After documenting the rise and dominance of our present MASS media mind-set Chris writes –
“Then came the great unraveling. A new medium arose, one even more powerful than broadcast, and its distribution economics favored infinite niches, not one-size-fits-all fare.
The Internet’s peer-to-peer architecture is optimized for a symmetrical traffic load, with as many senders as receivers and data transmissions spread out over geography and time.
In other words, it’s the opposite of broadcast.”
Chris describes the all too familiar HIT based POV –
If it’s not a hit, then it’s a miss. It has failed the economic test and, therefore, never should have been made.
This Hollywood mindset is now how we allocate space on store shelves, fill time slots on television, and build radio playlists.
It’s all about allocating scarce resources to the most “deserving,” which is to say, the most popular.
Scarcity of the broadcast medium is why as choice and niche offerings contines to explode across new media – old media mediums like radio will have no choice but to continue the HIT game even as the sheer number of “hits” decline.
“But now the audience is turning to a distribution medium that doesn’t favor the hits alone. We are abandoning the tyranny of the top and becoming a niche nation again, defined not by our geography but by our interests.
Instead of the weak connections of the office water cooler, we’re increasingly forming our own tribes, groups bound together more by affinity and shared interests than by broadcast schedules.
These days our water coolers are increasingly virtual – there are many different ones, and the people who gather around them are self-selected.”
How does this bode for radio? We can get an idea by looking at what’s already happend to TV.
Today, the “Big 3” networks still exist – but OTHER (all remaining available TV offerings) now draw collectively far more viewers.
OTHER dominates. It’s a mass of niches.
As Chris points out in the article – TV’s current “biggest show” American Idol is watched by just 18% of households. Back in the “Big 3” hey days of the 70’s it wouldn’t even be a top 10 show.
In the audio entertainment world today Radio dominates.
But with all other mass media that had enjoyed similar dominance having lost it to OTHER – we’d be fools to think radio is immune.