Friday, 29 August 2008

Digital TV: 2012 The Big Switch Off?

When digital television launched in the UK in 1998, it was announced that the analogue signal would be switched off in 2012. Does anyone really care about the impending switch over other than those keen to make us of the available bandwith?

Time for a quick rant on the current state of television.

Right now the television industry is facing a number of woes. This is partly due to the impending recession effecting advertising revenue, and also down to Google increasingly cutting into the advertising budgets of media planners.

A few initiatives have been proposed to overcome this. One is that the BBC should extend their commercial assets. Armando Ianucci suggests that one way the Beeb can do this is through having an optional subscription channel to compete with the likes of HBO. On the other hand, it's being suggested that Channel 4 should get a slice of revenues raised from the licence fee to fund programming.

Then again you have to look at some of the backwards Hollywood Studios, and see how badly they are attempting to break online. If people can’t access content legally online, of course this is going to make them obtain it from illegal sources. Only time will tell if the likes of Hulu and Project Kangaroo will rectify this.

Comedy is one of the hardest genres of programming to launch due to new programmes not traditionally picking up ratings until near the end of the series. One way in which this is being combated is by comedies initially being launched online.

A very good example of this happens to be my cousin Hayden Black. He's received significant media coverage both online and offline for his Abigail's X Rated Teenage Diary and Goodnight Burbank.

To monetise content online you need to get creative. Whether that be sponsorship, product placement or innovative forms of advertising.

There have been a number of success stories of comedies originally being launched online and then being picked up upon by mainstream television. Off the top of my head I believe John Battelle cites an example of this in his excellent Search book.

Anyway, what I'm proposing with this post is that most television is utter tripe and that I'm really excited to see the continued relationship of television and internet develop, and watch the power being wrangled away from the traditional gatekeepers and into the hands of the masses.

The introduction of digital television in the late nineties was the start of traditional audiences becoming increasingly segmented across the media. I wouldn't be surprised if the advent of digital television was the start of what we now call long tail.

So the upshot is we don't have to be victim to watching utter tosh on only four channels. This tripe has rotted the brains of the masses for nigh on eighty years and we don't have to put up with it anymore. And yes, whilst the majority is user generated content out there isn’t great at least it’s democratic. If you dig deep enough sure there’s quality content th ere just waiting to be discovered.

With new tools like Seesmic and Qik, it seems we are only touching the tip of the iceberg.

Ironically enough, the BBC is actually very well placed to capitalise in a post digital age. They are perhaps the most trusted impartial content provider, and have huge resources to develop new products online. This didn't escape the attention of James Murdoch earlier in the year, when he criticised the BBC Iplayer for using up an astonishing amount of bandwith. Surely that's more of a concern for the ISP's?

On the other hand, the question of whether television in it's traditional format has become outdated is another concern. It's just so passive. Clay Shirky puts this point across very well in this blog posting. Ultimately television is passive and is that what people in a post internet age really want?

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1 comment:

cellmate27 said...

i appreciate the mention but no links to my shows?


cheers :)