Last week's Downton Abbeybroadcast debacle, while not representative of the world's most acute problems, unnervingly illustrated one of the many ways that media companies fail to understand markets, technology and day-to-day consumer realities. The hit show ended its third season on December 25th with an extreme plot development. The season was broadcast only to its British audience, while American viewers were waiting until 2013 to clap their eyes on the latest round of shows. Problem was, of course, that the entire non-UK audience had the whole third season spoiled by instant social buzz and UK-generated web reviews of the final dramatic denouement.
If technology does nothing else, it destroys boundaries of all sorts -- between countries, time zones, populations, affiliations and cultural circumstances. Media companies that distribute their products as if those borders still held sway seem increasingly clueless and hostile to their ever more empowered audiences.
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