From Archie Bunker to now: what’s changed in TV distribution?
My goal was to open the discussion, asking if it’s possible to bring scale to niche content — and if so, what’s needed: Great content? Great distribution? Both? And how is it done?
The panelists certainly have the YouTube views to have a valid opinion but it’s hard to compare such different eras in TV distribution.
Forty years ago, when Archie Bunker was on TV, for a show to become successful, it needed to have a network broadcasting it after work hours. TV had only a few channels, so for content to get traction, it needed mainly to “show up.” Forty years later, in a world of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more, two things have changed:
1. Anyone can create content and put it out there.
2. There is no more “audience cap.” Your content can reach a billion people. The question is, how?
From there he notes a series of observations from the panel that I’ve summarized:
- Keep the content fresh, and of the standard of broadcast TV distribution.
- Creators have much to gain from those who, like BigFrame who provide infrastructure.
- Among leading content creators YouTube is considered a partner, not a competitor.
- Channel Subscribers is a more important metric than views, as subscribers indicate a repeatable, consistent audience.
- Branded content is on the rise. Expect more news on branded content, it’s an important trend.
We’re never going to see shows with the audience reach of All in the Family and its ilk of 40 years ago, because the TV distribution market is now so diversified. On the plus side, you don’t have to wait for a network to come calling: you can create and distribute yourself, if you’re willing to put the work into it.