Jacobs Media's Tim Davis considers whether it's the medium or the message - or both:
No matter where you land regarding the ongoing Writer's strike, one thing that most agree with is that it has raised awareness of what's at stake in terms of content development in the digital future.
The essence of this strike comes down to receiving fair royalties for material that is re-purposed into online content - whether streamed from the network's site, downloaded on YouTube, or shared on Joost and Veoh. Up until now, the "distributors" of content (i.e., the networks) have written off all re-purposing of broadcast content as "promotional," struggling how to figure out how to monetize it. The writers view this as a fight for their future earning power. If it's true that the conventional TV revenue platform, as we know it, is on the way out, the future is NOT all about the "broadcast" but more specifically about distributing the content people love in whatever manner they choose to receive it.
Greg Daniels, the show runner for NBC's The Office sums it up nicely: "It's like if we made pots, and we delivered them in a green truck, and our contract said, 'This is what you get for pots delivered in a green truck,' and then they bought red trucks and gave us nothing for the same pots, just because they were delivered in the red trucks."
Lost Creator Damon Lindelof takes the concept from the abstract and into real world terms in his op-ed piece in The New York Times: "The rectangular screen in your living room won’t really be a television anymore, it’ll be a computer. And running into the back of that computer, the wire that delivers unto you everything you watch? It won’t be cable; it will be the Internet... This is how vaudevillians must have felt the first time they saw a silent movie; sitting there, suddenly realizing they just became extinct: after all, who wants another soft-shoe number when you can see Harold Lloyd hanging off a clock 50 feet tall?"
In a nutshell, the future is in the "tubes" and as we've talked about in this blog in the past, for radio it's both a content AND delivery issue. Not only do we have to put out a product people want and love, it's got to be in the places they find convenient: portable devices like cell phones and iPods, and in ways that afford more control. But we've also got to focus on the content and not get hamstrung over streaming royalty issues and trying to save money by voice tracking. We have to invest in our talent, our promotions, and our image - and our delivery.
Create solid content and deliver it in the way(s) your consumers expect it. Don't be afraid to use the Internet or HD2 stations as a sandbox for grooming new talent or trying new programming ideas. Use the power of your broadcast signal to drive the audience to these new offerings, but be as great on the air as you can be and as creative as possible online. And move your audience back and forth - a phenomenon we at Jacobs refer to as "pinballing."