Illusionist, libertarian and all-around free thinker Penn Jillette from Penn and Teller fame is launching a new show with Revision3 called Penn Point, beginning Monday, May 24.~Cynopsis.com
…where antennas are torn down, all its stuff is being hacked up into little pieces, rebuilt, re-evaluated, repackaged, re-purposed or thrown away. Oh, Radio and Newspaper live next door.
Much like other bow-tie managed entities, years (decades) of excessive profits have created an industry wide comfort zone where many execs have come and gone, cashing in/out along the way. Of course those days are at an end with Main Stream Media (MSM) companies taking a severe public beating. With hundreds of job cuts at NBC and other companies, Tribune’s bankruptcy, the end of PC Mag’s “-azine” and the constant whine of revenue loss from newspapers, those left rowing the boat are being punished for those who have rowed before.
Perhaps broadcast deserve a little break though; after all they’ve been distracted by micro evolutions within their own space such as time shifting programs, Sony gear versus Panasonic, increased competition from newspapers, retransmission battles with cable, syndication issues, revenue swings from politics, etc. Then again, if you’re driving on the highway and distracted by a swarm of wasps inside your car, you’re still responsible for knowing that up ahead the bridge is out.
So as many philosophize the death of television, I wonder about a shift of massive proportions affecting multiple industries including radio, television and print collectively. Technology isn’t just killing television, it’s changing the way we communicate leaving the entire Main Stream Media up for grabs.
TV: The bigger picture shows no breaks for media content providers
So, yes traditional television will die in its current packaging only to be reborn in other forms. Early versions hint that content may be split up by numerous new media providers like www.Hulu.com, Revision3 and others, but even as network parents try to maintain control and contain content Hulu struggles as “traditional media” repackaged in a shiny “new media” graphics. A blog, shortened commercial breaks and a widget don’t constitute a new business model. Regardless, it seems that technology from Boxee will continue the assault on media content providers by reconnecting users to content and thereby threatening to make brands irrelevant. Much like the way Google has made information brands (Webster, Wikipedia, etc.) irrelevant to the masses. After all, who cares / remembers the brand when relevant information from all brands it presented to you equally and immediately via search?
RADIO: Say NO to internet radio and yes to podcasting.
Due to its ease of use and the lack of public adoption of satellite & WIFI in vehicles and in the workplace (WIFI would deliver internet radio) it seems radio will outlive both traditional TV and newspapers. It also occurred to me that radio has the best advantage for “doubling down” on both their current analog business model and creating new online revenue streams. While TV & Print may have more money / audience behind them, staffs at radio stations are more nimble with less capital invested in equipment like printing presses and satellite trucks. Radio companies with diversified portfolios also have the attention of the tech savvy youth and vast audiences of local, high school & college sports within reach and ready to be converted to the next stats heavy online community. The real opportunity, however, is in the podcast race. With a clear advantage, as an industry, radio stations could surely take their fondness for formatting to an even deeper “niche” level and cash in big. NPR and others would have an even bigger advantage if they were to launch a massive information assault on the current community of podcasters and audio book creators.
NEWSPAPER: Don’t Go Changin’?
Of the MSMs there may be good reason for newspaper to not evolve. In fact there’s a very real possibility that some newspapers may find themselves rebuilding traditional staffs in the not so distant future! With the tension mounting by the Kindle and iPhone ebook apps, the newspaper industry finding a new home in the digital world on mobile devices in e-zine form. What would truly be mind blowing is if the newspaper industry could create its own tech revolution in “digital paper.”
So what’s the point? The point is that all of this is transitional and that the better able you are to adapt the more likely you are to survive. Survival will not come from your next show, tonight’s ratings or this weekend’s paper sales but from investing in new products, technology and actually listening to customers because the comfort zone is lost.
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