Video is back.
Actually, in a sense, old media is back.
A week ago,
In a sense, there are two kinds of media businesses now, not old media and new media, but social media and video. And these are two contrary bets on the business future.
No matter how fractured video channels have become, they are far from atomized.
Video is the remaining glue that holds the attention of the public. The right video is still a public drug. Audience will pay for video, and, likewise, advertisers will pay for video – there aren't too many media forms where both revenue streams apply. A passive customer is infinitely more valuable than an interacting one.
Indeed, the internet is not really about social media, that's not really what digital networks are doing. What they are doing is serving video.
Yes, video, once a high-hurdle business controlled by a handful of players, has become, in the last number of years, quite a wide-open playing field. Monopoly distribution and high-priced production costs have been replaced by free and open distribution and cheap-as-hell and ever-falling production costs. So what exactly is this about? Isn't
But in a way, that's what the media business has always been about, maintaining and reasserting control – that's its comfort zone. The movies made deals with television. Television, after ignoring cable, bought it back.
Social media is the technology business. Video is the deal making business.
There is a striking old-fashioned sense of consistency about video. It may be that it is not just its habituating power and its glamorous status that attracts a certain sort of player to it, but that it remains still fundamentally about business rituals.
It's a media gentlemen's gentlemen's game.
It's about distribution. And if distribution seems to open up, you can use muscle to close it down (baseball bats were the usual way to close an unauthorized newsstand). And it's about clout:
All of the old-line companies that seemed so lost in the realms of technologically-induced behavior changes over recent years seem newly revitalized as they suddenly get back to exercising large scale leverage and territorial advantage.
Social media involves wild bets against an unsure future; you have to deal with unproven and unsocialized players. There is no science, or fun, in that.
Whereas one of the attractions of the media business – seemingly lost among social media disruptions – is its formal structures and ultimate balance. In some sense, everybody who has power is kept in the game, that's its beauty – and reward.
The basic question about the future of media perhaps becomes clearer and can more succinctly be asked: will
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