The world of media is finding its way in the era of context. It is hard to find context when, not so long ago, you were context.
As John Hagel notes today, ABC is going to toss a few programs up on the web. They've chosen these programs because they already are popular and have been made so in the existing media machine.
But is that how things get popular on the net? John says (my emphasis):
That is one of the consequences of the growing relative scarcity of attention – anyone who can help audiences connect with the most relevant and engaging content will be richly rewarded.
The key word here is connect. In the past, connecting was something done to you. The operator would connect your call. The television station would show you Three's Company on Wednesday nights. Connecting was a temporal, directed, and limited process.
But now connecting is about context. If I'm in the mood for really good suspense, I should be able to go read up on some sites that deal with suspense - or poll my network. Does anyone have a good recommendation for a suspenseful drama?
Context doesn't have to supplant advertising revenue or direct fees or anything like that. Cost of entry to the entertainment would be part of the decision structure. People have a history of paying for good things. There are a lot of creative ways to drive money through this model.
John goes on to talk about branding and opening up the ABC site to other content. I'm not sure this is as important as having a directed strategy to inject content into the web and make sure that people talk about it. ABC, NBC, Microsoft, Yahoo or other big companies will have less and less a role in the defining of context because they are nobody's friends. (sorry guys).
My friends have names. They are the ones that make up my trusted network. Research requires several sources, but your personal network has always been your highest value information source.
Every film is a powerhouse thrill ride - but we only see certain films. Largely because of our networks. If ABC understands this, then, grasshopper, they will have learned.