Video over the Internet: an opportunity for better content?
My work for clients and on entrepreneurial projects recently has been very focused on distributing existing content over the Internet. It is easy to forget that the content will have to evolve to fit this new distribution, and that this evolution, in turn, will affect the distribution.
Time, briefly, to think about the content:
Stuart Cosgrove, head of programmes (nations and regions) at the U.K.'s Channel 4 has a fascinating opinion column in this week's Broadcast. He highlights the position of Rose Gentle, who's son was tragically killed in Basra during 2004, while serving in the British Army. Rose Gentle cannot be easily slotted into the stereotype of a bereaved parent of the war. She is 'incandescent with anger' and has vowed to be a 'thorn in the side' of Tony Blair until the day he leaves office.
Stuart argues that Rose Gentle (the surname is deceptive) is simply too much for television producers to take. TV is stuck in comfortable conventions of how a story should be covered - in this case 'sitting on the family sofa…weeping softly for effect'.
I hope that as TV adapts to Internet distribution it will find more time to tell the stories of people like Rose Gentle, who have more to say than the average, and a more interesting way to say it. I fear that finding space for the story will be the easy part. Unlike broadcast TV, there is infinite space for new content online.
There is a risk that we forget the advantage of old fashioned broadcast TV, compared to the current Internet - that it brings together mass audiences to listen to a single point of view. There's no hiding in pro and anti war groups, never talking or listening to the other. Everyone has to hear the same viewpoint, and can choose to comment later if they choose, often addressing everyone, not just the minority that already agrees with them.
The hard part online will be getting the story to a wide range of people, rather than those who are already aware.
How can we best combine the benefits of niche and mass media online? This is one of the big, unanswered questions. We should be careful not to forget it as we struggle with the more common issues around things like competitive dynamics and new technologies.
Posted at 15:41 UTC, 6th April 2007.
Last changed at 15:49 UTC, 6th April 2007.