch Weird Al Yankovic in “UHF.” Does anyone under thirty know what a TV antennae truly is? No one cares.
Before the days of coaxial cables dripping from the telephone polls like Xmas tinsel, massive towers propagated electromagnetic signals to ugly antennae on the side of people’s homes, or rabbit ears on ugly viewing boxes. Those massive broadcast towers never had a name, and no one ever cared about them, except perhaps private airplane pilots.
YouTube’s massive video server distribution service is a business model easily duplicated. It is this Jurassic media-minded author’s opinion that serious competition will soon come knocking at YouTube’s door. We should all hope so. But it will be a sad day if a legacy mega-corporate company buys YouTube. Imagine Comcast stamping their tier-package-Godzilla-corporate-business-model on YouTube. Scream in horror now, “Nooooooooo!”
So why does the tier-package still linger? The tier-package is a throw-back to ugly, brown, channel-changing box technology with long wires running through the living room. The whole concept is in need of a quick trip to the tar pits. This Jurassic media model still lives because mega-corporate giants like Comcast own the delivery pipelines as well as the content production companies. If a customer wants only Internet access, they must subscribe to a bundled package of joy to rent the pipeline.
The dual revenue stream of subscription fees and ad revenue, an ancient regulatory battle settled long ago, still provides gobs of cash flow to mega-corporate giants. Thank goodness companies like Netflix are taking a bite out of the tier business model. Ala carte, baby!
Who the hell wants all those bogus subscription channels anyhow? We pay a subscription fee and must also suffer through a litany of commercials, oh goodie. Apparently 12 million didn’t want ESPN. ESPN lost a small nation worth of subscribers as tier package unbundling began in recent years (source: businessinsider.com, 1MAR17). If consumers had to cut a check each month for each single station on a mandatory tier menu, most of the stations would disappear.
Many consumers jettisoned the tier model years ago and just went naked internet, and the movement is growing. Who wants mandatory TV channels? Better yet, who needs it?
This Jurassic media professor (lived during B.C. “before computers”) explained to college students (circa 1995, during Internet pubic rollout) that set top channel changers are obsolete. The channel changer moved upstream to a network server, called a local switch at the Telco (Telephone Company). IP addresses, like phone numbers are essentially unlimited. 30 channels, 80 channels, 150 channels, please, don’t limit my choices, dude.
The local phone company does not present a limited menu of phone numbers to their “subscribers.” We do not need Comcast to limit our TV channels. It is 20th century thinking, but the Golf channel is thankful for it.
Content competition is exploding. The expanding availability of pedestrian media distribution channels, along with professional quality production technology at consumer pricing (audio/video/photo/web) now allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to offer finished product often indistinguishable from the big media companies. Bravo!
Competition is good. We are finally getting “mass” media, or shall we say media from the masses. Flatten the content pyramid!
So only tears of joy should flow as we rejoice the destruction of the tier model.
Now, conquer the day!
Oh, and go cancel your cable tier package subscription. Please don’t feed the mega-corporate media monsters, thank you.
The Jurassic Media Professor
“Copyright © 3MAR17 by Steven A. Schwab”