Opinions from various corners of the television industry, when placed together, can often open a reader’s eyes to deeper truths about events challenging the broadcast and cable status quo. This is why I try to keep my eyes open for clues that light the path to tomorrow during my reading and study time. Today, I want to provide you with a classic example of this.
First, let’s go back to November of last year and a Mediapost article about the future of television. TV: Evolution or Revolution by Charlene Weisler is a nice overview, although it lacks anything really “new” or profound about what lies ahead. There is a quote in this article, however, that I find utterly fascinating. It comes from Joan Gillman, COO of Time Warner Cable Media. This is no foot soldier making this statement on behalf of TWC; this is a top, top-level executive:
“We have trained the consumers to consume media whenever and wherever they want, but what hasn’t caught up is the measurement.”
So basically, TWC believes that the people’s demand to explore media “whenever and wherever they want” was actually implanted in them by the cable giant. Really? This is pure poppycock and anybody with half a brain who’s been paying attention knows it. The people have FORCED media companies into providing them with the content THEY want when and where they want it. It takes a very special kind of arrogance to make the statement “we trained the consumers” when, in fact, the very opposite is true.
This is important, folks, because if you’re of a mind to be influenced by what Ms. Gillman says, you’re going to make mistakes, serious mistakes on the path ahead. For crying out loud, how can anyone so highly placed — at Time Warner Cable, of all places — not acknowledge the revolution of the people brought about by technological disruptions? Wow. It blows my mind.
Now let’s move over to an article from The Street Friday about, well, the future of television. Why Streaming Old Shows Could Backfire on Television Networks by Leon Lazaroff is a reaction piece to the Thursday announcement by Les Moonves in which “his network had signed a deal to license its super-show CSI to a U.S.-subscription-based video-on-demand service, known in the industry as SVOD.” The article contains this remarkable response by Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger from an investor note:
“We believe networks need to wean themselves off of SVOD (subscription video on demand) licensing, which we believe is the primary driver of the demise of ad-supported video consumption.”
Here’s another seemingly intelligent human being (I mean the guy advises people on how to invest their MO-NEY) whose head is actually stuck up his backside. Really, Mr. Juenger? Get onboard the Cluetrain, for crying out loud.
What would happen if the networks actually TOOK this advice? Once again, anybody paying any attention can easily come to the correct answer: Bye-bye networks. Hello? The people are in charge today, as Jay Rosen first tagged them, “The people formerly known as the audience.” This moron actually thinks that people would climb back into the casket of viewing on somebody else’s schedule complete with commercials to pad the ride.
So here’s the point. Both of these quotes point to a self-deluded ignorance that has gone to seed. It’s rampant out there, folks! This is exactly why the industry is doomed to collapse under the weight of such ill-informed and ignorant leadership.
Repeat after me: The. People. Are. In. Charge! We need to be meeting their needs and not our own, for in pressing our needs first, we are guaranteeing ourselves an empty chair at tomorrow’s table.