This is Troye. He is the host of Australia’s top rated TV show. He gets more than a million viewers every week. He has been around for a few years now and yet I never see him featured in the Nielsen ratings. I find it curious.
Sure Troye isn’t on channel 7, 9, 10, ABC, SBS or even on Foxtel. He’s on Youtube. But tell his 4.3 million subscribers that he isn’t on TV and you’ll get a dumbfounded look. They might even tell you they already watch it in their lounge room, stream it from their phone to the family flat screen, watch it on their laptop or on any audio visual enabled device. And that’s exactly the point, what is TV? A screen in a lounge room, or something which serves up audio visual content?
The easiest way for any company to get disrupted is to define the market by traditional infrastructure instead of how needs get met.
New Book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.
I’m a big fan of the John Oliver show Last Week Tonight. Which, in an unconnected web world I wouldn’t even know about as it has never been shown in Australia. But through the wonder of sharing great content online I became a big fan. The show airs in the USA on Sunday nights, and in their wisdom, HBO would publish much of the shows content on Youtube a day later. I’d eagerly await to watch it here on Monday night in Australia through the Last Week Tonight Youtube channel. At last, a media company that gets it. A media company that understands the value of building connection and fan bases globally in real time. They even made it available to non subscribers – wow.
That was until this week. For some reason, most likely the HBO launch in Australia or some other licensing arrangement in Australia with Stan, Presto or Netflix, I now get the classic picture above: Sorry, This content is not available in your region.
This content is available in my region, they simply made a decision to give up their direct relationship with me, and forced me to get it elsewhere. Now they won’t share any of the potential advertising revenue or other prizes which come from direct customer relationships. Weirdly, much of it is ‘still’ available on youtube channels where others have uploaded it. The back door has been opened. And it’s licensing deal structures born of the late 1970’s cable TV era that create this back door leakage.
More than 20 years into this thing, here’s a simple lesson every media company should already know: Once it is released anywhere digitally, it is released everywhere digitally. The desires of the content owners to limit distribution are irrelevant. Given this is the new truth, a better strategy might be to just embrace it.
New Book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.
We often forget that the thing we don’t like about something is also thing that makes it possible. The annoying part of something good, is usually what keeps it alive and provides us the gifts that surround it. One case in point is Youtube advertising. It’s so annoying isn’t it, to spare that 5 seconds before clicking out, or that entire 30 second advertisement you can’t even click out of – how dare they. What we ought do is imagine for a minute that Youtube never found its monetization model. Then what? Then it probably fails, doesn’t exist and instead of having pretty much all forms of education and entertainment on demand on any topic, any time, we’d be stuck with a few free to air TV channels, home shopping, and marginal pay TV subscriptions.
The cost of the benefits is rarely a heavy price to pay, especially with new technology and disruptive innovations which need to have lower barriers to inspire adoption. And speaking of disruptions – the advertising we have to endure is not nearly as bad as it was in the TV era. Sometimes it’s worth remembering that misdirected hate is both a waste of energy and a short sighted perspective.
It seems every other day I read another story about mainstream media just not getting the shift we are seeing in the landscape. The most recent example is the idea of international TV programs being fast tracked to Australia. That is, them not waiting to show it in a perceived ‘peak ratings’ period in our country, but just showing it as soon as it is available.
One such program that is touted as being on the ‘fast track’ to Australia is Homeland. A really terrific edgy show which was a ratings boon in Australia for series 1. Channel 10 in Australia screened the first series in January this year to more than 1.2 million viewers. This was 3 months after the USA premier. Yet the ‘so called’ fast tracked 2nd series averaged a disappointing 630,000 viewers. Some commentators including this one postulated that ‘fast tracking’ doesn’t work. Claiming that ‘downloads are minimal’ ( WTF?) and that it is better to promote heavily and program in a strong period.
It’s clear to me that he doesn’t get it. A few points to note:
- Fast tracking should be ‘the next day’. Not 3 weeks after the US shows as channel 10 is doing – way too slow.
- The second season rated poorly because people loved the first one and didn’t want to wait.
- Fact – second seasons of successful shows have significantly higher download rates than first seasons. #obvious?
I could go on… But the simplest fact of all is this – mainstream media are still serving their model, not the model the customer want. This is why successful businesses of yesteryear rarely survive a technology disruption as a front runner.
So I was true to my word and turned off Foxtel in my home. Instead I now have a Sony web enabled TV, and an Apple TV. Both of which do not have any on going monthly charges, but movies and TV shows can be purchased on demand – pay for what you use, not to keep a ‘network’ afloat – just the way I like it.
But the truth is that this TV set up is very labour intensive. It’s not as seamless as cable TV is. Firstly, the usability is not great. We all agree IPTV has a way to go to solve the usability problem (just like smart phones did). Maybe it will be the domain of smart entrepreneurs who develop apps that cut across all web enabled TV’s to give a more seamless, yet personalised viewing experience? If someone out there plans to do it – here’s what it needs:
So here’s the things it really needs:
- Smart phone enabled control pads / remotes.
- Aggregation sites which curate content from places like Youtube and other video sites to give a ‘network style experience’.
- Curation of longer videos on the web – videos that run for less than 20 minutes are annoying.
- History pattern suggested shows to view – genius style.
- Geo located news & viewing experiences.
- Full access to all studios output, not just manufacturer based deals.
Just like web search has become. The TV needs to be agnostic about where the content comes from and just deliver what people want. Once this happens, TV will never be the same again.
* On a side note. Our house now has about 90% of it’s viewing time allocated to Youtube. Full episodes of TV shows, documentaries, music video and kids shows are all available and free here. We use the Apple TV and the iPhone as the remote. it works very well.
I came across this terrific piece of film where the founder of Advertising Agency Wieden+Kennedy – Dan Wieden spoke on the future of TV. He has a smart point of view on “The New TV Landscape” and the opportunities it presents in business.
Besides the fact that it is a great micro lesson, for me it’s another reminder at how terrific the world is today where we can have almost instantaneous access to the worlds great thinkers, for free. As entrepreneurs, we just need to seek it out.
I’ve been a vocal opponent (and customer) of Foxtel. A service that, as the web evolves is loosing its reason for being in my life. So I decided to disconnect my service and here is the interesting story of what happened.
I called the number and the options to choose from (1,2,3,4) for the appropriate issue. This surprisingly included ‘Press 4 to disconnect’. This was the first clue things aren’t right down at Foxtel. Any business that has this issue come up often enough to include it in the first 4 options of customer interaction has some issues.
So I click it and get put through to the ‘Customer Retention Center’ and they ask me why I want to disconnect. A few of the reasons I tell them include:
- I’m sick of seeing better offers advertised to new customers. (Screw the existing ones hey!)
- They have reduced the services and kept the price the same for my account.
- I can’t get movies on demand (which I’m prepared to pay for) without signing up to a more expensive packaging (WTF, the tubes are already in my house?)
They apologise, tell me I’ve been a good customer for a few years, so they offer me a $30 discount per month. Which is 30% off what I’ve been paying. I retort with, ‘if I’m such a good customer why do you only try and keep me once I’ve already decided to leave you?’ Seems to me they have things back to front at Foxtel.
So I took the discount for now – I’m moving house in 2 months and it is all over for me and Foxtel then.
My advice to any Foxtel subscriber out there is to call up to disconnect and get the discount anyway and hack their already flawed proposition, before it gets hacked entirely by market forces.