Surviving the Threat – How TV Learned to Love the Internet

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When it comes to “old”   media ,  TV  seems to be the one form of traditional media that has learned how to utilize the net to its advantage. The internet is still a content threat, but the TV world, unlike the worlds of music, film and publishing seems to have more quickly understood the pitfalls and opportunities. Instead of pulling up the drawbridge and preparing for battle, TV joined in and utilized the internet.

Companies that make their living selling content are reeling. Newspapers have been closing at a record rate. The music business is reeling like never before. ITunes has helped reset the playing field, but it’s nothing like it was before. Book publishing has been hit, particularly the brick and mortar bookstores and for the film industry it could just be a matter of time, before the ability to download free content (legal or otherwise) will make a true dent in their profits.

When it comes to “old”  media ,  TV  seems to be the one form of traditional media that has learned how to utilize the net to its advantage. Advertising took a huge hit last year, but the economy was also in the throws of the worst recession since the (strangely named) Great Depression. Just about everyone took a huge hit last year, not just TV ad revenues. But apart from basic economic ebbs and flows, TV seems to be the one form of media that has not only been able to weather the internet threat, but to utilize it.

To quote a recent article in The Economist: “In the final quarter of 2009 the average American spent almost 37 hours a week watching television. Earlier this year 116 million of them saw the Super Bowl-a record for a single program. Far from being cowed by the new  media ,  TV  is colonizing it.” The article goes on to explain how shows like “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent” utilize the net to their advantage. Watchers are constantly messaging one another about such shows on email IM, Facebook or Twitter.

Plus, TV is a reactive media. It doesn’t require much from the viewer. You turn it on, put on the channel you want and there you are. Although many programs are available online, most viewers are not going to do the work it takes to find their programs through nontraditional outlets. The internet is still a content threat, but the TV world, unlike the worlds of music and publishing seems to have more quickly understood the possible pitfalls and opportunities. Instead of pulling up the drawbridge and preparing for battle, TV joined in creating sites such as Hulu a joint venture of ABC, Fox and NBC; an unlikely partnership, but a smart one.

Other content providers are beginning to understand that the way to fight the internet is not to fight it at all, but to blend with it and make it an extension of their brand and their information outlets, but the TV world is way ahead of the game

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

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