Always New Mistakes

November 19, 2007

Breaking the Internet barrier

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:12 am

Some days ago I read this post and realized how much the media has changed in the last years. Not that I hadn’t noticed, but it suddenly struck me that we are changing our entertainment habits at an astonishing rate. How many of you still watch TV? I knHollywoodow for sure I don’t, and it’s been a while. It seems as if “offline” businesses are crumbling and letting space for the online businesses. What got me thinking was the idea of having online TV shows script writers displacing “offline” script writers. Is it a good idea? Will Hollywood bring unknown script writers from the Internet to fill in the writers on strike? On one side, this is a great idea. I’ve always thought that some worlds are way too endogamous, Hollywood is one of these. What is great about the Internet is that you don’t have to do expensive studies to see if something works, you just put it online and wait and see how users react to it. So now you don’t have to do castings, you just search the Internet and bring on board the writers of the best shows on the Internet, period. But, is this going to work? Even though the format is the same, the medium is quite different. That means that the audience is also different. So, if you bring good script writers to the TV, will they grab the same user share as on the Internet? I don’t think so.

Take a look at Fake Steve Jobs blog. I’m a great fan, I enjoy reading it. I think Daniel is an excellent writer, one of the best I’vefakestevejobs.jpg read in quite some time. His blog is followed by millions of readers. Recently he wrote a book titled Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody (Haven’t read it yet but it’s on my Christmas list). I was amused by one of his latest posts: “Have you seen his book? It’s awful. I mean I’m a big fan of Colbert’s TV show and I know he hired a huge team of writers to work on the book for him but honestly, no kidding, this thing sucks ass. Nevertheless it’s a huge best-seller, while my own brilliant memoir … um, isn’t“. Let’s get some numbers, don’t we? Ok, FSJ’s book ranking in Amazon is, as of today, #1,894. Colbert’s book is #8. If we get back to our online world, according to Techmeme’s leaderboard, FSJ holds a quite nice #64 position on the world’s blog list (#53 if you look at Technorati). So, how can that be? If people follow FSJ’s blog on a daily basis, why don’t they all buy his book? Some might argue that if you read him online, you are going to read him offline, but in my opinion, we are quite different on our online/offline states. The same thing doesn’t *has* to work on both sides of the line. It might, but as we see, the numbers tell another story. In my case, I haven’t bought the book yet because I have few time. It’s faster to just read his blog (and many others). Might this be a common reason for other people?

Now, back to Hollywood and the Internet, it might work, some might work, but ultimately I do think the future is the other way round. That is, Hollywood script writers leaving the big studios to set their own Internet productions. Lets face it, currently it’s ridiculously cheap to produce an Internet show, just take a look at Scoble Show or Diggnation. I love them, but hey, they cost an infimun part of a TV show. So I wonder, why don’t the writers just make the leap and start writing their own shows? Why not take the path that their cousins at the music industry are taking? They could control their creative work and could make a hell lot more money. Times are changing, people like to watch their favorite shows on demand, not at a predefined hour like in the TV, so why don’t just produce shows exclusively for the Internet? Maybe I’m too futuristic about this, but looking back, I’m amazed at the speed things are changing (or it might be I’m getting old). If you don’t follow the people, you’ll be left behind.

As always, constructive critics, opinions and similar are welcome. What do people think about all this? Just for the record, I think the strike is something writers should have done much earlier. Keep up with it guys, and just make the final leap to the Internet, even though I’ll miss some shows! (this is the list of our favorite TV shows that are affected by the strike).

UPDATE: Seems like the Hollywood writers are really jumping to the startup arena.

Image credits: Craig Aurness/Corbis

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