The Internet has eaten television up. In the past, TV offered a steady stream of live and taped shows, either on a subsidized (advertising backed) or paid (subscription) model. Netflix and Amazon have followed the traditional premium channel model, offering original programming on a paid subscription basis with a small twist: you can watch anything they offer at any time and on any device you want.
Meanwhile YouTube and and Vimeo provide ad-supported user-generated short-form content. This follows the traditional advertising-supported model while reducing the cost of production by providing a marketplace where amateurs, “prosumers,” and professionals compete alongside each other for eyeballs in another any time and any device model.
What has arisen is a world where content is consumed in either short or binge form on a variety of devices, with little regard to which network it was created for. The show is now central and the network has taken a backseat.
If it is to survive, traditional television will need to adapt itself to this new reality, offering an increasing amount of ad-supported “live” content (news, sports, awards) to capitalize on its dominance in real-time broadcasting, while granting subscription-based access to its back catalog across many devices so that it fits in a world where consumers are looking for a TV experience that is personal, portable, and always on.
Television advertising models are also about to be upended as the digital era will provide more granular demographic and geographic data on audiences, leading to more efficient but more price-pressured ads.
Those who can position themselves quickly and more efficiently in this new world will thrive while the rest of the industry will contract.