Winter is coming for TV stations

Direct distribution is the new model for selling TV shows, and TV stations should be mighty worried.

TV is dead. Or at least it will be. Not that many in the industry are willing to admit it yet: the loons at Ten still claim they can return the station to its glory days. Sorry guys, the party’s over.

Why?

Downloading. Take HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, for example. It’s terrifically addictive television. Do I watch it via free-to-air TV or Foxtel? No. I buy episodes for $2.99 from iTunes. I’m not alone. In fact, the Game of Thrones season three premiere broke the record for most pirated TV show.

Of course, plenty still watch free to air TV, but increasingly we're downloading our favourite shows via iTunes or Hulu. Even live sport, often touted as the saviour for television stations, is moving towards a direct distribution model.

I don’t expect it’s too long before a Spotify-style subscription service for movies and television shows is launched in Australia. Quickflix is okay but the range is too limited.

Increased access to fast broadband via the NBN (in whatever guise it takes) will also accelerate the transition to 'internet-TV', as Steve Johnson highlighted last year on Bristlemouth.

No one knows how long the transition will take. But Peter Hirshberg, a marketing and technology specialist, is better equipped than most to hazard a guess: he’s been at the vanguard of the interaction between media and the internet since its inception. Indeed, this video from 2007 demonstrates the vast gap in understanding between new media experts and old media executives.

Shareholders of Ten and Seven best listen up. Winter's coming, and most incumbents won't survive.

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