I’ve been in the technology business for a long, long time. There was a point in time where it seemed a no brainer that everything that could be presented on a digital device would be, and everything else would go the way of the horse and buggy.
Then something crazy happened. I got older. No matter how hard I tried to stop the aging process. I couldn’t. Like every one else, my eyes got worse. I turned into one of those people who needed a candle or flashlight to see the check after dinner. I turned into one of the people who squinted when reading labels.
I also turned into one of those people who squinted when reading my phone and PDA.
On the positive side of life, I turned into one of those people who had kids. Two of them. The best thing I ever did. Having kids defined a universal algorithm of life that I really didnt understand when I was a kid selling PCs and writing software. The algorithm is defined as follows, the more time my kids have on their hands, the less time I have available.
Age has redefined how this technology savvy person consumes media and I think I am representative of a growing, not declining market.
First of all, Im a big believer now that “if the news is important, it will find me” . I don’t read any medium to get the latest headlines. I have enough RSS feeds and email alerts that if its important, the breaking news will find me quickly.
I also don’t have a lot of discretionary time to just find entertainment. I follow the path of least resistance for my general entertainment. I set my DVR to record far more programs than I will ever watch. If there is even the slightest possibility I will like a TV show, i will add it. (Which i think everyone with a DVR does as well). Which means that I always have all the tv entertainment I need for my tv watching time. It also means that Im not one of those people who looks to the net for entertainment. Thats way too much work. No one with a life has time to troll through online videos and find enough entertainment to kill their vegetation time after the kids go to bed. I cant think of anything more ridiculous than spending an hour sampling Youtube top 100 videos to find a couple 3 minute gems.
I want my entertainment how I want it, when I want it, where I want it. Not how 16 year old kids want it.
The same concept applies to how I consume Newspapers and Magazines. I read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal pretty much every morning. I’m not a big reader of the locals or the USA Today. The Times and Journal are relevant to keeping me up with business issues, while the Times alone also keeps me up to speed with original content (as opposed to AP stories which are everywhere online) about national and international issues. I can read them both when its more convenient to read a newspaper than look at a PC or PDA. For me, that may be at breakfast or lunch, on a plane, or while riding a workout bike. The newspaper platform makes it easier to read extended stories. I can take it with me anywhere and read it anytime I want. Something I can’t do with a PC, while a PDA isnt conducive for someone my age to read multi thousand word stories. So newspapers are a great medium for me.
The same applies to magazines. Because they can come with me anywhere, are lightweight and easy on my eyes. I can read them how, when and where I want.
Then there is the sore butt consideration. If you sit at a desk as much as I do, answering emails, watching programming for HDNet and keeping up with my business, sometimes you have to get off your chair and make sure your legs still work. I plan my breaks knowing I can still be productive reading those most portable of platforms, the newspaper and magazine.
I realize all of this makes me an old school geek. I personally think there are a lot of us and every day one of you ages into my category.
Which begs the question of why old school mediums like Broadcast TV and newspapers are struggling so much. The answer is simple. In the past, these were the ubiquitous platforms for entertainment and information. Newspaper, TV and Radio. That was it. That is no longer the case.
In todays world the mediums have been segmented by demographic, but the cost structure of the mediums is still built to support ubiquity. This is a problem not just for Broadcast TV (cable networks have always been defined for niches) and newspapers but for the internet as well.