I have written a number of times about the evolution of the broadcast news business and how I see it being impacted by social networks. Vehicles like Twitter deliver news in real time from ordinary people to other ordinary people. Anyone can use a search engine like Topsy to stay abreast of current events as they are happening. The notion that someone has to wait for the regularly scheduled newscast to find out what is happening in the world is a thing of the past.
Moreover, soon when you do watch scheduled broadcasts, you could actually be a part of it as Sarah Hill and KOMU have proven. News shows use the internet to create a two-way channel with the news being collected from and delivered to the viewers. KOMU was the first station to put people from a Google Plus hangout on live television, and now others are beginning to follow suit.
Several stations host Google Plus hangouts "On Air", inviting social network users to come and "hang out" in the studio during the broadcast. The participants are talking among themselves and with the newsroom staff about the stories being aired but also adding their own comments and original stories. By continuously streaming this content others can "tune in" to this stream, watch and even post comments.
But the shift in viewership to the internet is going beyond news shows. Google Plus hangouts with the on-air feature are being used by amateurs to host cooking shows, game shows and to distribute other original content.
Google's other property, YouTube, has been offering original content to viewers for years, and is earning six figure incomes for a few talented or creative people. While some of this is replay of broadcast content, most is fresh and original production.
HBO Go is another vehicle designed to deliver their unique content on demand. Major players like Netflix and Hulu have been distributing existing content on demand for years and now, as predicted, they are bringing more original content to the public through their channels completely bypassing conventional television, DVD or theater distribution. This is a trend that is likely to continue as the value is in the content and not the delivery channel.
Services like FIOS provide equal access to conventional broadcast, cable and internet "channels" while new devices like Apple and Google TV are beginning to challenge the very definition of a television viewing device. Arguably the television set is evolving into a large monitor while the set-top box is morphing into a full fledged computer.
As this trend continues it begins to raise a number interesting questions about ratings services, audience tracking and the entire economic model underlying advertising supported media.
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