They Shoot Dead Media Companies, Don't They?

They Shoot Dead Media Companies, Don't They?.

Marylaine sends along notice that libraries aren't the only ones that need to shift:

Investors May Have Repudiated the Internet, but Consumers Have Not

“The reorganization of AOL Time Warner last week has been recounted as a story of Time Warner, the king of traditional media, reclaiming its rightful throne from the upstart digital pretender, America Online.

But as old-line media celebrates its return to power and to vogue, some analysts and executives caution that the Internet's capacity to change the rules should not be discounted too quickly. Investors may have repudiated the Internet, they say, but consumers have not….

But with 61 percent of American adults using the Internet, up from 46 percent two years ago, analysts and media executives say the medium is beginning to change consumer expectations of what mainstream culture should offer. Consumers who were once content to sit back and absorb what was beamed at them are demanding more control over how and when they consume movies, television, newspapers and music.

And whether it turns a profit or not, media companies are being forced to respond. Some of the Internet's effects on media, like the growing number of multitaskers, are subtle — although not so subtle for advertisers, who might be interested to know whether the eyeballs they are buying are simultaneously trained on two screens. Others, like the online file-swapping that the recording industry holds responsible for a chunk of the 10 percent decline in CD sales in America last year, are more extreme. But perhaps the most far-reaching impact lies in the rhythms and habits formed by daily use of the Web's interactive features.

'We see young people who are flowing between TV and the Web almost seamlessly, finding new ways of getting what they want, going to what they want when they want it,' said Betsy Frank, executive vice president for research and planning at MTV Networks. 'That's what the Web has taught them — you don't have to sit around for something you're not interested in.'

MTV has responded with more participatory programming like 'Total Request Live,' where audiences can vote for the songs that are played. But by Ms. Frank's logic, AOL Time Warner's largely unsuccessful efforts to sell its magazines, music and movies over AOL may have been the wrong approach.

'You'd go on AOL and there'd be a pitch to subscribe to a magazine, but that's almost like the broadcast TV model where you'd turn on the set and there'd be whatever the programmers wanted to send you,' Ms. Frank said. 'This is an audience that wants to make their own schedules….'

Newspapers have also been forced to change by the Internet, adopting a 24-hour news cycle in order to update stories on their Web sites. And they have begun to profit from it as well, recouping some classified revenue that they have lost in print editions….

But Mr. Crosbie added that the reason that people were using AOL and the Internet was to get information that they were not getting from traditional media, which was created to satisfy more general interests. “The media that Time Warner does,” he said, “is very good at satisfying generic interests but isn't good at satisfying each individual's very unique, specific interest.' ” [The New York Times]

So AOL/Time Warner is in the same boat as libraries, newspapers, and almost every other customer service-oriented industry. In this day and age, would you switch to a different bank that didn't provide ATM/debit cards? Would you buy a car that didn't have a CD player pre-installed in it? Would you sign up for a cellular service plan that didn't include long distance? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I'm willing to bet you're 45 or older.

Portability will be the key to the future.  [The Shifted Librarian]

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