Post-Network Media

Yesterday’s post about Intelligent Television, reminds me of a recent white paper entitled Television networks in the 21st Century. It discusses audience fragmentation and suggests ways for mass media to respond. I think those same lessons apply to small producers, or mini media, to use my parlance. The paper was written by the media group at Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm. It came to my attention via Paid Content. The authors note that mass audiences are dissolving into niches, creating what they call “the aggravation of fragmentation.” At the same time “demand for content in all forms of media is way up,” citing cable subscriptions and DVD revenues as two examples of increased spending on video. They postulate that the emergence of the Internet Protocol for Television will create new broadcast revenue streams by enabling the delivery of content-on-demand via cable or DSL networks. (I’ll come back to this in a future post but meanwhile this trade newsletter offers a starting point for research.) The paper’s intriguing suggestion is that networks broaden, deepen and lengthen their relationship with viewers: broaden by using new channels (i.e. portable devices), deepen (by offering services), and lengthen (by offering physical products to complement shows). I suppose this means “I Survived Survivor” t-shirts” and “So you wanna be an Apprentice” job fairs. So I say if mass media is going to employ these techniques, then why not mini media as well? A small producer who creates a show that builds a following might sell t-shirts to harvest revenues from viewers. They’re easy to produce in small lots and people like to wear them. The same is true for bumper stickers, buttons and posters. We may be living in a niche world, but we’re not living in it alone. People wear to wear the insignias of the groups to which they belong. Use that to your advantage. Likewise, once you create a media identity and draw an audience, it may lend itself to a conference or a gathering. If you can identify a sponsor who wants to reach your affinity group, you may have a business model. I’m not suggesting any of this is easy. I’m sure it’s a relentless cycle of hard work and disappointment. But media seem to be headed toward free content. That’s what media baron Rupert Murdoch suggested in a recent speech. When I blogged about it, I suggested that content was flypaper designed to catch eyeballs. I was referring to advertising. Perhaps I need to enlarge my horizons. How about five bucks for a bumper sticker that says: “I’m Big on Mini Media?”

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media