Now It's The User, Not The Screen, Who's Frozen

In 1992, media mogul John Malone, in hindsight at about the mid-point in his mogulness, predicted the “500 channel universe” for cable, a concept considered so unthinkable that it got headlines all over the world. 

Now, nothing is ever enough -- either in quantity or quality. But FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out, has got to be such a low-grade fever. What you’ve missed is not sticking around for long anyway. In the future, everybody will be famous. At some point. That Andy Warhol 15-minute time period is totally ridiculous.

Online there’s a growing storehouse of content, and inevitably, a problem: There’s so much it’s hard to find, and even worse, there’s so much that it is really impossible to know it’s there.

According to a new study by Hub Research, the explosion of choice (and devices that make it easier to be choosy) is leading to a “significant unmet need: an easier way to discover shows across platforms.” 



Hub says that 60% of their broadband respondents think there’s a need for a “universal listing that lets them find shows across all TV sources” and 48% say they’d be more likely to choose content sources that make discovery easier. Most of the online content displays put out by content suppliers seem too flim-flam for me, and sites like, are helpful, but it’s hard for me to get the habit.

“The bottom line is that consumers are now realizing both the benefits and the challenges that come with massive amounts of content available instantly,” says Jon Giegengack, co-author of the study, in a statement.

Hub probably isn’t making this claim, but the sheer amount of content online verily guarantees that a good, overwhelming percentage of it is sheer garbage. Online needs a dominant gatekeeper, but that’s a tough one to sell because it smacks of ... authority. And that suggests endorsing tastemakers. That doesn’t fly very well, though plain and simple, it should.

“Even the choosiest consumer can find more of their favorite types of content than they have time to consume,” Giegenback writes. “But almost unlimited catalogs mean that viewers need, and increasingly expect, tools to make discovering shows they’ll love a manageable task.”

I don’t know about the “expect” part. I think “hope” would be more accurate.

Consider this: 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Let’s say that one hour out of each 100 hours is worth seeing. That’s 10 hours of worthwhile content every 10 minutes.

Now, subdivide that by interests and language — 80% of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the U.S. and it operates in 61 different languages — and you’re whittling that figure down substantially. Maybe it’s down to 10 minutes per minute, in English. Still that’s a load. That’s an hour’s worth of material every six minutes. And while YouTube is kind of the random/cut-out bin of video where self-discovery is most of the fun, those multichannel networks within YouTube seem to have a more coherent point of view they should be trying to sell.

Indeed, the Hub study of 1,250 broadband users,conducted last month, 83% said they use as least one online content source, and 81% say more of their time is spent on TV shows “they really like” than in the past when DVRs and a zillion online content possibilities weren’t so handy. Now they are.

The Hub study, which seems to lean back to traditional TV, notes that 72% of millennials first saw a program online that they then sought out on “live TV” as did 64% of non-millennials. (These days, apparently, just called “the others.”) By implication, that would seem to suggest a little familiarity can go a long way.
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