I remember thinking if he is directly intertwined in the business of information dissemination and cannot ferret out the wisdom in the $US 1.6 billion acquisition, he is clearly asleep.
Asleep they are. The cable networks that once held the information reigns and ‘spinfluenced’ the ways in which it was delivered to the public, are fast losing their positions of dominance, and have so far failed to move pari passu with virtual social networks, and surges in blogs and other online information powerhouses.
In the wake of the MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube revolution, the former media Lipizzaners are now derogated to Quarter horses. Without incorporating the virtual world into their prime-time slots, they stand to lose the chance of reclaiming their prominence. No longer are they in a position to “bend news all they want.” Online self appointed journalists and opinion leaders are not afraid to speak their truth because they are not governed by contracts and caveats of corporate sponsors. Cable networks, in addition to fighting for traditional viewer-ship, are now forced into the battle for ‘virtual real estate.’
The Google guys, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, and Larry Page did to the networks what Fedex did to the postal service. They quickly caught on to the potential of a new phenomenon and erected their flags at the pinnacle of the movement. YouTube’s prime, virtual location, fuelled by the rapid pace at which the video database swallowed space on the internet within an unprecedented, short time frame, arrested the interest of the Google triumvirate, which immediately rocketed to the top of the technology and information reef.
Nora, the cat that plays the piano, is now a household name with over seven million hits on the site, while the clip of Caitlin Upton, who gaffed a geography question in the Miss Teen USA competition last summer, was viewed by over 20 million people. Paul Potts’s debut album was an instant platinum seller once another 20 million plus from the YouTube community discovered his rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma.
Sensible media personalities like Anderson Cooper and Oprah Winfrey acquired ‘location’ within YouTube’s expansive real estate, and are light years ahead of the competition. Other show hosts are slowly leveraging their positions by including online spaces into their network appearances. Jimmy Kimmel, for example, created a slot on his show dedicated exclusively to showcasing the best of YouTube, while Stephen Colbert developed a ‘nation,’ now over one million strong on Facebook, within three days of forming the group.
It seems Barack Obama is the most tech savvy candidate in the US Presidential race. Once the squabble for Presidency took off, Obama’s popularity took flight as he immediately called upon Facebook’s growing influence to set him apart from his opponents. By the time the CNN YouTube debates began, the Presidential favourite was already a staple in the virtual world. With over 200,000 MySpace friends, Obama is ahead of all other candidates by over 50,000. He also won theMySpace New Year’s Poll stealing 46% of the Democrat vote. Obama’s virtual success not only anchored his presence online but also engined his offline, political agenda and success.
Indonesian journalist, Nila Tanzil, provoked the ire of the Malaysian Tourism Ministry when she blogged about the ministry’s bureaucratic fire wall, but also commanded the loyalty of over six thousand readers within hours of the post. AS a result, Tanzil is among the most powerful bloggers in South-Asia and a strong opinion leader in the blogosphere as well as in the real world.
The networks are still slow in embracing the online community, although it is becoming progressively clear, there is where the bulwark against their obsolescence lies. ABC, in an effort to give teeth to its competitiveness, launched its version of the Presidential Debates on Facebook, but is a bit too late and way behind CNN’s influence on YouTube.
To the same end, NBC Universal and News Corporation joined forces to form hulu, a video site that they claim will not necessarily pick fights with YouTube, as hulu videos will have specific, professional content. AOL, MSN, MySpace, Comcast, and Yahoo are all on board as distributors of the site which will be up this fall.
Now that Google grabbed RSS feed management provider, FeedBurner for a rumoured $US 100 million, I wonder who will ask what they are gonna do with it?