In June 2013, Queen Elizabeth II opened the BBC’s new Broadcasting House, in her speech she recognised how broadcasting was enriching people’s lives and said that she was ‘struck by the sheer pace of change that has transformed the industry’. The transformation of modern technology has revolutionised the way media is both produced and consumed. These changes offer both threats and opportunities to the industry; and while I think the industry was initially slow to embrace this technology, in recent years there has been a clear shift in the way content is produced to appeal to the new ‘social’ audience.
The major benefits of the internet to the media industry are clear to see, producers can now reach much wider audiences and new markets, they can target content at specific audiences and receive feedback on products almost instantly using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media has seemingly offered a major shift in power and is one of the creative challenges faced by producers today, media companies increasingly have to come up with innovative original content that will hold the attention of an audience who are no longer limited to a small number of outlets or particularly loyal to a certain brand.
I think the greatest challenge facing the media companies today is the audiences shift from being just passive observers of texts. Audiences now want to interact with their media in ways they have never done before and it’s this demand for change that has brought challenges for media companies. Early forms of interactive media came with digital television notably with the use of the ‘red button’ where the consumer could choose different aspects of a programme to explore; while the ‘red button’ is still popular, audiences now have a vast array of ways to consume a text and instead of choosing one device such as a television, they now require that all their devices work together to give them a more immersive experience. An example of this new multi-platform consumption is highlighted with recent sports programming. Sky Sports F1 encourage viewers to interact, offering applications tailor-made for tablet devices which enable the consumer to view additional information, features and statistics while following the Formula One races from a number of different technical angles (such as from the pit lane) or using computer generated graphics to show the cars’ positions on the track - as well as using the interface to interact with social media.
Creating this new immersive form of media generates some problems for media companies. With audiences given a vastly wider choice of channels and platforms, traditional revenue from advertising is smaller meaning that large media companies have had to streamline production to lower costs while still trying to satisfy this new interactive audience. Producing this multi format programming requires the ability to share ideas and media across a number of different companies such as applications developers, website designers and social media moderators. The larger production companies are also facing new challenges created from the social media revolution and the new concept of ‘crowdsourcing’. Independent film makers are finding it much easier to produce content on low budgets and without the higher overheads of the larger production houses; smaller production companies can sometimes offer better value for the customer and are thriving in this tough economic environment.
Although there are challenges for media companies, these are far outweighed by some of the benefits. The internet and multi-platform opportunities have encouraged the growth of online services and with the drop in traditional advertising revenue, subscription based services such as Netflix, LoveFilm and Now TV provide an alternative and more reliable form of income. One of the challenges for media companies is to persuade audiences to use these services instead of opting for piracy. Subscriptions services offer better protection against piracy thanks to Digital Rights Management systems that are incorporated into distribution software while offering consumers faster access to latest products.
The effect of these challenges on the current audience is purely beneficial, the audience generally now dictate to the media industry where in the past this worked in an opposite way, they now have the ability to watch content at any time and in almost any place. Production companies have to compete to gain audiences using more innovative ways of storytelling and collaborate with with other industries to create seamless multi-platform applications.
Gareth Croft January 2014
Gemini Wedding Films. South Wales All Inclusive Professional Wedding Video People