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How Much is Digital Media Now Becoming The Media?

As digital media adapts to try and play an ever bigger role in our lives, its creep into the world of traditional media is becoming more obvious with each passing day. Facebook and Twitter have both taken steps into enabling brands and users to broadcast via Facebook Live and Periscope, with both amongst the more usual names who brought the first US Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to the masses.

So can digital media really go all the way to becoming what we know as the media? One area where this is undoubtedly happening is the world of streaming, where Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have all evolved from simply offering films and TV shows like traditional video rental shops into content creators themselves. Shows like Orange Is The New Black, House Of Cards, Transparent and Stranger Things have demonstrated that quality, popular television can be made outside of the traditional world of television itself.

As well as capitalising on the binge-watching trend with the new way of delivering the content all at once, one of the key aspects of the success of these streaming services is the accessibility and mobility of them, allowing consumers to watch wherever and whenever they like. TV companies have had to adapt and follow suit, changing the way they offer their content to meet these new expectations. This is why there is so much potential across the digital spectrum to become what we know as the media.

Back in May, BT Sport allowed its most important event, the 2016 Champions League Final (as well as the Europa League final), to be streamed for free through YouTube instead of being exclusive to its paying subscribers. Chief Executive of BT Consumer John Petter said: “We’ve always said we wanted to give top quality sport back to the people and making the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals free to everyone in the UK does this in a big way.

“We’re also bringing BT Sport to a new generation of younger sports fans who view their entertainment online, through social media and on their mobile devices,” Petter continued, explaining BT’s plan to turn the finals into a digital extravaganza. “We plan to make these finals the most social sports broadcast ever, with lots of exciting content in the build-up and on the night across YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine.”

In America, the NFL and Yahoo attempted the same thing last October with the first-ever live stream of a regular season game, between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars, which took place in London. “It’s a platform shift,” Adam Cahan, the senior vice president of mobile and emerging products for Yahoo, said when the deal with the NFL was announced. “If you look at how consumers are engaging right now, especially with sports content, or content more broadly, we’re seeing times where people are on their mobile device more than they’re on even their TVs, their desktop or anything else.”

So far, these types of streaming events have been the exception rather than the rule, and have generally been done as additional options alongside broadcast TV, where the largest audiences still remain. There’s not a chance a Presidential debate would have taken place purely on Facebook and Twitter without major networks also showing it, while the Champions League and NFL currently get too much of their revenue from TV to switch away from it in the foreseeable future.

Digital has already done what seems to be irreparable damage to the newspaper industry, with Twitter in particular proving to be so much better at delivering the news and opinions than the papers. If Katie Hopkins writes a provocative newspaper column, most of us hear about it, read it and argue about it through social media, not from picking up a newspaper itself. Hence circulation figures for all of the main papers have plummeted over the last ten years, a trend that shows no sign of reversing.

Websites like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have attempted to overtake the more established names in the media, with the latter in particular building up a brand based on memes and listicles before branching out into full-blown in-depth serious pieces of journalism. Newspaper giants have tried to find their place in the digital world by putting up paywalls around their content, but two years of that simply left The Sun’s website traffic trailing far behind the free content on the Daily Mail site, so the paywall was scrapped 12 months ago.

Monetizing digital content remains a significant barrier standing between digital media and ‘the media’, and while some major newspapers have kept paywalls, The Sun’s u-turn represented a major setback. The likes of Netflix and Amazon are able to charge for their content through subscriptions without running adverts, but other digital video services (like those from providers like Sky, ITV, etc) have to include disruptive adverts to compensate for losing traditional broadcast. You can find out more about the challenges and opportunities of digital video ads here. Until this stumbling block can be removed, traditional media will dominate, but digital media is catching up and fast.

Do you think the future of media is digital or is there still a place for broadcast and print? Get in touch via social media to let us know.

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