Historically, the different media channels have been distinct from each other and existed as independent sources of information and entertainment. The print media, the television, radio, movies, and even the internet in the recent years, all worked as autonomous channels and made use of completely different technologies, delivery mechanisms, and devices. They had their own revenue streams, and therefore, the media companies usually operated in only one of the media channels. For modern consumers, this is increasingly unacceptable. They demand to consume their news, information, and entertainment in whichever way they want, wherever they want, and however they want. This brought to an end the days of media companies operating in their airtight silos. They had to reinvent themselves, and reach their audience where they were, instead of waiting for them to come where the content is. This changed everything.
As media companies began to expand out of their respective verticals and started leveraging alternate media channels, the technologies and the delivery mechanisms they used also underwent transformations. Technology convergence swept across the media industry, bringing together previously disparate businesses. A business operating in one media channel was directly pitched against another business operating in a completely different media channel. Naturally, the focus of the businesses in the recent years has been developing integrated, novel delivery channels to differentiate themselves from the competition in their traditional sectors.
Take for instance the recent partnership between Comcast and Verizon. Together, they hope to synergize each other’s expertise in their respective businesses. Through this partnership, Comcast is offering its customers wireless 4G LTE services at highly discounted rates, and Verizon is offering special mobile service plans to Comcast customers. Most importantly, consumers get to bundle services from both the companies and get unbelievably low prices on them. They can even enjoy their Comcast TV services wirelessly on Verizon mobile. There is a lot more to this deal in addition to this. It all points to one simple fact – convergence and consolidation has begun in the media industry, and yes, it’s media industry now. Not print media industry; not TV media industry; not internet media industry. The entire thing is one big industry.
In fact, this has become a standard strategy for the traditional media companies. They are increasingly leveraging the internet to reach the modern consumers. The internet, with its expansive reach and flexibility, offers the companies faster, customized, and highly engaging content delivery mechanisms. Some of these companies are embracing the way of the internet so much that their traditional channels are taking a backseat on their priority list. Slowly but surely, it appears that these new cross-platform channels are headed to replacing the traditional channels completely. The best example for this is the television entertainment. TV channels offered content to the audience based on a fixed time schedule. Now, they are simply posting their content online, which their audience can enjoy whenever they want, and however they want. Many TV channels have already started offering on-demand streaming services, and more are jumping the bandwagon.
The internet, as a medium, comes with another superior advantage. Unlike the TV, radio, or films, the internet empowers the consumers unlike anything we have seen so far. It puts the consumers in the driver seat. You already know that consumers can choose and enjoy their content any way they want. But, did you also know that they can choose which content the producers create? That’s right! Media companies are prudently using the social media to not only reach their consumers, but also gather feedback and inputs from the consumers. The producers directly incorporate these insights from the consumers during content creation. This real-time consumer engagement strategy ensures that the content creators rectify their mistakes immediately, and deliver their consumers exactly the type of content they want. In other words, content creators are using crowdsourcing to co-develop content and services with the help of their target audience.
Clearly, cross-platform content delivery and consumer engagement pursuits are becoming increasingly popular in the media industry. The rewards of these strategies are self-evident. Media companies, who worked as competitors until now, are finding it more beneficial to their mutual interests to co-operate and leverage each other’s delivery mechanisms. Alternate advertising models and channels are fast becoming the norm. Such unlikely partnerships are new to the industry, and it will be some time before the verdict on the success or failure of these partnerships is out. Although quite risky, these partnerships are offering better value to the consumers.
If these early partnerships succeed, then they will spur a new race for such partnerships in the industry, which will inevitably lead to further consolidation across the media channels.