Busting some myths

Recently I’ve been party to numerous conversations and pontifications about the future of the media industry. As James Boyle pointed out in his keynote at Beyond Broadcast some months ago: Human beings are really bad at predicting the future. I avoid these discussions except to warn folks not to take anecdotal evidence too seriously.

Teenagers are clamoring for the small screen/third screen experience

The studios totally missed the boat on this. Phones are a communication device — a 2-way communication device. No one, even the laziest of teenagers, has any desire to sit, mouth agape, staring at his phone for 30 minutes. iPods are an audio experience. Teens (and everyone else) can do something else while listening to an iPod. There’s not much you can do while watching an iPod. There are a lot of context-specific applications for iPod video. The Andy Griffiths Show is not one of them.

A recent LA Times’ article (registration required) shed more light on this misconception, but the crux of the piece was summed up rather nicely.

About half of young adults and 4 in 10 teenagers said they were uninterested in watching television shows or movies on computers, cellphones or hand-held devices such as video iPods, the poll found.While more than 2 out of 5 teens and young adults indicated they were open to viewing this kind of content online, only 14% of teenagers said they wanted to watch television on a cellphone, and 17% said they would view programs on an iPod.

The findings suggest that networks are rushing to package content for these new platforms before even tech-savvy young consumers are hankering for the “third screen” experience.

Mobile phones will be video sharing devices. User generated content will rule the space. It won’t be easy to commercialize it, but it’s what consumers will want. Cameras have been an unmitigated success on phones, so will video cameras. (The effect on journalism will be profound as well.)

Users want to re-edit your content

No, they don’t. They might want to grab a piece of it to add to their content, but they don’t want to edit. I worked for a decade as a professional editor. It’s hard work. Who do you know editing for fun? It’s a satisfying career, but a frustrating hobby. And if content producers think they can build an audience simply by making their video available for mashups and providing space for uploads of those mashups… too late. Users can already get anything they want off the net. If it’s not already available, there’s no interest in it. Move on.

I’m high on YouTube and JumpCut‘s “bring your own and share it” approach – especially JumpCut’s because it supplies the tools too. Expecting users to download content, edit it, add stuff to it, and then upload it when there are services like JumpCut makes no sense. Any traction such offerings gain will be lost after JumpCut’s next trailer contest.

Jon Stewart’s become a primary source of news

For whom? I never met that person, yet people will tell you that’s where young people are getting their news. The same LA Times article mentioned above found differently.

For their part, a large share of young adults appear to be turning to broadcast television for their news. According to the poll, 38% said they got their best information about current events from local newscasts and 19% said it came from broadcast network news.Despite the widespread belief that a sizable number of young people get their news from satirical programs such as Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” just 3% of teenagers and 6% of young adults surveyed said that’s how they found out about current events.

Those darn facts just keep getting in the way of a good yarn.

Fact is it’s beginning to look a lot like 1999 (except for the market’s performance). A bunch of kids in t-shirts and narrow glasses are telling everyone over 30 that they just don’t get it and blather on about massive paradigm shifts. And a lot of media execs with pockets deeper than their imaginations are nodding along like bobble heads. That may be – there may be a paradigm shift – but the pace is more like plate tectonics. Movable type, the catalyst of the Enlightenment had virtually no effect on the culture at large during Gutenberg’s lifetime. Does anyone really think cell phone video and mashups will be more profound more quickly?

2 Thoughts on “Busting some myths

  1. I’m not young but I get all my news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert! No broadcast news on bittorrent! (Now, if I could only convice KTLA to podcast the 10pm news for 10c an episode, I’d be there.)


  2. While “No one…has any desire to sit, mouth agape, staring at his phone for 30 minutes,” “third screen experience” players
    such as Video iPods allow the user options without the usually associated weight. CD players ere replaced by MP3 players because they were cumbersome and required additional media. MP3 layers, on the other hand, offer the user access to their complete “CD collection” in a compact fashion. They give the user what they want most: options and ease. Video iPods and other similar devices allow users even more options–they can choose between video
    and audio without additional equipment. These devices satisfy the option-hungry consumer.

    More importantly, however, “third screen experience” players are a viable option for subway commuters and world travelers. People who used to carry portable DVD players (and discs, and headphones, etc.) can now simply carry an iPod. What’s more, the miniscule device provides them with more options than a portable DVD player, as the user isn’t limited to the number of discs they can carry, but instead can fit 100s of sitcoms on their iPod. For commuters, the “third screen
    experience” is a significant development. While video iPods offer little for the everyday teenager or college student, they could certainly find a place within this niche market.

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