Why and How the Internet Changed The Concept of Fit To Broadcast And Reminded Us What Good Content REALLY Is

In the past things were clear – broadcast television required a specific level of production. Lighting, sound, camera quality – all were parts of the definition.

Not only that “fit to broadcast” affected quality of TV images and videos – it also affected the cost per production minute of TV material. This, coupled with ownership of screens and TV channels created a high barrier of entry to new players in the video and TV market.

YouTube, mobile phones, and citizen journalism changed it all. These three factors made sure that poor quality video crossed the boundaries of the Internet to prime time TV. average TV viewer is used to see poor quality video, taken with low end mobile phones video cameras or  web cams, as part of news flashes and entertainment shows.

But why these grainy and pixelated low quality videos are on broadcast TV? Because they tell a good story. Whether it is a Tsunami footage, extra funny lipsync, or unique view on a hot topic, viewers are willing to see low quality footage in case it is a high quality story.

In a past post I’ve argued that viewers are willing to accept low production quality in exchange for a good story. The fact that we take for granted YouTube clips on news flashes proves this point.

Therefore, a creator without a dime, that has limited resources, should remember that production value, though important, is just part of the equation. Great story, timely news flash, in-depth analysis, and believable characters are crucial for success, much more than HD camera, and great effects.

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5 Responses to “Why and How the Internet Changed The Concept of Fit To Broadcast And Reminded Us What Good Content REALLY Is”


  1. 1 Bill Cammack November 19, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    While what you say is true, the television-watching public was made used to poor-looking video because of two televison shows in particular:

    America’s Funniest Home Videos, and
    Cops.

    It’s basically for the reasons you mentioned, the content was more important than the poor quality of the video or the lighting or the handheld, running around in the middle of the night with one camera-mounted light.

    I think, to a degree, shows like “Big Brother” made a difference here as well, because when you’re trying to cover people ‘live’, you often don’t have a single angle that shows the person talking well. The public got used to seeing b-roll while someone’s talking off-screen or they got used to a non-artistic, necessary pan making it into the final edit.

    I think the internet has contributed more to people being willing to watch short shows with no commercials instead of 30- or 60-minute shows with 8 or 16 minutes worth of commercials, respectively. It’s also contributed to people being able to get their ideas and shows to the public eye without having to go through auditions or being a part of a television station or studio.

    I also think it’s gotten people used to watching shows written by people that never went to school for writing. It will be interesting to see what happens as internet-based content creation flows back towards television. As it stands, the slots are STILL 30 and 60 minutes. Some channels may need to change their format to rotating 3-minute slots.

  2. 2 Ben Homer November 22, 2007 at 1:04 am

    3-minute videos…I hope not, though Current has done that with some success. Long format will continue to be the most valuable content.

    Good stories take time to tell. I think that the 3-minute segments as a result of lack of funding and lack of professional knowledge will take a back seat when it comes to monetization.

  3. 3 Kfir Pravda November 22, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Ben – that’s true, however, there are other ways to tell a story using interactivity, layered video and such, that can add depth to stories.

  4. 4 thebeginner November 25, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Though i do not agree that many views or popularity mean good quality, as the leave Britney clip proves quite well, I do agree that bad quality images are not as big a barrier as before.
    however, how new is this really?
    Anyone remember the South Park Christmas special? A 5 minute crappy video that blasted these guys to fame? That is what, 15 years ago?


  1. 1 Jon Burg's Future Visions Trackback on November 20, 2007 at 9:50 pm

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