Smartest media quote of the year

“We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.”

Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said that in today’s Wall Street Journal explaining CBS’ smarter-than-most strategy for a distributed media economy.

This is the way all media executives should be thinking: Go to the people, don’t make the people come to you. That’s expensive for you and inconvenient for them and it’s just not going to happen — or, it’s no way to build a media business model anymore. Says the Journal:

A year ago, CBS Corp. announced the creation of Innertube, an entertainment channel on CBS.com designed to make the company a player in online video. It streams video of sporting events, news reports and reruns of shows such as the hit comedy “How I Met Your Mother.”

CBS’s new chief Internet strategist now jokes that the Web address for Innertube should be “CBS.com/nobodycomeshere.”

CBS, after a year of experimenting with various Web initiatives, says that forcing consumers to come to one site — its own — to view video hasn’t worked. Instead, the company plans to pursue a drastically revised strategy that involves syndicating its entertainment, news and sports video to as much of the Web as possible. It represents a stark departure for the TV industry. . . .

Starting this week, an expanded menu of CBS’s video content will be available for free to consumers on as many as 10 different Web sites ranging from Time Warner Inc.’s AOL to Joost Inc., a buzzy online video service that is just rolling out. The company calls its new venture the CBS Interactive Audience Network.

Importantly, they’re also going through services that let us embed and distribute their stuff. That’s the greatest win of all. Why not encourage your audience to recommend and distribute your good stuff. It’s free marketing. It’s the endorsement that matters most. It’s only wise. But media has always been about control, about selling scarcity. So it’s damned hard for these guys to shift their mental map of the world and realize that they are not at center, we are. What they defined as inside is outside. This requires them to turn their world inside out. CBS is doing that.

Meanwhile, see the Stuart Elliott column in today’s Times all about networks trying harder to keep viewers in, how to keep them from changing the channel or TiVoing. What they should be asking is how they can take their stuff out. Think distributed.

Note also that NBC is shifting an inch by airing one of the Law & Orders on USA first, then on NBC. That says that NBC isn’t the center of the universe. But this doesn’t go quite far enough. Why not air it online first? If you don’t, NBC, Dick Wolf will someday. That’s what the studios of the future are doing now.

  • http://www.rklau.com/tins/ Rick Klau

    Jeff – Totally agree with you re: Quincy. Sharp guy.

    Re: NBC – they actually did air some (one?) tv shows first online – that Andy Richter show (Andy Barker, PI) was aired first on the web… in fact, I heard about it through Very Short List, watched an episode online and told a few friends to watch when it aired on the network.

  • http://www.thepomoblog.com Terry Heaton

    Jeff,
    The problem with the NBC strategy is that it guts (again) the affiliates. Local media loses again.
    I guess we’re evolving into the jungle of survival of the fittest (and why not?), but this is serious shit for the locals. I just want to point that out.
    Terry

  • Boyd

    I’m shocked that Mr. Jarvis is not following TiVo’s Copy Trademark Guidelines. It is incorrect to say “…how to keep them from changing the channel or TiVoing.” The correct usage is “…how to keep them from changing the channel or recording the show on a TiVo® DVR.” :) http://www.tivo.com/resources/legal_requirements.asp

  • Greg0658

    Just another trade/commerce scheme in jeopardy from the computer age.

    Ads and the info glut is dimming their effect. Blogging will fall in here too.

    Advertising floats all boats. The TV and Magazines its shows and stories – creates most if not all the desire. Presence takes over.

    For me and my business its all about yellow pages and bridal shows. For a bar – street presence. For a health & beauty, food, tech product – shelf presense is it. An event needs something from tv, radio, billboard, print and web.

    Just a quick jot on this – time to move out to some 3D world stuff.

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  • http://deleted Tansley – addendum

    (Gasp)…you mean…there’s INTELLIGENT LIFE out there???

    Very cool that CBS is working on the process as-we-speak. I would’ve expected the others to follow suit quickly, but then you just never know, do you? Obviously networks are NOT ‘herd animals.’

    NPR has been carrying the news (as have a lot of other organs) about TV Network ad-panic – something like a 7% viewship drop over the past couple months. Ironically, the adoption of early Daylight Saving Time three weeks ahead of schedule may have improved some retail sales, but dropped the BOTTOM out of viewship, with series such as LOST losing nearly 50% of their former fans in some cases – though this specific case wasn’t exclusively caused by the DST move-up. Even IDOL lost some viewer share. Now word has it that the networks are trying to get advertsers to give them credit for ‘SEVEN DAYS’ windows in which commercials run, ostensibly to incorporate TiVo®-ing shows as part of the ratings systems… a ploy a lot of advertisers aren’t buying into, since with a TiVo® it’s pretty easy to blast through commercial blocks and get back to that superficial programming designed to fill the spaces BETWEEN said commercial blocks…

    All of which points up, once again, to the carboniferous destiny of those that fail to adapt to change. It’s something of a relief to see that CBS is trying to adapt, although their lineup of new shows is thus far adding up to something only slightly beyond a yawnfest…and as for the other two networks, their new programming lines are reportedly dipping heavily into the supernatural for thematic content… perhaps in the faint hope that magic will, somehow, bail them out of becoming just another stratum in the rockface of history…

  • http://deleted Tansley – addendum

    my bad…..’ViewERship,’ not ‘viewship’….

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  • David

    Before we crack open the champagne bottles and congratulate Mr. Smith for his wisdom and foresight, keep in mind that CBS has by far the highest median age of any broadcast network. It should not be surprising, not least to CBS, that its typical fossilized viewer does not respond to on-air promos and bugs that throw to CBS.com, has the latest version of Flash installed, or can think of a single reason why he or she would want to watch TV on a computer. So in other words, could this just be a clever PR move intended to divert attention from the possibility that there just isn’t much interest in watching CBS programming on the web in general?

    ABC claims to get plenty of viewing on its site FWIW, though it must be costing them a fortune in bandwidth considering how little $ they make from video ads.

  • http://deleted Tansley – addendum

    Well, David, it could be that CBS is trying to broaden their viewer demographic, as well. Although I agree with you that the hype potential here is enormous…

  • http://woip.blogspot.com Patrizia Broghammer

    They have discovered the power of the number.
    It is not good what is good, but it is good what brings many.
    And in this view the success is not what you serve on a silver tray, but what people ask for, what the number wants.
    That is why stupid programs like big brother are so succesful and most of all, almost monopolize the daily offer.
    In Japan, I read not so long ago, on TV you almost find nothing else than “reality shows” and “quiz”.
    Because that is what the mass wants and that is what they offer.
    We have to grow sick people in order to have a healthy economy.

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  • http://www.zoom-in.com Megan Cunningham

    This is the way independent filmmakers and tv producers have been forced to think for years. You can never assume “if we build it they will come–”
    Which is why I’m so happy to see the WallStrip acquisition go through.

    The fact that the media world is not a meritocracy is something everyone who’s ever toiled away for months on perfecting their student film learns in about 10 seconds following their “premiere.” It’s the same lesson 1st time tech entrepreneurs have to learn, that the best product doesn’t always win. Marketing counts. And making that marketing a scalable part of your online video distribution strategy is what those Wallstrip folks did best, imho. Congrats to all involved-

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