Last Night I Participated In The Downfall of Television
Last night I participated in the downfall of the old model of broadcast television. In fairness, many of you are doing the same thing each time you bittorrent, subscribe to a streaming service, and buy from iTunes. The revolution is underway, but I took part in its downfall last night not as a consumer, but as a content producer.
So, what is it that we did exactly?
We’d been kicking the idea around for a while. Initially we were looking at a platform called Vokle, but when we looked at the possibilities that Google+ Hangouts were presenting, that looked like the most promising option. We wanted to bring the Televised Revolution podcast that we produce each week and infuse it with a live and interactive approach. We’d previously done Televised Revolution as a radio show on community broadcaster 4ZZZ and as much as we enjoy producing the show as a podcast, we missed that live experience.
Google+ presented the solution to everything we needed. The platform would allow us to broadcast a video feed out live on the Televised Revolution website, YouTube, and Google+. Afterwards, it would allow us to edit the video (albeit in a very rudimentary manner) and post it as a video permanently on YouTube. It would also allow us a fairly easy way to bring in special guests live onto the podcast from around the world (as long as they have a webcam & mic, as well as a Google+ account).
The result: We now have our weekly silly little show in which we talk about the TV industry, provide commentary, and offer some suggested viewing options. But, we can now also directly communicate with our audience to hear their opinions on stories each week, get their TV recommendations, and expand our Televised Revolution hivemind. Plus with the YouTube video posting, it means that those who aren’t all that keen on listening to the show as a podcast now have a new way of engaging with the show.
So, what makes this interesting exactly? It’s about the potential. We offer a fairly niche show. More than anyone, I understand the limitations of what Televised Revolution offers in terms of the resources that we’re able to put into it. But, with an exceedingly small budget, we’ve been able to put on a panel show. We have an opening title sequence, a panel moderator/host, panelists, and the technical ability to mix in other videos, visual queues, and bring on guests. Regardless of what you thought of the content we produced, for all intents and purposes, last night we produced a TV show.
Now, consider that potential. Last night we talked about TV. I quite easily could have sourced 3-4 academics/business leaders/journalists and set up a commentary chat show about politics/business/social affairs that could rival established TV chat shows like The Drum/Insiders/Bolt Report/Meet The Press, etc. Alternatively, I could have found a group of musician friends from some reasonably high profile local bands and used the same resources to host a panel music game show. I could have sat down two hosts to review video games for 30 minutes, cut in vision of the games in question, and we have ourselves a show that could rival, say, ABC TV’s Good Game.
Yes, all of the aforementioned shows looks and feel like the high quality productions they are because they have great hosts and qualified/professional teams that support their production. And sure, our lighting/set design/content/hosts what have you could have been stronger and better prepared (no doubt a direct result of our infamous 5 minute pre-show editorial meeting). But what is worthwhile taking away from the experience of what we produced last night is that ultimately the barrier of entry to producing very similar content to what is shown on TV is now remarkably low.
Last nights Televised Revolution live stream is budgeted as follows:
- Microphones (x3) $600
- Microphone stands – $50
- Mixing desk – $600
- Macbook Pro – $1200
- HD Webcam – $89 (price matched at Dick Smiths against an online retailer)
- Lighting – $45
- Internet connection – $90 per month.
Of that, the Internet connection is the only ongoing cost. The rest of the technology utilised came from us producing a podcast for the past couple of years and using that gear. Now consider that to the ongoing cost of producing a TV show.
Meanwhile viewers were able to watch the show live on YouTube/Google+ via their laptops, through web browsers on computers/mobile devices, and via YouTube apps on connected TV devices like Apple TV/Boxee/Google TV and via YouTube apps on smart TV’s themselves. The difference between watching us on viewers TV’s last night was barely different to watching a panel chat show on an established broadcast TV service.
No, Televised Revolution itself is not the future of television, but what we were able to achieve last night on a practically non-existant budget is significant to where TV is heading. It’s now very easy to see a future in which studio-based discussion shows become less the domain of the dominant media broadcasters and rest almost exclusively with niche media producers. TV is bending and taking on a new form. This appears to be one of those new bendy forms.