Just about a year ago, Twitter announced their video streaming features, which would allow end users to stream live content over the social media app. Of course Facebook, which is the behemoth 800lb gorilla of social media, has already adapted to video and is continually refining this capability. Question is why are these social media companies putting so much effort and money into video? I mean, why compete with large entertainment and media giants like Time Warner and Disney? They already have a wide range of distribution and big established networks with high barriers to entry. Why compete and risk investing large amounts of cash to climb an uphill battle against conglomerates, like Comcast and Viacom?
To answer these questions, let’s take a quick look at the evolution of media and broadcasting in modern history.
The 1950’s – 1960’s
In the 50’s, shows like Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, and The Beverly Hillbillies dominated the airwaves. Many of these families and characters were in everybody’s living rooms. A huge majority of these shows focused on the “perfect upper middle class family living in suburban America”. The characters were predominately Caucasian with very little, if any, diversity in the casts. At this point in time, creative departments in the major networks would create the content, and the general masses would consume.
We had shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Days, The Jeffersons, and MASH. These shows began introducing flawed characters, such as Mary Tyler Moore – a divorced woman, which was considered taboo back in the day – and The Fonz – a bad boy rebel who dropped out of school. Through these characters, media outlets were able to convey the contemporary issues that were occurring at the time. There was also a large migration to diversity in the media and communication industry during this time period due to the Civil Rights Movement, which transpired in the 1960’s.
This decade gave rise to FOX. Edgier shows, such as Married… with Children, The Simpsons, and 21 Jump Street came into our living rooms. Many of these shows reflected the flaws in the American Family and society. In many instances, this was the first time in broadcast media history where media content would publicly introduce, to the masses, the changing dynamics in crime, drugs, and sexuality…which pervaded our society. Life is not all happy-go-lucky. We have problems, and the giant broadcasting giants wanted us to know about them.
The 1990’s – Present Day
With the success of COPS, came the realization that people were more enthralled by live situations, with real people, than with fake actors with phony scripts. So, COPS gave birth to the concept of “Reality TV”. The whole idea of Reality TV is to broadcast things, as they were happening. There would not be any second takes, repeated “cuts” and “actions”. Everything would be captured on camera as events unfold. There may or may not be a “script” and certain things might be staged, but everything would be on camera on the “first take”. Some of these shows include Survivor, Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, and Dancing with the Stars.
If you notice, TV shows became more and more “personalized” with each new era. Media content in the 1950’s – 1960’s was predominately more centralized, where major networks would crank out what they thought was good material, mostly reflecting the “perfect” middle-class suburban family. The 1970’s started to give notice to some human flaws, which we all have. The 1980’s fed the notion that none of us are perfect, not just individually, but also as a society. TV shows in the 1980’s reflected what every single one of us was facing, in our lives, at the time. The 1990’s until now, broadcasting companies gave us a peek into how certain people live their lives…doesn’t get much more “personalized” than this.
So, what does the future hold with media and broadcasting? As we all know, everything gets more “personalized” with each new step in the evolution.
The future in media and communications is Social Media. All content would be curated to the individual consumer. In the future, people will have the ability to “like” a TV Show or “follow” a celebrity and get content based on their preferences and selections. If you thought Reality TV was personalized, this is even more so. Traditional broadcast media giants, like CBS, will have to team up with social media outlets to reach Millennials and future generations. This is the only way they are going to survive. If you heard about the Amazon Effect, on how Amazon is killing traditional brick-and-mortar retail, this is the equivalent to the Amazon Effect on traditional media and communications companies. They need to adapt or face eventual bankruptcy.
Case in point: On May 31st of this year, Disney reported less than expected subscribers on their TV packages. We can see the trend already, and this is just going to continue…