Readers of the blog will know that I have been critical at times of the television industry for being slow to innovate. For instance, I've written about how the broadcast networks have clung to their old prime time television series model (launch in September, run once per week) while cable and Netflix have launched very different models (including Netflix's huge focus on binge viewing desires of many consumers). Now we read in today's Wall Street Journal that one network is trying to innovate to compete with on-demand services and Netflix. Nickelodeon will be launching a customized channel. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Parents will be able to personalize the content that airs on My Nick Jr. by indicating their relative preference for seven themes such as "word play," "super-sonic science," and "get creative." Based on those preferences, My Nick Jr. will choose content to air from hundreds of episodes in the Nick Jr. library. Children can rate shows by clicking on smile or frown icons, and the service will tweak the programming lineup accordingly. Parents can get reports on what their children watch and can program the channel to shut off after a set period. There won't be ads.
I don't know if this channel will be a success, but I applaud the effort to innovate. It's about time that television networks began to respond to the threat posed by Netflix and other outlets. I did find one sentence in the Wall Street Journal story rather interesting. The article notes:
One risk for the media company is that the new channel could draw viewers away from existing Nickelodeon channels. In the U.S., the flagship Nickelodeon network has a preschool programming block that averaged 570,000 viewers among children 2 to 5 years old in 2013.
I think the statement represents highly flawed reasoning. The logic here is that you might eat your own lunch. However, what management should be thinking is: Perhaps it's better to eat our own lunch than to enable others to eat out lunch. Fear of cannibalization is the one of the main barriers to innovation in large firms. It often stifles efforts to grow new ventures.