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An overview of the changing media landscape

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The Oxford dictionary defines media as ‘the main means of mass communication regarded collectively.’ The media industry is both broad and complex. But, in its simplest form media is about content and audience. There are many different sectors within the contemporary media industry. The main sectors are publishing, broadcasting, theatrical and gaming. With the ubiquity of the Internet, the transmission of all media content online, to all connected users, has come to fruition. Through these means, each segment of media can be deployed to connect content to an audience.

The rapid evolution of technology is having a dramatic impact on all aspects of the media industry. The digital age has led to massive disruption in each sector of the business. That disruption has brought about a gradual shift in power away from traditional studios and broadcasters, and towards new and innovative content creators. As a result of these changes, content creators are one-step closer to their audiences, which now wield greater power in the determining what is served up by the media. The impact of digital technology on audiences has been profound. It has enabled easy access to connectivity, greater convenience and portability of content. Digital media also enables interactivity between audience and content, as well as personalisation of content. These new aspects of media are critical to maximising the appeal and value of content.

Before the digital age, the major studio’s production companies dominated content production. Content was expensive to produce and required significant infrastructure and equipment. Broadcast networks controlled access to mass audiences and the requisite licenses to broadcast content were restricted in number and expensive to obtain and maintain. Similarly, theatre owners controlled movie screens and determined what would play on them. Audiences were told what to watch and when to watch it. Schedules were controlled by the broadcasters and theatre owner, who also determined what content would fill their finite slots. In order to achieve success, content creators had to adhere to the limitation placed upon them by those who controlled access to the audiences, which they wished to reach.

The digital age altered this paradigm and created enormous opportunity for those willing to take advantage of the lowered barriers between them and their audiences. Whereas before the means of distribution dominated content, content is now king, and great content can always find an audience. However, it is the audience which now has the direct power to determine what they wish to see and when they wish to see it. Consumers worldwide are viewing more content than ever and doing it on their terms.

Content owners are now able to distribute content directly to an intended audience, without gatekeepers maintaining barrier between them and their consumers. Audiences are now able to seek out content on their own terms specific to their individual preferences. The advent of Video on Demand (VOD) platforms (in their many guises) has led to an explosion of pipes carrying content to audiences. It has also fuelled a dramatic increase in consumer demand for bespoke, niche content, in addition to broader mass content for mass-market media. As a result, there is underway a democratisation of content for all audiences across all media.

The cumulative impact of these changes has led to new distribution models, which have in turn created opportunities for new content players. At the same time, the traditional media outlets have been compelled to compete and stay relevant in this ever-changing media landscape.

Due to the pace of these changes, the business models relevant to this evolving industry have not been able to keep up, and the business is still dependent on many antiquated financial structures and models. As a result, it will take some time for the core business models impacting industry to adapt and evolve to meet the demands of today’s digital media age. It is within this environment that Global Merces’ believe great opportunity abounds.

 

Written by Adam Schoff and Holly Grofski