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January 02, 2007


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Raymond Foye

Offhand, it looks to me like there's a serious discrepancy between what people want to watch and what they are given to watch. Or perhaps when choices are nearly unlimited, one cannot funnel people's interests through narrow channels of content.


interesting and provocative!

perhaps you could explain the first curve a bit more, though.

where do network news, Fox News and CNN fall -- on the skinny, right end, or in the big fat middle?

what about the morning shows? are they in the skinny end or the fat middle?

I'd ask the same thing about primetime broadcast and cable shows and the second graph -- are you saying that ER, CSI, the NFL, etc. are all in the skinny right end?


It will be intriguing to see how the evolving usgae of mobile devices such as cell phones and improving mobile access on those devices to video content and premium services, fits this model. Intuitively, I think it will. It will really depend on the UI. Currently, the mobile UI requires to many clcks to get to what I want. However, this will improve, and watching the curve over the next year could prove interesting

Trotter Cashion

Interesting, do you have any data to support the curve? Also, does high-end constitute a specific type of content or a particular adherence to quality by its creators? I look forward to some more posts.

Donna Molesworth

(Note from DW: Donna Molesworth is the better part of the Molesworth team ;-)

Just a thought, in light of both the explosion in cellular phone cameras, and the "uncensored" Saddam execution video that has subsequently hit the internet/cable stations etc.:

What springs to my mind is how rapidly the networks are now going to have to face the fact that they are no longer in the powerful position of making decisions for the world at large, on what they deem, (in their infinite wisdom,) appropriate or not appropriate information for the viewing public.

Had it not been for the concealed phone camera being smuggled in, the world may well have thought Saddam's execution was handled in a somewhat dignified manner. Hardly. For good or bad, we now have definitive proof what exactly occurred as opposed to what the Iraqi gov't. tried to spin. Regardless of what folks may think of Saddam's execution, it makes a stunning statement.

So much of what we are fed by the networks is only half a story, if that. With all the new technological advances, both in the high end and low end markets, I think you are dead on with your broad perspective on content.

Mark Molesworth

(Note from DW: Mark Molesworth one of the very best cameraman/DP's that I've had the pleasure to work with.)

One thought that came to mind was how the recent trend in documentaries has been to give young people small video cameras and have them go out and make documentaries. This trend had its good and mostly bad points:

Now that HD is here to stay the demand for much higher production value documentaries is going to rise as the quality needed on any proper HD monitor calls for high production value and careful, professional production practices. In other words, the trend towards low end is now turning to more high end even though budgets for companies like the BBC have gone down, companies like PBS want better cameras and better photography so that films can hold up on Channel 13 HD.

The next Frontline I'm shooting is with my new Panasonic HDX900 a revolutionary camera in many ways. The BBC will have to team up with Discovery and History Channel to budget for these types of shoots.

Bill Rosenblatt

Interesting.  I'm with you on the two ends but skeptical about the middle.  My gut tells me  you aren't dealing with "local news" correctly, and/or online delivery of local news is an explosion waiting to happen.   Google and Yahoo are certainly gearing up for this.  
I am put in mind of this by what happened here in NYC yesterday morning: the "gas smell" that was pervasive all over the city. 
My attention was first drawn to this by a Reuters or AP headline I saw on my home Yahoo page.  I remarked to myself how unusual it was to see a "local" story on a national/global wireservice's top stories and stay there all day despite the fact that the smell had been determined to be nothing dangerous.  I went to and, and remarked to myself that it's not as easy as it ought to be to get local news online.  This is going to change.  Even then, people access news (in general) very frequently online.
Here's a little homework assignment for you: see if you can find stats on online news pageviews (let's say Yahoo, AOL, MSN, maybe a couple of news-specific sites like CNN and MSNBC) vs. YouTube clip views per day/week/month.  It is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but it could be interesting.

Daisy Whitney

I'm curious why local news is the only thing in the the purpose of the exercise to understand how local news specifically changes in a DVR world?

douglas warshaw

Daisy: in this one case, i've used the curve to illustrate both news content (noted in red below the graph) and entertainment (noted in blue).

In the case of news i'm saying "high-end" (right-side) content is the news magazines, with 60-Minutes being the gold standard; low-end is home videos. (Though more and more people are editing and really "producing" stuff, the far end is really low-production-value stuff.

MOST local news content sits in the middle. But the specifics of what this means for the sort of news local stations should be focusing on are something I'll be writing about in a bit.

Daisy Whitney

Looking forward to the specifics!

Mike Cole

The proliferation of technology enabled consumer generated content tracks closely with the growth of open source collaboration and Wiki's, so the macro trend goes beyond media. Ultimately the evaluation of media may be determined by relative social impact. Saddam's last minutes, Allen's macaca fumble and Michael Richard's rant were certainly "low end', but had extremely high social impact.

bruce bernstein

Hi Doug, thanks for circulating this. It is very interesting.

I would like a little clarification regarding the metric for grading content from "low end" to "high end". Is it the amount of time and money spent on the production? perhaps I missed this.

this leads to some confusion I have about what belongs where on the Warshaw Curve. for example, why does "sampling" (I assume you mean some form of channel surfing) belong in the middle?

I am also not sure that this sort of viewing is in decline. With thousand-channel digital cable, I do more channel surfing than ever. You can always find something at least mildly interesting to watch, and I tend to do this for about 90 minutes when I get home at night, usually pretty late.

A lot of where I end up after this "sampling" is perhaps what you might describe as high end content -- Discovery, or History Channel, or one of the Times channels, or BBC News or CCTV news, or Knicks replays. (MSG has a brilliant innovation this year, "Knicks in 60", a Readers Digest condensation of a Knicks game.) but I usually don't watch the whole show. I bet a lot of other people are doing the same thing.

Also, I am not entirely sure that the actual viewership for local news has gone down, if NY1 and similar all-local channels are included. Remember, they are broadcasting local news 24 hours a day, so you have to factor that it. You now have people watching local news at 1 AM.

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