How the Blur is shaping the media landscape
Blur and the Media Landscape
In the past few months I had the opportunity to present our research on the Blur to a number of audiences. And while the original research did not focus on the role of the Blur on media, we had plenty of opportunities to understand and debate the role of blurring lifestyles in media consumption, in emerging media business models and on content broadcasting.
But what is the Blur? While researching the Future of Premium and Luxury Goods, Marco Bevolo and I stumbled upon the notion of how technological convergence was reverberating in the social fabric of our lifestyles. In a nutshell we posited that a new technology-driven social trend is emerging, and we refer it to as the Blur. And because of the Blur, the borders of lifestyles are overlapping, making them undistinguished. Traditional moments – and transitions among moments – are becoming meaningless, as new blurred patterns emerge that characterize the pace of our life. The blueprint of our work-life has dramatically changed: first and foremost because we keep switching back and forth from play to work – and vice versa – in a seamless way. To a point that many – and more and more people – are having a hard time distinguish one from another.
Ten years ago, while collaborating with Philips Consumer Electronics, and their TV category, one of the key emotional elements of the positioning was the cinematic experience. If you have ever seen an Ambilight TV, you know what I am talking about. Our belief – which we know now was somehow wrong – was built around the notion of a hierarchy of content, implying a hierarchy of displays. In a Ptolemaic way, TV was the center of the Universe of media, and Cinema was the Sun. There was a strong belief that consumers would not dare watching their preferred Hollywood blockbuster, let alone their beloved TV series, on any other display than Movie Theater Screens or TVs. Today, because of the Blur, this is definitely not true. And because it is acceptable to unwind and relax in the office, during office hours, more and more people are watching/ streaming their preferred cinematic content on small screens in the office. The notion of hierarchy of content linked to a hierarchy of displays, is clearly not true. And while new rituals are emerging because of technology – Binge-watching TV series enabled by streaming – many rituals related to TV series are disappearing: because content is becoming omni-available, omni-present and on the go, and the notion of programming schedule is completely blurred.
With all that is going on, content producers, distributors and broadcasters are evolving fast, thanks to and due to digital technology. Nevertheless there are still some areas where we expect the Blur to play an increasingly more important role, by making those areas ripe for disruption. The first opportunity is in Sports: especially top-live events, still relying on very geographically limiting contracts and distribution agreements, based on bouquet choices of local distributors. Secondly, with blurred lines between work and play, and the increasing role of personal and brand purpose, we expect to see an emergence of Open Sourced, politically enabled, communities. Third, the emergence of complementary models alongside the subscription based model. And finally the disruption of broadcasting bouquets by media broadcasters.
- The Blur and the world of sports
With The Blur, the traditional schedule and distribution of sport events will be disrupted. Many Sport events still rely on TV-centric
business models, based on a combination of advertising and platform subscriptions. Most of them have heavy geographical limitation. So if you are a subscriber who is traveling abroad, you are most likely loosing your rights to the content on the go. This could lead to the emergence of AI- and Blockchain-enabled Crowd Clouting platforms. Those big-data based, meta-platforms will take charge of syndicating the sport content with the owner/ distributor, and – by using a contract based blockchain – rewarding all the owner of the geographical copyrights. Those meta-platforms will let consumer access a match from any device, and possibly with flexible start/stop features.
- Open Source Investigative Journalism
Against large media oligopolies and emerging conspiracy theories outlets, there will be emerging teams of Investigative Journalists based on an Open Source model. Similarly to Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. This takes its foundation in the Blurred consumer in-depth belief for Crowdsourcing of information.
- Pay-to-rent News
While the way we receive news on Facebook is about to change, many consumers are faced today with limitation to accessing content showing on their feeds. This is due to the more and more subscription models that are used by on-line versions of journals and broadcasters. Alongside the subscription model, more and more consumers are willing to pay-as-they-consume to watch news, read articles, or listen to audio-broadcasts, in which they are really interested. In academia there is an emerging pay-to-rent business model: scholars and researcher can rent research papers and publications, read them and then decide whether to buy them or not. We expect this business model to play a role complementary to the one of the subscription model for news.
As a sport fan, who lives abroad, I have an heart time following my team abroad. Because depending on the tournament, three different channels hold the rights to broadcast the matches, and those channels are not compatible in the same bouquet of any of the cable/ satellite distributors in the country.
Channels or – even their anchors – are going to develop API-as-a-product, which will let media distributors (e.g., blogs, websites, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video,…) broadcast their content at a price per API call, by challenging the intermediaries – i.e.: the digital TV providers – who are responsible for developing offerings based on aggregating channels/ content providers.
While the world of media is changing at a terrific speed, and it not easy to make any prediction for the future, we expect the Blur to play a dual role in re-shaping the media landscape: first and foremost as a catalyst for the change; secondly as a bridge to new business models, that need to fill the gap between unmet needs and current offering and distribution.