A Smart Look at the Future of Television // In Collaboration With Quinnipiac University's School of Communications
For the better part of a decade, legacy print outlets debated the benefits of online video and the production toll the medium allegedly takes on their resources. The issue, from strictly a cost perspective, focuses more on metrics than laying a foundation for future convergence.
Spend some time watching WSJ.com on Apple TV or Google TV and ask if this argument will hold up in 2012 and beyond.
As one of the few legacy print outlets with content strong enough to demand a paywall, the people at the Wall Street Journal (and perhaps more so the Murdoch family and their properties) should no longer have this conversation within the ranks. WSJ.com’s aggressive video and television strategy — and early adopter status with Apple and Google — means the next few years will redefine competition in the news and information broadcast space. After a decade of trepidation and the proliferation of 24-hour news cable channels, a production point has been met.
The technological barriers of entry are low. The quality of legacy broadcast content in the 24-hour cycle has also dropped. Now those resources (people) are emerging as the WSJ’s biggest assets to improve quality on a new platform. With more than 2,000 journalists, their expertise is the outlet’s most significant resource and a simple Skype conversation will satisfy the masses in terms of production value. The technology will always improve. The means of reporting remain the same and the outlet’s branding remains strong.
Just ask Kelly Evans, who last week was hired away from the WSJ by television network CNBC. She hosted one of the WSJ’s original web shows. Or ask Raju Narisetti, the former head of the Washington Post’s online operation who moved to the WSJ a few weeks ago. This move was just weeks after the WaPo’s ombudsman claimed there is too much experimentation at the Post. Narisetti’s response? Not enough.
This will be the year when legacy print companies aggressively pursue the possibilities on traditional broadcast platforms (throw HuffPost in this mix but its classification is debatable). The seamless integration of Wi-Fi connections and screens in your living room and pockets has ushered in more competition with content that on first glance does not differ much from what you see on CNN, CNBC or Fox.
Most of the WSJ’s original programming is your standard Q&A segments (with less antagonizing) in 28-minute blocks with a mix of journalists and special guests. Kara Swisher of AllThingsD (Skype) and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (in-house) have been guests on the program “Digits” – a niche technology segment from the WSJ’s cross-platform presence. Most of the eight original shows are filmed inside the WSJ newsroom with a minimalist set and standard digital graphics in the backdrop. Even the give-and-take between journalists/hosts and their guests seems authentic with the sharing of quality information. We have seen this before on legacy broadcast channels. With this duplicated format, there really is no difference.
Growth will continue and Reuters (which shares content with the WSJ) has made it clear its video/broadcast push is also here to stay. The financial discussions will persist but content and proven metrics are needed before selling space to advertisers. As of now, the only ads on the WSJ channel on Apple TV are for the WSJ. The 15- and 30-second spots run across platforms and are merely repurposed content, much like the heavily produced 9-minute documentary on a veteran suffering from PTSD that flowed well in the construct of the WSJ original programming in an on-demand format on Apple TV. With gripping photos from 2004, coupled with interviews and fresh video six years later, a compelling narrative is constructed. Every legacy company in America has the same potential. Mixable multimedia journalists with new engaging platforms, and the field is leveled once again. (This does not take into consideration global news convergence.)
The knee-jerk reaction is alive and well about the effectiveness of this “new” medium. After all, with YouTube channels for Reuters and the WSJ, stream metrics are thin – 200 here for one video, 350 there. Multiply this over 365 days, add some cross-platform promotion and allow “traditional” journalists to become comfortable in front of a camera and there will be progress.
People are reactionary by nature. Legacy newsrooms are quicker to pass judgment especially when dollars are involved. Give these experiments two years to become mainstream.
Or give it less.
-Contributed by Brett Orzechowski, -
This entry was posted in Alternative Distribution, Broadcast Networks, Cable Channels, Essay, Television Industry, Video Journalism and tagged AllThingD, Gary Vaynerchuk, HuffPost, Kara Swisher, Kelly Evans, newscorp, Raju Narisetti, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, WaPo. Bookmark the permalink.