The State of Change in Television

Amazon StudiosEarlier I brought you the story of Dish Network’s battle with the television industry over commercial skipping and Dish chief Charlie Ergan’s contention that “television needs to change.”

Well, here is one of the ways television is changing. Amazon.com is moving forward with three productions of original programming for it’s Amazon Prime streaming service. Netflix has also announced an initiative to produce original content. Amazon actually has a division called Amazon Studios that accepts scripts and ideas from all over and chooses those it wants to pursue. It is effectively crowdsourcing production, which in itself is revolutionary.

Original programming on Netflix and Amazon could be a major disruption of the traditional TV model as these programs would not be tied up in the complex and arcane rules of cable networks. These programs can live on the open Internet and on any platform with a broadband connection. It’s just going to take one big hit, one major success to dramatically increase viewership  and prove the model.

This could be a back to the future moment as well. In the 50’s brands helped produce and promote the original soap operas on TV. It made sense; they produced shows that appealed to their core market of housewives and put them on when the wives were home alone and available to watch. I could easily see brands today doing the same thing, using online distribution like Amazon and Netflix as partners.

Industries and large companies always resist change. Change is hard, expensive and risky. They would rather drive their current model into the ground as the music industry did. Or maybe by some self deluded thought they believe they can outlast the future. Pandora’s box has been opened, the technology is all in place. Television will change, in fact it’s already happening. Original programming from unusual places like Amazon and crowdsourced content is only the beginning. New opportunities will be available to the savvy and courageous.