So the last time I did a lecture notes post was in week 4. There was the Easter break, I got sick and then I just avoided the online world in general for a few weeks, but I’m back now, so lets carry on with it.
This week’s lecture was a throwback to week one, we talked about industrial media, or heritage media again, this time in terms of scarcity.
First up, heritage media is capital intensive, requiring huge amounts of money to make media, after the upfront costs required to establish a media-making model. The consequence of this is that everything must be produced with the $return in mind. As Adrian says “advertising only works if people are watching”.
Heritage media celebrates scarcity (because it makes advertising spots worth more). Newspapers could print 1,000 pages daily instead of 50 but they don’t because not only would it make the actual paper hard to manage, but because nobody wants to pay $10 for the daily news, and the advertising spots would be worth less. Television can only play one thing at a time and so will put the popular shows on at times when they know that the most people will be available to watch (hence making the advertising spots more valuable).
Because of this scarcity, heritage media can’t afford to take risks. If one outlet finds a new formula that makes a lot of money and draws a big audience (eg. Masterchef) then the other outlets will copy that format (eg. My Kitchen Rules) and so television becomes a sheep chasing sheep model.
Where’s the innovation there? There is only so much you can do, it’s like innovation in the car industry. You might update the engine, move the fins or add racing stripes, but a car will remain a vehicle with four wheels and an engine for a long, long time.
In the post-industrial media age (which we are entering into), scarcity is not valued. Access to the means of production has been flipped and there is no longer a huge financial barrier to set up a media institution (free blog anyone?). Adrian notes, “once you take scarcity away … everything else collapses” and so we are on the cusp, in the swamp between heritage media and new media. We are the one who have to figure out what that means, how we can make money (and meaning) from it, and where it all fits in this post-industrial media age.
Pay attention to the things that push back…