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The Network is the New Network

As a technology-focused PR firm, we try to stay current with infrastructure and popular trends. That’s not easy, with technology, services and consumer behavior constantly shifting. But I’ve found a key. It’s a little saying that captures what has been happening at the busy intersection of technological innovation, on the one hand, and media and entertainment consumption, on the other.

Here it is: The network is the new network. TV2

Let me explain. For anyone who has been paying attention to the evolution of television over the past decade or so, this is really no big mystery. The infrastructure that drives the delivery of today’s information and entertainment services – the technological network – is supplanting the original bundle of broadcast programming known as the TV network.

The once all-powerful TV network has been losing ground for many years, as these points help illustrate:

  • In 1999, HBO broke new ground when The Sopranos became the first cable network series to be nominated for an Emmy Award for best drama, earning more nominations that year than any show – broadcast or cable.
  • Ten years later, in 2009, Comcast announced plans to acquire NBC Universal. Thus, a company founded simply to extend broadcast signals by way of amplified coaxial cable was taking over one of the old big-three networks.
  • Last year, Netflix became the first non-TV network to win an Emmy. Founded in 1997 as a DVD-by-mail service, Netflix began streaming video a decade later. Now it not only has 48 million subscribers but also produces award-winning content.

My mantra oversimplifies, of course. The old networks ran (and continue to run) on technology, too. Nor has broadcast – or cable or satellite – TV faded away in the face of Internet alternatives. According to data from Comscore for Q3 2013, Americans spent far more (250%) time watching TV than they spent on multi-platform Internet use in Q3 2013. Online video, in particular, amounted to only 5 percent of the time spent with live and time-shifted TV.

But pay attention to the trends. Comscore notes that consumption of digital media has tripled over the past three years. Tablet and smartphone usage has fueled that explosion. Once upon a time, executives at the NBC, ABC and CBS called all the shots. Now that power is shared with whoever can deliver whatever content consumers demand to whichever video display devices they prefer. The network is the new network.

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