It used to be so simple. There were a small number of channels in every country that got huge viewer numbers, a select number of shows that were on every week at the same time that everyone watched and talked about at the water cooler.
Your options as a creator/producer were inherently limited. To make it, you either needed to be part of these or sell to them.
But oh how times change.
And the big overarching trend in modern media is horizontality.
The silos and barriers that once existed are dissolving and breaking down. Industries are meshing into each other, and in the chaos, new models are being created.
Facebook runs mid video advertising, has TV app and is on the hunt for original programming.
Netflix and Amazon are spending over $10 billion dollars on award winning content this year.
Snapchat is trying to attack TV ad spend and is partnering with Vice and other media companies to create original series.
Twitter is entering into live streaming sports deals.
Vodafone, Eir and BT have their own quad play packages.
Verizon have their own OTT TV channel.
The list goes on and on.
There are no rules any more.
All this means is that what we need to change our definition of what we traditionally know as ‘channels’. There are no boundaries, the reality of the modern world is one of converged digital devices and blurred lines.
And this mega trend of horizontality also represents an enormous opportunity. There’s never been more demand for content and everyone from Facebook to Amazon, Netflix to Snapchat wants to produce and support interesting, original programming.
All it requires is a mindset shift.
There’s a great quote about innovation that really sums up the diffusion of new ideas – “innovation comes slowly at first, and then all at once”. With Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon and Netflix all on the prowl for new content, it seems the tipping point has finally come for TV. And it’s happening all at once.
There was a landmark moment for Irish television last night (Wed 1st March).
From 9.30 p.m., RTE Two broadcast two sports documentaries one after another. Slightly unusual, but no real surprise there, the GAA season is gearing up and we’re in peak rugby time.
The difference? Both ‘The Toughest Trade’ and ‘Four Days in September’ were branded content documentaries, funded by AIB and Vodafone and carried by the national broadcaster.
With the streaming wars hotting up and Amazon et al ramping up their content spend, Netlix CEO Reed Hastings has taken the opportunity of a trip to Berlin to give the European content market a capital injection.
Speaking at the Netflix – See What’s Next event in the German capital on Wednesday, Hastings announced bold plans to up Netflix’ European content quotient, including licensed programming, original content and co-production opportunities.