By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
There were many themes at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters annual convention and show in Las Vegas. But none were more obvious—or more compelling-- than how media companies can ride the next wave of digital disruption.
Simply defined, disruption occurs in an industry when product development and innovation (in our case, digital devices, new delivery methods, small screens) challenge the confines of established technology (i.e., traditional over-the-air television and radio) for the hearts, minds and wallets of the consumer. What forward-thinking companies must do, then, is embrace the technology that will allow them to be the “disruptor” rather than the “disruptee.”
James McQuivey is a principal researcher on digital with Forrester Research and author of “Digital Disruption—Riding the Next Wave of Innovation.” He keynoted an opening Super Session on the topic. Here are some of his comments, as reported by John Merli of TV Technology:
“The ubiquitous devices and networks that consumers have taken to so rapidly have created a digital platform over which companies in any industry can reach out and provide value to consumers,” he said. “Everyone has a fair shot at winning the consumer’s attention, and whoever exploits these platforms best will tend to win. But rather than simply seeing that as a threat, digital disruption should be best understood as an opportunity, because the same platforms that give startups a shot at reaching the consumer can be used by anybody, regardless of size or legacy approach to the market.”
“Joining the digital disruption is the best way to overcome the digital disruption,” McQuivey believes.
He says that means understanding that, since consumers are willing to embrace newer, more convenient and flexible technologies (think tablets and smartphones, YouTube and Vimeo) content providers need to be sure they understand those preferences fully—and embrace them in creative ways. In the case of news providers--not as an afterthought or just as a “tease” to get them to the evening newscast, but as a separate, fully-functioning audience that often eschews the traditional delivery methods in favor of those which better fit with their lifestyles.
And this is borne out through other research as well. Take Facebook, for example. At Excellence in Journalism 2013, our upcoming convention in Anaheim later this summer, we’ll showcase a new national study of news viewers who use Facebook as a primary source of information about and a discussion venue for important local issues. These are folks who may rarely, if ever, watch a traditional TV newscast—but who may be driven to do so if engaged properly by the station. This is a growing group which news content producers need to exploit as an entirely new audience opportunity (and a potentially sizeable one) that your station can work to capture (and ultimately monetize).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not forecasting the death of traditional newscasts anytime soon. But the evidence continues to mount that there are so many other opportunities out there for broadcasters to seize if they use developing technologies as a primary means to do so—in a true partnership with legacy tools and methods--not just as a less important step sister.
McQuivey’s message is clear. “Digital disruption is happening whether you want it to or not. You can fight it and end up like the music industry or you can get ahead of it and ‘disrupt yourself’ before someone else does it for you.”
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