Emmy Perception, Viewer Diversion and Media Contention

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Social media and the word “former” are at the core of this screed about where TV is headed, which brings in the “future.”

This verbiage is inspired by a Facebook thread about last weekend’s Emmycast. A former cable network publicity guy launched the “conversation” by reminiscing about cable’s efforts (of which he was a militant activist) in the late 1980s to add cable shows to the then broadcast-only Emmy nomination roster.  

Nearly a dozen people piped into the conversation (often several times), including former (and a few current) cable folks; several former editors of this publication took part. (For privacy’s sake – so rare in social media – I will not name names here.)

As such social media conversations go, the topic veered around whether networks or individual shows got bragging rights for the Emmys. Initially, the honors went to the networks – much as this this week'sMultichannel News coveragepointed out that the big four cable networks garnered more than twice as many Emmys as the big four broadcast networks.

A few commenters cited Netflix's Emmys for House of Cards, wondering when a YouTube show would be entered and win. 

And this is where the Facebook thread got interesting.  Beyond “insider” comments about networks stuffing the ballot box, several of the participants (mostly those who have moved beyond cable) argued that viewers watch shows not networks.  Several observed that on-demand shows are becoming the preferred way to watch “TV.”

I was lured into the dialog when the thread’s originator baited me by name to weigh in.  After my own kneejerk, boilerplate response that today’s viewers (especially young ones) watch “screens” of any size, I added that “the origin point (i.e. server) is becoming less relevant.”

Lo and behold, the next day, I found the latest Ooyala “real-time video analytics” report.Its fascinating findings include the blistering growth of mobile video (up 41% during the first half of the year), tablet video (up 59% in the first six months of 2013) and connected TVs.

Ooyala predicts that these fragmented viewing patterns will continue “on a much larger scale … as the connected TV ecosystem overcomes existing user interface and hardware fragmentation challenges.”  Its report – like the recent Cisco Visual Index, the FreeWheel study and other recent research – underscore the shift to new kinds of viewing.  And new kinds of programming that cater to these emerging platforms.

That Facebook conversation among a cadre of seasoned cable veterans rightly cheered the 25-year-long effort to bring cable programs into the spotlight, and acknowledged the people who helped make that happen. It didn’t delve into the value of such awards or the worthiness of the winners.  But it did provide social media insights from knowledgeable – albeit often “former” –participants about where media is headed. 

That’s the “future” over which King Content will rule – whatever that means.

By the way, as for my own Emmy preferences:  I am always disappointed that C-SPAN shows are not nominated for Emmys. Its coverage of Capitol Hill delivers an array of comedy, dramatic – not to mention disastrous – performances.

And they are streamed!

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