Strange things are afoot at the Circle K
If the music industry is in a shakeup, then the video industry is in an earthquake (go ahead, make a better analogy, that’s not really my forte anyway). Full-length TV shows available free on demand on company Web sites. Episodes can be purchased individually to watch on your iPod. Consumers can time and place shift any TV show they want, and legally. You can even buy the boxed set of entire Golden Girls series!
Some networks get it very wrong (I’ll leave them Nameless By Choice). Some, however, get it right. CBS announced today their intent to launch the “CBS Interactive Audience Network” which includes partnerships with the ‘traditionaly players’ as well as a whole bunch of small/medium technology startups:
Read the press release for all the nitty gritty details, but I am stunned and impressed at these moves. Will they do it all perfect? Nope! Will some things utterly bomb or backfire? Most probably! But what’s key is they are trying, and even more essential, they are being mindful of their customer base (as opposed to the music industry, for example, who chooses to treat their customers like criminals).
I chatted briefly with Dave Zatz from Sling Media, and from what I understand Sling’s participation is unique in that they will not only have a Web portal, but can also bring CBS content into the SlingPlayer on PCs and in the future, to the SlingCatcher device. Sling was featured during CBS’s CES 2007 keynote. Full disclosure here: I am a former employee there, have stock options, still love those guys, and think you should vote for the Slingbox Pro for Engadget’s Entertainment Device of the Year, and admit to being biased!
We have a long road ahead of us as the wave “future of television” has already begun to reach the shore. It’s safe to say the broadcast industry is being heavily disrupted, and some big players are likely to fall over the long term. Life for cable affiliates is already becoming challenging, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some major networks suffer a casualty or two. The content producers (MGM, Universal, etc) are all working hard as well, pushing their brands to the front. Amazon Unbox, Netflix streaming, YouTube, etc.
I can’t tell you who will rise and who will fall, but I believe in this: the companies that focus today on audience appreciation and customer retention are the ones who will be standing tomorrow.