Almost unnoticed, the paradigm shifts and the fate of the "ostriches," the media companies that still cling desperately to the notion that the internet is just a fad, is sealed.
I’m still preparing for the trip to Chile – and God, I needed this week off just to take care of all the other ticky-tacky stuff before I head down – but I had to jump out of prepping my speech(es) to note this otherwise ignored bit.
According to Hitwise, that low-level grinding noise that you can hear, if you have just the right kind of ears, was the massive entertainment-consumption paradigm ponderously shifting in favor of online entertainment. Remember, this data is for a site that barely existed two years ago, and was created using what was basically the equivalent of the money spent on doughnuts for the Teamsters on your average Jerry Bruckheimer shoot:
During the week of February 3, YouTube’s traffic surged
above the combined traffic to all of the television network websites.* This is
a landmark event in the changing face of web traffic and entertainment
consumption, now that entertainment seekers are now more likely to go to
YouTube than any other television network or gaming website. The custom
category of 56 television cable and broadcast network sites received 0.4865% of
all US Internet traffic for the week ending
, while YouTube received 0.6031%.
Blaaahhh! Head … exploding … moving … too … fast …
[bonks head repeatedly against desk]
Way back in ’99 when I started getting involved in streaming video, we all knew that watching and, more to the point, interacting with entertainment media via your computer was the Wave of The Future. Still, the thought was that movie and TV studios and producers would be smart enough and nimble enough to get out in front of this wave, and that in the future, we’d see Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone (remember – this was the late 90s – these people were still relevant) all doing their thing in an interactive streaming video environment.
What we underestimated was the tenacity with which the hidebound bureaucratic studios and production companies would cling to their outmoded business models, when the future could so clearly be seen. To be fair, when Web 1.0 imploded and everyone standing near the impact craters (such as yours truly) lost their shirts, the closets the shirts had been stored in and the houses that contained the closets, it gave the mossbacked reactionaries a perfect "I told you so" moment. Since then, the future has arrived like the swelling of the wave pictured above. The flailing attempts of media companies to kill YouTube have only made it stronger – viz the whole reason it got big in the first place.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens from here on out. It may not be YouTube that winds up the eventual winner – in fact, I don’t think that the strictures of Web 2.0 allow for such thing as an "eventual winner." There will be constant churn. And that’s OK. The reign of the "Big 3" networks and the Sony/Warner/Viacom/Fox megaliths will continue. For a while, at least. If by no other means then by using their enormous cash reserves to buy up New Media properties and attempt to co-opt them into their orbits. Hell, even YouTube is owned by Google.
But these megaliths are all rooted in shifting sands. The fact that a snot-nosed startup can beat them up on the playground and take their lunch money, AFTER said megaliths have spent the last 15 years throwing billions and untold man-hours of labor attempting to encircle and capture the New Media market proves just how incompetent and short-sighted the management structures of these companies are.