Future of Media Consumption: Traditional Media in the Form of New Media

Future of Media Consumption: Traditional Media in the Form of New Media

There is a wealth of content out there from TV Shows and books to podcasts and blogs, and as I look back at my day I realize I consumed quite a bit of content through eight different devices. Not one of those devices was a television, newspaper, book or radio. It’s clear that I’m not the norm when it comes to these things, but my behavior resembles that of my peers and a fast growing proportion of consumers.

Content production will continue to be important to consumers because everyone loves to be entertained, but how they consume that content is changing very quickly. While all of this is happening, traditional media companies seem to be hoping this behavior will go away. It won’t.

Consumption Change Hits the Mainstream

For me, the time to completely cut myself off from traditional media has come. My news is online, my books are on my iPad and my music is on my hard drives to be shared across multiple devices. The only thing remaining is television.

I actually cancelled my cable subscription for nearly a year only to bring it back for football season (I couldn’t live without it). As for TV shows and movies, I have Netflix streaming and Hulu connected to my television. The only time the cable box is used is for sports.

I’ll be the first to admit that my behavior is niche, but three announcements over the past week made me stop and think that traditional media consumption through new media channels is about to take a big step forward:

  • Hulu heading to Roku, TiVo and Xbox LIVE
  • Xbox LIVE update bringing live ESPN sports to the video game console
  • Blogs have become mainstream

Why These Announcements Matter

Hulu: The massive Hulu library will be available this Fall on the Roku and TiVo set-top boxes. Hulu is already available on the PlayStation 3, and access is supposedly coming to Xbox LIVE as well.

Just like Netflix, Hulu is taking steps to integrate with nearly every device from iPads and iPhones to video game consoles and set-top boxes. With Hulu easily accessible through set-top boxes connected to televisions, consuming traditional TV shows through Hulu instead of a cable or satellite provider will be incredibly easy.

Xbox LIVE: Microsoft’s new Xbox LIVE update will be hitting consoles on November 4. Xbox LIVE already includes Netflix, LastFM and the Zune Marketplace, but the big addition will be ESPN.

ESPN integration will bring Xbox LIVE subscribers 3,500 sporting events per year in full HD with DVR capabilities. Not only does it replace watching sports on TV. It’s actually better with the ability to check scores of other sporting events without leaving the game currently being watched, the ability of users to predict the winners of games and compare themselves with other Xbox LIVE ESPN viewers and the addition of a voice chat feature to connect up to seven people to watch the game together remotely.

Live sports are no longer restricted to cable or satellite services, making the combination of Hulu, Netflix and ESPN a pretty solid television service replacement.

Blogs: eMarketer released a report last week that communicated something pretty important: blogs are mainstream. 51% of US Internet users read blogs monthly, and 12% actually keep blogs. Within four years 60% of Internet users will read blogs and 13.3% will be keeping blogs of their own.

Blogs are all over the Internet and in the mainstream media, especially as traditional media outlets (i.e., news sites) create blogs of their own and advertisers make blogs part of their marketing strategies.

Getting into blogging has become incredibly easy. Tools make creating a blog almost effortless and free, and simple RSS readers make reading and keeping up with blogs effortless.

Finally, blogs have become accepted forms of information. They are cited in the news and act as news outlets themselves, and consumers look to them for information and advice. They’re seamlessly integrated into other media. The New York Times has 50 blogs. Someone checking the news may not have any idea if and when he or she is actually reading a blog.

Blogs have ceased to be niche hobbies of the few and have instead become mainstream sources of information and content for the masses. Whether it’s the traditional bloggers who write, video bloggers or photo bloggers, they are now on the same level as traditional publishers.

Change Is Here. What Will You Do?

Consumers are moving away from traditional media outlets. This isn’t happening in droves, but bit-by-bit consumer content consumption habits are changing.

Content distributors can try to stop it, and they have. Still, the power of the Internet and crowdsourcing of skills has allowed consumers to work around every barrier put in their path. Change is happening, and the only options are to embrace it or get left behind.

Why is this happening?

Consumer habits are changing for a variety of reasons, but some of them are based around the idea that new media makes content consumption more enjoyable.

  • They consume on their terms because they control when, where and how they consume content.
  • The entire experience from obtaining content and consuming it is on-demand.
  • Everything is custom to the individual.
  • Content consumption is remotely social. People can share the same experience (in some cases) no matter how far away they are from each other.

That said, the primary reason, I believe, is that new media gives consumers all of what they want and none of what they don’t. We now have the ability to consume media a la carté, meaning multiple pieces of content from multiple sources, and you only pay for what you get. Channel no longer matters. To the consumer, channels don’t matter; content does, and content is not beholden to the “channel borders.”

I know there are issues for content providers on an a la carté approach, but I also know that consumers simply don’t care about those issues. They will get what they want and how they want it.

What Needs to Be Done

If consumers are embracing something, it’s usually a good idea for companies to follow suit. The problem is that this new consumer behavior undercuts models that have been relied upon for quite some time. Sorry. I don’t have an easy answer.

There is a major need to adapt. Right now, companies are doing everything they can to resist consumer behavior, but if they embrace it, they can secure their place in the future. Things won’t look the way they do now. They’ll be different, but at least, the business will be around.

The first step is changing the approach to content and content dissemination:

  • Content should be easy to obtain and easy to share.
  • Access to content should not be restricted. Consumers will always find another way, and you won’t have a chance to benefit.
  • Allow content to be placed on multiple devices.
  • Change the approach to monetizing content. Old models of making money off of content won’t work, and the new models will vary by type of content.

Change is never easy, but technology and the consumers harnessing technology are demanding it. The only way to prevent potentially serious issues is to get ahead of them, and too many are moving too slowly.