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The media paradigm shift

I’ve written a little about the changing nature of the radio business over the last few months. Now that I’m between positions as we prepare for the move to Indiana, I’ve got a little more time to expand on those thoughts. And it may be that I’ve picked the right time to resign from a radio gig.

In a nutshell, old-line broadcasters are about to get hit by a broadband-powered tsunami.

And it’s not just radio — television is about the undergo a radical shift in how consumers use it:

WITHIN THE NEXT THREE YEARS, more than 16 million U.S. households with televisions will use their broadband service more than they use their TV sets today, says technology consulting firm In-Stat.

Up to 30% of viewers will drop subscription TV and use the Internet for watching TV, according to a recent survey by the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based In-Stat. More than 40% say they aren’t getting enough international news and information from their current TV service, despite having hundreds of channels to choose from.

It’s all about the consumer. When I can essentially program my own channel with a few mouse clicks, why should I pay $50 a month or more for two hundred channels of nothing to watch?

Watch for this shift to accelerate once people figure out how to use AppleTV, or another device like AppleTV is introduced that’s as simple to use as a VCR or DVD player.

How are things going to change? I don’t know, exactly. The old line media won’t go down without a fight. But distribution via Internet reduces entry costs to the point that almost anyone with a good idea can reach an audience.

Kids have already figured it out. The available audience for radio formats aimed at listeners 25 and under is shrinking faster than the Dead Sea. The Internet, iPods, and cell phones are facilitating the shift, but the audio consumers are leaving radio because they want compelling content. The proliferation of broadband guarantees that the same thing will happen to television, and soon.

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