A View from Brad King

News, Entertainment, Digital Life Coming Together

Media companies continue to cling tightly to their copyrights, but ever so slowly, users are being invited to play.

  • November 2, 2006

With television ratings stagnating, news organizations are searching for new ways to nab viewers–particularly younger viewers who turn to the Web for their information. The Big Three–ABC, NBC, and CBS–are making a concerted effort to develop a Web presence. ABC, though, is by far the most forward thinking. It’s creating a 15-minute Web-only broadcast, according to this Hollywood Reporter piece.

What makes this interesting is the fact that ABC has eschewed traditional thinking. The organization doesn’t simply place its television broadcasts online. Instead, it’s working to engage the digital audience.

Now, not to get all Cluetrain Manifesto-y on you, but ABC is going about this the right way. It sees the Web as simply a platform for conversation. One-to-many broadcasts, such as television, are good for one medium, but they’re not good for developing a large-scale audience online. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Some of the pieces have a decidedly new-media feel to them. A correspondent recently shot a piece walking on the streets of Baghdad to explain what it was like to wait in line for gasoline and pay more than Iraqis are accustomed to paying. It was closer to a video blog entry than a traditional report.

Of course, it’s not all fun and entertainment on the Web. Viacom has requested that Google’s YouTube remove all copyrighted materials–including clips from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report–from its site, ostensibly to make way for a licensing agreement that will allow the media giants to build solid business models around Web video. And MySpace, the market leader in social networking, which has partnered with various entertainment groups, announced that it would use “audio fingerprinting” technology to block the use of unauthorized music by its users.

Despite the restrictions, it’s become clear that media companies are trying to walk a fine line between building and engaging their audiences, and also protecting their copyrighted material.

Nowhere are these two issues coming to a head more starkly than in the grand experiment in Second Life, a virtual world that has seen a dramatic rise in its user base and a dramatic rise in the number of corporations rushing to set up virtual shops.

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