Why Magazines Will Be “Watched” (And Cable Won’t)

While the encumbrance in video are the television broadcasters, cable companies, and movie studios–collectively they’ve done a poor job at figuring out how to connect with an audience and create a two way conversation. Magazines, on the other hand, are expanding their connection with readers by embracing video.


As we arrive at the emergence of niche microcasting, there’s a surprise winner on the software side. While the encumbrance in video are the television broadcasters, cable companies, and movie studios–collectively they’ve done a poor job at figuring out how to connect with an interactive audience and create a two way conversation in digital niches.


At the same time, a group of publishers that had been all but been written off are emerging as the innovators in the evolution from print to full motion media.

I’m talking about Magazines.

Television networks began when transmitters were expensive, local stations required an FCC license and the audience was looking for an authoritarian voice. Back when there were 3 networks–there wasn’t any need to engage with viewers, or create a conversation. In fact, the message was simple “if you don’t like what we’re programming, change the channel.”

In 1994 I was producing a regional television news program called BROADCAST: New York. We had the crazy idea to put an 800 number on the show, and invite viewers to call in and suggest stories we should cover. I remember a call from an AP reporter, who said that he thought what we were doing was a technological innovation. Thinking back, my response was; “no, not really. Any TV station or show in America could do what we’re doing. We’re just answering the phone when it rings, and they aren’t”.

And, today–they still aren’t. TV, in it’s DNA, is a one way medium. They talk, they don’t listen.

Magazines on the other hand have always had a conversation with their readers. They publish letters to the editor (On TV the only show that did that was 60 Minutes and they’ve since canceled that part of the program).


Magazines are very much in their DNA written in service of their readers, and spend a good deal of time thinking about their community of subscribers from the standpoint of what they’re thinking, doing, and expecting from the magazine.

Magazines, in their DNA, are wired for a two way future. TV networks are not.

Which is why I’ve been watching with some interest as more and more magazines explore ways to create web-centric, two way, video oriented editions.

Magazines are evolving into TV 2.0.

Take a look at a few:

New York Magazine


Backpacker Magazine:

Birds and Blooms:

Fast Company:

Bicycling Magazine:

And while lots of magazine groups are making content, and soliciting user content, there’s a new model emerging that puts magazine editors in charge of the Curation enterprise.

Folks like Penton Media are building new franchises in the B2B space, using their deep product knowlege and the expanding collection of web content to become the experts in gathering, organizing, and curating content around narrow and often technologically complex verticals.


Here’s an interesting example:

“This is truly where we stand out from the competition,” said Bill Baumann, market leader for the Penton Electronics Group. “We’ve created an immersive video environment for engineers, but we also enable our users take the next step. If an engineer watches a video on a cutting-edge technology or application, we then offer a sample kit, additional technical information, or price and availability for that product. We are excited to be the first into the marketplace with this functionality.”

Since its launch, Engineering TV has produced more than 525 episodes and generated referrals from the likes of Google, Yahoo, MSN, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Michigan College of Engineering, and many societies, associations, and engineer blogs. It also has generated millions of page views and hundreds of thousands of unique visitors.

There are big changes on the way for web video as it merges and morphs with broadcasting and cable. Live video, VOD, and web video to the Flat Screen are all very much realities and will fast become a natural part of the video world.

Magazines are clearly positioned to emerge as the maker, and curator, of a new kind of focused and topical video. Watch to see which publications and groups take leadership in this space. There’s strong economic incentive to see a number of leaders step forward here.


Stay Tuned!

Steven Rosenbaum is a Curator, Author, Filmmaker and Entrepreneur. He is the CEO of, a Realtime Video Curation engine for publishers, brands, and websites. His book “Curation Nation” is slated to be published this spring by McGrawHill Business. Disclosure: some of the links above are powered by

About the author

Steven Rosenbaum is an entrepreneur, author, and curator. He is the founder and CEO of the web's largest Video Curation Platform,