lights in their eyes
One of these mornings the chain is gonna break
But up until then, yeah, I’m gonna take all I can take
Chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, chain
Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools
There has been so much lately about the inevitable demise of TV and the obvious comparisons to where the newspaper industry was about five years ago: in denial.
I don’t think it’s denial, I think it’s the paralyzing strategy of hope.
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy
The TV business went digital. They have converted. They also replaced their entire workflow with computers. However, if you really look closely, they digitized their production with non-linear editors, they digitized their distribution with digital transmission and in between, they replaced those analog black-boxes with new shiny black-boxes with digital chips – but those boxes still do the same old stuff.
In fact, this is a metaphor for the entire business. Replace the shiny outside with a thin veneer of digital, but keep the same business model. Anyone see something wrong with this?
Why the inertia? It didn’t work for music and it hasn’t worked for newspapers – why would TV be the exception?
Do you honestly think that the industry would have changed to digital without a forced mandate? Why spend the money?
Internet-based models generate only a tiny fraction of the revenue and profit of today’s TV business. As internet-based models grow, most TV incumbents will not sustain their current media inflation models, and they will longer be able to support their existing cost structures. As I’ve said before, they won’t necessarily go away, just the amount of money and investment will change, as will their relevance. TV will simply be ‘outgrown’ by the competition. So, they need to become their own competition – and quickly!
I think it all comes down to a willingness to learn. Nothing creates change more quickly or effectively than a crisis. No crisis, no change. If you’re prescient you’re ahead of the curve. If you miss the tipping point, you’re toast.
As long as the revenue and profits bear some semblance of days past, the big TV companies don’t really care. With typical business aplomb sanctified by the quarterly blessings of Wall Street, there is no incentive to consider the long-term position. Just clench your teeth and hope that it doesn’t blow up until your get your package and have moved on. There is no incentive to learn, no incentive to invest and no incentive to change… (just look at the US car industry for how well it learned its lessons from 1973).
…and if you don’t learn, or cannot learn, then you don’t stand a chance. You may not get it right, but at least you won’t be standing in the middle of the road with dangerous lights shining in your eyes. You’ll jump one way or another to your next opportunity. If you’re any good at what you do, and if you learn, your odds of jumping to safety are better than doing nothing.
Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.