It was just a few weeks ago that I was on a radio programme with some of the head honchos of local TV/Cable TV programming arguing about the broadcast locally of NBC’s programme The Voice. I was trying to explain that the era of ‘exclusivity’ broadly speaking was on its way out and that perhaps buying the ‘exclusive rights’ to broadcast a popular American TV show, then thwarting your viewers by not broadcasting the show live because you think you now have a captive audience might not be the way to go in the future.
The head honchos were most indignant at the very suggestion, pouring scorn on it and making out that I was 20 years behind the times when it was clearly they who were out of the loop. Haven’t you seen what’s happening to traditional media, I asked. Haven’t you noticed what’s happened to the distribution and consumption of music globally? Haven’t you been following the death of huge newspapers all over the world? Why do you think TV’s going to be immune from these trends? Oh no, said they, I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.
Well, less than a month later here are some news stories that prove my point. Of course they’re mostly about media in the USA but have no doubt, the winds of change are not going to leave Jamaica unscathed, much as our media heads would like to think so.
It makes me laugh to see the two local newspapers offering subscriptions to their digital editions at a measly 20% discount when the New York Times is available at an introductory rate of 99c for a month. Quite frankly the difference between them is comparable to that between a Rolls Royce and a Lada so no prize for guessing which one I’d choose if I have to pay similar rates for both. The NYT is US$3.75 a week, the Gleaner is $2.99 a week and at JMD$ 1,248.00 per month the Jamaica Observer is similar in range to the Gleaner. For the $3.75 a week I can also get 100 articles from the NYT archive per month, an incredible value in itself. Neither of the local papers offers any such incentive. I’d be curious to know what their digital subscription figures are. Joke ting dat as they’d say here.
Anyway, have a look at the articles below. The first one is a real gift with all sorts of graphs and table and statistics measuring the decline of traditional media, the other one covers the departure of top US TV host Katie Couric from the ABC network to Yahoo, that stalwart of new media. It’s a sign of the times, let’s hope our head honchos either get with it or we get new head honchos who ARE with it. Soon.
Well, how are these media outlets going to sustain themselves you might well ask, if they’re not able to charge subscribers? Other more creative ways have to be found of building a subscription base, as the third article demonstrates. Using a wildly innovative model based on the concept of property ownership, an unapologetic real estate trope, NSFWCORP rapidly increases its subscriber base by offering customized plans of ownership at different rates. Another example of mass customization, an organizing principle that is coming to rule the day.
Finally, a little brawta or extra, sent to me by @marciaforbes on Twitter, a piece on ‘triple-play revenues’, new kinds of bundling arrangements that represent the future for media subscription models.
TV Is Dying, And Here Are The Stats That Prove It
The TV business is having its worst year ever.Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, “The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.” All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.
Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn’t.
In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.
We’re at the beginning of a major historical shift from watching TV to watching video — including TV shows and movies — on the internet or on mobile devices.
This is going to hurt cable TV providers.
Nearly 5 million cable TV subscribers have gone elsewhere in the last five years. The number of cable TV-only subscribers remaining could sink below 40 million later this year, according to this data from ISI Group, an equity research firm (at right).