The Decline of Serial Media

In the future, no major media will be serial. When I say "serial" I refer to media that starts at A and runs to B, with limited control from the user. It's content that forces a listener/reader/watcher to sit and, for the most part, passively follow. Examples of serial media include: podcasts, satellite radio, terrestrial radio, movies, broadcast television, paper newspapers (sort of).

Why will serial media fade? Because consumers are changing from listeners to adept conversers. The Web has acclimated them to ultimate control (I'll go when and where I want to) and to participation. Ever wonder why TV watchers flip so much? Because they are looking for what they want, not what CBS wants to show them. Their attention span is short, and their appetite for choice is too high to bear passivity.

This trend will put increasing pressure on the serialists like XM/Sirius, NBC, Fox, Clear Channel, The New York Times, and Time Warner to accelerate their transformation. 


re: The Decline of Serial Media

Mr. Colony, that said, do you have concerns regarding the telcos significant investment in new IPTV infrastructure -- that's primarily designed to deliver a legacy linear television programing experience?As you may know, many of the larger telcos have based their IPTV service delivery platform on Microsoft's Mediaroom, which apparently still doesn't scale well (due to the inefficient use of media servers).Moreover, the telcos reportedly pay more per subscriber for the same traditional pay-TV channels than their cable TV incumbent competitors. And, telcos merely offering multi-room DVRs doesn't seem like a meaningful point of VoD differentiation.IPTV had the promise of being interactive, but current implementations clearly lack any "consumer experience" imagination. Perhaps you could share your thoughts on this related topic, in a follow-on blog post.

re: The Decline of Serial Media

I’d like to toss in a few thoughts here. The reigning paradigm is simple enough. Change, innovation, and unprecedented levels of user control are happening at the edges of the network and in domains where used-generated content is building momentum. But I don’t think the peer-driven interactive gift economy that characterizes the Internet maps particularly well to many telco (and cable) distribution models which are more hierarchical in nature. In architecture, there’s the principle that form follows function. I think you could come up with a principle in telecom that says the very nature of social interaction and communications that takes place on a network is to a large extent determined or limited by the nature of the network itself. So infrastructure is very much part of the equation....The interesting thing to me is that information flow has to map to infrastructure development and telco/cable companies have lots of sunk capital in the broadcast-based one to many model. Making that model behave like the Internet may not be a feasible approach in the long run for a lot of reasons akin to retrofitting a prop plane fuselage with a jet engine. So in my opinion this all amounts to a big disconnect for telco fixed line business models because the innovation taking place at the edges not only in terms of user behavior but with the technology itself (e.g. iPod) will increasingly out-distance any attempts to catch up with the supply chain dynamics that feed telco attempts to build out systems that for lack of a better word “mimic’ this innovation. It’s a perpetual game of catch-up that’s like Zeno’s paradox: the telcos may never reach the goal. So from a business value and ROI standpoint, it’s a difficult sell because, arguably, portions of that investment are becoming obsoleted almost as soon as they’re deployed.That said, these are some of the more or less negative arguments around the IPTV model. There are more optimistic cases that can be made as well. There are also a lot of other ways that carriers can participate in Net-driven paradigms although it’s getting harder to turn the ocean liner around because the ocean liner keeps getting bigger, at least in the North American market...By the way, George we met years ago when I was with Telecommunications magazine...I think it was in the early Jurassic period :-)