Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fox is Secretly Creating New Networks

What started as something of a whim has grown into a media phenomenon that promises to change the way we get our news. The Strategy Room, a FoxNews.com online streaming TV program that has the look and feel of a typical cable news program, came on the scene during the 2008 Presidential election because there was simply too much political news to be covered by the network. I don't know if the architects of the program knew it at the time, but they were creating a bridge between traditional and new media that was both exciting and profound.

Often, when I am working on my computer, I play Strategy Room behind the window or document I am working on and click to it when they bring up something of interest. When I find myself watching closely, I almost get lost in it and forget that it is a web based show. Fans of new media like myself love it and say "thank you very much," but one has to wonder whether it is in the network's own self interest. I think it is, because the move to online is inevitable. After all, the show has great talent and a professional set, but the big costs to creating a network are the distribution costs. An online program like Strategy Room does not have such problems. However, it seems such moves only weakens the legs of traditional networks, but the power of the Internet leaves them little choice. Fox News seems to understand they are in the information business, more than TV. That will keep the network relevant.
Eric Bolling, who hosts one of the Strategy Room hours has been a guest on my show and we discussed the program's reach. "It is really amazing," he noted, "we often get thousands of emails from people around the country -- and world -- who are wanting to interact with us on the news." The lines between old media and new are only becoming more blurred. He told me that most at Fox were under the impression that Strategy Room would fade away after the elections, but its popularity demanded for it to stay.

It doesn't end with Strategy Room, however. When you get to the site and the actual streaming you find that your options don't end with the talk show. If a governor is being impeached, you see the proceeding live. If a stimulus package is stuck in the Congress, you see it live. If another Obama apointee is trying to explain why he or she doesn't have to pay taxes, you see it as it happens. These additional views probably cost very little for Fox to produce, because the networks already have cameras at these locations, but they make it easier for viewers like myself to stay with the site so I can keep up to date on what is going on. With C-Span you are having to bounce bank and fourth between channels. With Strategy Room, it is all there and one click away. Furthermore, you can also find Fox News Radio conveniently located there and for those who only want to focus their eyes on their work, it is excellent alternative. I am expecting the network to only add "more channels" as it goes along.

There is also a very high likelihood that other TV networks will create similar web based platforms and online channels of their own. Furthermore, this move by Fox only makes it easier for up start new media entrepreneurs to compete against the major players.

The only down side to Strategy Room is that it has yet to find a way to monetize the network. Currently, all the staff have to make themselves available for all the network's news programs, so I don't believe there are additional salary demands in the talent area. But there are costs for those involved in production and the show runs 9 hours a day (from 9 am to 6 pm Eastern). I would think that it would be fairly easy to make it profitable. Yahoo Music does short breaks and plays an ad and there is room for labeling on the big screen TVs in the room or even at the table they sit at. I am only assuming that they are making sure they are in a position to make a long term commitment to the concept. It is pretty safe to assume they will and I believe new media will continue to improve because of it.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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Anonymous Pam in Kansas said...

Strategyroom!!!! What can I say! I remember when we first got our sattilite and finding Fox and Friends and Big Fox.....it was like a lightbulb moment for me. I was searching for something and BOING there it was.

Same for the Strategyroom!!! I have BIG Fox on the TV and Strategyroom on the computer. My whole day is such a learning experence. I love the interaction with the shows, cause I can vent and let everyone know how I feel. I watched the plane that landed in the Hudson live on Strategyroom, same with the BIG drop in the market. NOTHING better!
Eric Bolling has one of the best hours, 3:00pm(EST) hour.
FOX gets it, and so do all of us out here in middle America. Thanks for the article!!

Pam in Kansas

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Eric Bolling said...

Thanks for the shout out. I would love to get you on my A.D.D. hour (Addictive Dialog and Debate)and share your great insights.
Eric Bolling

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Strategy room is definitely changing the way we receive news. I love it. I feel soon all stations will have a knock off of it. I hope Fox marketing gets on this asap. Many ways to market this and make a profit!

Cynthia G

2:55 PM  

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