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I tried posting this as a comment to Jack's blog, but it was too long and got rejected. So I am posting it here. I can't figure out how to do trackbacks, otherwise I would have done that.

Jack has posted several times about the future of TV, and makes some very interesting points. I encourage you to read his blog and get the other side of this conversation.

Jack :

So, I understand that your business model works a lot better if the locals stick around. I also understand why the affiliates want to stick around. But I don't think consumers really need (or for the most part pay attention to) the locals. And in the future, the networks/producers won't need them.

Even just tivo, which totally ignores the internet for the most part, seperates users from the tv station.  I say " I like to watch Lost", and magically, once a week, lost shows up on my tivo. I don't know what station it comes from, I dont know what time is on. I cared a little bit about the time when I only had a single tuner DVR, because I paid attention to conflicts, but when I got dual tuner, I stopped caring about that too.

Every person I know that has a tivo, or any other DVR starts thinking this way too.   I pay attention to networks a little, because each network has a feel. If I like one sitcom on NBC, I am more likely to enjoy an additional sitcom from NBC, vs CBS, because they try to get complimentary shows, or have the same staff on them.

Consumers care about the content, not where they are getting it from. Why would I prefer to go to KCRG.com or KGAN.com for a show? CBS and NBC are much easier to remeber, and they have the synergy of national branding and advertising, vs each local having to spread that on their own. iTunes/bittorrent is even easier to remember, and then I get everything at the same time.

And in the long term, I don't see a reason for the networks and producers to keep the locals around. Sure, there is going to be a long (maybe longer than my lifetime) transition period where not everyone has the internet, and the locals are the only way to get to the viewers. But every day that number gets smaller.

Without the locals, the networks and producers can exploit long tail economics. There is only 24 hours in a day, but you can show 100 hours a day of content on the internet. Or 1000, or 10,000.  And you don't have to pay the middle man.

Look at the case of Serenity. Fans getting together to buy the next season of the show directly. The effort failed (for now) but even trying would have been unthinkable a year or two ago. But the seed has been planted. In this vein, even the networks are at risk, fans can go straight to the source. That of course is a much longer path, and will always work better for canceled shows than for new shows, because people won't know what to bid/buy (unless the maker is famous)

If the locals want to survive, they will need to find a compelling reason for me to go there IN ITS OWN RIGHT.  Currently, the only thing they have going for them is local news.

If the locals want to survive, they need to do something OTHER than try and put legal protectionism around themselves.

Locals are the horse and buggy. You make buggy whips. Right now, I want you both to go away as quickly as possible, because you get in the way of me getting my long tail content. Trying to put legal/contractual/etc restrictions in place will just make the viewers mad, and drive them to illegal means. (And provide huge opportunities for the unknown content providers to fill the gap)

If you want to stick around, you need to convince ME. Not Oprah, not the networks, not the locals.  Legal or not, with your cooperation or not, viewers are going to get their content. And get it the way they want. We have to CHOOSE the locals, and right now they don't really give a reason to do so. I dont see many opportunities for you to do so either, but if you find them, I welcome them.

I encourage you to respond to this, make a conversation out of it. I'm willing to be convinced.

Posted on Friday, March 31, 2006 6:17 AM gadgets | Back to top


Comments on this post: The Future of Television : An open letter to Jack Perry of Titan Cast/DecisionMark, and the Networks, and Local Affiliates

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