Why Broadcast News Dragged its Feet on Streaming
Why were news broadcasters so slow to adapt to streaming, leaving it to play catch-up in recent years? Rob Dillon, Head of Digital Product, Straight Arrow News, discusses this question with Ben Ratner, Director of News Technology, Boston 25 News, Eric Bergner, Partner, Manatt Digital and Technology Transactions, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Corey Smith, Senior Director, Advanced Production Technology, CBS Sports Digital, Paramount, in this clip from their panel at Streaming Media Connect 2023.
Dillon begins by asking the group, “Why was there such a hesitancy from broadcasters to even embrace what the future was? We saw it with newspapers; they disappeared pretty quickly. Radio was even quicker. We all know [TV] broadcasting and video is difficult, and there was a long time for broadcasters to get it right, but instead, they sat back. Why do you think that was?”
Ratner says, “I think they had a proven business model that they wanted to keep [going], and then they didn't want to cannibalize audiences. Everyone watched TV. Everyone used to watch The Tonight Show every night, and I think to an extent they were right, because you have shows maybe breaking a million viewers now, and that used to be 25 million. So they probably had a valid fear that it was going to segment people and get [them] away from their core product.”
Dillon asks Bergner about his thoughts on the matter.
Bergner says that the broadcasting’s entire approach to transitioning into streaming was too short-sighted. “New media like FAST is not necessarily a substitute for an existing media,” he notes. “It can be additive to it depending on how you treat it. So for example, if I'm a content owner, I can use the ad inventory on my FAST channel to promote my over-the-air offerings or my other SVOD or OTT offerings. And the content can be different. It can be older content; it can be for more of a fanatic because a channel is going to be more targeted to a more rabid audience. And so I think…it's kind of unfortunate that it unfolded that way…because it really could have been complimentary, and the content owners could have gotten ahead of it more quickly.”
Smith argues that despite the hesitancy of traditional broadcasters and advertisers to transition into streaming, the shift is inevitable, and the technology has already been in place for a long time to facilitate it. “A lot of the advertisers aren't really comfortable in streaming because over the years, that's not where the audience has been,” he says. “It's been on the traditional linear platforms. But as things have been transitioning…the new thinking is the digital linear networks of the future are where linear is going from today. So you're seeing a lot of shift, I think in the market where streaming is really a first-class citizen these days, and it will continue to evolve because of the way the proliferation of content is out there. Everybody's building their own little brick-and-mortar digital store environment for all their content to live. And I think that investment's going to continue, and it's going to continue to chip away at the traditional linear.”
Learn more about a wide range of streaming industry topics at the next Streaming Media Connect in November 2023.
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