Back in Ye Olde Web 1.0 days, the term “frictionless commerce” was coined to describe how consumers can buy a vast array of goods and services quickly and easily online.
There are two developments that have me thinking about something new:
The first development is the Adam Carolla podcast. Adam Carolla is a TV and radio personality who had his own syndicated morning radio show until his flagship station, KLSX in Los Angeles, decided to switch formats last month.
Carolla decided to switch from broadcasting to podcasting.
He created a makeshift studio in his house, invited comedians and other celebrities to join him, and started making radio again.
During its first week, Carolla’s podcast was downloaded 1.6 million times. In the second week, it recorded 2.4 million downloads. This was accomplished without any advertising or support from traditional media outlets (though I believe Carolla did mention the podcast idea during his final days on the air).
Now, podcasting has been around for a while — nothing new there — but this is the first time a general-interest radio show has made the jump from old media to new. (Howard Stern jumping from terrestrial radio to satellite doesn’t count here: Stern still depends on a traditional radio infrastructure, even if the transmission medium is different.)
(Full disclosure: I’ve never met Adam Carolla, but he is a friend of a friend and I am a fan of his podcast.)
The second development is the proliferation of devices that can access video content via the Internet like Roku digital video player. Now, I’ve got one of these $99 beauties and firmly believe that the days of renting (and perhaps purchasing) physical discs or other media are numbered. That’s no great insight. But consider the implications for traditional television and cable networks:
With my Roku box, I can access old episodes of shows like The Sopranos or Weeds and watch them at my leisure. That’s because HBO and Showtime issue these shows as DVDs.
But imagine a television series created for specifically for devices like the Roku. You could create a series on your own terms, and distribute it directly to potential viewers, and bypass the networks completely.
OK, so it’s not that easy. You’d still need to get financial backing and work out a deal with Netflix or Amazon to distribute your show.
But if the rumors are true that Roku will be adding YouTube as a viewing option, anyone with a video camera and a YouTube account will be able to create content that I (or any other Roku box owner) can watch on the same screen that I use to watch 30 Rock, the Food Network, and Red Sox baseball.
As with podcasts, if you can produce the content, you can distribute it quickly and easily. Frictionless broadcasting.