Media companies used to live in silos… TV, radio, papers, magazines, exhibitions, conferences, books. Distribution was key to availability so you could push it or pull it. We’ve not yet seen the mediums totally evaporate, overlay or converge but my friends at C21 Media are a case in point of a B2B trade magazine publisher that’s, these days, a whole lot more besides.
C21 covers the film and broadcast industry, so they are not only metamorphasising as a publisher, they are covering an industry itself in a state of change.
C21 are a younger upstart than the rest of their peer publishers, but they are leapfrogging the mightier publishing houses by niching them to death. (Doesn’t Broadcast hold the top slot?- No, too parochial in UK. C21 is global and globe-trotting. And Variety has TV Asia, TV Europe… all with that distinctly US-centric perspective).
1. C21Screenings – This is a tool for TV execs to showcase their latest formats to sell them internationally. Equally, it’s a tool for buyers to log favourites, share them with colleagues and aid decision-making. (This activity is still, mainly, carried out at 3 or 4 international TV festivals across the globe at intervals thru the year).
Ed Waller, the editorial director at C21, sold this to me as a Facebook portal… but it’s also part virtual mall, virtual tradeshow, virtual marketplace and virtual classified. It’s all those b2b environments that have been trumpeted over the various waves of web uptake. And, with streamed media, it can work well for video.
2. Business model
I understand that, though the C21 users are video execs, C21 has a much easier time selling page advertising in its ‘Big Books’ than converting advertisers to a slot on the screenings portal. What’s that all about? TV channels are both high tech and rather simple at the same time?
C21 is seeing the move for TV and PC to become one. It’s being called ‘Bridging’ as TV becomes web and the C21 crew talk about ‘same chair solution’. (I’m wordplaying SSS myself – same seat solution?). Who’s suffering in the value chain? Well, it’s the platform owners. Why pay for a cable TV subscription to MTV if viewers can take it from the web for free via iPlayer?
And, the ‘next question’ when anyone talks about PC is… mobile. With iPhone, you don’t even need a seat? Will there be that ‘box in the corner’ need to be there much longer?
4. TV formats – the ‘remake rights’
I’ve observed the way IAC is looking to licence its formats like match.com to local country markets so that local entrepreneurs can push ahead with these models as tried-and-tested franchises. This is a phenomenon in TV of long standing.
Now many emerging markets have cheap studio production and growing budgets. So, locals can afford to capture market profile by re-shooting a series with bigger splash from home-grown actors, rather than just over-dub. It’s cutting out the initial production and putting money into the format or script firm.
Hmm. All change for the media. Premier position for talent, profile and global reach.
Check out just how many blinking small ads they run on the C21 website! And, check out the design format of their news-feed heavy, design-light styling… it’s moving to an RSS world out there.