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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How will the media evolve? (Part 2)

Once upon a time, network TV like DD, BBC, ABC, CBS, DW etc, were one-stop-entertainers showing sports, news, music, films, sitcoms, vaudeville - all in one channel...Then came Cable and the so called "Niche" channels cropped up. And then came more and more channels within the same Niche; since Niches are by definition small and as the niches got crowded, these Niche clones had to also show programs from other Niches, and then all channels started looking like more or less the same. Here are some examples of these signs of convergence (SOC) between the million, zillion, traptopillion number of TV channels in the world:

1) Sports and Family channel SOC: Friends in US complain that they hardly get to see any sports on ESPN- (ESPN mostly shows Poker, spelling-bee, talk shows etc.).. They actually have to tune in to ESPN-Spanish or obscure channels like OCM to catch any sports...In India, Sony Max is a sports plus movie channel, Zee too would have taken the same route if they got the cricket rights
2) News and Glamour TV SOC: CNN drew a lot of flak two years ago when they promoted one of their star anchor "Paula Zahn" as "a little sexy"...Its a well-known fact that news anchors are chosen more for looks than for much else (When will we see this coming in India?)
3) Music and evening TV SOC: Music videos are shown on MTV and VH1 in the US only in the morning...Rest of the time its only Date the Mom, Date one out of three, Roadies, Celebrity party-life kind of shows..
4) Business and evangelical channels SOC: In India, the morning hours on many business channels are devoted to astrological forecasts.. not very different from Aastha, Sanskar etc..The same is true for many family channels...The evangelical channels in turn show TeleShopping programs most of the time...
5) No choice within the same niche: All news channels have become so predictable, especially in India.. They more or less show the same news item at the same time..I came across a Ghulam Navi Azaad interview on Sahara News, switched to Aaj Tak- the same interview, switched to Zee News - the same interview... In US, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, etc.. appear on most sitcom channels...
6) No choice within the same channel: When it comes to movies, its highly likely that you will see the following movies whenever you switch on- Zee Movies-Andaz apna apna, Star Movies- Jurassic Park, HBO- Mummy, Zee MGM- Kill Bill, Gangs of New York etc., the same news played 24/7 on news channels; the same episodes on cartoon channels
7) Similar formats: Yes, the "choose one out of many after many-1 weeks" format is being used in all channels: Rock Star- INXS, Big Brother, Apprentice, ESPN- Commentator, Discovery-King of the Jungle, Indian and American Idol, MTV Roadies etc...these are often the star programs of their respective channels...

As you see, there is not much difference between different niches, between different channels within the same category, and between different programs in the same channel... So, what next? Are we going back to the old network days? Will language and logos remain as the only difference between TV channels?

1 comment:

Charukesi said...

Shivaji, you have raised such an important question - where is differentiation between among channels of one genre and even across genres. Ever single bit of media research that i do shows that people do not really see a difference in content - or presentation. And sometimes not even the 'look'...

will come back and read this post at lesiure... very interesting..