BusinessWeek’s media critic Jon Fine column, MediaCentric, offers worthwhile perspective, focused a bit more on traditional media and advertising, but certainly worthwhile reading.
Fine is taking a leave of absence, but before he left, he listed some good trends and predictions, including:
- Fine says there will be fewer magazines — a prediction we made back in Jan. However, Fine says that “what happened to city newspapers…will start happening in 2010. Look for the strongest player to outlast weaker rivals in towns and small cities near one another.”
- Surprising stability among the biggest players. His point: despite their problems, NY Times, Wall St. Journal, Time Warner, NBC Universal, etc. will survive. I agree, though there will be changes (i.e., Comcast’s potential investment in NBC Universal).
- A bright line divides media haves from media have-nots. Fine feels that people won’t pay meaningful sums for content from most terrestrial radio, newspapers, magazines outlets,which are free or cheap to subscribe to. Additionally, most of the biggest comglamerates do not have big print operations, and that those who do want to “switch sides.”
The implication here is that big media will continue to evolve, and look for ways to bring more value to its users. Fine does not discuss ways this could happen.
That remains one of the big open questions: how to continue to be relevant while establishing a sustainable online business model. I’m not sure what will come first: the sustainable online business model or the way to leverage the online world to provide content that readers/users will value enough to pay for.
For one thing, we still have a ways to go before that happens. I don’t think we’ll see that yet in 2010.