Two important WIRED articles Bill Cunningham insisted I read
, and you should, too:Fitting Network TV For a Toe Tag.Hollywood Has Figured Out How to Make Web Pay
(Though the article seems to say the reverse.)
a. If you are fiction writer, in the future you will likely be writing for more cheaply made, niche-ier shows with smaller staffs. That's bad if you want to get rich. Good if you like to write. More niches means more scripts. Someone's got to write them.
b. If you can think outside of the narrative box, thank your lucky stars. There will be more hunger for docs of various flavors. The article references ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, History Channel's surprise hit about, wait for it, ice road truckers. There will be more hunger for reality and lifestyle shows. If you can think of fresh new formats other people haven't thought of, you have a future in TV. It may not be a glamorous and creatively fulfilling future, however; it will be a future producing cheesy reality shows.
c. The whole frakking TV industry may still come to a crashing stop. People will always want to be told stories, but it's going to be a problem getting them to pay for them. The current business model relies on people watching ads. They keep telling us that people with TiVo's still watch the ads, but I find that incredibly hard to believe. Once people get used to hitting the SKIP button, ad-supported TV is doomed. Subscription channels may work for a while, but you get an entirely different show on subscription TV, and a different audience. Ultimately I think we'll need to move to a pay-per-view streaming model, I think, which will be a game-changer not only in terms of financing, but creatively. I bet you we'll see fewer 22 ep seasons, more serialized shows, more minis, more experiments.
But first, people will have to get used to the idea that they can't watch TV for free. This may be less of a leap than some suppose. TV never really was free. You always had to pay for the hardware. And for the past 30 years, we've been paying for cable or satellite. But if people think they can get away with piracy, they will; just look at any torrent site. Will people fork out the dough? I sure hope so, or I really will have to become a speechwriter.
UPDATE: DMc thinks I can keep my job.
There's actually some debate out there about the whole "Long Tail" economy that Wired is pushing. This article in Slate Magazine shows some good evidence to the contrary.
And while the debate is healthy, Elberse's data doesn't take into account (or at least the article doesn't state it) the gradual shift of media to the web as opposed to DVD or theaters.
DVD and TV are flattening out sales-wise while the internet is ramping up. Spending on the web is expected to increase over 400% over the next ten years. This is bound to put a curve into the tail.
I see this going in a different direction. I think we're eventually all going to be a paying a more-or-less flat fee, probably bundled into our internet service fees, that will be collected and redistributed to artists based on downloads. The music industry is already proposing this, since they can't get people to stop file-sharing, and also I think because they're afraid that iTunes is going to take over the legitimate market.
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