The lawsuit between Viacom and Google over content placed on Youtube isn’t just about money. Okay, it is mainly about money, but it is also the latest line in the sand in the battle between Old Media and New Media. Old Media, television, film and print, doesn’t really get the internet, blogging, podcast, New Media. They can see there is plenty of money to be made. They can see interest in their products starting to wane in favour of what is online. So they want a piece of it, or ideally large chunks. They’ve made plenty of their own podcasts, set up lots of blogs. Yet people want to watch, listen and read the real thing, written by their own. I suspect that you’ll find more Brits now read Perez Hilton than actively read Bizarre in The Sun. He can get away with more scandal, he is far more up-to-date, and most importantly of all, he is free. He will be getting a reasonable sum from the advertising on his site, but where he is really going to get his income is from being Perez Hilton, selling himself.
Part of this came about from a discussion at the dinner table tonight with Mrsfb. She mentioned that Jodie Marsh is considering charging people to read her blog. I believe she does at present have quite a large readership, easily many thousands of readers. This is because it is free. I’ll be surprised if she has more than a thousand after she starts charging. There will be some diehard fans who will pay, but it is sheer idiocy to think that any more than that will be interested. She suddenly loses a massive proportion of her readership, and as the blog’s purpose is to promote her, it stops doing its job. Old Media thinking.
What we are also seeing is a move away from production values. The message is more important than the medium. We don’t need things to be well-filmed, produced or designed, we just want the content, the idea. Look at aintitcool.com. Personally, I think it is one of the ugliest big sites there is. It used to be a lot uglier as well. This doesn’t put people off though, they’re just concerned about what they can learn there about movies, they get great information, reviews and gossip, and keep going back in their droves.
These things lead me to wonder if we could actually see the death of Old Media at some stage. Will there come a time when all the content we want to see is going to be produced cheaply, as software improves and helps to overcome some of the shortcomings of media made by none-experts even more, will their production values start to become less valuable. If I could go out tomorrow with a script and some friends, film a comedy show of 30 minutes in a couple of days, edit it, publish it and promote it all on my own, I’m spending a hell of a lot less than a proper production company would do to achieve the same thing, that looked and sounded better, but wouldn’t necessarily be any funnier. I could therefore be a lot more competitive. In this situation, I would probably look for a lot less money for my product to be exploited and published than that production company would. Could we see freelance journalists supplying the mainstream media with news reports made and produced at home? If you watch the news, we’ve seen in the past few years a massive lowering in the standard of what is acceptable film and sound quality for news reports, not in a bad way, as it means they can get images of events captured as they happened (sometimes on mobile phones for instance, as we got with the London tube bombings). Will a lower quality be acceptable as long as the story is right?
You could easily put together a newspaper’s volume of content from an assortment of good bloggers. You could even let them publish the story in their own blog as well at the same time, but capture and present a series of blogs within one layout, overlay your branding onto their content, all sorts of things. Making Old Media is an expensive business, and we could be seeing it start to fade out as we speak.
EDIT: Just saw a story today that backs up my point of view somewhat: UK Online Ad spend now larger that UK Newspaper Ad spend.