Emerging Technologies and Trends in Online Entertainment and Business
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With the arrival of digital technology, we’ve become a nation “of multitaskers, snackers and samplers,” says Jonathan Miller . A longtime player in the media industry, Miller perceives two distinct trends emerging: the fragmentation of consumption, due to “an incredible explosion of choice,” and the consolidation of money and power in the business.
These intertwined phenomena will continue to play out, Miller believes, “to the consumers’ benefit,” because to a large degree, the consumer is in control. Content is available across innumerable platforms, from cell phones to laptops to handheld games, and with broadband and wireless penetration, users can get their fix of news, entertainment and data virtually anywhere, anytime. More to the point, consumers have at their command cheap and easy ways to produce and distribute their own content, whether original or freely exploited from other authors. There’s been a grassroots explosion of blogs, websites, mashups, instant messaging, and YouTubing. Miller notes that the internet served up five billion screens of video in 2002, and in the past year, five times as many.
Confronted by literally millions of rich media producers and hundreds of millions of consumers, media giants have been forced to shift gears. It’s an on-demand world now, says Miller, where marketing money is ill spent, since the product itself drives adoption. If consumers like it “they choose to pass it on to their friends…you can’t spend your way there.” The music industry, which tried to buck the trend, finally accepted the dominance of internet sharing and commerce. Now the rest of traditional media companies are rushing to shift their business models. For example, they’re “going to make great product” for TV, “upgrading the quality of narrative and the experience of viewing it” with movie stars and high definition. They’re finding “additional digital niches” to push their high and low-level products on the web and beyond, says Miller. The giant companies remain so, because of a need to “aggregate” the blogs, videos and podcasts. Scale still matters, so the big guys finance and swallow up the little guys, even as consumption continues to spread out. “At the same time of democratization of consumption we have a concentration of industry taking place,” concludes Miller. “This is the golden age of entertainment.”
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