It’s easy to get lost in the mountain of information we now access through the Internet and other e-content. Perhaps, a case of too much information. But, tying these bits of information together is the best way to gain real insight.
This seems particularly true as I look at the decline of physical media. While not a new thought, the evidence supports the likelihood that digital technology will ultimately become the predominant way consumers access their media sources. In other words, media that can economically go digital, ultimately will. While printed newspapers and magazines have been the first to witness this transformation with losses in readers and ad revenues, the digital wave will eventually impact all media.
Some of these changes are discussed in a new report by the Pew Research Center. Their findings show that 33% of Americans now own e-reading devices and that, in the past year, the number of Americans 16 and older who read e-books increased from 16% to 23% when compared to 2011 data sets. At the same time, the number of those who read printed books went down from 72% to 67%. A huge change in just one year and continues a trend line from 2010.
Printed publications may be on the front lines, but video is next. Ethan Wolff-Mann wrote an excellent piece on TelevisionInfo.com in early December about physical media being being replaced by streaming media. Declines in DVD revenue and the growth of online distributors, like Netflix, support his point. Media companies and the entertainment industry have been slow to react because they fear a “loss of influence” and they presently lack a viable revenue model to replace the current media advertising ecosystem. Unfortunately for them, slowed reaction time has meant that youtube.com and others are becoming viable media businesses built for 21st century economics. Great for consumers. Not so great for many legacy media outlets.
The good news is that print magazines, like Forbes and media upstarts, like Inkling, are publishing innovative content to tablets and mobile platforms that make the most out these connected devices. Apple iTunes has proven that consumers will pay for content they deem worth paying for. The real question is how media can profitably switch from serving the masses to serving individual users.