Commentary

Cutting Out The Waste -- And The Middleman

Eliminate the middleman and you’ll save money and be quicker to market.

This is a growing push from all business quarters: For example, celebrities and big-name athletes use Twitter this way, going directly to their audiences.

But it doesn’t always work out for the best, given so many off-the-cuff, inappropriate remarks that can get celebs in trouble and create headaches for PR people. Good news on this front: We digest so much information, so quickly, tomorrow is a new day. All is forgotten. (Almost).

TV-wise, look at all the stand-alone, cloud-based digital start-ups: Sling TV, CBS All Access, as well as businesses yet to come, from HBO Go, Sony, and others. This could be all about eliminating the middleman: traditional pay TV providers.

But big TV/media brands would tell you otherwise -- that they’re just extending their business to those potential niche “cord-cutters” or “cord-nevers.”

Still, many realize this could be laying the groundwork for future businesses to come -- or as possible leverage in seemingly always-testy carriage negotiations. Eliminating the middle can be hard work.

Individual TV/film producers also want to find ways to connect directly to their intended audience -- away from traditional TV networks -- to perhaps test the ground for future projects and/or growing talent.

All that technology at CES seems to provide ways to save time and money -- and eliminate  the “middleware” one doesn’t need. Big-time marketers go to CES to find out where technology is headed, and then make adjustments to their future strategies.

The promise of digital media is that entertainment can be easily produced -- and distributed. But we all know this doesn’t necessarily mean “scale” for marketers. That’s where traditional TV distributors come in -- even as those distribution platforms are being challenged in a big way.

Comcast looking to buy Time Warner? Cable operators -- middlemen  -- looking to gain more influence? Absolutely. Even two essentially different digital media “middleman” companies -- AT&T and DirecTV-- realize strength as a bigger company.

Worried over media consolidation? You can eliminate the middleman entertainment businesses, bringing the front (consumers) right to the back (producers). But what about when things go wrong? Without buffers, who do you blame?

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