The Time is Now for "Narrowcasting"

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According to the NYTimes:

"In the last six months, major media companies have received much attention for starting to move their own programming online, whether downloads for video iPods or streaming programs that can be watched over high-speed Internet connections.

"Perhaps more interesting — and, arguably, more important — are the thousands of producers whose programming would never make it into prime time but who have very dedicated small audiences. It's a phenomenon that could be called slivercasting."

The web has always been a narrowcasting medium.

More from the article:

Discovery Communications, which has been a master of the current system, creating 15 different cable channels including Animal Planet and Discovery Health, is now exploring even more specialized services over the Internet. One will be introduced tomorrow for $9.95 a month. It will offer 30,000 video clips excerpted from its library of documentaries and other educational programs to help grade school and high school students with their homework. In the future, other services will offer content focused on narrow topics in travel, science and health.

Discovery, Mr. Hendricks says, is in a good position to create such services because of its large archive. "We have a wealth of programming just related to cancer, just related to Alaska and so on," he said.

In addition to offering Internet distribution, Discovery will start to broadcast some of these programs late at night on its regular channels and encourage people to record them, he said.

To be sure, there are doubters. "I've never been a believer that we should create channels for all these niches like beach volleyball," said John Skipper, a senior vice president of ESPN, a unit of the Walt Disney Company. "They just don't pencil out. Because if you have 12,000 people, you can't afford to do it. And if you can't afford to do it, you can't make any money on it."

One reason that ESPN has shied away from this sort of niche programming, he said, is that its brand stands for a level of high-quality visual production that would be difficult for small channels to afford. Indeed, ESPN has been investing millions of dollars to produce programs in high-definition formats.

But reticence by some big media companies is making room for independent programmers to explore all sorts of niches.

Hmmm. ESPN doesn't get it... perhaps Steve Jobs will wake them up.

Here's the article in full>>

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This page contains a single entry by Christian Sarkar published on March 14, 2006 8:47 AM.

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