Adapt or die?

Posted on May 17, 2007 
Filed Under Uncategorized

I sometimes wonder if we, as multimedia news pundits, make claims that are too far-fetched.

Here for instance is a quote from Howard Owens’latest blogpost:

Newspapers have a narrow window of opportunity to learn how to do IP-delivered video in a way that creates a growth opportunity. The (New York) Times is taking the right path. Eventually, the barrier to entry will be much higher. Those newspapers that are starting simple now and growing internal video literacy, and growing it broadly, will be at an advantage in years to come.

Actually, the exponential growth of technology and drop in prices suggest otherwise. The barrier to entry will be much lower in the coming years, to the detriment of news sites hawking video. What would differentiate NYTimes.com’s video news from USAToday.com’s or washingtonpost.com’s or YouTube’s, or any other niche video site for that matter?

There will always be “growth opportunity” in video online. Late-comers may even thrive, because it costs so little, and they won’t have the historical baggage that news site are already building up. Why? Because most video online now is still crappy. It streams jerkily or is not downloadable or is in grainy FLV, ala YouTube. The storytelling is not better, just because it’s in video.

It seems likelier that news sites experimenting with video and enlarging their “video literacy” now will eventually lose their best videographers to markets that pay better. Video news sites will be boring once all news video becomes commoditized, syndicated and distributed widely.

I would think users would gravitate towards video sites where their own videos are socially appreciated, and that are more daring, controversial, funny, episodic and cliff-hangerish. A lot more like TV, a lot less like news.

Comments

2 Responses to “Adapt or die?”

  1. Howard Owens on May 18th, 2007 2:43 am

    Actually, the history of distruption is that the barriers to entry get higher as incumbants solidify positions, until new disruptive opportunities present themselves.

    But I’m not talking about technology here. I’m talking about opportunity. There will be limited opportunities to dominate niche segments. If newspapers don’t grab the local video role in the IP realm, local TV news stations will, and then newspapers will find it a much harder slog to get traction, grow audience and make money.

  2. Julian on May 18th, 2007 7:07 pm

    I disagree. It is about the technology and the media. They are not mutually exclusive.

    It is the cheap availability of tech and its disruptive nature and the commodization of media that got us to this point in the first place.

    There will ALWAYS be opportunity to dominate niche segments. Where was Google and YouTube before they became dominant in their “niche” segments – search and video?

    It will be in fact much easier in the next decade for news sites to hire the right video specialists (YouTube graduates) and quickly “gain traction”. No amount of slogging required.

    Many news sites tied down to money-losing print newspapers are in niche segments and will always be niche. Video won’t save them. The dominant “international” news sites will continue to dominate the media horizon. And there will always be opportunities for smaller players to make money.

    Local TV stations, in fact, may find the pittance they make online by giving away video content more frustrating than print-centric players who eventually go there without too much ambition.

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