What Will the Media Eco-System Look Like in 20 Years?

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: What Will the Media Eco-System Look Like in 20 Years?

So I was walking along the beach near North Truro on Cape Cod last week musing half-heartedly about the state of the greater media business and wondering how it might keep metamorphosing … without any Kafkaesque turns. At least that's what I was hoping. The wind shifted. The rains came. I went inside and picked up the latest Bloomberg BusinessWeek (08/08-21) and discovered an interview with my old compatriot Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner. Jeff answered a question by Gerry Smith (How has the success of Netflix changed strategy at HBO?) with this: "I think the question is: How has the strategy of HBO created the strategy of Netflix?

"HBO is the original subscription video-on-demand company.  We were repurposing first-run movies and then we added original programming.  We had a colleague in the industry, [Netflix Chief Executive Officer] Reed Hastings, who decided to do the same thing and put it over broadband.  Since they're on broadband, they can do it according to net neutrality without paying for the usage. And because broadband allows for two-way interactivity, you can get data on what people are watching and start a conversation. If you watched this, you might like that. That's a great innovation. That's exactly the kind of thing where you could take not just Netflix but all of Silicon Valley and harness those abilities to do global, at scale, distribution. That's a tremendous boon to an industry producing more and more programming.  If you don't have a way to search and have recommendations based on other things you've watched, you couldn't figure out what the hell to look at because there's too much!  I think it's going to reinvigorate the television industry."

Follow up questions made clear that those Cape Cod wind changes aren't limited to peninsulas on oceans.  Just looking around the Internet plus the edge, the things being tried are too many to count. Just think what virtual reality will do to all the current business plans! How about shifting release dates for movies, TV series, podcasts and more?  Will newspapers still exist next decade?  Magazines?  What form will communications take?  Apps?  Hand-written letters?  Posters?  Billboards?  All of the above?

We know one basic thing: The new media eco-system mantra is: Live and Learn ... instead of running around like Chicken Little yelling "Over the top is coming! Over the top is coming!" only to discover that the cable bundle, in some form or another, is here to stay. (Maybe the "full-monty" bundle with hundreds of channels and "more focused" bundles targeted at different interests and price points.)

Nice to know. But it is going to take lots and lots of tries, failures and successes … and I don't think it'll all shake out for another decade.

Random Notes

Kudos to long-time industry exec John Sie and his wife Anna who dedicated the new Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver (DU) Anna and John Sie International Relations Complex (with the Sie Cheou-Kang Center joining The CableCenter on the DU campus).

Media crackdowns continue around the world with more Turkish government heavy hands.  But here at home, we've had a somewhat surprising easing of restrictions by at least one arm of the Republican party … VP candidate Mike Pence has quietly eliminated press bans.  His running mate, as of last weekend, had not done so.

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