As relayed in my previous post, I had an issue with Conan O’Brien’s claim that The Tonight Show is immune to DVR and Internet technologies. This week, a friend and former colleague, Steve Melfi, tweeted something that I considered a very real possibility:
The shared link delivered me to a New York Times Bits blog post, by Nick Bilton, about O’Brien and his Tonight Show gang leaving television for a Internet-based version of his program. In his post, Bilton suggests:
“Mr. O’Brien’s youthful supporters won’t crowd around the television at a specific time, instead they go to YouTube, Gawker, [and Hulu] to watch their late-night television, and share their own commentary around each clip.”
The last part of this quote (“share their … clip”), is arguably the most interesting. This afternoon, I briefly conversed with Patrick Skahill about the evolution of television viewers. Our conversation focused on a local news viewing audience’s desire to know more, ergo the popularity of multi-informative sites like Wikipedia. The same can be said for Bilton’s community of viewers, or forum of viewers.
In the case of this potential “URL-only” Tonight Show, the viewer has the potential to act as both producer and consumer (a sentiment displayed on the very first page of Paul Levinson‘s New New Media). Obviously, as one logs on to this potential Tonight Show webcast, the initial act is done to view the show (consumer). This act, however, is followed by (potentially) added content to the page/forum/group as the show “airs” (producer). If there were a middle ground between Marshall McLuhan‘s “hot” and “cool” media, this imaginary land of a “lukewarm” Tonight Show webcast would be it.
As it stands today, I don’t think today’s viewers are ready for such a “lukewarm” medium. With this evening’s news that Fox purchases URL rights for a potential future with Conan O’Brien all but shutdown the potential for Bilton’s “URL-only” Tonight Show. That said, O’Brien’s lack of faith in URL-based entertainment doesn’t mean such a show will never exist. It remains to be seen if media seekers and consumers are ready for the emergence of “active passivity” (as introduced in a earlier RSS/Twitter post).