Your media consumption is changing (and why the industry that provides it is being forced to react)

If you have been paying attention, over the past year we have witnessed the beginnings of a Media revolution. We all knew in our gut that the industry had to change to stay relevant. During the past year, we saw the change begin to take root right before our eyes.

In August it was leaked (only to be reported more officially a few months later) that NewsCorp had hired over 100 journalists for its new “iPad only” news service – dubbed “The Daily.” USA Today parent Gannett announced in October that it planned to lay off 10% of staff while it simultaneously ramped up its focus on digital distribution.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what is behind this change? Several recent discussions have led me to conclude that many people, even some industry insiders, don’t understand the core reasons why media companies must reinvent themselves. During a recent strategy session, Dan, Mike, and I identified the following disruptions:

  1. Distribution channels are changing – dramatically. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television are all being replaced by digital counterparts. Your laptop, tablet, phone, and a slew of other digital devices are the newest channels for content consumption, and they are quickly overtaking their legacy counterparts for mindshare.
  2. The editorial role is evolving. Due to the static nature of legacy distribution platforms, publishers have traditionally been responsible for defining what was ultimately consumed. Now consumers have direct, or near direct, access to content producers and are able to locate content more freely. The consumer’s limiting factor is no longer accessing content, but rather, an overabundance of content. Because of this, the editorial role has now become one of suggestion and defining relevance, as opposed to importance and a final decision.
  3. The medium used to communicate is now fluid. Most publishers no longer target a single medium – the written word, video, or audio. We now live in a multi-media world where publishers embrace multiple forms of media in order to provide the consumer with more choice.
  4. The sources of content are changing and expanding rapidly. Publishers likely no longer know what content they have access to, how to find/access it, and what rights they have to it. The potential is unlimited and technology is driving their ability to digest, manage, and leverage all of their content.

Each of these disruptions is fundamental to the media sector and individually each one would require significant changes to the media industry. When combined, they create a perfect storm. The end result is an industry in flux. The lines between the traditional roles of producer, publisher, and distributor are being redefined, and each is looking to stay relevant. The players within a multi-billion dollar industry are looking for new ways to monetize content and divide the pie.

What other core disruptions have you seen? How do you see these paradigm shifts playing out? What do you think the answer is? Will they and how do publishers stay relevant? At the end of the day, will the old adage remain – “Content is King”?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben says:

    There is a long human history of Content, Distribution, and Consumer as the three "corners" of the media triangle. From our earliest written and oral traditions, these three aspects of communication have governed how "media" communications have grown and changed over time. Historically, innovations or advancements occurred in one of the three areas (e.g., move-able type, transportation (physical and electrical), literacy ) while the other two remained fixed or stable. The changes were focused on (operated on) large groups (in essence, a few large customers). Business and society could absorb the change. What we are witnessing today is a simultaneous change on all three points of the triangle. The cycle of change is significantly shortened. The changes are focused at the individual and there are ubiquitous paths to the consumer. To your question [paraphrased], "Is Content still King?", there will always be an audience for all content — just the size of the audience will change. Currently Distribution, "getting the content in front of the audience", is King.

  2. David H. DeWolf says:

    Thanks for the insights Ben. You make an interesting point about distribution being the temporary king. One interesting aspect about this is that the distribution model is less direct than ever. Distribution is no longer about making the medium available and leveraging a few channels as much as it is about making it globally available and influencing others in the discovery process. Relevance, recommendation, and social proximity are key parts of distribution. The distributor with the widest reach and deepest influence seems to be winning. It reminds me of "The Tipping Point". Ever read it?

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