Steven Levy, the sixty-something journalist who spent over a decade’s worth of his career working as a senior writer for the Wired Magazine, left the organization in 2014 to establish his own media publication. Today, three years since that fateful resignation, Levy has returned to Wired once again after its parent company acquired Backchannel, the tech-specific digital magazine that was Levy’s brainchild. One of his first articles since his return to his home publication, not surprisingly, was about the birth and rise of the television industry that he has witnessed throughout his life. In his article, Levy chronicled the interesting history of the rise of the entertainment industry, from network to cable and then to the internet. He then went on to make some captivating predictions about the future of internet television, and how tech billionaires will change the way we consume our entertainment.
“I know that these ambitions sound lofty, if not comically inflated. After covering the lavish ambitions of tech founders for thirty years—and never going away—I guess I’m infected. But, hey, I didn’t quit Wired for nothing. I want to build something that makes a difference. Writers and readers, please join me on the journey.” - Steven Levy, Technology Journalist
Steven Levy delivered an interesting article, but my take on this situation is perhaps a little more specific. While it is fascinating to note the ways in which Silicon Valley is about to transform the television industry, I’m more concerned with the ways in which social networks, in particular, are going to lead that change. Whether it’s for the sake of targeted advertising or enhanced user experience, social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Vimeo already invest billions of dollars each year in order to gather data on their users. Just imagine what would happen if all these social media organizations were to implement their stacks of user-sensitive data to create the perfect television shows that users loved? It will certainly be an exciting new day for the partly stagnant television industry.
The good news is, it’s already happening. Earlier this month, a cryptic press release announced the launch of the new Facebook Watch, a video platform that features original and professional-grade content from a variety of producers that include A&E, National Geographic, the NBA and Time Inc. From documentaries to daily soaps, action dramas and mini-segments, Facebook Watch will soon become the next streaming giant to rival the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. What makes this move particularly interesting isn’t just the fact that the company has set aside a substantial sum to encourage the creation of quality original content, it is perhaps the social aspect of the whole thing. As of this moment, Facebook Watch is only available to a narrow segment of renowned publishers. With time, however, the company aims to expand its platform to allow for any user to sign up to create their own television show. What’s more, each new show features a dedicated comment section, which you can use to share your thoughts and ideas about the program directly with its creator. Facebook has made it absolutely clear that its intention behind launching this platform isn’t to create another Netflix or HBO, it is to allow for individual producers to create their own video content via a shared space.
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