The traditional television networks had to be all things to all people. In order to distribute their content, they needed deep infrastructure along with multiple broadcast, cable and FCC licensing agreements. Today everyone is a broadcaster and the costs are minimal.
Brands used to have to buy their way into a network’s broader audience – now they can target their exact audience directly, while owning the content. It’s a big shift in thinking as marketers go from paid to earned and learn how rich the rewards are for bringing something valuable to an audience that will become theirs as opposed to advertising to an audience that they don’t own. Some are doing this phenomenally well. In fact many of the brands that are have turned into full fledged media organizations. Look at Red Bull as one example.
With infrastructure costs greatly reduced and digital distribution enabling the reach of a global audience, niche markets that used to be too small to scale, are suddenly meaningful. YouTube creators servicing these verticals found this out very quickly and are now cutting deals with the largest broadcasters for millions of dollars. Traditional broadcasters are making these deals because they don’t have the credibility or fundamental understanding of these niche markets…but Brands do.
The only folks with access to the type of niche, vertical data to serve these niche markets and their audiences are Brands! Think about it…
Say you happen to have a passion for camping and the great outdoors and are looking for programming to educate, entertain or perhaps just give you some inspiration as to where to camp next. Who would you trust to deliver that content to you? A traditional network like Fox or ESPN, or someone like Patagonia that lives and breaths this type of content experience everyday? Brands like Patagonia have data on their specific vertical that the networks don’t. They know the breakdown of every fan by age, season, location and preferences – all lead by decades of market data. This information in the right hands can help drive much better programming for these niche audiences. The larger networks would kill for this type of information yet brands are not acting on it fast enough because they don’t know how to.
This is a huge opportunity for Brands. For the first time, ‘the networks’ may need Brands for more than just their money. If the networks want to reach these niche markets, they need the data and market experience. Similarly, Brands need the entertainment industry to help them deliver longer form narrative that will better connect them to their audiences. Audiences have shown they want it, now it is up to us to deliver.