Note: This is slightly off-topic for BrandAware but it's related to a course I'm doing.  At any rate, The End is a pretty interesting documentary so be sure to check it out. 

CBC’s The End discusses how new media (i.e. the internet, podcasting, streaming video) are replacing traditional media (i.e. print newspapers, broadcast television and broadcast radio) as our major sources of content.

For example, in the field of radio, most major radio stations play a small selection of songs, usually ‘top 40’ in within a broad genre of rock or country. The problem with these traditional stations is that they do not often play music from more narrow genres or local and up and coming bands since they have to appeal to the majority in order to remain profitable.

This is where podcasting and online music communities such as MySpace or come in. Since the costs of starting a podcasting show are practically nothing, people with diverging interests are able to generate and find specialized content that they are interested in. In The End, one individual says about new media radio, “we think we can provide a better experience because we can customize that experience for the user” (CBC: The End of Radio). The old style of radio, with its high number of ads and generic playlists, simply cannot compete with the customizable ability of internet radio, at least in terms of content.

This move towards customization and niche markets can also be seen in the TV industry. The era where people sat down to watch TV at a scheduled time seems to be dying. Whether through digital video recorders like Tivo, or online streaming such as what CTV now offers, people are now watching television on their own time. There is also an enormous trend towards added web content. It is common for shows to film extra ‘webisodes’ that viewers can go online and see in addition to the regularly scheduled programming.

The trend towards customized content and niche markets is even more present in the print industry. The traditional print newspaper is more expensive, less mobile and less environmentally friendly than the same content that can be delivered online. Many newspapers that are seeing these changes are adapting with online news sites and changing the way they deliver content. However, the rapidly shifting industry has created an unstable job market in the news and journalism industry.

Throughout print, television and radio, what we see is a move towards more customizable and dynamic content. People want to get content they are interested in delivered to them and cut out everything else. While this new media landscape means new and exciting content for users, we have to be weary of isolating ourselves from new ideas in what is known among media theorists as ‘the echo-chamber’. If our ability to customize the content we look at means that we never look at opposing viewpoints, this does not make for a healthy active democracy. At any rate, whether it’s a good thing or not, new media is here to stay. If traditional media such as print publications and broadcast TV or radio wants to survive, they will need to adapt to new consumer expectations which is: “the content I want, when I want it, how I want it.”

CTV: The End

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