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Tag - television

The Decline and Fall of Free-to-Air TV

Free-to-air (FTA) TV is gone, over, finished, obsolete, outta here. Everyone is on their mobile phones, tablets, PCs etc etc. NO-ONE watches TV anymore, right?
FTA, of course is not finished. It merely has had a bit of a turn and is having a lie down. It will be back bigger than ever, right?
Once the staple evening and weekend fare of every self-respecting baby boomer and Gen X’er, television is no longer our ’electronic hearth’. We have plenty of other glass that we can stare at now. And that glass allows US to be the creative director, programmer and consumer where, when, what and however we choose. It’s exciting, flexible and fun!
All of which leaves poor old FTA looking like a threadbare old coat gathering dust in the corner while the flashier Zegna suit alternatives sashay out the door.
Nothing new here. Technology is being regularly rendered obsolete. Depending on your age, this list provides a reminder of what was once vital and is now irrelevant (did someone say floppy disk?).
Sure, multi-year sports mega-deals with FTA networks still make news but now there’s this little thing called ‘digital rights’ that sporting franchise owners have carved off. Before you know it, those same sports will be running their own multi-media empires and they won’t need external TV stations anymore. Why? Because they can. They own what viewers want which is why broadcast rights are so valuable. That’s why ‘narrowcast’ rights are even more valuable. The more focused you are, the more valuable you become.
This could not be starker than in network television’s own ecosystem. According to Forbes, sports focused ESPN is worth $50 billion+ compared to the generalist ABC network’s $3.2 billion valuation.
And then there’s cable, Netflix and Apple TV and Amazon TV. All of which are vertically integrating by creating and controlling their own content through to its eventual distribution and
marketing. And we haven’t even mentioned YouTube.
In a complex, tangled and confusing electronic content dissemination world, FTA television seems firmly stuck where it was king of the heap: the 70’s. Of course, FTA still attracts enormous audiences but as with all declining technologies, while the trend is gradual it’s not looking good. What FTA TV will look like in 10 years time is anyone’s guess.
Mourn not though. Globally, television executives have at best paid lip service to the hyper-connectedness facilitated by digital communications. Throw up a few websites, syndicate our media releases on a Facebook page and enable SMS voting for our talent shows and we’re sorted. They’re so not sorted.
There are collectively hundreds of millions of viewers out there who have never had any personal interaction with the FTA TV channels they’ve slavishly supported for decades. Some could argue that they never needed to connect with viewers beyond offering them fabulous programs to watch. Which still works. To a degree. Trouble is, we’ve all been spoiled by what we can do and what we can control.
So while it’s unrealistic to think that regular emails and SMS’ to viewers will halt the declining trend, it can’t hurt.
But the clock is ticking, and it’s very loud.
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The YouTube revolution

YouTube is changing the way television works – and is well placed to become the ultimate content provider
In just 11 years, YouTube has gone from novelty video-sharing site to serious media player. Not content with establishing itself as a legitimate alternative to mainstream television news, the Google-owned social media juggernaut is about to change the way television itself works.
In October last year, YouTube debuted its Original Channel in the US. Billed as ‘awesome content from the stars of music, TV, film, and sports, plus the world’s most innovative media brands’, it is effectively content created specifically for YouTube. Not content that is premiered elsewhere and then finds its way onto YouTube. But content that exists solely on YouTube.
It is a content model that has the potential to be a game-changer. In fact, Google is betting it can become a game-winner by extending the project to the largest European markets – France, Germany and the UK.
In all, 60 new channels will be available, all featuring broadcast-quality content from top producers including ITN and Hat Trick Productions. It means such high-profile TV stars as Jamie Oliver will now have a dedicated home on YouTube thanks to channels like the Jamie Oliver Food Channel.
Original content the key
‘The insight for us was that though some partners were making successful businesses out of creating content on YouTube, it was not happening at the scale or the pace that we would love to see it happening, or as widely in terms of genre,’ Ben McOwen Wilson, director of YouTube for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the Guardian.
‘[Original Channels] is accelerating that, jumpstarting it, to get more partners working with us to create original content for the platform.’
The Guardian reports that YouTube is offering an advance to channels taking part, and will offer them a share of revenue once this is recouped. McOwen Wilson said YouTube had seen a huge number of pitches for the new channels, but wanted content that exploited YouTube’s interactivity and could respond to comments and shares among viewers, rather than lengthy pre-written series.
‘It is not a dumping ground. Some of these ideas couldn’t be done on traditional television, which couldn’t afford the specificity of the audience or the interactivity,’ he said.
Such a project doesn’t come cheap. The US launch of 100 channels, featuring content from CNN, MTV and ESPN, reportedly required an investment of $100 million from Google. A year on and YouTube is claiming 20 of those channels now generate more than a million views a week, with music channel The Warner Sound easily the most popular.
McOwen Wilson said YouTube is looking to expand Original Channels to other markets, including the rest of Europe and Asia. Stay tuned, Australia…
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Advance ads

The only reason to watch the Superbowl just became obsolete as online content gets the jump on TV advertising
Dubious as the appeal of heavily padded men ramming into each other in a homoerotic fashion may be, millions of viewers Stateside (and beyond) tune in every year to the Superbowl – an orgasm of capitalism and corporate sponsorship that almost completely obscures the point of the game itself.
But the rampant consumerism that drives the Superbowl is exactly what makes it so great. American Football’s centrpiece is the most heavily contested television advertising slot of the year, and only the best (and richest) agencies need apply. The well-publicised cost (US$3.5 million per 30-second slot) of advertising in the half-time break seems to be worth it, however, as the ads that make the cut are generally the most-talked about.
But the advent of the Internet and that elusive vixen we like to call the ‘viral video’ now means that the pressure and opportunities are that much larger. Whereas once upon a time people would head to work, hung-over and hot-winged out on the Monday after Superbowl Sunday and cluster around the water cooler to re-live the highlights of the game (read: advertisements at half-time), they now live-tweet, re-tweet, re-post, share and blog the ads before, during and after their air-time.
That’s right, before.
Up to HALF of all 2012 Superbowl ads are already being passed around cyberspace like hot potatoes, which really begs the question… why would you watch the game at all?
Check out 3 of the best…

The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.