Michael Grade is the executive chairman of ITVplc, a huge British broadcasting conglomerate formed by merging Carlton with Granada. They own 11 out of 15 regional television broadcasters. And his job is similar to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I have written about him before on here.
ITVplc has five and a half thousand employees and in 2008 had revenue of over two billion pounds. But first half sales this year were about ten percent down on the same period last year and they lost £105 million. All part of the inevitable decline of linear, non interactive media.
Some people say that when radio came along it didn’t destroy books and newspapers and that when TV came along it didn’t destroy radio and the print media. So the lesson of history is that the advent of interactive media will be the same again and we will all live happily together. They are wrong. Interactive media will do to TV and print what the internal combustion engine did to the horse. The paradigm shift is so great that all the older media are obsolete, with the exception of radio (which can work as a background to other activities).
New media has the enormous technical advantages of interactivity, connectivity and non linearity. Gaming adds to that the powerful reward mechanism for the successful completion of tasks. Old media looks truly pathetic compared to this. So whilst new media grows from strength to strength they are doing so at the expense of old media. Old media is in big trouble and it is getting worse for them by the day.
But there is hope. The only thing that ITVplc have that is of any real value is their brands. They own a big pile of IP that is extremely well known in Britain. These brands can be scrubbed down, rejuvenated and adapted for the new media. It really isn’t rocket science. Gaming and social networking are the two obvious mechanics that are just sitting there waiting to be applied.
So here is the recipe. ITVplc need to set up a game publishing division. A small budget of perhaps £100 million should be enough to get this off the ground. Then they need to make a variety of games centred on their brands. All sorts of games. Social games, self development games, educational games, MMOs, casual games, telephone games. And across different platforms. Very rapidly indeed they would become Britain’s biggest game publisher. And more, because unlike broadcast, games are not constrained by geographic boundaries. With games the whole world becomes their oyster.
So the potential is there to make ITVplc far bigger as a new media company than it ever was as an old media company.