There are all sorts of cool new ways to watch what you want, when you want and where you want, in regards to video entertainment. No matter if it's on your mobile, a tablet or your Super-sized TV screen at home. If it's online, it's fair game. But there's a lot of slow-moving (and obviously slower-thinking) dinosaurs that still haven't quite caught on. They would be those archaic, plummeting-toward-self-extinction broadcasting dinosaurs, and I'll tell you why.More and more TV manufacturers are bringing out some manner of connected TV. The era of consumers watching what the broadcasters want, on the broadcasters schedules is coming to a close. However, the broadcasters, who have made massive piles of money in this fashion since the dawn of television, are loathe to let go of the past and push forward into the future.
They resist against that which is not only the future of TV, but of video in general. So here's a letter to the stodgy, monolithic, dinosaur-like, television broadcasters who just haven't caught on. Hell, even your advertisers are moving faster than you and already embracing online video. Just look at the 75% of Super Bowl advertisers that have active YouTube channels.
Dear Television Broadcasters,
We, the consumers, do solemnly swear that we will watch the shows we want to watch, on the schedules we want to keep and via the platform we want to use. We will not be bullied into continuing to live under the iron rule of the television broadcasters and your archaic scheduling. Whether you like it or not, we will time-shift your content, skip your advertisements and port your stuff to whatever platform we see fit so that we can consume it on our own terms and there is little you can do about it.
Your best bet, is to hop on board, hold on tight and enjoy the ride. And while you're doing that, you'll figure out how the new landscape will lay, who will reign supreme and how you will profit off of it.
We like Netflix (even more than we like Apple), deal with it. Let them cut you massive checks so that they can stream your content, legally. The alternative doesn't line your pockets with money. The alternative sees us all time-shifting, skipping ads or worse yet, seeking out pirated content and your viewing numbers generally falling off, taking your ad dollars with. Advertisers are far more savvy than you and have already started migrating with us. Soon, you will be the only species left when that massive meteor impacts in your industry wiping the slate clean and giving us all a chance to start over.
That new start will be online (I know it was necessary to spell it out from your recent collective actions). Now, this does not apply to all viewers, only the roughly 178 million Americans that are so technically forward-thinking that we are already watching our video-based entertainment online. What? that's just over half of America? Well, we certainly are a mighty and fast-moving group. Worldwide we number some 1.57B people, roughly.
We are also, generally, receptive to continuing the previous agreement with you. You supply us with video content for entertainment purposes and we in turn will watch the ads you shackle that content with. However, since you'll be coming late to the party, we feel obliged to inform you that we won't tolerate the same frequency of advertisements. About half will be fine thanks. Talk to Hulu, they seem to have found a surprisingly good balance even though it sounds like a lot of ads on paper.
CWTV.com is a prime example of how not to approach us online, they show a full load of ads like you all do on standard television broadcasts, and they have just under 3 million viewers a month. Meanwhile, Hulu, who still shows slightly more ads than the average for an online video content network (about two-thirds of a standard TV ad load), manages to haul in something like 27 million viewers, shows over a billion ads a month and what do you do? You turn your back on them. Cutting deals in the background that dilutes the value of the content, spreads it thin and generally undercuts their reason for being (even though you who made the deals have a lot invested in Hulu). Not to mention the whole shooting them in the foot thing you just did.
We hate to tell you this, but you're all flippin' idiots!
Google TV wants to take the Internet and merge it with TV, giving viewers a more interactive and informative viewing experience for video content. What do you do to them? You thumb your noses and block them from your sites. We are starting to believe that your broadcast networks are being run by some of the lamest, backward-thinking, morons on the planet. Then again, we do know how many great decisions TV execs are prone to make, after all you generally cancel shows that many of us like and fill your prime time slots with utter rubbish that fits well with the products of your advertisers forcing us to go find new entertainment. See CWTV for reference who shows Hellcats, 90210, the Vampire Diaries and America's Top Model. If that's not all advertising for acne cream, hair products, cosmetics and liposuction, then what is?
Well guess what, we have figured it out. With the massive availability of broadband, many of us can now turn to purely online outlets for our video content. Guess what else… they make better shows than you do with less money and less advertisements. You know why? Because they care about the product they are putting out. Or at least they have their finger on the pulse of their audience. You meanwhile, have your fingers apparently deeply stuffed up your collective a….
You all seem to think that you can just force feed us crap like The Vampire Diaries, reality TV shows and mindless soap operas and we will continue to gobble it up indefinitely…WRONG.
Did you notice that recently Proctor & Gamble, a long-time and almost-guaranteed sponsor of soap operas, left for online advertising?! See, they found social media and like it, perhaps you should as well. Maybe we can introduce you to them again so you can ask how and why they did it?
Did you also notice that you're going to be about the last companies on the planet to really get a firm grasp of online video? Hell, even AOL, that monolithic, monumentally backward-thinking company of old has done a complete revamp, canned a lot of poor decisions it made in the past and opened a whole new Video Division. This from the company who couldn't manage to stop billing a credit card for like a decade! Not only did they form the division, they then started populating it with people like Amber Lawson (Head of Video Programming), Ran Harnevo (Sr, VP of AOL Video) and have now started making content deals with studios as well as creating their own content.
To AOL, we give props. They're even lining up content from studios that were supplying you, you see what's happening? You're becoming the unwanted and unnecessary middle-man. Sure, you'll still have a small fraction of your viewing audiences clinging to you for their entertainment, but wouldn't you much rather have them and the 178 million of us that are seeking online video? Just think what happens when Generation Z passes the 20-year-old mark (right around now) and starts leaving homes with cable or satellite and simply watches their content online? What happens when the generation after that does so as well? Many of us might never truly cut the cable, but others will never have been fed from that umbilical and you will have a hard time convincing them to accept it.
We, the digital video pioneers, the consumers of content, the people who your advertisers want to target, are leaving you in droves. Sure, we're not cutting our cables en masse, just yet, but we're slowly migrating away and finding everything we need online.
I checked in with the rather powerful female camp recently and found them to be highly agreeable to online video. They spend hour upon hour, mothers or not, working or not, online. They like to catch up with stuff that they missed, most likely because of your archaic airing schedules where you believe that people have nothing better to do than to be in front of their TV screen at a set time, on a set day, every week.
You seem to forget, many of us have seen the light. It comes to us in fiber optic channels, at broadband speed (we're not fooled into thinking it's actually light speed), stimulates our visual cortexes and gives us the value we want, when we want it. It offers new, exciting, original content. It doesn't always rely on a small set of redundant, cliche, formulae designed to simply create risk-free content to attract ad dollars. Not every episode of every show needs to be: teaser, problem, solution, outro. Sure it works, but please, give us credit. We're smarter than that, you just never bothered to really ask us. We also know what we want.
See, we want control. Control of what we watch, when we can watch it and where, whether it be at Starbuck's or on the couch. On top of that, we want convenience. No matter what platform we have in front of us at any given time, we want the content that we can get from our couches. I think you should actually stick your heads into the cloud and see what's going on there.
It's time to wake up and smell the winds of change. It's time for you to make nice and play well with others. Embrace new technologies like Google TV, shake hands with places like Hulu and Netflix and don't make us sign up to twenty different sites to get what we want. We just won't do it.
Because sooner or later, we'll simply see it as too much work and turn to a place that gives us more of what we want in one single login. Whether that place be Hulu, Netflix or some new-fangled service of the future. We don't care the name of if, we care about that control and that convenience and we will go wherever we must to get it. Right now, that means online. It would be best if you started a stampede and made plans to meet us there.
Your Soon-to-be-ex-viewers, the American Digital Viewer
178 million strong, and growing