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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Lesson 1:

Media convergence
Convergence in the context of media refers to the technology driven unification of different media channels.

For many years different media were clearly separated: broadcast TV, broadcast radio, newspapers, books, video and film, recorded music etc.

The internet and other digital methods of distribution have changed this. A digital connection or physical medium can carry any type of content. Video can be distributed on a mobile phone network or music over the internet.

This not only means that different types of media are converging, but also that media and telecoms are converging.

In addition to convergence at the distribution level there are areas in which the same content can be re-packaged across media: for example, computer games and films use the same content in different ways. This also creates powerful marketing synergies.

Convergence is part of a much broader change in the media that is being brought about by new technology. Although this has not happened as fast or as profitably as many hoped during the dotcom boom, changes are nonetheless happening.

From an investment point of view the key consequence is the potential impact of the change on established media companies revenue streams.

ARTICLE from theEncyclopædia Britannica

phenomenon involving the interlocking of computing and information technology companies, telecommunications networks, and content providers from the publishing worlds of newspapers, magazines, music, radio, television, films, and entertainment software. Media convergence brings together the “three Cs”—computing, communications, and content.

Convergence has occurred at two primary levels:

Technologies—creative content has been converted into industry-standard digital forms for delivery through broadband or wireless networks for display on various computer or computer-like devices, from cellular telephones to personal digital assistants (PDAs) to digital video recorders (DVRs) hooked up to televisions.
Industries—companies across the business spectrum from media to telecommunications to technology have merged or formed strategic alliances in order to develop new business models that can profit from the growing consumer expectation for “on-demand” content.

Some industry analysts see media convergence as marking the twilight of the “old media” of print and broadcasting and the rise of “new media” associated with digital publishing. Among the major changes associated with digital publishing is the growth of a “flatter” publishing structure that allows one-to-one and many-to-many distributions of content. This development contrasts sharply with the one-to-many distribution that was characteristic of 20th-century mass communications. Digital publishing also has empowered many ordinary individuals to become involved directly or through collaborative efforts in creating new content because of the dramatically reduced barriers to producing and distributing digital content over the Internet.

While these developments have challenged the business models of old media as they developed in the 20th century, the ability of these companies to adapt to the changing landscape should not be dismissed. Old media, or big media, is very experienced in producing content, attracting and aggregating audiences, and anticipating changes in consumer demands and expectations. Big media companies are also highly capitalized and often enter the new media environment through mergers, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, as seen with NBC Universal, an American media conglomerate, which formed a partnership with the Microsoft Corporation to develop the MSNBC cable and Internet news service in 1996. Similarly, in 2005 international media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch acquired MySpace, an Internet social networking Web site, in order to leverage his News Corporation into an established online community.

Industry trends
Newspapers and magazines

Virtually all major newspapers and magazines now operate a Web site. It has been an ongoing challenge for these publishing industries to assess the exact impact that an online component has on their business models and their broader operational structures as distributors of news, information, and entertainment.

In modern societies worldwide, consumers have come to expect access to the latest news from television broadcasts, such as those presented by the Cable News Network (CNN) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), instead of having to wait until the next day to read about it in the newspapers. In addition, various Web sites sprang up in the 1990s to specialize in classified advertisements—for everything from jobs to used items to lonely hearts—in direct competition with newspapers. In order to compete with the growth of television news networks and the Internet, newspapers began to move online in the 1990s. This created something of a feedback loop as consumers came to depend on the newspaper Web sites for current news, and the papers were thus induced to put more resources into competing on the Web; this in turn led to the addition of still more multimedia content, such as photographs, audio, and video, as well as blogs (essentially editorials) and forums to attract interaction with their readers. None of these moves was of much help, however, because of the loss of newsstand sales and advertising revenues for print copies. Indeed, some in the news industry have predicted that classified advertising eventually will disappear from all newspapers.

Thus far, the challenges have been less sharply delineated for magazines, although in both cases it is apparent that, even as geography and scale have diminished in significance as determinants of potential market size and profitability, it is those mastheads with high credibility among consumers (such as The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Economist) that have fared best in the convergent online media space.

What impact has technology had on the newspaper industry?
Will newspapers soon be online only?

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