Perhaps no industry has both benefited and struggled with innovation as much as the media space. While online news has revolutionized the way people consume news, traditional media outlets have struggled to survive at a time when so much content is available for free online. But it is among media companies that much of the innovation has come that has changed the way we consume media.
A Look Deeper: Media Companies
Media behemoth Comcast (CMCSA) is the largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world by revenue. Its Comcast Labs engineers new products and works to create new customer experiences with its own development center in Denver, Philadelphia, Silicon Valley, California and Washington, D.C.
It partners with companies as large as Microsoft and Verizon Wireless as well as start-ups such as Bug Labs and Zeebox. It focuses on integrating across various media products, personalization and expanding content access among a variety of platforms. The company is also on a constant quest to keep technical infrastructure updated, and announced in February that it would be spending $25 million to update its fiber optic connections in the Boston area.
And Comcast does not limit its drive for innovation to within its own walls. The Comcast Innovation Fund provides research grants and open source development grants to researchers at leading academic institutions and elsewhere to support important tech research.
SiriusXM (SIRI) is another Nasdaq-100 constituent from the Forbes list of innovative companies as it explores the ways that real- time connectivity and technology integration can reshape how we interact with media. It pioneered the subscription-based economic model and proved the subscription model could work for companies in an era where consumers had come to expect free content. It has 175 channels of radio programming but fewer advertisements than commercial radio and while it once came close to declaring bankruptcy, it is now described as an “economic powerhouse.”
It also made great gains in showing that personalized content could be done on a large scale, as its music channels offer incredible variety that can suit almost any content need. Taking the view that people will seek interconnectedness in multiple settings through multiple channels, SiriusXM focused on dominating the auto market, with 75% of cars sold in the U.S. coming with satellite radio installed.
Though it began with a merger in 1935, 20th Century Fox (FOX) is very much a company of the 21st century, adapting to the interactive tastes of media consumers and investing in new technologies. The company announced the creation of FoxNext, which will work on creating content that is used in video games as well as virtual reality, augmented reality and location-based event entertainment. The company is also one of the investors in Dreamscape Immersive, a virtual reality technology startup.
And its research arm, Fox Innovation Lab, partnered with the Felix & Paul Studio startup to create virtual reality films and other forms of “VR” entertainment. Earlier this year Ericsson announced it was partnering with Fox Innovation Lab to address increasing consumer demands for new and innovative video content. Journalists who visit Fox Innovation’s virtual reality “Bunker” report that the company is ahead of the pack compared with its Hollywood contemporaries in pioneering the experience. 20th Century Fox is also exploring other immersive experience products, such as high dynamic range technology.
Viacom (VIA) was an early champion of a media company taking charge of its own content and led the way in the plethora of original programming that consumers have available today. But its position as a media content pioneer has not stopped the company from continually working to know its audiences better. It recently used neuroscience to test different audiences and chart how multicultural audiences respond to different programming. The Viacom-founded Get Schooled was listed as one of Fast Company’s 10 most innovative companies in gaming in February for helping high school students find their way through the college admissions process by “gamifying” it. Last year Get Schooled saw 2 million students use its Web site.
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