[qi:032] Did someone circulate a secret memo to the Big TV executives? Suddenly they can’t wait to give away their television shows, betting that old will strike gold in the NewTeeVee world.
First it was NBC (GE), then ABC (DIS), and now FOX (NWS) is giving away some of its shows on iTunes. (NewTeeVee has made a list of places where you can find network television, it’s also organized the networks in terms of 1980s movie characters.)
“What we are seeing is a rather messy and inelegant fumbling into the future of video distribution,” Tim Hanlon of Denuo, a division of ad giant Publicis Groupe, told the LA Times. Fumbling or not, one thing is clear: Network television executives are ready to face the music. Good thing, too, because they are going to find out very soon just how many people are actually watching their shows, and what they can really make off of them.
The advertisers should be rubbing their hands in glee: the television’s game of smoke-and-mirrors, a.k.a. notional audiences is going to be replaced by hard data.
Look, I think what the networks are doing is great — at least they’re experimenting. But for the longest time they have passed themselves off as mass-market entertainment experts; the results of these online experiments are going to show just how expert they really are. Whether or not they can handle the truth is a different matter altogether.