The Indie Digital Internet Revolution

As the digital transition slams into our lives with an unbridled hurricane force, it’s important to remember that most of the mass media stories about technological change are generated from the point of view of those who sell the technology as well as those who are terrified of it. History has taught us that these PR-generated “Gee Whiz” articles seldom reflect reality. The truth is that none of us know for sure where the brave new world of digital technology will take us. However, in times of great technological change, we can expect there will be a restructuring of the existing pecking order. One institution already undergoing a rather extraordinary change is broadcast/cable television.

Here are my predictions about the future of the latest plasma/LCD tube… Over-the-air commercial television broadcasting and cable, as we currently know it, is coming to a fast and certain death….. If you don’t believe it, just look at the continuing trend of rapidly declining network viewership. The audience is quickly going elsewhere. Where? The Internet of course… the absolute freedom of an uncontrollable artistic revolution… it’s already there. The fact that you are reading this from a Blog is only a whiff of evidence. Despite vehement denials to the contrary, the network-affiliate television broadcasting system, as we know it, will soon end. It has served its usefulness and is now obsolete. The operative phrase being: “multiple revenue streams.”

All the networks want a greater return as they produce increasingly more expensive shows. They want to sell their premium programs to other media outlets such as cable, satellite and home video. When the networks start demanding even more income from all of the big three revenue sources– advertising, subscriptions and transactions– the old distribution alliances will crumble. And if they even “dare” to demand it from the Internet… the extinction will happen much faster….

Television stations will become vastly independent programmers for their community viewing audiences. The day will come soon when a network tells its affiliates that it plans to sell new prime time programs to multiple distribution outlets at once. When that happens, stations are going to respond that they in turn will replace poorly performing network programs with better performing syndicated fares and Indie offerings. At this point the cohesive network prime time lineup evaporates. Everybody then jumps into the programming fray for themselves. Viewers are going to pay for the good stuff. Only the sloppy dreck will be free. Remember those multiple revenue streams? The premium productions of the future will pull from all of them. Free TV (if there ever was such an animal) will not be the same place as it once was. Local TV stations will become bit casters (and that changes everything). This is the opening where a new generation of creative programmers and visionaries will inevitably make their marks on the future.

The democratizing force of Internet media allows anyone to become a star– and this, folks, is only the tip of the iceberg. The home TV project studio is already in a neighborhood near you. And it’s not just the porn industry. As television media outlets fragment and less money is available for production, creative individuals will continue making TV at home on personal computers. Writers, producers and actors will experiment even more with small scale television in the same way they mount low budget stage/film productions. Once there’s a major homemade hit, the project studio phenomenon that’s engulfed music production will move from television to the perpetual presence of the web audience which has grown exponentially….. As I have noted, the traditional television audience is going elsewhere. Everywhere and anywhere their interests take them, is the answer. It’s certainly not completely there yet, but we’ve gotten a MASSIVE free taste of it all with today’s broadband Internet and there’s no turning back now.

When the technology officially arrives (and let’s face it… it’s already here, simply waiting to be given the spotlight), we’ll access the media we like, when we want it, on OUR terms. Gone will be the “reactive” viewer… replaced by the “interactive” viewer who, as we know, will NEVER go back to being just reactive. The old media models will die and those who try to control information and content will have a real tough time trying to plug the dam with mindless dribble that’s there right now. And I am loving every last second of this unstoppable “movement”…


~ by upbeatmag on February 6, 2009.

One Response to “The Indie Digital Internet Revolution”

  1. I’m loving your blog. As an independent filmmaker I am absorbing every written word of this movement just as your mentioned for the “multiple revenue streams”. I definitely love my art and I continue to push myself to better my craft but I do not profess to want to be a starving artist. My goal is to share my vision and voice with the world and being an independent artist and first time feature director Hollywood isn’t quite yet knocking on my door. I feel the movement is here and ready to become televised no pun intended directly on the web. The New World order of all things as we know it is vastly changing just ask the music industry. Technology rules. I respect the game and I plan on being one of the contributors and pioneers of the game.


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