Invisible in the stream of information

Traditional TV has a severe problem: it’s invisible in the stream of information. Look at all the great content which is professionally produced and broadcasted every minute, every newshour. Documentations and news, interviews and talks, fiction programs, animations, from really downscale crap to works of art and bits and pieces of history in the make. If it’s broadcasted, it’s done. Over. Archived. For professional use only.

Some crafty viewers might upload this or that masterpiece. But in a whole, it goes like this: after it’s broadcasted, all TV content is gone, history, up somewhere in a heaven made of fancy electrons. Or, as already stated, maybe a deep frozen hell called an archive. Where you, as a TV librarian with top-level clearance, might even be able to run a full text search of at least all US programs. Because by law every spoken word has to be in closed captioning as well, for the hearing impaired (which includes pretty much almost every search bot on the planet).

Traditional TV network: the deepest darknet, ever.

Traditional TV networks: they form deepest darknet, ever.

TV networks created the largest darknet on the planet. Partly, because of survival instincts. It’s commercial broadcasters trying to survive the onslaught of the unfettered Internet for as long as possible. Because, unfortunately, the unbundling powers which shredded the music industry into a huge 99 Cent store are threatening TV as well.

Partly, it’s some boratcasters not getting their own model right. Look at he German pubcasters: every year, ARD and ZDF collect as much money as a minor state might create as GNP. It’s a big funnel, where you put lots of money in, which gets converted into several hundred thousands of broadcasted video, which then partially trickle into clunky catch-up islands on the web, to finally disappear for ever. What an incredible waste.

While commercial broadcasters have every right to fear the net and its consequences, the pubcaster’s business model is actually threatened by having become a part of the TV darknet.
As Jon Lund writes in his analysis Why tablet magazines are a failure

When a magazine is organized as an app rather than as a website, its articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web. And even if they could, clicking the link in Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself — cutting the magazine out of the greatest traffic driver in today’s world.

The pattern is the same on social media. When you can’t link directly to an article, the urge to tweet or tell your friends about it drastically shrinks. And curators like Flipboard and Zite can’t look into, link or grab content from within magazine apps.

Same goes for traditional TV. It’s still living in this mid 20th century bubble, when TV was the greatest traffic driver in today’s world. OK, commercial broadcasters have to maintain at least the apparition of being the center of the universe of every household on the globe. Even if the viewing patterns of the 21st century tell you a different story.

But public broadcaster live in a different universe. The legitimacy of their funding is strongly connected with themselves being accepted as a valuable asset. If you accept this, then staying invisible in the stream of information is a rather counterproductive strategy. 

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