Going online has given traditional media a fresh lease of life
The Court of First Instance in Brussels had ruled on February 13 that Google’s practice of syndicating newspaper headlines along with snippets of text to link to articles, constituted an infringement of Belgium’s copyright law. The newspaper in question did not have objections to being linked on Google but to the fact that it was not being paid enough. One would imagine, given the pace at which Google is growing, that newspapers would realise the benefits of allowing Google to link to them at nominal prices. The notion of copyright infringement needs to be revisited because the publicity and awareness that follow from a site such as Google will in fact propel newspapers, such as the Belgian one, to international fame and bring them more profit than any fee paid by Google could.
The same can be said of books. Google’s idea of putting entire books online will not slow down print sales, because new technology does not necessarily mean replacing the old; it would be a complementary process. While the iPod may have replaced the Discman, the music industry has seen a boom in the long run. This can be attested by the experiment with streaming television shows online. Initially, networks were worried that with illegal downloads of their episodes available, people would stop watching television. But, instead, it generated new interest and increased viewership because people who had to miss a particular TV show could still get to watch it later. DVD sales of TV shows have sky-rocketed.
So networks such as Fox, which initially tried to prevent downloads of its shows, including The OC, on the internet, switched gear. It now allows its viewers to stream episodes online before they appear on TV. The tactic seems to have worked for Fox, as viewers not only watch it again the next day, but the buzz created about the episode draws new viewers. And the advertisers have also moved to a sort of embedded advertising, where brands are becoming more and more visible in the movie/programme, because people are increasingly impatient about sitting through traditional ad spots.
Media consumption is changing very fast. Viewers now have the choice of getting what they want, when they want it. In the US, you can watch TV on your mobile phones, Sky TV in the UK allows you to choose from a list of movies and TV shows and so on. Demand for content is high, especially because delivery mechanisms seem to grow by the day. Given the changing nature of the media, firms like Fox and Google which learnt to adapt are the ones who are front-runners in the industry today.