converging, internet, user-generating

broadcasting user-generated content

I’ve been pointed in the direction of two recent examples of the convergence of established and emergent media.  the first is UKTV G2’s Totally Viral; which each weeknight at 10.30pm showcases ‘the best of the internet’ as sourced by the editors as well as viewers.


I commented in a recent post  that the BBC was making a news programme consisting entirely of articles suggested by the public, and suggested that what it was doing wasn’t as significant as the fact that it had taken a stand on how (as part of the established media) is was going to relate to the emerging user-generated world.  in creating Totally Viral, UKTV has made a similar statement.  is it TV or internet?  its both.  and better for it.

another example is from the states, where Channel 101 (based on Los Angeles) and Channel 102 (New York) play host to 5 min-long programme pilots.  each month the pilots are screened to audiences, who vote whether to renew (for another month) or cancel the shows.


the ones voted top form the ‘primetime’ of the schedule (which because it’s streamed online is a by-word for the best rather than a description of how it’s broadcast).

so users are generating content, which is showcased and voted on by offline audiences.  the best stand out and the rest vanish, the aim being to stay in syndication for as long as possible.  the established world connection?  Channel 101 has signed a deal with VH1 to broadcast 3 min-long clips in a broadcast show called The Department of Acceptable Media.

both great examples of how emerging media can and will complement the established broadcast worlds.  the rules of programme development and commissioning remain the same, it’s just a much more democratic way of doing it.  and given that anyone can have a go, and the fact that TV companies don’t have to invest in programme development, get ready for the dozens of examples that will no doubt make it into commercial production and onto broadcast TV.

as a final thought – it will be interesting to see if advertisers attempt to use these examples to cost-effectively develop their own content.  I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t.  although how non-commercial user-generators will take to competing against commercial producers remains to be seen…  advertisers will have to be transparent in their ownership of content, and that may compromise the point of them doing it in the first place.

that said, some of the best bits of content showcased on Totally Viral are commercially produced.  the only rule; good content is good content, and in the new world no ones even sees – let alone remembers – the bad stuff.

broadcasting, converging, user-generating

What is TV?

Tv_1a colleague last night took part in a panel at the Branded Content Marketing Association’s annual networking party.  the question to be addressed is a straightforward one.

what is TV?

it’s a simple question with a less than straightforward answer; TV is about aggregation of content.  it is the act of aggregating content that I think turns what would otherwise be a collection of stuff into TV.

the recent turmoil in the UK TV industry has largely come about because of two fundamental shifts in aggregation …which used to be a monopoly; first with the BBC and ITV, and then with Channel4 and five, there existed a limited group of aggregators that determined what content was commissioned and bought, and aggregated into TV.  this monopoly of aggregation remained unbroken and profitable until a few years ago, at which point the monopoly was broken on two fronts.

first, the monopoly was broken by the evolution from a few into many more commercial aggregators.  the rise of digital television started as far back as the early days of BSB in the early nineties, but the pace of this evolution increased with increased consumer adoption of digital satellite and latterly Freeview.  there are now over 400 commercial aggregators broadcasting in the UK, some of them directly from brands (for example the Audi Channel).  that’s a lot of fragmentation, a lot of content spread very thinly (hence the necessary rise of the strong niche channel brand) and a lot of impacts being fought over.

but it’s the second break of the monopoly that has caused most discussion of late; and far from being an evolution within the industry its a people’s revolution.  the aggregation of TV requires content and distribution.  technology has allowed citizens to produce the former, and the internet has allowed them to do the latter.  we are all – should we wish to be – content aggregators.  we are all budding broadcasters.  and a generation is learning to watch TV aggregated by commercial entities as well as fellow citizens.

what is TV?

TV is the act of consuming aggregated audio-visual content

this is important.  because if we run with this definition – and I do – it means that watching YouTube is television.  it means the monopoly is broken forever.  it means that there are hundreds of thousands of aggregators.  it means every one of us can start broadcasting right now.  and I find that a very exciting prospect indeed.


Google disappearing acts

Google_logomy colleague is in this band called gamages model train club, and despite the interesting name, he thought – when forming the band – it best to check if there wasn’t already a band with that name.  all well and good.

so where did he turn?  what database or listing did he use?  neither.  he used Google.  he Google’d the name and nothing came up.  so he proceeded confidently in the knowledge that it was very unlikely indeed that there would be two Gamages Model Train Clubs ever playing the same bill.

the fact is that there could be a band out there called the Gamages Model Train Club.  but they’re not on the internet and – more importantly – Google can’t find them.  so to all intents and purposes they don’t exist.  Google has disappeared them!

internet, planning, social networking, user-generating

quantifying digital behaviours

Two recent studies
by media owners are attempting to quantify the extent to which we are adopting
digital behaviours; ie audio / audiovisual downloads, creating / reading blogs,
or creating websites. Both the Guardian
and Emap have a vested interest in understanding these behaviours… as audiences
evolve and migrate to different channels for consuming information; impacts and
subsequent advertising revenues will follow.

The Guardian’s digi:nation project, which aims to “get a clear
picture of how the online population are engaging and interacting with digital
, surveyed 1,016 Guardian Unlimited users and 2,912 nationally
representative online respondents.  Another
project from Emap – The Insider – aims
to “offer greater understanding of
consumer behaviour and tracks consumer trends as they emerge”
. It consists of a panel of 10,000 members, all
of whom have been recruited from Emap’s media brands.

The surveys
indicate that:

  • 67% of the UK population have tried some form of digital activity1
  • 1/3 of the digi:nation1 and 54% of The Insider’s panel2 had read a blog – of whom half of the latter read a blog at least once a week2
  • The Insider’s blog-consumption figure of 54% rises to 69% of 15-24s
  • 10% of the digi:nation have created their own blog1
  • 17% of the digi:nation have created their own website1
  • 43% of The Insider panel have created their own spaces2
  • 55% of The Insider panel have accessed social networking sites2
  • Women are more likely to be heavy users (everyday) of SN sites than men – 24% to 20% 
  • Finally, whilst over half the digi:nation have downloaded music, only 8% have downloaded a podcast1

from Guardian’s digi:nation
survey – for more click here

from Emap’s The Insider
survey – for more click here

So what does this
all mean? Primarily these surveys are
putting quantifiable flesh on the bones of a belief in the industry that
blogging and social networking aren’t restricted to niche groups but have
become mainstream in terms of participation.  In addition the numbers of people creating as
opposed to just consuming these media are higher then you’d perhaps expect.

But as a result of
this, the research reminds us of two key considerations for the planning and
buying of commercial impacts. One, the
challenge to mainstream media in terms of the sheer volume of content that is
being produced and consumed by citizens, (although that fact that much of this,
certainly in the case of social networking, is now under the ownership of
established media owners – specifically MySpace and Newscorp – means it can be
planned and reached conventionally).

But secondly, and
following on from point one; any advertiser wading into consumer generated
waters must tread carefully… because blogging and social networking sites present
content to consumers in a personalised context, and as a result there’s a
veritable minefield of pissed off content creators and irritated UG content
consumers. It’s their world. They are creating and consuming it. And they have a prescribed notion of who and
who isn’t welcome.

The upshot for
advertisers?; If you want to talk to internet users (and most of them do), you
won’t be able to achieve mass reach without using UGC sites. And if you’re going to go there – have
something to say and say it in a relevant way; you may not get an answer, but
you’ll stand a much better chance of being listened to.

gaming, praising, social networking, user-generating

in praise of… Anshe Chung

…who has become Second Life’s first virtual millionaire.  how?  by developing – according to the wiki entry – an "online business that engages in development, brokerage and arbitrage of virtual land, items and currencies"

no, I’m not quite sure what it all means either.  but with Linden dollars able to be swapped for real world money, I’m pretty sure it does mean that I’d better get my virtual entrepreneurial head on, and fast!  Anshe Chung, we salute you.


BBC takes a stand on UGC

Bbc_test_cardKevin Bakhurst, the controller of BBC News 24, announced recently that the BBC is to produce a programme inspired entirely by user-generated material sent by the public.

the programme, which started on November 25th and will run throughout December, will take advantage of the 10,000 emails their news website – according to the BBC – receives every day.

so does this mark a milestone in the adoption by the emerged mainstream media of user-generated content, or is it a naive attempt by the corporation to jump on the UG bandwagon?

the challenge for the emerged media is not whether or not they acknowledge the existence and increased predominance of user-generated content …but how.  the emerged media brands must decide what their relationship with this emergent world will be.  will they be the publisher? the facilitator? the encourager? or the aggregator?  or will they decide that this new world is not for them and they relationship is one of polite separatism.

so whether the move is a milestone for UGC, or naive bandwagoning, isn’t as important as the fact that the BBC has taken a stand either way.