Internet killed the Video Star

posted 19 May 2007

Want a model for what television is going to look like 10 years from now? Look at your radio.

Or rather, don't look at your radio. Do you even have a radio in your house? You probably have one in your car, where it's background noise on your commute. There might even be a couple of radio programs you regularly listen to -- though you tend to download them as podcasts, and you're not broken up if you miss them. However, just the sheer volume of people backgrounding it and occasionally listening to the radio means radio still has a solid audience and market share: it's just not where the advertising money really goes. It's not exciting, it's just there.

Instead of getting your audio fed to you by radio stations, you dig it out for yourself. Through friend recommendations, from advertising campaigns in other media, through social networking websites like last.fm, you discover the audio you like and listen to it when you feel like.

And that's the destiny of TV. People will get their video content ad-hoc from other sources. They'll still pay for it, they'll still tune in for news, sports, weather and other time-sensitive broadcasts, but the real creativity, the real effort, and importantly the real money will be in pre-packaged content.

Despite the dire predictions of Queen and of course Buggles, the demise of radio as a dominant cultural force was not the demise of musical creativity. And nor will the death of television be the death of good video content: it will just be a much more varied market, and competitors in that market will have to try much harder to get noticed in a much more varied field.

And I say bring it on, frankly.

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