Is this the face of the future?
The New York Times ran a fascinating piece today in the Entertainment section about Rosie O’Donnell’s webcasts. Having left The View, and network television, lately she has taken to webcasting her own show … online. You can see them here. I have to admit that I am no Rosie fan.
Beyond that, the production values are just terrible. Poor Nino will have a stroke when he looks at these. In fact, I am a bit astonished that someone who has spent much of her adult life in the television business can put something so badly shot as these up for public view. My 16-year old nephew Brett did better camera work when he was 9.
That having been said, even these terrible images are getting traction. And that tells you something right there.
The New York Times wrote:
There she is, the fork-tongued lady, without bronzer to contour her face or concealer to hide her fatigue, or directors to keep her coloring within the political and professional lines.
And, man, is this girl good on screen.
(Or “seize the medium” for those of us who did not take latin in school).
What you are watching with Rosie is the tip of an iceberg. Much to her credit, she has seized the medium. We could work on the quality of the presentation, but something much more fundamental is happening here.
At The New York Times, 35%of the cost of production goes into editorial. The rest is consumed by the mechanics of manufacturing and distributing the paper. That is, the folks who write the paper represent 35% of the cost of the paper, the rest is consumed by presses and paper and trees and ink and the building and management. (At the Murdoch paper, 28% goes to editorial, apparently).
Do away with the physical paper, the ink, the trucks, the distribution the building and so on… and you make the paper vastly more profitable. This is largely behind the migration of so many publications (and soon TV stations) to online. It changes the basic economics.
The only reason people read newspapers is for the editorial content. No one buys the NY Times for the quality of the ink or the kind of desks they have on the 23rd floor (or their new building across the street from the Port Authority).
So when the paper goes online, does editorial suddenly pick up 90% of the budget?
I don’t think so.
Now, along comes Rosie, who says, ‘screw The View’ and screw ABC, I can do this on my own. I don’t need a network to get into people’s homes.
Well, it’s a bit early, but it’s also a bit like Howard Stern going to Sirrus. Mel Karmazin paid him $500 million because Karmazin realized that a certain percentage of people (16% it turns out, so far) would follow Howard to digital radio. Well, more than likely, those same 16% would also have followed him to Howardstern.com, should he have chosen that route. No need to cut Mel in for anything.
If you look at Rosie, and you can get past the bad camerawork (I am sure this will improve), you can see something far more interesting brewing here.
Content is King.
Always has been.. always will be.
And those who make the content don’t need the networks or the cable operations, or the newspapers to get into people’s homes.
This is what is coming. Rosie is the first whiff of the future… It will take a while, but it is surely on its way.
And like great sailors who can sense a storm before anyone else, the smart money is gearing up for the change. That’s why Murdoch, no dope, is buying content in the form of The Wall Street Journal; and that is why the market is suddenly flooded with local TV stations.
A big change is coming.
Arise ye creative content making workers of the world. You have nothing to lose but your chains….and the occasional golden handcuff.