The news yesterday that Warner Bros Television Group plans to launch TheWB.com as an online outlet to offer its catalog of popular programs and KidsWB.com to house its animated favorites are further reminders that broadband's infinite shelf space creates all kinds of new opportunities for broadcasters and studios ready to experiment and be creative.
I regard these moves as the latest evidence that industry players are beginning to understand how programming in a broadband world differs from business-as-usual approaches. If there is one word that captures the essence of the traditional world it would be "scarcity." Scarcity of time slots, distributors, eyeballs, financing, brands, advertising dollars, ideas, etc. The whole broadcasting and studio paradigm is built on a zero sum - and legitimate - idea that only a very small handful of all creative pursuits can succeed at any one time.
Broadband explodes the scarcity model, introducing a world of abundance in which every scarcity constraint is alleviated or erased. Abundance thinking has guided online retailers for years: offering incremental inventory is dirt-cheap, and if made easily discoverable, it will find its buyers. In fact, as the incongruous popularity of "Arrested Development" on Hulu already shows, latent demand for catalog programming can actually be quite strong.
Evidence is growing that other video providers also understand the abundance concept. Recently other networks and studios have also launched their own efforts to monetize catalog programming. At my recent NAB panel, the head of CTV's 2012 Olympics coverage noted that ALL Olympic activity will be available for online viewing (their mantra is "Every Second Counts"). Also at NAB, I was introduced to a stealthy new initiative to make available high-quality archived video that has never been available online. I expect plenty more examples to come.
To be sure, broadband's abundance creates all kinds of new challenges: More audience fragmentation. New promotion and user navigation issues. More monetization complexity. New operational and management tasks. And so on.
Yet broadband's abundance should be viewed as a direct challenge to the historical scarcity model on which broadcasters' and studios' strategies have long been built. Industry participants who recognize the new world order and embrace it will be best-positioned to succeed.
What do you think of how broadband's abundance changes things? Post a comment and let everyone know!