CBC wants to make it easier to ignore their programming on new platforms

I’ve moved on from stealing my brother’s e-mails as blog post fodder to stealthily enticing him to write something on a subject he’s more knowledgeable about, so I don’t have to do one of my half-assed rants. His post is called Stupid CBC, which I know makes it difficult to tell what he thinks of their new DRM initiative.

But first, the backstory …

A few days ago, I wanted to post this one segment from the Rick Mercer Report about the problems with the tax e-filing system, and the “new” mail file system: “Simply take the lead wand and touch it to the boxes …” I don’t know, it just made me laugh, and I wanted to share. But while it is available through the official site (see “Canada Revenue Agency: Taking Your Money Old School” under March 13), it isn’t embeddable – as I’ve just proven, it’s not even easily linkable – and I figured it was too much bother. It wasn’t a House video, so I wasn’t quite that motivated.

Yes, that is how lazy I am, thank you very much. But it’s also the nature of the web. It’s a proven fact: adding a layer of click-throughs cuts your audience drastically. You know why I started adding lengthy quotes from the articles I link to on the TV, Eh site? I knew that fact, and had always meant to write my own little blurbs about the articles a la TV Tattle except that takes more time than I wanted to spend. But WordPress made it hard to ignore that fact by adding a stats feature that lets you see what links people are clicking on from your site. It became screamingly obvious that the number of people searching for a particular topic and the number of people landing on a particular page dwarfed the number of people who would click one more time to read the original article.

The web is made for skimming, and readers’ boots are made for walking. Make it difficult for them, and most’ll just ignore your content.

So after my experience with the Mercer video, and after my rant about video incompatibilities on Canadian TV sites, reading this post on the Inside the CBC blog made my Canadian TV promoting soul weep. Apparently CBC is moving towards protecting their online content with DRM (digital rights management – you know, that thing everybody hates about music downloads).

I sent that post to my brother pointing out that Tod Maffin, the blog writer, is asking if that’s what people want. My response: Duh. And that would be duh, no, for those of you not keeping score at home. My brother’s response is more articulate:

First off, why are they worried about people pirating their little video snippets? Some would consider it promotion. I think before they start worrying about piracy they have to get people who want to watch their stuff first. … The problem CBC is having isn’t with piracy, it’s with getting people to watch their damn shows. Why are they spending our tax money on a solution that will make it more difficult for people to see their shows, and will do nothing to stop piracy?

Good question. The only answer I can come up with is that it’s another example of the stealth theory of marketing Canadian TV combined with the kind of fear mongering about this scary new Internet thing the recording industry has been promoting for years.

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14 Responses to CBC wants to make it easier to ignore their programming on new platforms

  1. Diane Kristine says:

    Of course, it wasn’t hard to be more articulate than my “duh.”

    Speaking of duh … PHBs? I should probably be able to guess, but what’s that?

  2. Steve says:

    Oh, damn. I deleted my comment because I wanted to add to it, after you replied to it. PHBs are Pointy Haired (some now say Headed) Bosses, from Dilbert’s boss.

    Articulate? Wow, thanks. It was actually written in the heat of the moment (not that I disagree with anything I said.) And many thanks to the people whose comments I used to show my point.

    It comes across to me as more “Look! The big media companies are doing it, why aren’t we?”, plus, perhaps, PHBs getting some slick talk from a DRM salesman.

    And by the way, you really know how to push my buttons, don’t you?

  3. someguy says:

    I’ve worked with the CBC.ca people and the reason they don’t want to embed is, I suspect, because they’re judged by page hits on their site. So if people embed they lose a hit.

    Which is really stupid, they could still track the views of the embedded video. But someone decided that’s not the metric they’re tracking so we’re stuck in 1998.

    By the way, on the mercer site, on a mac at least, you can link the videos. when the little video pop up comes up go to view and go “show address bar” and there’s a URL you can link to.

    I once asked a CBC.ca person to please, please, just show the address bar so people could link to the video and he wouldn’t because “it looks ugly.”

    Guh,

  4. CAROLINE says:

    You’re right about it being hard to even link to … you can’t actually link to a specific clip, which seem silly.

    It will only get better … CBC is actually developing web-only content. Let’s see how hard they make it to find it, let alone link it.

  5. Steve says:

    It gets even weirder. They have a channel on Google Video, which is okay, but they don’t allow embeddable video for some reason.

    You can at least link to individual videos but, as Diane pointed out, a person is much less likely to click a link than they are to click on a video player that’s right under their cursor.

    These videos are promotional tools, and they are not only not taking advantage of the tools available, they are actively disabling them.

    I’m thinking you’re right, Caroline. They really haven’t shown they get it yet, they just know this new internet thingy is something they should be using.

  6. CAROLINE says:

    This job posting explains it all … it is a rudderless ship right now in interactive. Anybody interested? It’s not like anybody would know what you were doing, could be a good job because no one who’s there now is really qualified to critique you. If I knew a weensie bit more about online stuff myself, I’d apply.

    —————————
    Creative Head, Interactive Content, Arts and Entertainment – TOR01118

    Job Description

    100% CANADIAN. As Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC offers all Canadians broadcasting services that reflect and celebrate our country’s diverse heritage, culture and stories.

    The Creative Head is responsible for establishing both long and short term strategies that result in the development and production of programming for CBC Arts and Entertainment. The Creative Head oversees the development, production and promotion of Interactive Programming and Content. The Creative Head manages the operations and staff of the A&E Interactive Content Unit. The Creative Head represents the interests of the department to producers and other business and creative partners.

    Strategic and Business Planning:
    Develops short and long term strategies and objectives for the evaluation, development, acquisition and promotion of Arts and Entertainment digital programming. Prepares, presents and implements approved business plans. Provides input in the development of long-range strategic planning and budget allocation for A&E.
    Programming: Plans, develops and delivers programming content for digital services. Negotiates and collaborates with English television senior management, program and production units and the independent broadcasting community to create programming that will also complement traditional media projects. Some programming may be created specifically for digital platforms, as well as the network. In collaboration with the Executive Director, develops programming strategy and negotiates program development, with the independent broadcasting community and other content owners. Evaluates the completed development materials and decides which projects should be recommended for production. Advises Director of Arts and Entertainment. Guides and approves decisions on all creative components at every stage, from pre-­production to final delivery. Establishes and develops relationships with key contacts in the community, specialty markets and the broadcast industry, to assist in the creation of relevant Canadian programming options through digital services.

    Promotion and Publicity : Oversees
    promotion and publicity for interactive programming related to Television A&E. Coordinates promotions, publicity, marketing and star appearances with independent producers, In‑House producers, Communications Department, Talent Relations and presentation staff. Evaluates promotions and gives direction to Communications Executives re: promotions.

    Staff Management : Provides direction and leadership to assigned staff. Hires, conducts performance appraisals, disciplines staff as required, determines and coordinates training and development needs.

    Industry Participation: Participates in committee meetings, planning meetings, festivals and workshops, travels to same. Represents the Corporation as required on juries and panels. Conducts workshops for schools and seminars. Keeps abreast on all relevant competing programming, Canadian talent, and issues in culture, broadcasting and digital platforms.

    Qualifications
    -University degree in broadcasting, communications, business or a related field
    -At least 10 years related experience in the broadcasting industry with strong programming and production experience
    -In-depth understanding and knowledge of new media and related technologies, broadcast distribution, business planning, financial management and marketing and managerial skills
    -Extensive knowledge in digital platforms and related relevant programming, network creative mandates and audience targets to evaluate potential and on-going projects
    -Extensive knowledge in Canadian, American and other digital programming, films, books etc. to be informed in evaluating and discussing a very broad variety of creative issues
    -High level of creativity for: the planning and development of strategies and business plans for the development and promotion of digital programming; development of marketing plans to attract -viewers, maximize revenue and position CBC to be in line with emerging technologies in the digital services marketplace; to establish and foster relationships with external contacts relevant to -digital programming projects; to provide imaginative and effective suggestions and input
    -Commitment to creative excellence and innovation in digital broadcasting
    -Instinct and intuition for decision making
    -Excellent communication skills, written and verbal
    -Strong interpersonal skills to communicate effectively, programming and business strategies and plans for digital services with senior management to program and administrative staff, across media lines and the country, cable company and other distribution channels, sponsor representatives, as well as external national and international business, community and industry contacts
    -Strong problem-solving, negotiating skills and the ability to maintain and develop lucrative business relationships as well as a willingness to try new projects and be somewhat of a risk-taker are necessary
    -Demonstrated leadership ability, confidence, and persuasiveness are essential
    -Excellent leadership and mangerial skills in effective team building and staff development
    -Ability to handle multiple, competing and sometimes urgent demands and prioritize many different on-going projects and initiatives for a fast-growing, unique, media resource
    -High level of independent and sound judgment, initiative and problem solving skills
    -Ability to conduct in-depth analysis of issues and problems before determining how to proceed and to focus for extended periods of time
    -Travel and attendance at industry functions and events

    We thank applicants for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. The CBC is committed to equity in employment and programming.

    http://cbc.radio-canada.ca/jobs/current.shtml

  7. jimhenshaw says:

    Food for thought from Friday’s “Variety”…

    Buoyed by their novelty, producer podcasts and online games, deleted scenes and character blogs have become all the rage. Still, this whole trend is bubbling along without much mind to its inevitable limits, as defined by the majority of consumers with little demonstrable appetite for chatting, playing along or making their own films using pre-approved toolkits.

    As evidence, consider a new survey by Knowledge Networks/SRI, analyzing use of network Web sites. Despite the many new features available, the report notes, the most-used attribute “is quite pedestrian: checking the broadcast schedule” to see when shows are airing. By contrast, less than 5% of Web site users polled said they use the sexiest, most-discussed elements — among them podcasts and user-generated content.

    “The lesson is a common one regarding technology — sometimes the most fundamental functions are the most valuable,” the study observed.

  8. Diane says:

    That doesn’t surprise me Jim, which makes it even sadder that Canadian TV sites tend to fall down on the most basic aspects, too. It’s very difficult to find scheduling information for many shows, usually things like when new episodes are airing, but sometimes even when the show is on at all.

    This is a bit of a different issue though. For one thing, if they’re going to post online content, they need to do it right or it’s money down the drain.

    The reason for doing it at all is that hardcore Internet users are proven evangelists for shows they watch. Casual viewers don’t have to seek out a network website if bloggers are posting the latest hilarious sketch they saw on Mercer. It’s a little extra publicity for no additional cost to what they’re already doing on their official sites.

    We’re not even talking the creation of online-only content, we’re talking repurposing existing clips from their shows. CBC wants to spend more money to make them less accessible by using proprietary software and DRM. We want them to set them free.

    Yeah, that job’s a little over my head too Caroline – 10 years broadcast experience? Hmm, how about … 0?

  9. DMc says:

    It’s worse than you think.

    Here’s what I got reading that ad..

    ..they’re asking for the right qualifications, BUT,

    anyone who would take that job HAVING ten years experience in the area — well —

    You don’t want to hire that person.

    Once again, the disconnect goes hard and deep. You need to invent what it is you’re going to do in the brave new future. You don’t need somebody ten years into a career for that.

    You need someone who’s brilliant and five years in, with something to prove. If they’re ten years in and this job looks attractive they either aren’t as good as they need to be to take on CBC, or they’re burned and looking for a sinecure.

    “you don’t even get what it is you don’t get.”

  10. DMc says:

    …there’s one caveat to that that I’d add..

    unless it’s somebody inside, who knows CBC culture, but who’s been chomping at the bit to prove themselves.

    in other words, exactly the type of person that CBC never promotes from within.

  11. Diane Kristine says:

    That’s exactly what we’re talking about here, Will – the use of DRM protected content on DivX, and on a fairly obscure site to boot.

  12. Mef says:

    we want to make our stuff embeddable, downloadable the whole thing. There seem to be a million hurdles though. Maybe if people really want to embed a sketch and they tell us, we could just put the thing up on youtube ourselves.

    I wonder how much trouble I would get in for that.

    mark
    p.s. glad you didn’t hate cg last week

  13. Diane Kristine says:

    We wouldn’t tell, Mark. Do it! Do it!

    That’s quite the way to paraphrase what I said about CG. I definitely didn’t hate it. I might even have to watch the next season premiere now.

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