The Three C's of the Digital Age

We hear a lot of talk about the endless benefits to the consumer of our new digital age. This is the era of the three C's: choice, convenience, and control.

If you ask consumers what is important to them, they'll tell you they want to be freed from the constraints of a TV schedule. They'll say they want flexibility in when, where and how to watch video content. And now, at long last, the technology exists to give consumers what they want.

But there is a difference between what consumers say they want and what their behavior tells us they really do want.

Choice is important. Yet out of more than 100 channels, the average viewer tunes in to 15. And out of an almost infinite number of Internet sites, the average surfer visits 32.

Convenience is important. Yet, as shows like American Idol tell us, millions of people make a point of being home at certain times each week so they can tune in to their favorite programs.

Control is important. Yet often, viewers want someone else to be in control. Whether it's Brian Williams preparing a daily news digest or Kevin Reilly inviting the nation to watch My Name Is Earl every Thursday at 9 p.m., it is nice to leave some decisions up to others.

Yes, consumer behavior is evolving. But it is over a longer time frame than press reports would lead you to believe.

Another point about the three C's: They are meaningless without a fourth: content.

This is why I'm bullish on the future of so-called “old” media. We have years of experience in what matters most: creating high-quality content.

Advertisers, like broadcasters, have tremendous opportunities to connect with their customers in new ways. And we are committed to helping them do that, whether through the 30-second spot (which is still the most powerful marketing tool ever devised), product placement, Webisodes or any of a limitless array of possibilities.

The future we see is one in which the definition of “broadcaster” is redefined to mean “deliverer of high-quality content.” This encompasses broadcast, VOD, Webcasts, iPod downloads, cellcasts and moving images on devices that aren't even invented yet.

Yes, content is king. But in a digital world that—in theory—gives everyone the tools to produce and distribute video content, it is the most creative, best-executed content that will be valued. The way I see it, creative, high-quality advertising is part of the content. Everything else is static.