Media industry disruption opens possibilities

I recently attended the seminar Internetdagarna here in Stockholm, a big event discussing trends in internet usage.

There were all the usual stats, like 85% of all Swedes having access to internet at home. 97% of the internet users have broadband and 81% of them use internet daily. Mobile internet is increasing rapidly.

The keynote speaker Jeff Cole from USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future talked about the ongoing disruption in the whole media industry sector.
Here is the video from his excellent speech: “Falling Apart or Coming Together: Media and Consumers in a Digital Era
Some tidbits:
“Now everything is falling apart.”
“Newspapers have 5 years left in the US, 8 in the UK.”
“People don’t live by schedules anymore. Schedules don’t work!”
“Consumers are beginning to abandon subscriptions to print media and have little interest in paying for digital content, at least for the next five years.”
“Advertising is still preferred method. People who opt out might have to start paying.”
“All media will survive, but most will be smaller players in the digital era.”

Many of the other sessions discussed the disruption in the media industry, everybody seemed to agree on:

  1. The digital transformation will continue, faster for some types of media and slower for some.
  2. Most print media business (especially newspaper and news magazines) will be badly hit by the digital transition.
  3. Media consumption is increasing due to ubiquitous internet access and all the new mobile devices.

Pontus Schultz, head of business development at Swedish publishing giant Bonnier’s R&D department outlined it wisely:
“Everything goes digital. Digital is free.”
“People want to pay, but so far we have packaged stuff that people don’t like paying for.”
“You don’t pay for news, you pay for identity and for being part of a community.”
“The challenge is to stop being a broadcaster and become a part of the conversation.”
“Reader interaction: don’t ask what they think, ask what they know.”
“Tablets like iPads is a chance for media to do it right this time.”
See his talk (in Swedish, starts at 18:20)

Strategies are necessary, but they are worthless without action!

Pontus ended by saying that media is usually quite good at creating new strategies, but lousy at implementing them. This is a key insight for me!

All this means that today’s media conglomerates are like ocean-going super tankers. When they see icebergs they have big difficulties changing course due to their massive inertia based on their 100+ years of traditions. Some of them have smart crew members like Pontus and will be able to change course a little quicker and perhaps launch some smaller experimental vessels that will take off. Other will hit icebergs or continue slowly into oblivion.

The time is now!

So there are now unique conditions for small speedboats to run around the tankers and cruise on top of the waves, adapting to the ever-changing conditions in the digital ocean and building new types of media content and services. These speedboats can of course be launched from existing media companies (and some already are) but I think the biggest part of the expanded digital media business many will be built by a new breed of media companies.

They need to be small, creative and agile, populated with a multi-cultural mix of  techies and communicators combined with experienced, open-minded media savvies and some hybrid thinkers like me.

These new speedboats can now be built by small groups of open-minded people anywhere in the world. The tools needed to build a new media service are now far less expensive, faster and easier to use. Sweden is an ideal location for this due to our crop of talented developers and internet-savvy early adopters.

This tickles my mind, what about yours?

Published by

Henrik Ahlén

I am an eHealth Strategist at Kentor/Sopra Steria in Stockholm, Sweden. I drive eHealth development projects from needs analysis and idea generation to service design and implementation. See my LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mrhenrikahlen

2 thoughts on “Media industry disruption opens possibilities”

  1. These jumped out at me:

    “People don’t live by schedules anymore. Schedules don’t work!”

    I’m sitting here at 4:10PM in Hub San Francisco after taking the bus at 6:30AM to the SF Bay (Aquatic Park and Fort Mason on a gloriously crystal clear, hot day in November (!) working all the way. Then I worked at SF City Hall (free wifi–yay) after getting some bureaucracy handled. This is not a typical “schedule”!

    “You don’t pay for news, you pay for identity and for being part of a community.”

    People crave recognition. And asking them to contribute (like to an online community) is giving them that gift–the gift of recognition.

    “Reader interaction: don’t ask what they think, ask what they know.”

    Great point! I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

    And I love the speed boat analogy.

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