Commentary

Old Truisms In The New-Media Age

As the media industry continues to expand and transform, some truisms are beginning to emerge. Some are golden oldies that continue to guide us. Others are completely new, based on breaking technological advances.

For me, it is the old truisms that not only still drive the business but also serve to remind us that basic audience behavior, even in a world of manic technological advancements, can be predicted. And yet, while some things are eternal, the Next TV Summit demonstrated that other statements may need an update:

It is always about the content -- but now content needs to be connected. We love to be immersed in gripping and compelling content -- and now we can receive our stories via a myriad of advanced devices. What these devices now offer, according to Discovery's Sean Atkins, is a much richer experience. He says that "story telling is getting deep and organic" and gave the example of a multiplatform event devoted to the Long Island Medium. Twitter was successfully used as a way for fans to connect with spiritualist Theresa and get a reading.

It is always about quality and relevance -- but now you have to consider all platforms. According to Univision’s David Beck, "social and digital is no longer cutting room floor content. Now it is socially curated content." Old familiar genres such as novellas need to be “reinvented or evolve for the different platforms. You need to stretch the genre into other screens” according to Raphael Corres of TV Globe. Beck concurred, noting that “Novellas are the original binge viewing experience five times a week. How do you reformat for multiplatform storytelling?  Four characters on existing app push notifications. Notification from that character gives a clue to what was happening in the novella. The way you interact with the story has changed.”

It is always about the audience -- but now the audience has a voice. For good or otherwise, today’s audiences actively participate in the programming-- and will let you know how they feel in real time. USA Network’s Geetnajali Dhillon spoke of the responsiveness of audiences today: "They will tell you immediately what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong."

It is always about measurement -- but now we need standardization. There is still no generally accepted form of cross-platform measurement, and the metrics across platforms differ. How do we reconcile this and start to create standards? There is no easy answer. “We have a measurement gap,” explains Atkins. “Our biggest mistake is that we measure everything in digital, while in TV we don't, and advertisers pay for that waste. We need to measure engagement.”

It is always about partnerships -- but now we need knowledgeable partners. According to Sundance's Laura Michalchyshyn, “Partnerships are essential. You still need someone to help you make and pay for the content.” This is becoming more attainable as brands become interested in content creation. O&M’s Abigail Marks works with advertisers to create or co-create “content that is wonderful to share” and “can take viewers to new places.” She adds, “Brands are now curators of content. They are shifting away from renting audiences to creating audiences.”

It is always about "television” -- but now television means any screen that offers content.  Dhillon summed it up: "There is no first or second screen. There is just the screen.” So how do content providers deliver the best experience for a viewer? Comcast used to be organized around platforms but realized that it is really all video. So, as Matt Strauss explained, they developed Xfinity to merge all platforms into one. “Any device is a TV. We think television will become more of a personal medium.”

Tags: tv
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