Saturday, April 16, 2011

A possible future of TV

The Story:

TV is becoming more and more fragmented, we have moved from 3 channels of content to having hundreds of channels available in that media, along with hundreds of video sharing websites and millions of content creators.

This is my opinion:

I feel that as video becomes more fragmented and people are more able to avoid marketing attempts advertisers are going to take one of two approaches, either stop sponsoring video creation or work towards getting their content to be unavoidable (this could be anything from product placement to those annoying ads at the beginning of a video that you can't skip past).

Perhaps there is another way. As far as I understand it TV shows are usually made by a process where a person selects one script from hundreds (or thousands) that pass over their desk. After a script is chosen the studio will typically pay for a pilot to be created (or another investor pays for the pilot and you shop that around to studios). Typically at this point a production company will be started if this is their first time making a pilot, if not then the writer is typically part of a production company. If the studio likes the pilot they may decide to pickup or purchase the show (many times with changes to the actors). When they do this, they select how many episodes they want to buy and what they are willing to pay, this is where the budget for a TV show comes in and leads to the quality of the production (shows with high budgets can afford better cameras, explosions, stunts, better actors, etc).

As the fragmentation persists and advertisers pay less to the studios and the studios will start changing their business, or perhaps even go out of business. What if a company started to use the power of crowdsourcing to fund TV shows?

The idea is simple replace the studio with the general public. Instead of funding pilots the production companies would fund their own pilot and if the general public liked the show they could purchase a season. The production company would input all of the information about the show that they had at the time of creating the pilot, including the total budget they were working with, how many episodes they were going to create, episode length, and cost of the season. If they sold enough seasons to hit their budget they would be funded and be able to create their show, if not - it would be a flop.

The company that hosts the videos and makes all of this possible would take a commission from each show sold, probably 10-30%, I am not sure what a television station takes - but I would say that this company would have to take less than standard TV to attract big shows.

Amateurs would also be able to get into the mix, but they would be held to a slightly higher standard to prevent fraud. They would have to fund their entire season by themselves then sell it through this marketplace (still just showing the pilot). A great example of a show that was self funded that rose to being a funded show is "the Guild".

I would say Google is the one sitting in the right position to capitalize on this idea. They own You Tube which is a great backbone for video hosting, Android which could be a great platform for viewing/sponsoring these shows, and their powerful advertising network which could allow for more revenue streams for these videos. Sony, Netflix, and Dish Network are all also sitting in decent positions to take this on as well.

BTW: If I inspired you to make good on this idea I wouldn't mind a royalty of 1%, I am using the honor system here.

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