Traditional TV-Minded Companies Want Consumers To Themselves -- Even For A Minute

Wandering in the Burbank Airport, I'm again reminded how the whole media business goes in two simple, straight-line directions: up and down.

In the CNBC News kiosk, I'm watching a live TV interview -- on CNBC. Jeff Gaspin, president and COO of NBC Universal Television Group, is talking about how well NBC cable networks are doing with advertising in this economy -- and especially with NBC's recent acquisition of Oxygen, the younger-skewing women's channel.

Fortunately Gaspin wasn't talking about CNBC advertising sales or how its ratings have spiked in this troubling economy. That would have taken things to a new level of vertical integration.

I'm reminded again just how up and down the media world is, and, in that light, how there might not be that much diversity, either, in particular places on specific platforms.

After buying my newspaper, I head to my gate, open my laptop, and start moving around the Internet where varied, distinct, and independent content exists. I'm going horizontal.

Then I realize I could go to, the NBC-News Corp. video portal, to complete the NBC round-the-horn local media trip I was taking. Hulu is NBC-News Corp.'s attempt to make the Internet more vertical by taking shows like "The Office," "House," "30 Rock" or "Fringe" up and down the TV-video food chain -- from traditional TV, to video-on-demand, cable and syndicated reruns, iTunes, and digital video streaming.

It's the long tail looking to defy gravity.

Media diversity on the Internet goes east and west -- for now, anyway. Eventually all growing media companies need to seek higher ground, even if in this faltering economy advertising and other business metrics head in the other direction.

Trouble is, in the Burbank airport, there was one choice for me to get video news -- in one specific time period. Five minutes later, though, I had a few more options -- but on my laptop.



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