There is no doubt that as the media landscape reshapes itself around the iconic old behemoths and the multitude of newer, smaller players, the path to salvation will be paved with digital bricks.
The broadcast sector has embraced its digital revolution with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success. There are two certain things, however: pay television and the ABC stand head and shoulders above their rivals.
Pay television has invested heavily in, and begun to exploit, new technology with brilliant results. After many years of leading the technological wave, the Foxtel Go iPad app is the icing on that particular cake.
The ABC’s iview is a similarly impressive platform, leading its commercial rivals in the easy, efficient delivery of online television content. The web offering of its rivals is still a mixed bag. To that feather the ABC now adds a live-streaming YouTube channel for its ABC News 24 service.
The YouTube channel will allow the ABC’s viewers to integrate its broadcast into their social network activity by embedding a bit.ly/abcnewsnow link. That tool is powerful, allowing viewers to watch the ABC without actually leaving the particular social network platform they are using.
It’s a bold initiative, and perhaps an easy one for the national broadcaster to make because of the channel’s relatively small footprint and the ABC’s broad indifference to overnight ratings. In that sense, both pay TV and the ABC have an immunity to the worst of commercial TV’s statistical vagaries.
Commercial networks, paralysed by the fear that any technology that shifts eyeballs away from traditional TV screens is akin to shooting themselves in the foot, would be far more cautious about taking such an innovative step.
Their great challenge, however, is that they will need to soon – or risk looking dangerously obsolete in a world that rewards innovation and punishes inertia brutally.
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