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Patterns of Distribution: Re-routing the Signal

I was listening to Wolf Blitzer on CNN talking with the captain of the President’s plane, Air Force One. After 9/11, the airplane was fitted with videoconferencing equipment to allow the President to address the nation while in flight. The pilot described a process where the video signal could be sent to the major television networks for distribution to the nation and the world.

If you were designing that distribution pattern today, you’d send the video to YouTube first. Previously, only the the major television, radio and cable networks had the distribution power to reach the nation. To the extent that YouTube can accomodate realtime broadcast and provide an archive for timeshifting, it will become the primary distribution channel for political communication. The media networks will pick up the signal from YouTube for rebroadcast in realtime. They’ll provide context and analysis as a value add, but in that pursuit, they will be competing with a full range of microbroadcasters.

The dominant distribution pattern has been inverted; there were a few people who saw this historical change as it emerged over the last year. Obama, and his team, saw the possibilities of bottom up communication and executed on the insight beautifully. It will be interesting to see how this pattern becomes firmly woven into our culture over the next year.

Comments

  1. hardaway | January 19th, 2009 | 6:36 pm

    Yes, and that fits with the fact that change.gov redirects to whitehouse.gov tomorrow!

  2. hardaway | January 20th, 2009 | 1:36 am

    Yes, and that fits with the fact that change.gov redirects to whitehouse.gov tomorrow!

  3. bc | January 19th, 2009 | 11:19 pm

    While you raise some good points, I have to disagree that YouTube is anywhere close to replacing the major broadcast networks.
    This is like the vine taking over the tree. Without the tree there is nowhere to climb.
    It would be more likely for YouTube to become a Network (i.e. a Total Request Live kind of show) that competes with ABC/CBS/CNN etc, than for these networks to loosen their synchronicty of a national message. You tube's sheer amount content would the static to the networks cadence of the air waves.
    You tube is great and will abe great for archival purposes.

  4. cgerrish | January 19th, 2009 | 11:28 pm

    The President's Weekly Radio Address is already routed through YouTube. Soon more communications will follow that same path. YouTube won't replace the Media Networks, but some kinds of communications, the order of distribution will be inverted. We will start with the many and move to the few.

  5. bc | January 20th, 2009 | 6:19 am

    While you raise some good points, I have to disagree that YouTube is anywhere close to replacing the major broadcast networks.rnThis is like the vine taking over the tree. Without the tree there is nowhere to climb. rnIt would be more likely for YouTube to become a Network (i.e. a Total Request Live kind of show) that competes with ABC/CBS/CNN etc, than for these networks to loosen their synchronicty of a national message. You tube’s sheer amount content would the static to the networks cadence of the air waves.rnYou tube is great and will abe great for archival purposes.

  6. cgerrish | January 20th, 2009 | 6:28 am

    The President’s Weekly Radio Address is already routed through YouTube. Soon more communications will follow that same path. YouTube won’t replace the Media Networks, but some kinds of communications, the order of distribution will be inverted. We will start with the many and move to the few.