There are more ways than ever to consume media, and more media than ever to consume. But as the landscape becomes ever more fragmented and advertising revenue continues to stall, Bob and Brooke ask the question: is the Golden Age of content sustainable, or just a supernova, a dying star burning exceptionally bright?
BOB GARFIELD: From WNYC in New York, this is On the Media. I’m Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone.
[BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN/57 CHANNELS (AND NOTHIN' ON)]
It was back in 1992 that Springsteen noted those 57 Channels (And Nothin' On). His music video ended with a cool car crashing through a wall of televisions. I mean back in ‘92 there was a lot of relative – nothin’!
JERRY SPRINGER: My guests today are all in relationships, but they’ve also got something else in common. They’re all cheating.
[FRANK SINATRA SINGING “LOVE AND MARRIAGE”]
ANNOUNCER: Next, on Baywatch!
[WILL SMITH, SINGING]:
I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel-Air
BOB GARFIELD: But now, on TV and online in entertainment and news and podcasts and music and databases and apps of every imaginable kind, there are literally millions of channels, and there is plenty on, some of it simply fan-tastic.
[CLIPS/GAME OF THRONES, HOUSE OF GAMES, MAD MEN & BREAKING BAD]:
PETER VAUGHAN AS MAESTER AEMON: Winter is coming and the dark things will come with it.
KEVIN SPACEY AS FRANK UNDERWOOD: As for me, I’m just a lowly House Majority Whip. I keep things moving in a Congress choked
by pettiness and lassitude.
JOHN HAMM AS DON DRAPER: I don't want Jaguar; I want Chevy. I don't want Mohawk; I want American. I don't want Dunlop; I want Firestone.
BRYAN CRANSTON AS WALTER WHITE: I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, you think that of me? No, I am the one who knocks!
[END TV CLIPS]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Many declared the 2010s to be the Golden Age of content. In fact, we shall so stipulate: This is a Golden Age of content, and video is just part of it. The Internet offers a breathtaking bounty of games.
VOICE: And mortals must battle to keep the gods alive!
BOB GARFIELD: Music.
JUSTIN BIEBER: If I was your boyfriend, I'd never let you go.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Utility.
SALMAN KHAN: Well, Y was equal to P times X so Y divided by X is gonna be the same thing as P times X.
BOB GARFIELD: Journalism.
EMI KOLAWOLE: I’m Emi Kolawole, in the Washington Post Newsroom. Here’s what’s driving the day…
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And random weirdness.
PAUL VASQUEZ: Oh, my God, look at that. It’s starting to look like a triple rainbow!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Almost all of it [TONES] - at a loss.
BOB GARFIELD: Yes, the Golden Age of content is brought to you, in large part, by volunteers, underpaid former well-paid pros and venture capitalists betting on an unknowable future.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This week, we spend the hour in pursuit of the answer to the question that has merciless masters of the universe tossing in their beds, dreaming of drowning in seas of red ink.
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD: As far back as we can remember, media was among the most lucrative industries on earth. The symbiosis of mass media and mass marketing was a path paved with profit for the entertainment and information industries.
But today's cheap and relatively simple technology have lowered the barriers of entry into that world, yielding a nearly infinite glut of stuff, brilliant and otherwise, to compete for audience and funding from every other thing out there, whether made by Warner Bros., or a Korean pop singer whose video was the first to hit a billion views on YouTube.
[PSY’S “GANGNAM STYLE” CLIP]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The “Big Bang” in content has exploded the mass of mass media into a zillion fragments, most of which lack the critical mass to survive solely on ad revenue. So, who’s gonna pay for this stuff?
BOB GARFIELD: In this hour we’ll consider the particular challenges facing television, music, and journalism, but what we most want to know is whether the Golden Age of content is sustainable, or just a supernova, a dying star burning exceptionally bright.