Perhaps of all the hivio 2015 sessions conducted by Mark Ramsey, the one that I'm reminded about the most is the conversation with Michael Schneider. Over the years, Michael has covered the television industry as a TV journalist for a variety of media outlets and his current day job is Chief Content Officer for TV Guide. The reason being is that since seeing him at hivio, I've become a fan of his podcast, KCRW's the Spin-Off that delves into the business of TV―a podcast I recommend to anyone wanting an insider's perspective into the industry.
The 20 minute discussion touched on many topics which I've summarized under four themes.
Storytelling | Michael mentioned it is not a common occurrence hearing the TV industry talk about audio content but the success of Serial the podcast series is widely referenced. The original Serial series created a wide scale buzz and as a result TV content creators attempt to figure out how to grab viewers' attention in the same way. Just a footnote that there was no mention of Netflix's 'Making a Murderer' as it hadn't been released at the time but it seems the series producers cracked the code. Michael went on to mention that perhaps the Investigation Discovery channel learnt a thing or two from Serial as they're creating their own true crime podcasts entitled Detective.
Later on, Michael stated that although 'serialization' is taking hold in TV, there is still space for one-off, stand-alone shows that wrap up at the end of each episode. He spoke about Dick Wolf from Law & Order franchise fame and his career resurgence through Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Law & Chicago Med. Despite the demographic skewing older and tending to watch the episodes live, the series generates a large enough audience to make it another successful franchise.
Ownership |The most important issue in the TV/video space these days is content ownership. As the business model on how broadcasters generate revenue evolves, its apparent ownership is becoming a key driver in programming decisions. This past fall season, the major broadcast networks picked up more of their own in-house productions than ever before as that's key to maintaining future revenue streams through syndicated digital distribution. If broadcasters don't hold onto the intellectual property, they will not benefit long-term from any of the current branding and marketing initiatives. Networks are green lighting projects more on what they own than how they perform in the ratings.
Content vs Distribution |Through emerging distribution channels, binging is becoming the norm when consuming both audio & video content. The way you get to the content is no longer as important as the content itself. As a content owner, you get paid when your production is viewed whether it's through a traditional broadcaster, VOD, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon etc.
Podcasting |Michael shared his listening habits of KROQ-FM's 'Kevin & Bean' podcast during his two hours of commuting a day. Compared to before when he was only able to listen to only a fraction of their daily show in the morning on the radio, Michael is now able to listen to their entire show at his convenience at the expense of the music and commercials. This demonstrates that not only can avid and invested fans consume radio programming of their choosing, any radio show has the potential of becoming a national brand as it's no longer limited to the footprint of the broadcast tower. From a business perspective, as owner the challenge becomes how to monetize the product as it 'transcends the confines of the terrestrial platform' and opens up additional revenue streams.
From Michael's own podcasting experience creating the Spin-Off, which was originally a monthly release, he learnt it's about offering more, more and more. He feels that if you're only producing a podcast once a month which is taxing in its own right when it's not a full-time job, the audience may forget about the show as they're hungry for more frequent content. Through Michael's TV Guide role, he hosts many panel discussions at various industry events and now brings along his digital recorder. If Michael receives his subject's blessings, he's able to create a stand-alone podcast just by pressing the record button. The more he produces the more feedback and traction he garners for the show.
There are a lot of lessons the audio space can learn from the television industry and vice-versa. And in the meantime, I'll await the next episode of the Spin-Off where through an audio medium learn more about the TV industry.
Other posts you may be interested in:
HIVIO 4 - Music streaming services
HIVIO 3 - Keeping the audio space current and relevant
HIVIO 2 - The golden age of audio