Transforming Content Industry

The Content industry needs a new vision, a new path and some new tools to stay relevant. In the age of attention deficit, fuelled by a billion choices, we need to reinvent ourselves. (When I say content, I mean video content, irrespective of whether it is delivered through Cable, DTH or Fiber). We can’t do that by pandering to the whims of a remote wielding consumer or a restless finger that can swipe out anything in less than a second. We need to go back to the roots of being human.

Interaction, Engagement, Participation : Not long ago, these were the fundamental elements of our social life. But today people chat, share and comment, talking AT each other and all AT the same time, resembling a classroom without a teacher, with so much noise and very little connection, discussion or learning.

Undivided attention and a commitment to spend loyal time with creators and their creation: These were fundamental to how we engaged with arts and entertainment. Today, most people keep surfing, just like window shopping.

It is a myth to believe that a billion crowd sourced videos on the internet or a billion hash tagged opinions on twitter is making the society better. Or that people shifting attention from one content to another, within a few minutes is a result of a healthy evolution in choices.

Content that is curated and produced, content that can hold people on their seats for long periods, content that can emotionally connect and engage, almost always have greater social impact and benefits.

But content today is quite far from fulfilling its true potential. Most of the content today, looks more like a facebook notification feed, each one holding my attention for a short while, whose sole purpose is to keep my fingers off the screen / remote. Or like an attention seeking child. Or a boyfriend always trying to impress the girl, rarely allowing the relationship to go deeper. No wonder most content, is associated with distraction, something that you go to, when you have nothing else to do.

Topping it all is a measurement and reward system that is not only outdated, but also misleading. Measuring eyeballs, is not going to tell us how engaging and fulfilling our content is. Measuring success with Advertisement revenues works in the short term, but is a double edged sword in the long run. Brands are already seeing a diminishing rate of return on advertising.

Everyone knows that it is time to transform or perish. We need content that can inspire people to interact, participate and engage with the content and its creators. Not on Social media discussions later, but right then, while they are before the screen watching the program.That should be the true measure of our transformation, the true metric that will guide us through this transformation.

If we are not successful in this metric, it just means that our content is not engaging enough, has not emotionally connected and does not hold them in their seats. It just means that their eyes may be on the screen, but their hearts and minds are drifting elsewhere.

We should tell content owners and creators, business heads and CXOs, that this is how they will be measured in the future. How many interactions?. How many responses? How many votes?

Sure there will be a few who have the rare combination of vision and wisdom to lead this from the front. And there will be others who will follow later.

I am reminded of a dialogue towards the end of the movie in “Moneyball” (About Baseball in USA)

“This is a new method for selecting the players and playing the game. People who are not rejigging themselves to this new paradigm, will soon become extinct like dinosaurs”