With NAB 2014 coming up next week, it seemed like a great time to take another look at last years Broadcast Minds panel discussion, which was a highlight at NAB. The topic was how Internet content creators see video production trends in broadcasting and what they feel the future of broadcasting is.
What does it mean to be a broadcaster? In the 21st century this definition continues to evolve. Video content consumption continues on the major networks, but is increasing in popularity on the Internet.
Traditional television and web TV are converging. The big networks lost market share as audiences became more fragmented, first through cable television, then through Internet sites such as YouTube, Netflix and other independent venues.
Actor, comedian Tom Green noted the trend of more specialized shows and observed that one of the offshoots of a fragmented audience is fragmented viewing time. There are so many choices now, that some viewers may feel they are missing out if they dwell too long on a single topic. As a result, many video content creators are making their content shorter. Not to say that long form video is going away--duration is a choice of the viewer, just as topic is a choice. Each to their own—take for example TED talks and edutainment.
Shira Lazar, Host & Executive Producer of “What’s Trending” noted traditional brands won’t go away but new brands will have their own niche audience.
We are seeing less curated and programmed media and more choice. The Internet really is the great equalizer. Illusionist, author Penn Jillette recalled how he found the 1995 Nicholas Negroponte book Being Digital a revelation. Negroponte had stated, “bits is bits”. Penn felt it profound that in terms of ones and zeroes, there is no difference between Shakespeare and pornography. With open distribution and no curator, all creators are equal.
The Broadcast Minds moderator, Jim Louderback of Revision3 asked if Internet broadcasting cannibalizes from traditional television or if it is a unique experience?
Bruce Gersh, CEO of Fish Bowl Worldwide Media pointed out that the strength of traditional television is large budget productions and Sports and that the advantage of Web TV is the ability to be quick to market.
Content is still king as it has always been. Regardless of the medium, a good story will find an audience. So is Internet TV just training wheels for the networks? How do you draw the line between the different platforms? What is the difference in the media consumption, and what are the viewing habits of the different audiences?
Lazar commented that the Internet enables creative solutions for telling stories in different ways. In addition to binge viewing the entire season of House of Cards, you now have the ability to have a more interactive viewing experience.
Penn noted that his family tends to prefer watching content on an iPad and passing it around sometimes. Technology in a sense has made the viewing experience more social, not less.
Green lamented the loss of the excitement he got staying up late to see unusual content. Now it is available on demand at any time. Lazar pointed out that perhaps current excitement is early in the morning to see how the aggregators have gathered the ”best of” moments from a variety of unusual programs. This is programming of a different sort—non-exclusive re purposing.
Not just quality and reliability, but immediacy and access to the media are important to maintain an audience. The current generation expects this. Instant gratification is becoming the norm. Lazar noted 40% of her viewers are watching mobile video.
People do want to be entertained. Green says a big breakthrough will be when people have the option of getting all the viewing experiences that the passive viewer currently has and the option of an interactive video experience on the same system, without having to choose between the couch or the desk. We are seeing the seeds of this with Smart TV.
Independence and the freedom of expression are the big winners now. People are creating their own shows without the interference and meddling of network executives. Penn quoted Jean Cocteau - “Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.” The advent of inexpensive tools has allowed people with their own web video studio to be their own network. Penn elaborated “Amateurs will get so good at making content and the tools will get so cheap so you’ll get really beautiful things done by people in their spare time and there will be fewer or at least lower paid professionals. That might be a wonderful thing.”
For either profit or non-profit ventures, marketing is a key element. People will need to be able to find your broadcast amidst the vast sea of content. Having a good video marketing strategy will be mandatory. Optimizing search key phrases through inbound marketing will become increasingly more important.
Gersh added that for him, content ownership is critical. How you monetize your content is something to be aware of. “The essence of what you are creating is not necessarily what you are monetizing,” commented Lazar.
Green was fascinated to discover he had a growing online global audience and that there was a blending of his live in-person performance and online experience. Fans that came up to him after his live in-person shows were referencing some of his web show content.
Penn pointed out that broadcasting doesn’t have to be a career choice just for professionals. “Many of us just want to communicate – we shouldn’t downplay the communication aspect. Let people create without having to worry about the network gatekeepers. Ideas and human communication are the most important. The delivery has changed, but the heart of it is the same."