Changing Channels: New Content Distribution

Posted on March 17, 2011

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Just like many of you, I am old enough to remember when there were only three television networks and a couple of independent stations to pick from. We didn’t have a remote control but there wasn’t much channel changing going on so it sort of balanced out.

Now, content creators are finding more ways than ever to distribute — and make money — on unique, compelling content. I’m not talking viral videos of cats on YouTube; these are big name stars and huge company’s finding new ways to reach consumers. 

First there’s Bubba the Love Sponge’s new online only radio show. I wrote about this in January when he split with Sirius/XM and began offering his show on the Web site Radioio.com. Bubba’s terrestrial show, which is heard in three or four markets, is available on the site for free and a two-hour uncensored after show along with some other unique content is available for a fee.

The Bubba Army “Early Enlistment Program” where listeners could subscribe to the online-only content launched in February. A month later a RadioIo press release says, “The company is pleased to report that it received nearly $1,000,000 in revenue from the program and that subscription enlistments continue to grow at a very good pace. ”

Bubba says he’s excited so many of his fans are participating in, “the evolution of media content delivery.” I’d be excited too. 

If Bubba’s national radio audience is big enough to generate a million dollars in revenue then consider what Keiffer Sutherland should be able to do. Sutherland’s new post-“24” venture, “The Confession,” is a web-only series that debuts on Hulu March 28.

Sutherland says challenges like working within 5-to-7 minute episodes and creating a character that is, “edgy enough to stand out and make an impression on the vast internet,” is unlike anything he’s ever done before.

The entire revolution isn’t coming from the talent. Netflix, the clear market leader in direct-to-home movie streaming services, recently outbid both HBO and AMC for the rights to a  new original series starring Kevin Spacey.

That sound you heard was broadcast and cable network executives teeth grinding just a little bit. A combination of Netflix reach with quality original programming could go a long way toward reshaping how entertainment is distributed.

While all of this is great fun to watch, there are practical applications for any host to keep in mind:

1) Build and Engage Your Fan Base: Be Facebook friends with your fans. Engage them regularly so they know where to find you. If something unexpected happens you will still have a way to communicate with them about your next venture, be it a new station or a completely different platform.

2) Content, Content, Content: I know you’ve heard the phrase “content is king” so many times it makes you throw up in your mouth just a little bit. But the truth is, you need to deliver content that your audience can’t get anywhere else. Bubba, Keiffer and Kevin have done that consistently which is why they can flourish in new distribution channels.

3) Experiment: Get comfortable with other platforms. Learn how to do a podcast if you don’t know. Try doing some video, both on-camera and off. The more flexible you are the more opportunity you’ll have.

4) Pay Attention: Accountants and doctors are required to have ongoing training throughout their careers to stay up-to-date on developments in their field. There isn’t a regimented program for talent so it’s up to you to educate yourself on how things are changing. 

Need help with any of it? Hire a good mechanic!

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