We are all familiar with the term “broadcasting”. We have been using it for many years, since the advent of the radio signal.
The content is cast out in a broad style, both technically and content wise. In other words, the signal is able to be received off air, by millions of people, with content which has a broad base appeal. The idea is to get as many people to watch as possible.
Skip ahead to the mid 1980s. The term, and concept “Narrowcasting” was introduced. It coincided with the introduction of expanded channel cable TV. We were no longer confined to the limited number of off air TV channels. Because TV was now delivered through a cable to people’s homes, the programmers could charge a fee to the viewer. This allowed them to create more targeted content, aimed at a much smaller audience. With this, came entire channels dedicated to only sports, only cooking, only children’s programs, and so on. Today we take it for granted, but once upon a time not so long ago, if you liked cooking shows, there was only one on per day, or even week. Now you can get all kinds of cooking shows, 24/7.
Today, Narrowcasting is a relic, like broadcasting. It is still going on, but is quickly being replaced by “Microcasting”. Microcasting is brought to us by IP streaming, and the Internet Of Things. Now, anyone with a mobile phone, or a computer with broadband connection is capable of producing their own, targeted content, and sharing it through the Internet. This is extremely low cost, almost nothing if that option is chosen. The content is shared through YouTube, or through live streaming. Because of the low cost of entry and operation, microtargeted programming is financially viable. The programmer does not need a large audience anymore. In reality, it can even be a hobby with no income stream.
This is a very important development for educators. Now, schools everywhere can create shows and share them in real time worldwide. Imagine a school in Omaha, Nebraska having an audience in Perth, Australia. And, with the explosion of social media streaming services like Periscope and Blab, interviews with people all over the world can be achieved easily, and for free. What a great teaching tool for media programs! Students at any level can learn how to become newscasters overnight, and look just like the pros. Their topics don’t need to have a broad appeal anymore.
What is more important, is that this technology is only going to get better, and more prevalent. Students will be learning a skill that will take them through their lifetimes, and give them a voice. Today, as we speak Micro Studios are popping up all over the world, Microcasting to a narrow and targeted audience, who share their interests. And these Microcasters are actually turning these IPTV channels into a viable commercial endeavor. In plain English, they are making money, and lots of it in some cases. I have met children as young as ten years old making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with YouTube channels, and live IPTV channels. Not only are they able to share their voice, they are making a living at it.
In my article last month, I addressed the need for instructors to help their students learn production in order to get a job. With the potential of virtually unlimited IPTV channels, the possibility of earning a living from them is real. The model has already been established.
Each person has something say to the world. Our message no longer needs to be widely accepted. A small but loyal audience is enough, and in some cases, even more important. The cost of entry is low, and there are no barriers. There is no federal agency needed to license a channel. There is no one to review and edit the content. There is no filter between the Microcaster and their audience. All it takes is an IP address, or a sign on code.
This is the single most powerful movement in the history of electronic communications. Anyone can be heard. All they need to do is find their audience. Streaming is quickly changing the world, both technically, and culturally. Which will increase the need for content dramatically. And we all know that content creation is now possible with nothing more than a cell phone.
So teachers all over the world, spend time with your students, and teach them how to formulate their ideas, and turn them into content. There is a demand, and it is growing thanks to streaming. IPTV and Microcasting is where tomorrow’s media entrepreneurs will be found.
Perry Goldstein is a veteran of the electronics industry, with both consumer and Pro A/V electronics experience. He is also a professional speaker, and writer for the electronics industry. He has won numerous awards for product design. Perry is currently the Director of New Digital Technologies for Marshall Electronics and MXL pro audio division, as well as an instructor of digital marketing at the higher education level.