once this was a solid investment….
There is an old expression that says ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What happens in fact is that invention comes along, and it messes up everyones way of doing things, so they want it to go away. They bury it. It wrecks their lives. Executives in corporations put off dealing with new inventions until their tour of duty is over. “Leave it for someone else… I don’t really understand it” they say.
Ice, of course, is our classic example.
Once a massive industry, it was rendered obsolete in a stroke when refrigeration was invented.
No one in the ice business wanted refrigeration, and almost no one in the ice business ‘got’ refrigeration.
All they ‘got’ was unemployed.
Now the video comes to the web – or rather, the web starts to attack video.
TV network executives didn’t ask for the web. They would rather it went away, and like ice executives faced with refrigeration, they don’t ‘get’ the web.
In today’s New York Times, columnist David Pogue has a wonderful piece about TV Networks attempting to grapple with video on the web:
Music and TV were lazily paddling their canoes down Prosperity Creek when Music suddenly heard a deafening roar ahead. “Help! What’s happening?” cried Music — but it was too late. The canoe tumbled over the Internet Falls, knocking Music upside-down into the churning vortex.
TV, following at a short distance, was determined to avoid Music’s fate. “I shall go with the current and not fight it,” vowed TV. And with only seconds to spare, TV threw every shred of brainpower and muscle into avoiding its doom.
TV networks are responding by ‘allowing’ viewers to see some shows online.
This is predictable, but wrong.
It’s a bit like using the new invention of refrigeration to keep those ice blocks cold so you can sell them later in the season.
The networks have a great asset – all the TV shows they have ever made. All of them.
They’re still pretty watchable – by someone – at some time.
The ‘long tail’.
Put them all on a server – all of them – and let people access and download them whever they want – any time, any place.
And pay, say $.99 a show.
That’s how the web works.
eBay – all the junk in the attic all the time finds the folks who want to buy it.
Amazon – all the books in the world find the folks who want to read them.
Network TV – all the shows in the library find the folks who want to see them.
Linear is gone – and so are a lot of jobs.
It makes about as much sense to have an ‘Programming VP’ at a network as it does to have a Programming VP at eBay (“we’re gonna lead with Barbie Dolls, and then follow with toasters”)
The web will tell you what people want to see.
Let the free market ride!
Scary? You bet.
A future for the networks? I think its the only one they’ve got.
And your career as a Programming Executive?
Pretty much on ice.