Canadian broadcasters lose out to internet

Canadian broadcasters have recently have been crying wolf over how little money they make and how we have to support (terrible) local TV. But they’re facing an even bigger foe in the internet, which has progressed to the point where much of the programming they used to enjoy on their television they can now enjoy online.

I have to say that’s been my experience for a few years. I no longer listen to the radio, instead opting for a steady diet of podcasts. And I barely watch ant television anymore. I simply download the best stuff the BBC has to offer, and the rest of my video diet consists of shows people have put together on their own and put on the internet.

And for the most part, I don’t miss TV. But I am a little concerned that as viewers shift online, context and production quality will suffer. I once worked with someone who had poured their heart and soul into making the slickest possible tv show, and after years of success they saw their core audience migrating to internet shows that didn’t look anywhere near as good and were, in all fairness, not as well put together as his show. I pride myself on making video content for the web that looks as good as tv. BUt I sometimes worry that my effort is for nothing, that people’s tastes have changed to the point where they’ll watch any old crap and production value will mean nothing to them.

Right now the industry is in flux, with money leaking out of TV but not enough money going online to sustain producers. Eventually the money will shift online, but I hope that in the meantime quality content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

The FCC gets the internet

The FCC will introduce a national broadband plan tomorrow to Congress that puts the internet front and centre as the most important medium in the United States. While broadcasters will hate it, I say it’s a long-needed move. The internet has usurped so many other industries in a path of creative destruction that should be further encouraged. Power is sapping from big broadcasters to tiny producers, in media and otherwise, and I’m glad the FCC recognizes this fact. If only Canada would do the same.

France wants to tax Google (WTF?)

In addition to coddling a dead language and being pretty damned bitter about their lost colonial empire and handy defeat at the hands of the Nazis, France can now add “hatred of the future” to their long list of missteps. French president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tax Google and other new media giants in order to help struggling print and other media companies. Well, pleut moi un rivoire, Nicolai, if those businesses are failing there’s likely a very good reason for their downward spiral, such as lack of a 21st century business model.

Charlie Stross on the future of mobile

Author and all-around smart guy has just put up a great post about the future of smartphones and the mobile internet. What he says shouldn’t surprise anyone; the mobile telcos will eventually be reduced to dumb pipes, including voice apps, and eventually Google will move in and push prices to the floor while spreading access far and wide. Of course Canadians will have to wait another decade or so after Stross’s posited date of 2019, given that our mobile telephony space is at best pathetic and at worst hopelessly corrupt.

Eight companies reinventing online television

The always-excellent Mashable has posted a list of eight companies who are leading the charge to online television. They profile everything from Hulu (not available in Canada, and despite Rogers lame attempts, we have no equivalent) to online networks like Revision3 and Next New Networks.

Personally, I think we’ll see an accelerated move towards online video and longer-form content in the next year. Of course I have a dog in this fight, but the writing is on the wall for broadcast, just like it was for print and radio.

The Guild’s “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” is a breakout hit

It looks like web video series are finally hitting the big time, but not in the way the movie studios expected. Though TV networks and film conglomerates continue to try to appeal to an online audience, they do so with the same tired, lowest common denominator formulas that work n mass media, and the end result is pap like Quarterlife.

Enter The Guild. Created by Felicia Day, the web series chronicles the misadventures of a group of gamers involved in an MMO, or rather it milks the comic potential of what goes on beyond the game. The series has already been picked up by Xbox Live, and now a music video for the upcoming third series (which will also star geek hero Wil Wheaton) has hit over 1 million views, in addition to being the #1 tune on Amazon and iTunes.

How did this happen? Only a few years ago, this kind of traction just wouldn’t have been possible, but thanks to the internet, a small production company can target a sizable niche and actually do much better than studio product that targets everyone and pleases no-one. Plus the Guild just feels genuine, interacting with its audience about something they enjoy, rather than talking down to them and getting everything wrong.

Hollywood doesn’t get web video

The LA Times is reporting that a lot of studio funded companies dedicated to creating web video are shutting down. Why this comes as a surprise to anyone is beyond me. It reminds me of the abortive attempts in the 90’s to merge Hollywood and video games, with predictably disastrous results.

Studios don’t like the short-form format prevalent on the web, and they’re used to pouring money at a problem, with webisodes costing anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per episode. That sort of thinking is patent madness, of course, and is currently being shown up by any number of people making shows in their basement for no money…and succeeding at it. Since I’ve got some skin in this game, I’m hoping Hollywood continues to stumble forward. THey should stick to what they do best, which is huge, effects-laden spectacles that no indie web creator could ever hope to mach.

Clay Shirky on why the Internet is as important as the printing press

Which basically boils down to “everyone, anywhere, is now a publisher.” That sounds simple, but it’s actually a radical reconfiguration of our culture, as well as a widening of the funnel that allows ideas, memes and progress to propagate. Of course, you’ve got to choke down some idiocy while you’re at it, but that’s small potatoes considering the printing press split the Catholic Church down the middle and probably caused its fair share of wars.