Variety.com – Levin: Mass Media era ending

I was all set to jump on the premise of this article.  I thought it was yet another of those “entertainment has to become more interactive” things that sound reasonable until you think it through.  Then I actually read the article.  OK, I was wrong about it.

I really liked this part:

“Levin, the former CEO and programming chief at the WB Network who
co-founded management-production banner Generate last year, noted that
traditional media concerns are having a particularly hard time getting
with the program because of bottom-line pressures. Levin’s suggestion?
Talk to the assistants and other youthful types who populate the
cubicles, if not the executive suites, at networks and studios. That’s
where the next genius idea a la YouTube will come from, Levin posited.”

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of truth to that.  I don’t think that “mass media” is going to completely go bye-bye, as some are predicting.  People will always want things that they can talk about around the water cooler and that can only happen if there are things that large numbers of people experience.  If group experience is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, please explain the American Idol phenomenon to me.

What I think is happening is that we are currently in a period during which mass public opinion isn’t quite as easy to predict as in the past (as tends to happen during times of uncertainty).  Two weeks ago, would you have thought that a routine insult would be jeopardizing Don Imus’ career?  Two weeks ago, I would have bet that Grindhouse would be a box office smash. 

What I think everyone is missing is that a BIG reason that wacky stuff is all over the Internet is because anyone can slap something up on YouTube at little to no cost.  If there are a lot of videos of cats flushing the toilet on the ‘Net (to quote the sage Brian Williams), it’s because if you have a cat, a toilet and a camera, you have a video.  People put wacky stuff on YouTube (using “YouTube” generically here) BECAUSE THEY CAN.

There are literally millions of videos on YouTube and you don’t hear about 99.9999% of them.  A very few manage to find a large audience.  That hardly indicates that television as we know it is dead.  It’s just that something which was produced for free has an infinitely higher Return On Investment than any conventional TV production possibly can.  No wonder every TV producer has a HUGE hard-on to get into Internet video.