The Field of Dreams is Just That

I’ve been thinking and watching and participating in building the online and digital world of established media for a while now, and there seems to be something that the big media folks (or folks who consider themselves big media), just don’t seem to grasp no matter how many times I’ve brought it up.

You can’t just “build it and they will come” anymore.

I don’t really care how much “killer content” you think you have, there are invariably pieces of the puzzle that most every company that doesn’t have Internet-generation leaders just don’t get.

  1. “Great” content is a subjective experience, and the Internet-generation hates being *told* what is cool by big companies.

    This means that your Creative Executives (who, by the way, should be able to do a LOT more than just be a Creative Exec in this market) have got to be better at figuring out who the given audience is and how to reach them through a natural (e.g. not a big company talking AT the audience) means of conversation. I really don’t care how much you’ve spent on a show, or how much you got a network to pony up for your show when you made it.

    Especially if it’s reality television, the “freshness” of the programming is largely gone, and the experience of sharing something new with friends who haven’t seen it is gone too. You better be finding some other fresh content to mix in with the stale so that at least the peanuts can cover up the taste of the age-old pretzels, ya dig?

  2. Do you have a good plan on exactly *how* you’re going to get all you killer content off those old tapes or DVDs and onto the ‘Net?I didn’t think so.

    You’ve probably had a number of people around making suggestions on how to do this, and you’ve just ignored it. It is a massive undertaking to move a tape library into the digital world and set it up in ways that make delivery anywhere near efficient. It is also very expensive, and that cost goes up every time you sign a new distribution deal.

    If you haven’t properly invested in the overhead and infrastructure that it takes to make this happen in ways that satisfy your distributors, you’re losing ground and credibility in a hurry in the space.

  3. If you’re building your own broadband channels, have you considered and made decisions on how you’re going to handle customer complaints, service requests, etc. from your audience. This is something that content producers have largely never had to deal with in the past, and it’s not part of their core competency.
  4. If you’re building your own broadband channels that include user-generated content, or allows users to upload video or audio at all, there’s got to be a workable plan and infrastructure for dealing with DMCA violations and takedown of inappropriate content.
  5. And here’s where the Field of Dreams reference comes in:You can’t just “Build it and they will come.”

    “They” won’t come.

    You have to be able to create the right mix of great content, great community members (which begins and ends with a sites human voice and ability to carry on conversations with those visiting the site), oh, and one last thing? You have to market your site and your content.

    You need a marketing staff, a marketing plan, and a marketing BUDGET.

    All those things the networks and your distributors used to do for your shows? Those things are now in your hands, and you’re going to have to figure it out.

None of these are insurmountable problems, but each one needs to be heard, addressed and needs to have a plan attached to how to deal with it. If any one of these issues just sits and isn’t acted upon your new field of dreams web channel will be DOA.

Ah, New Media:)