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  • Garrett Pomichter-Murray

The Real Winners in the Streaming and Webcasting Wars

By: G.W. Pomichter (Host: Hangin With Web Show)

Myths, Dangers and Sustainability

There is little doubt that streaming content over the internet has changed the face of media, in fact of all the arts and entertainment community, drastically, intuitively and forever. Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, as well as broadcast and content sharing platforms such YouTube and Vimeo, have altered not only the way media is distributed, but how and by whom it is produced.

With almost every cable network or broadcaster having a significant presence on one or more of these services, as well as the trend toward creating individual streaming or web casting apps, there can be no doubt that the Internet is the broadcast media of today and tomorrow.

Combined with the way more consumers are watching media, listening to music and even purchasing goods and services, it would seem that web streaming is going to revolutionize the arts and entertainment industry in ways yet to be discovered.

But, it is sustainable? That is a question that is being asked more today than ever in the early days of this digital content revolution.

Even as media giant and entertainment mega-corporation Walt Disney set to jump on board the digital streaming band wagon, the relative lackluster performance of services such as CBS All Access and the DC Universe streaming app, as well as the notable losses that individual apps are already causing in streaming giants such as Netflix, it would seem that the question of long term stability and sustainability is the most important question, if the technology and its applications are to be mainstays of the industry someday.

What do the losses and trends say about this? Well, it would seem that we must look to the entirety of this century-plus- old industry to learn what will be needed to carry the streaming content craze to its next phase.

First, we must examine some ideas that are long known and little studied, such as the most unreliable source of revenue for media producers and distributors, which has always been that from the media consumer individually. Media consumption patterns do not consistently match consumer spending patterns or economic health. In fact, it is arguable that downturns in economic health often create a greater demand for media content, which, due to the circumstances, cannot be afforded by media consumers. Because specific general health, staple and lifestyle are prioritized by the mass of consumers, these often become the most reliable and long tern providers of revenues. Soap and food products have been the longest and most stable sources of funding for media producers and distributors.

The only successful content media delivery and content production service to rely directly on media consumers has been the Cable TV industry, which in no small part is due to streaming and Internet content providers failing through attrition. While this industry flourished in its early days due in large part due to its ability to deliver greater quantities of varied content directly and reliably to consumers, it’s reliance on these consumers for revenue has led to greater competition and the reliability of the Internet has become more sustainable. It has also seen greater competition from within its ranks as many Cable TV stations and Channels are jumping headlong into the streaming game, and some streaming services have consolidated their services and agreements with content producers to form ad hoc cable services such as the Hulu Live Streaming Service, which is arguably a direct challenge to cable TV providers.

In this way, streaming underdog Hulu, through this latest Hulu Live venture, may be ahead of the curve. This lead can only remain or become a viable avenue for other services if content producers and broadcast distributors remain committed to such a radically “mundane” model. While prudence might dictate this, it requires a commitment to the tenants that have made media casting successful for a century, and in acceptance that it is counter intuitive to dry up the individual financial wells of consumers.

Because Cable TV was in and of itself a single service based industry, it is easily the first target in the streaming wars of this decade.

To produce a multi-tiered and sustainable content creation and delivery mechanism using the internet, it is necessary to look to the earliest models of broadcast and content production to recreate the fervor that has been longest sustained through Depression, Recovery, Recession, and Prosperity in full measure.

Understanding that the media consumer is the least reliable revenue source, and that staple providers and other commercial entities are the most stable and sustainable sources of revenue, they are a mainstay of the industry that has long withstood the changing technologies. These advantages are already, in fact, built into the Internet and its wide range of services. Youtubers, for example, rely heavily on ad revenue to produce content and to distribute it.

Hulu, hase even its paid Hulu Live service, which relies heavily on ad based revenue to off-set the need for higher rates that would force it to compete directly with long established cable TV providers.

Even cable TV providers knew that this kind of revenue was needed if long term stability was going to be created, thus as cable prices often fluctuated in their 50 year run as the top of the entertainment distribution food chain, advertising revenues remained a staple of stability.

To see streaming and Internet delivery and production succeed in the long term, it is going to be necessary to reduce the costs to media consumers while increasing the revenues collected to both create and distribute media, and for more than a century, manufacturing, retail and production companies have been the single most sustainable source of funding.

The answer may be simple, but hard to hear for millennial media execs. Stop trying to sell already financially strapped consumers, already established as the least viable revenue sources, new media services which promise only to take content away from one service to redistribute them through another, when the answer to the question of long term sustainability is answerable by studying the history of the industry more closely and seeing what has been plain for a century: Sell advertising to those whose products, services and creations are viewed as necessary and whose sales are inevitable, whose concerns are not for survival of a product but for achievement of greater market shares.

This is the way from which new media content can be best produced, distributed and profited. It is the way to a sustainable streaming and webcasting industry that will last as long as the top 3 true broadcasting companies, ABC, CBS and NBC. It has been their market strategy from inception and even amidst cable TV intrusion, it sustained the industry.

Just an observation from a guy not any brighter than you!

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