The Future Of TV Looks Very Funny

Observations November 14, 2012 11:21 am

Louis C.K., asking broadcast and cable networks why they’ve been so slow to embrace change. The comedian made headlines last year when he bypassed networks to distribute a one-hour special on his own. He paid to rent out a theater, hired his own production crew, and then one month later, made the video available on his website for a nominal $5 fee. And earlier this week, he announced via Twitter that he would be doing a special for HBO, which would then be available on his own website for a $5 fee.

While HBO is a premium channel and doesn’t have to rely on advertising dollars like the majority of broadcast and cable networks, his move should strike fear into the slow-to-change television industry. Content production, and distribution, will only continue to become more accessible and affordable. As will the way consumers can (and will) access content (legally or illegally).

With our ‘on demand’ mentality, will the television industry have to adapt to a pay-per-channel (a la carte) or pay-per-view model? Why pay for cable when you can watch online for free?  An interesting note in the Louis C.K. experiment last year was that after the content was available online, FX picked up the show– a complete reversal of the current model. A similar instance happened with Arrested Development; once on FOX, the show is coming back for new episodes on Netflix.

I don’t have the answers, but times are-a-changing. The ‘content everywhere’ strategy needs to evolve, and quickly– before smart comedians and startups completely disrupt the old model.

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