As big as the news is that Keith Olbermann is going to CurrentTV, it seems the biggest opportunity may be Current's pledges to innovate on how digital distribution will complement broadcast distribution. Much of the debate on putting premium content online has always centered around the risk of cannibalizing tune-in to broadcast. And of course, if you are reading this, you know that television is where content owners make the lion's share of their revenue.
But the choice between releasing more content online and avoiding lost television viewership is a false choice, and with a vow by Keith Olbermann to "break new ground in how to add value to how people are using our TV product and online so that they're not totally redundant, so that each provides a separate value to the viewer," it sounds as if Current TV is committed to finding the elusive third option.
Online, or in-app, or in any other digital interaction people have with content,there's the potential to offer an experience different from the television viewing experience. Moreover, if done right, online consumer interaction with entertainment brands should drive broadcast tune-in, not cannibalize it. The key will be to consider all of the potential consumer touch points as an entire ecosystem to be maximized -- not simply to broadcast first and then see what "else" can be done. It's also important to ensure that the alternative consumer touch points are not simply the original broadcast on a different device (although it could certainly be part of it).
Sure, the most money will likely be spent on the broadcast production as it will be the cornerstone to creating the premium entertainment brand, but by understanding and planning for maximum consumer engagement across multiple platforms, entertainment brands will see an organic lift in broadcast tune-in.
Now, driving revenue from alternative content distribution channels is another challenge altogether ;-)