The New Broadcast

In a post a few days ago I made the statement, “The Web Is The New Broadcast.”

The more I think on this, the more research I’m doing, and the more the numbers support this.

Wired News recent article on the “meganiche” paints a whole new picture for the world of IP and Internet based entertainment, specifically where it concerns video.

Allow me to give an example.

In the US, the Networks use the (admittedly flawed) Nielsen ratings to determine the success or failure of a television show and it’s commensurate portion of demand of the ad upfront dollars each year.

For example of a “hit” show, we’ll use last Monday’s airing of “Hereos” which had a 6.7/16 rating.

The 6.7 means approximately 7.3 million households watched (for reasons that are as muddy as Alabama roads after a good rain, 6.7 rating doesn’t mean 6.7 million seperate people watching, but number of households in which a television is tuned to a broadcast… 1 ratings point is approximately 1.1 million households – strange, but true.)

The 16 number means that approximately 16% of the total viewing audience (of households watching television at that time) watched the show.

Which when boiled out means that approximately 40 million households watched TV during Primetime on Monday night.

For comparison, YouTube on any given day, will stream 100 million videos, and up.

Take a good look at that math folks.

Let’s put that in context of YouTube. If 16% of YouTube’s daily streams were of a single show, that would result in an audience of 16 MILLION. Or more than double the number that watched it in the US alone according to Nielson. We can all pretty much count on that number continuing to go up… way up.

That my friends, changes everything about the Broadcast business.

Now, here’s the next component of the Great Broadcast Shift; people still like being programmed TO. Not all of us want to spend our time clicking on endless links to this that or the other thing. Especially not when it’s ten links to the same damn video.

We certainly all get emails from acquaintances of ours telling us to click on a link for something “good” or something funny. What’s the first thing most of us do when we get these links? Delete? Oh no, the very first thing we all do is we consider the source.

WHO sent it to us? If it’s someone who thinks like we do, we’re very likely to click on that link or watch the video (or read the email). If it’s not someone who’s tastes we’ve found are very similar to our own, we usually delete without a second thought. And the question of “WHO” is distinctly individual and human (as opposed to a Network sending me a link, as a faceless, committee driven corporation).

Therein lies the key to the new broadcast.

People themselves will become the new Networks. People who are passionate about certain types of shows will blog, and program their own RSS feeds of content that will include their favorite shows (and maybe even in HD!), and talk about them, and get them watched by numbers of people that Network broadcast could never even dream of reaching without massive ad budgets.

I think that the only way Networks could survive this shift, is for them to find their own unique programming voices, and program feeds to work with those voices. I think people are tired of being programmed to by a nameless, faceless committee of Network Executives. In more general terms, I think people are sick of having large corporations decide what “the audience” wants to see. (Case in point, Fox’s cancellation of Firefly in 2005, and the subsequent drumming Fox got from the online community).

If the audience can find voices that they relate to, understand and can have dialogues with, and they happen to program their own video channels, I believe these will replace traditional corporate broadcast networks.

For example, if Mark Cuban suddenly decided to start programming his favorite (HD please!) videos into a “channel” that I could tune into and stream, or segments of on-demand (and of course, Mark would basically syndicate the content from the owner, and both would share in ad revenues, or subscription fees, etc.) you can bet that I would put that on my list of feeds (channels) to watch, because I’m interested in the way Mark thinks, and God bless the guy for having the time to program stuff that he likes, because I just don’t have the time to wade through all the crap programs out there. I would know that Mark has standards that I think are acceptable. I would know I’m probably not going to get feeds of Flava Dave.

We are already starting to see a fair amount of this kind of programming with people doing their own webcasts/podcasts of (usually unsigned) music where the rights allow. (An aside, I think the music biz would benefit immensely if they syndicated their content to whoever wanted to stream it, if they were guaranteed parts of the ad sales of the programming and there was a backend that could handle that). This is similar in concept to Pandora and their Music Genome Project. I think this is truly the direction of the future, especially when you consider that a succesful Podcast has it’s own “little niche market” and those niche markets can be well north of a million people with a very specific set of tastes.

It’s coming for video and I certainly hope someone figures out how to effectively monetize this new economy, so that selfish old me can just keep finding ways to make stuff:)