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Commentary: The Television Paradigm Shift
In order for traditional televison producers and networks to thrive in the brave new world of online video, they need to change the way they look at the entire ecosystem, from programmers to consumers.
Tues., Apr. 24, by Tejpaul Bhatia

This article first appeared in the April/May issue of Streaming Media magazine. Click here for your free subscription.

"TV is dead!" "The Internet will change everything!" "People want to watch movies on two-inch screens!" "Advertising is broken! "Google is our savior!" "YouTube is our demise!" "CONTENT IS KING!" This is the kind of ludicrous and regurgitated garbage you hear at entertainment industry trade shows these days. The truth is that no one knows anything yet, and if any one claims to have a clue, they are probably lying. The cacophony of voices sounds a little like the proselytizing fear-mongerers from earlier this century who tried to defy age-old business wisdom and exploit the internet to subject us to "Bubble 1.0."

If you ask me, TV is beautiful, the internet is amazing, people just want to be entertained, Google is a great kick in the pants for our industry, YouTube is an excellent way to further reduce productivity, content needs to be "good," and while content may be king, in the new world, democracy prevails and information is true power. But that’s just an opinion.

There are a few facts, though:
— Consumers are rapidly changing and utilizing both "old" and "new" media platforms.
— "Old" media companies struggle to mirror television’s success on new platforms.
— "New" media companies are disruptive, but few can play in the big leagues.

Given these facts, we can form a conclusion on why big media economics are not mirroring consumer behavior. By taking a step back, we can see the media ecosystem, including consumer behavior, in a holistic way and we can try to understand how the media industry is set up to react to changes in behavior. If we all just take a deep breath and really examine what’s going on, we might generate some intelligent decision-making on the parts of those with power so that we can avoid the prophesied "Bubble 2.0."

The Changing Climate
One thing for certain is that your collection of gadgets is not your father’s collection of gadgets. Even your father’s collection of gadgets isn't your father’s collection of gadgets. Plenty of baby boomers—and even older folks—have a flat-panel HDTVs, triple-play services (TV, broadband, voice over IP), WiFi coverage, laptops, DVD players, home theater equipment, digital cameras, iPods, cell phones, and PDAs. This trend is becoming more and more common across generations: younger consumers are born multi-platform, older consumers are rapidly adapting to a multi-platform way of life, and the rest of us in the middle are driving the whole shift.

A generation ago, the media landscape was rather simple and linear. A consumer had a TV, a VCR, and maybe cable. That consumer either watched free broadcast television or paid for cable or satellite service. Advertisers reached consumers through television shows. Programmers were the broadcast networks and a few niche cable channels.

Fast-forward a quarter century and you've got an entirely different media layout. A consumer invests a lot of time and money into multiple devices for multiple platforms. That consumer might have giant home theater equipment, a highly connected PC, a high-tech smartphone, and several other consoles, devices, and gadgets on which they consume and experience entertainment. To support all these devices and platforms, the consumer pays for several services and the trend is leaning towards convenience: purchasing all services from a single provider (triple play). Advertisers are clamoring to reach consumers on as many platforms as possible. The old programmers (broadcast and cable) are still in the mix and are taking their stab at the new platforms. There are a whole slew of new programmers that don't fit into the normal definition of "channel programming." These new programmers include Google, YouTube, MySpace, Microsoft, Apple, wireless carriers, cable operators, millions of websites, and of course the billions of internet and mobile users themselves.