Friday, April 18, 2008

Missing the Boat

"The Internet is not a medium that pays for the kind of production values people expect on TV. Until the reality catches up with what people watch on line, it's difficult to justify."

-Kirstine Layfield, from the generic stock letter sent out to jPod Fans.

It’s interesting that in the same week Kirstine Layfield claims there “still isn’t the business case” for online broadcasting (Globe and Mail Apr 14 2008), we hear that NBC’s online video service Hulu has just sold out their entire ad inventory (Wired Apr 9 2008). Everything is made available for free because of the embedded sponsored advertisements. Why wouldn’t that work for jPod and the CBC's Web Casts? After all, jPod’s online viewers are a distinctively young, highly desirable demographic! Add this together with jPods' Traditional television viewers and it's a win-win situation.

In February 2008, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (a committee comprised of various MPs) produced a report entitled CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining distinctiveness in the changing media landscape. The purpose of the report was to study the future role of public broadcasting, and to present the Committee’s findings and recommendations. All of the below statements, taken directly from the report, play straight into jPod’s strengths. From the Committee’s report:

“[CBC] must constantly keep up with new technologies and reach out to audiences where they are, including young people who seek content on the Internet.” (p.5)

“We are asking CBC/Radio-Canada to be original, of high quality and innovative” (p.9)

“Mandate of the CBC/Radio-Canada as stipulated In the Broadcasting Act (1991, c. 11, B-9.01, [Assented to February 1, 1991)(i) be predominantly and distinctively Canadian […]” (p 18)

“[…]CBC should make large increases to arts and cultural programming, for example, by producing more contemporary Canadian dramas, historical documentaries, and TV movies.” (p.34)

“Dwindling audience share is not unique to public broadcasting, and audience measurement will need to adapt alongside the transition to digital media. Internet broadcasting, downloading and streaming content, PVRs and on-demand and pay services mean that the same film, television episode or news broadcast will be seen by many more viewers than those who tune in for ”appointment television”.” (p55)

“CBC/Radio-Canada’s online presence will be fundamental to its relevance to Canadian audiences in the future.” (p57)

The CBC must shift their thinking away from how many viewers they can capture – the commercial model of audience maximization – to how well they can build a relationship with a smaller but attentive audience. Program quality will have to be evaluated by the strength of the relationship with viewers, and by the depth of loyalty.

By ignoring this newer Tech-Savvy Generation, The CBC will never survive. For it is they who are the future and are sure not to forget Kirstine Layfields' and the CBC's brush off and staunch refusal to give jPod the proper Time to develop it's audience by cancelling it so hastily. Especially in light of the fact that it was aired on Fridays Nights when jPods' largest Target Audience is usually not at home watching television, thus leading them to watch it online.

The Report said it best: "CBC/Radio-Canada’s online presence will be fundamental to its relevance to Canadian audiences in the future.”

Just a little taste of why I love the show...

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