Television is Moving Away from “Broadcast.” This Could Get Interesting.

While digital and social media have been the media newsmakers as of late, there has been a lot going on recently in the old media standby: television.

There’s been some saber-rattling for a few months now in the most traditional of television providers: broadcast. FOX, CBS and Univision threatened to switch from broadcast to cable networks in response to Aereo’s recent courtroom victory regarding copyright law and retransmission (Aereo streams network TV to customers via the internet). NBC has threatened the same. This would shift the broadcast networks into cable networks—and also into the cable model of dual revenue streams (advertising and carriage fees from the cable carriers such as Comcast or Time Warner). Will this happen? Probably not. But it’s clear that the broadcast nets are getting feisty looking for ways to keep themselves relevant…and profitable.

Photo of an old television by Flickr's videocrab

In the meantime, the cable networks are working on some new tricks of their own. During Upfront Week, it was revealed that, in addition to expanding their original programming, they’re also touting their expanded engagement opportunities. That is, there are more ways than ever to connect with viewers outside of the television show itself, whether it’s through websites, online video, mobile and/or social media streams. Expect to see even more places to find your favorite shows, and more ways to interact with both the network and other fans.

A few cable networks are also tinkering further with on-demand programming. HBO is building a platform (HBO Go) to exclusively offer their programs. If this idea expands, this will diminish program variety on sites like Netflix and Hulu, and will instead place program distribution control back into the hands of the original network/owner. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one to see if it becomes the norm.

Even Netflix is getting in on the alternative distribution bandwagon, starting with “House of Cards.”  If you haven’t heard about this show, it was distributed directly—and exclusively—via Netflix. Even more interestingly, the show was created based on data instead of the usual shopping a script around Hollywood. When Netflix created the show, they already knew that David Fincher is well liked by Netflix members, that Kevin Spacey movies are popular, and that the British version of  “House of Cards” had already done well. Put the three together and “Voila!”—predestined success.

The changes I mentioned above affect us all as viewers. But what about advertisers? I’m not worried. The program providers aren’t going to forget about the advertisers. It is a revenue stream for them after all; it helps fund the programming that is building their success, and there will be always be ways for both national and local advertisers to participate in the evolving model. We’ll all just have to stay tuned to see how!

Photo Credit: Flickr’s videocrab

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