For a long time now I have been impressed with the way the internet dealt a massive shake up to the music industry, firstly with file sharing (Napster etc) and secondly with subscription services that make music available at anytime on any device. The resultant winner in this technological advancement is a company that started life manufacturing PC’s (with iTunes and the iPod/iPhone/iPad I am obviously referring to Apple).
Add to this the way the publishing industry has had to react to Amazon selling more books than anyone else. Following on from this Amazon created it’s own device to deliver traditionally printed content via digital means (Kindle). Publishers of all kind have had to catch up by offering digital alternatives or in alot of cases, simply ignoring traditional print copies. Newspapers are a classic example – the requirement for news has increased yet sales of newspapers are in significant decline http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/section.asp?navcode=161.
Luckily for newspapers and book publishers they have easily made the switch to digital: The Guardian website is massively successful; News International introduced the paywall to overcome the drop in revenue from print; digital copies of books are sold in large amounts and probably at much larger profit margins.
These transitions have been slow, bogged down in legal and technological barriers. No doubt there will be other shifts and trends, but can you now imagine an internet without music and news. Nope – nor me.
This article on The Guardian website Traditional TV has survived the net threat, but for how much longer? got me thinking. Several years ago I dumped my TV, in fact it was the day after watching the 2003 Eurovision. At that point in time I had broadband, but it was only yesterday (15th January 2012) that I subscribed to a digital ‘TV’ station (Netflix). In the years in between these two events the gadgets I have available are siginifiacntly more advanced (Xbox, WiFi, DAB, SmartPhone) but my PC and OS is only marginally better. Whilst my broadband has only increased from 2MBs to 8MBs.
So how come it’s taken so long for paid for digital TV to come to my household (music and news have for years)? Well there are a few reasons – it all revolves around content, iPlayer only has content available for the last 30 days, 4OD I find buggy and full of advertising. I could of subscribed to Sky and watched via the Xbox or PC, but again the content is full of ads – and I am not going to pay someone to show me advertising. FilmFour/LoveFilm are worth mentioning – but previously subscriptions have come with limitations.
For the next generation of content users (who have grown up with free content on YouTube etc) the internet still doesn’t fulfil their needs. There is still no way for producers to make their content available as and when they wish.
Netflix is a step in the right direction and is an interesting model and probably the one model that I believe to contain the correct offering. It needs to grow and increase it’s content variety and availability, but could it represent the begining of the end for traditional TV………
TV represents the last of the big media elements to be digitalised. This progress won’t be halted through legal barriers. There are no technical barriers. The industry needs to realise that it has to change or it will lose out. Tick tock guys, tick tock.