The Media Industry is Changing? Yeah, We Know…

The Media industry is, for the most part, collectively stumped by the challenges presented by the rise of the internet as the primary means of delivering television content. There has been no better illustration of that, than last week’s media stock tumble.

There are many moving pieces to this puzzle, but at the heart of it all lies perhaps the most important: data. Without accurate data, content creators cannot even measure success across multiple platforms.

Waiting and Waiting…

Well known analyst Alan Wolk summed up the problem nicely following last week’s media stock turmoil, essentially blaming Nielsen for the mess that many media companies are in.

“Everything can be traced back to what I call ‘waiting for Nielsen’ — the whole industry is waiting for Nielsen to follow through on its promise to start measuring OTT views.”
- Analyst Alan Wolk

Even if content is more popular online, content producers are reluctant to invest where performance can’t be measured.

While Nielsen has been the staple for TV land for decades, for the big media companies, this has often resulted in some confounding decisions. Some simply ignore the OTT space entirely, while others continue to base their programming decisions on Nielsen numbers which they know aren’t telling the whole story.

Last week, investors said loudly what’s already been on many people’s minds: those strategies don’t make sense.

FreeCast makes Progress

At FreeCast, we’ve been working on this problem, not avoiding it or waiting on Nielsen to solve it for us. At the National Association of Broadcasters Show in April, our content partners brought one big concern to us, as they plotted their own OTT strategies: lack of accurate data was one of the obstacles they were facing.

Fortunately, at that point we also realized that it was an obstacle that we were perfectly positioned to overcome. Many network executives observed that because of our unique role as an aggregator, that we had exactly the type of data that they needed. Because users passed through our system en route to the content that they wanted to watch, we were able to observe their path through the site and their viewing habits, as well as where from many different possible choices they were choosing to watch any given piece of content.

Taking this feedback from our partners, we began working on our own data services offering, with the intention of doing what Nielsen wasn’t, and still is not doing: giving content producers and advertisers a clear look at what users are watching, when, and where on the internet.

Just two months later, FreeCast began talking to the first companies interested in these data services and began prepping our first reports. We knew that the industry was in desperate need of what we were producing, whether they knew it or not.

Now, less than six months after this process began, our first reports are materializing, starting with a free industry baseline report, and more detailed network level data available to our partners.

The Complete Solution

We’ve known for years that disrupting change was coming to the media industry, so FreeCast was created to build the solution that today’s media companies will need to prosper.

FreeCast’s Media Aggregation Platform

The first piece is our Media Aggregation Platform, an open marketplace where content producers can offer their content to consumers, and do it their way. From free ad-supported content, to subscription based offerings, to pay-per-view shows and movies, even linear feeds; we support it all.

The other part is our ability to capture and report meaningful data, which is absolutely essential to the production and offering of high quality content.

FreeCast is the only company that offers both pieces of that puzzle. The alternative, even with other partners, is for a company to spend years and millions of dollars on redundant development, with no guarantee of a return on that investment.

New Challenges for Old Media

For decades, programming decisions have revolved around where a show fits in to a 24/7 linear schedule. Any show that doesn’t fit at all find itself on the chopping block.

But times are changing. More viewers are watching their favorite shows on-demand, often in lieu of catching them at their scheduled air times. That’s bad news for ratings, which in addition to being down, may no longer reflect the actual popularity or viewership of the content in question.

“Community” was picked up by Yahoo! after being cancelled by NBC

This parallax has resulted in several shows being canceled by their networks, only to find new life on the web. Some have even continued production. NBC’s Community was picked up by Yahoo where it’s continued to enjoy a strong audience and critical acclaim, while more recently FOX’s The Mindy Project has found a home on Hulu where it’s poised to start its 4th season.

Amateurs and Professionals

Just as the stark line that once existed between “TV” and web video has essentially been erased, the line between amateur content producers and professional ones is starting to fade as well.

It’s been widely reported that many YouTube celebrities have massive audiences, and even earnings, in the same league as traditional TV stars.

Many amateur content creators on sites like YouTube have audiences rivaling those of TV hits.

Having long relied on the VOD format of YouTube and other free video sharing sites, some of the struggles that amateur content creators have dealt with are now facing the traditional media companies for the first time.

Specifically: how to quantify the performance of content that exists in multiple places on the web.

For the shows that have drawn the ratings necessary to stay in the linear TV lineup, multiple on-demand viewing options exist as well. Meaning in addition to Nielsen-recorded TV viewership, there’s an additional online audience watching from multiple sources. That means that an accurate total viewership figure, as well as an idea of who’s watching what and where, have remained elusive, to content creators and advertisers alike.

A New Era

Having been in the online media industry for decades, we’ve seen all of these challenges coming from a mile away, long before anyone else has been taking them seriously.

That’s why we founded FreeCast and built it into the unique company that it is. Creating another YouTube or another Netflix isn’t what the industry needs, we set our sights higher than that.

We want to usher in this new era of web-delivered television that hold so much promise and opportunity for all, and the best way we can do that is by helping the traditional players in the television industry to take that first step and to succeed in the online space.

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