The Networks – Better off as the next Studios?

In the online world, publishing companies are in a much better position than the networks because they understand and serve niche audiences. So what is the next step for the networks?

For one, they will not be able to continue to operate as broadly as they have in the past. With an infinite amount of choice online & search becoming more powerful & easy to use, consumers will be able to find whatever they want simply by entering a few keystrokes.

For example, why would a consumer go to ABC, NBC or CBS for news, when NYTimes, CNN or similar news ‘broadcaster’s’ sole focus is the delivery of news content. Film is another example of content the networks have relied upon. Now, most film content will be on demand, accessible directly from the studios of via some middle man like Netflix, Movie Link or Vongo , farther cutting the Networks out of the loop. Sports are another area they will not be able to rely on. Why would the NBA sell the rights to view their games to a network when they can to do so directly themselves. The networks will not be able to compete as before.

For the most part, consumers will most likely rely on the experts in each niche field to deliver the best possible content to them.

So, what are the networks good at? Producing shorter form content like reality shows, Lost, or the sitcoms (shorter than film anyway…). HBO was very good at producing some of the most recent hits amongst most networks over the last decade. Some will argue it is because they are a paid network. True, but I believe their success had more to do with focus. Those in the creative field know what I am talking about. Lately, the traditional networks are back in the game with some big shows of their own. They had to. Imagine what they will able to do without having to worry about the ‘Weather’, the ‘Evening News’ or ‘Sports’?

In order to survive, the networks will have to re-image themselves as Brands, much like HBO. As part of this, they will all start to focus in different areas, slowly becoming better at different ‘genres’ perhaps. They will also become much more focused at nurturing the best creative talent to create their programming. My bet, is that they will almost begin to mirror the old film studio setup, with multi deal contracts for talent such as actors, writers & directors. They may even own and trade them like sports stars.

Content owners will rule, and no one can produce mid-length entertainment like the networks – not yet anyway. The scenarios presented here are down the line, but not as far off as we think. The players need to start staking a claim now. They will have plenty of competition, so if they want to stay on top as things evolve, they better get focused.

For more info…take a look at:

It’s Showtime–and ABC and NBC and Disney–online
Networks are rushing to offer shows online as TV viewership declines.
http://www.technologyreview.com/TR/wtr_16683,323,p1.html

MySpace Aims To Extend Into TV
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=42343&N…

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