Monday, November 12, 2012

The Death Of Channel Surfing

Perhaps, I am being overly dramatic, but the truth is that channel surfing is dramatically different today.   With the rise of digital channels and the latency of switching the clicker one channel at a time, it is less efficient to click through channels, watching each one for a moment to decide whether to stay on the channel or switch to the next channel on the line-up.  Today, it is all about the meta data and the interactive guide that presents 5 channels at a time and what is playing at the moment.  With a flick of the page up (or down) button, it is off to the next 5 until one show catches our eye and we either click in on it or click the info button to read the description of the show. In addition, we now search by show, by category (like movies or sports), or take our search to the next level and look deeper in our on-demand or DVR menu for content to view on our schedule.

The art of channel surfing by peaking in on each channel is no longer efficient,.  It has become a loss skill.  Of course, with all the tons of content accessible to watch, it was time for a new mouse trap to be built, a new way to find and watch.  Old fashioned channel surfing may be dead, but the choice of content is alive and well.

You Tube Following Darwin's Law

The investment in tons of content for You Tube appears to be over.  It is "eat or be eaten" for more than half the content projects that You Tube funded.  "YouTube figures it will end up re-investing in up to 40 percent of its original channels by the time the renewal process is done."  So who gets picked and who doesn't?  Well most likely it just takes a look at Google Analytics and ad revenue generated over a period of time.  But should the  decision be all quantitative or is there something to be said for a good idea.

As broadcasters have come to know, not every series does well immediately out of the gate.  Some, including Seinfeld as a great example, need time to get discovered and enjoyed.  A little nurturing of the right content can go a long way.  And of course the costs associated with getting an idea on air.

But what is Google's true plan, is it to cut its total investments by 60% or take the total dollars and offer to the fewer content companies they are extending renewals to?  Is content creation still part of the You Tube strategy or do they have another direction in mind?  Certainly working the long tail of content may be a difficult one compared to usage generated from folks like Hulu and Netflix who each aggregate content from major broadcast, cable, and movie studio providers.  And perhaps there is more need to focus on a competitive subscription service.

As for the near future, we will let Darwin continue to rule and watch the more successful You Tube Channels survive while the others must either find alternative funding to stay afloat or go away.