Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Current TV

There are many reasons that I'm not so hot on Current TV. But the biggest is something I've really been pushing here for the last few weeks: complementarity.

The micromediasphere's been such an explosive place in terms of growth of formats and users alike because of strong complementarity. Blogs are complementary to comments are complementary to tags are complementary to links...etc.

What this ultimately creates are increasing returns to adoption - increasing marginal utility, if you like. Yes, they're real - but before, they were confined to niches where there was a mechanism to actually deliver these network FX. Hence, eBay and file-sharing.

Now, what Web 2.0 is doing, economically, is bringing increasing returns across all media. This is a problem for traditional media players who are scrambling to catch up, because it's not clear yet up who exactly will internalize the value that's being created in the micromediasphere (or the value that's being eroded from the traditional media industry, if you like).

This raises a very special problem for Current TV. Namely, that more Web 2.0 focused competitors can always and everywhere offer a superior value prop, because they can leverage complementarity. Put another way, Current TV, by tying itself heavily to cable and satellite distribution, may be foregoing the real opportunity. If you follow this analysis, Current will never be able to raise relative switching costs.

Is this a symptom of a deeper...uhhh...thing? Check this out:

"...Assignment: London

Okay: We want to put together a reflective piece on the London bombings and their implications. Get out a camera -- a webcam will do -- and start talking."

Look, peer production is not about ordering prosumers around to meekly do your bidding. It's about building a platform/community that does theirs.

Not to sound harsh, but perhaps Current has the whole dynamics of this stuff backwards.

In a sense, this is the same kind of mistake that 1.0 dot commers made - assuming that the www was just another distribution/mktg channel. Dot com 2.0 peer production plays like Current seem to be assuming more and more that the www is just another production channel (supply chain, if ya like). It's emphatically not.

The deep economics of peer production are very different - they're about supply-side network fx, strong complementarity, and increasing returns. All of which are very different from traditional media competitive dynamics, and create very different industry structures.

-- umair // 12:05 PM // 3 comments


I'm getting a not found error from your atom feed link and autodiscovery doesn't work either. Do you have a feed?
// Anonymous Anonymous // 12:12 AM

I agree, totally.

I mean, this seems more like TechTV being replaced with that accursed G4TV. Why? Because it appeals toward a flipping demographic, and not toward as diverse an audience as possible, like NWI (Newsworld International, which is being replaced by the network in question).

Now what is this about not providing news in the same manner as CNN (from the website)? Bulls**t.

NWI was NOTHING like CNN, and vice versa. NWI was the one network which I could watch with no qualms about content or objectivity. I don't give a damn about what these neocon idiots say: NWI, which was content-fueled by CBC in Toronto and Vancouver, provided *news*, with little to no spin on the part of the anchors. They didn't show their opinion, and they didn't vaunt NWI in the manner of Fox News ("free, fair and balanced") or CNN ("the most trusted name in news"). Instead, the only recognizable slogan went something like "the world's first and only 24-hour international news network", and nothing more. Thus, my respect, and alot of my television viewing hours, went to NWI, and *very* rarely to any other network.

And thus, I'll mourn NWI in my passing, and I *was* considering embracing Current with a glass of water to wash it down with. But now, with what you've said, I'm considering asking my mother to cancel Directv altogether, since NWI may be the only reason why we have it at all.

When I head off to Oglethorpe U. come August 27th, I'm not getting a TV, since I can watch/listen to CBC online via RealPlayer (it doesn't work with Winamp, despite RealAlternative and other extension plugins; and I wish that the makers of YME can develop it into a Universal Media Player, like RealPlayer). I don't have any patience anymore with this trend toward corruption of good television (TechTV, NWI, and Toonami, circa 2001) in order to cater toward a dumbf**k demographic (18-34).

Sorry for the irritation. I'm just in a vigil for NWI, the last of which I am watching as I speak, and up until it shuts down at 12 midnight on August 1st. Then, I may turn off the TV forever, despite Adult Swim, which I am a fan of.
// Anonymous Harry Underwood // 4:50 AM

I fully agree with everything Harry Underwood said. The passing of NWI has been a sad day. The first show I saw on Current dealt with how the reporter's cell phone number had gotten associated with Paris Hilton's through release of information by a hacker. It was a pathetic change from the content NWI has served up for years.

I looked closely into the background of the change from NWI to Current. It becomes clear that NWI's demise came about due to the media moguls control of what we see on television. Basically, they control the assignment of channels and if a network is going to compete with their news programs they don't let it get on another channel.

I also think Al Gore could have been involved in a more productive enterprise. Couldn't go after a Spongebob type channel could he? He has lost my vote forever.

Harry, I agree with you all the way. NWI was news reporting at a different level than we find on any other network and we are being forcefed a really lame substitute.
// Anonymous Jim Marnell - NYC // 9:28 PM
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