Adrian talks about the principles of distributed content production and sharing and how they are changing knowledge production as well as building many varieties of content and knowledge. This has a clear impact on the pathway that I would like to pursue once I finished university. As an aspiring screenwriter it is comforting to know that there will always be platforms on which content can become available for consumption to the public but based on the ever changing methods of development and distribution it can be an issue for student who have been thought to work for a network or a studio.
An example of new form of content production is the open collaborative production company hitRECord.
This is an interesting example of a new age kind of Production Company as instead of being exclusive with the contributing privileges of a let’s say an old school production company, hitRECord is actually embracing the massive community of internet users and gathers those who wish to contribute to a project or start one all in one place. The following is directly from their website:
“Writers, musicians, illustrators, photographers, video editors – artists of all kinds are invited to contribute their work to hitRECord. Once on the site, the hitRECord community collaboratively edits, builds upon, develops and remixes each other’s work to create songs, animation, short films, live shows, and music videos. As certain community collaborations develop at hitRECord we figure out ways to get our artwork out into the world. Since 2010, hitRECord has put out works of publishing and music, gone on tour and screened at festivals. And now, we’re working on producing a TV variety show!”
It is quite clear from this that they are committed to welcome anyone with an idea or skill that can be beneficial to a project as they break down the barriers that more traditional production companies have built around themselves. I feel that this following statement is what makes hitRECord so different from traditional media producer:
“Now, the point of hitRECord isn’t to make money. A wise man once said “we don’t make movies to make money; we make money to make other movies” — and that’s why hitRECord is a for-profit company. If and when we’re able to earn money from one of our hitRECord productions — books, live shows, vinyl records — we split the profits 50-50 with the artists who contributed.”
Unlike the studios and networks that create and cancel shows depending on the profitability of the content, which essentially shows that their business model is profit first, content second, hitRECord claims to do the opposite. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s company seems to be solely focused on producing as much creative productions as possible as the money raised from all these projects are used to make future projects even better and in greater numbers. This shift in company policies has given a chance for a more varied and intriguing content to be created that would have never been possible in the current rigid Television system.The success of hitRECord is due to two changes. The first is the one I spoke of earlier where this large network of creative individuals contribute and share their skills though this creative online community. The second is the change of how people are consuming their content, which in turn impacts how the content is distributed. Being split between Television and the internet, it ensures that the content they produce has the best chance to be seen as both these platforms consume the most time of an individual’s day.
The fact that Global Web Index, a highly respected market research firm found that internet users aged 16-64 on average spent more time online each year then the last as TV remained relatively steady but is prone to fluctuate. The ever changing methods of media consumption is nothing new and has been present since the conception of every medium as they continue to evolve and adapt.
According to Erik Barnouw a historian of radio and television broadcasting, in the US until the nineteen-eighties, an overwhelming amount of the TV shows were commissioned and carried by ABC, CBS, and NBC, which the networks themselves started out as radio networks. Audiences were fascinated by this new type of media, and broadcasters made money by selling spots to advertisers. Media researcher Tero Kuittinen says that today, the broadcast networks suffer 15% to 25% annualized audience loss, which is due to a proliferating array of viewing options. Cable television networks were the first to come, which delivered HBO, ESPN, CNN, Nickelodeon, and dozens of other channels through a coaxial cable. Then competition came from the world of the internet with the busiest “television” platform in the world, YouTube which has (according to YouTube’s statistics page) a billion unique visitors watching six billion hours of video every month.
Now it is true that YouTube is by far has the most unique visitors than any other video platform but it is online streaming services such as Netflix that users spend the most time on which lead to the term “binge watching”. During peak hours, Netflix accounts for more than thirty per cent of all Internet down-streaming traffic in North America, nearly twice that of YouTube, its closest competitor(seen in the graph above). The Netflix Web site describes the company as “the world’s leading Internet television network.”Richard Greenfield, a media and technology analyst states ‘We now live in a world where every device is a television,’ and ‘couch potatoes have given way to “active hunters,” viewers who “snack” and control what they watch and when.’Chris Anderson writer of The Long Tail argues that Netflix and other online content providers have “broken the tyranny of physical space” as the average blockbuster can only carry less than 3,000DVDs where Netflix there has seemingly unlimited storage from titles.Anderson also provides us with what he calls “the new rules for the new economy of entertainment”. These are “Make everything available”, “Cut the price in half. Now lower it” and “Help me find it”.
The first rule addresses the audience’s sense of curiosity and discovery as by simply flick through the thousands of selection they will surely find something that is not mainstream but intriguing to them. Anderson states that more niece content will finally have a platform to be seen as the documentary Daughter form Danang which was produced by PBS in 2002 was given exclusively to Netflix rather than the more traditional DVD channels. Now it consistently ranks in the top 15 on the Netflix documentary charts. The second rule works on the model that if you lower the price more people will buy the product which in the long run will bring a larger profit. In a world of pirates companies can’t expect people to pay the same high prices for content they can easily get for free so that is why the lowering of current prices will result in more people buying content. The third rule is exposing lesser known content by pairing it to more mainstream ones. This is done by having a personalized recommendations based on what the user consumes as according to Netflix 60 percent of rentals come from recommendations. This helps to popularize sub genres in order to keep producing content since now there is audience for them.
Netflix continued to expand, making itself available on game consoles, mobile phones, tablets, and other streaming devices, such as Apple TV and Roku. Reed Hastings, the C.E.O. of Netflix has succeeded, by taking advantage of what he calls viewers’ ”managed dissatisfaction” with traditional television as each hour of programming is crammed with about twenty minutes of commercials and promotional messages for other shows. Netflix carries no commercials. Its revenue derives entirely from subscription fees. Viewers are happy to pay a set fee, in order to watch, uninterrupted, their choice of films or shows, whenever they want, on whatever device they want. “Think of it as entertainment that’s more like books,” Hastings said. “You get to control and watch, and you get to do all the chapters of a book at the same time, because you have all the episodes.” That was an interesting comment as it was books that gave way to all these content producing mediums and now it seems that it has gone full circle.
So where does this leave us? Well there are definitely some changes to the entertainment industry with producers and providers of content such as hitRECord and Netflix and how these companies have changed how people create and consume entertainment. The bottom line seems to be that there will always be people that want to create stuff and people that want to see it but the process of creating and distributing can be drastically different from the one seem to accept as the proper process.
Barnouw, Erik, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, 2d ed. (1990)
Anderson, Chris. “The Long Tail” Wired. N.P., Oct.Web. 23 Aug. (2013)
Miles, Adrian. “Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge.” Screen Education Autumn.45 (2007), 24–30.
Kuittinen, T (2013). ‘Broadcast Television Takes another Beating’, Boy Genius Report, Sep 27, viewed Sep 24 2014