Almost every blog post about media starts by stating just how much our field is changing, and how quickly this transformation is taking place. I think it's safe to say that those of us who study media understand this by now. The question is, what changes are occurring and why are we witnessing such rapid innovation?
The consolidation of a variety of tasks to a single device is one way our media consumption is unlike it has ever been. A smart phone, for example, is able to make phone calls, serve as a television and entertainment center, and an internet source all in one. This idea is known as digital convergence. In the age of digital media, there's no longer a different device or source of each different form of media we consume. Digital convergence is one defining element of the entire industry of media in the twenty-first century.
Innovations and technology that is allowing for more efficient devices to produce and use media in this modern era are also facilitating rapid change. Various subsets of the industry are now able to produce more content more quickly, and display it all, while simultaneously directing it to the segment of their audience that would be most interested. This has led to an increase in engagement and consumption of media.
It all goes back to the idea of digital convergence. Media and technology companies are seeking ways to expand and become more relevant in multiple areas. Disney Plus, for example, offers every Disney movie you ever watched as a kid AND ESPN Plus for a single monthly fee. Entertainment, specifically for kids, and sports. Two different areas that many people would pay for separately if they needed to. But with Disney Plus, they converge. And either the whole family is satisfied, or, if you're like me, you'll happily go from watching "Cars" to NASCAR!
From a business point of view, even a retail giant like Amazon is playing the media convergence game. This is another area where I have found my own choices as a consumer impacted by this concept.
I love Amazon's promise of free shipping and two day delivery on many of their products with a Prime membership. And relatively speaking, the monthly fee is reasonable. At least well worth it for heavy Amazon shoppers such as myself. I also love music. I used to be a Spotify Premium subscriber, because I couldn't stand all the commercials. But now.... enter Amazon Prime! A way I can get everything delivered to me, for free, in a timely manner AND enjoy Amazon Music! I know I'm starting to sound like an advertisement for Amazon, but I am only trying to explain this idea of convergence in my own life. I win because I no longer have to pay for Spotify, simply by paying for the free ship
ping I was going to pay for anyway. Amazon wins because now they have their hands in two huge industries.... online retail and music streaming.
There are numerous examples of convergence both from a business and technology standpoint. Convergence in the media industry is where we are now seeing such a rapid change in the field. No longer do we have limited options providing a single service. We now have unlimited options of companies who offer multiple services.