Streaming media: Where the creativity goes to thrive

NPR’s Linda Holmes, who writes the Monkey See blog on popular culture, has found her way — sort of — into the percolating podcast v. radio debate with her latest post about a TV show.

She writes today about Tina Fey’s new show — Kimmy Schmidt — which will be on Netflix instead of broadcast TV, like her old show “30 Rock.”

What’s fascinating about the piece is that Fey opines that it’ll be nice not to have the complainers from mass media anymore. She says people who consume media that comes to them — TV and radio, for example — complain more than people who search out specific programs on streaming services.

Holmes, correctly, compares this to the difference between radio and podcasting. In so doing, she offers a valuable perspective on the discussion — raised earlier this week here — about the creative potential of an emerging medium vs. the that of the “old” one.

The reduced pressure of on-demand listening, too, has creative advantages. Certain niche shows can thrive as podcasts not only because the business model is different, though it is, but because the contract is different. The experimental and sometimes very loose nature of some very successful shows (consider Marc Maron’s notoriously shaggy WTF, for instance) suggests that listeners have one expectation for usefulness or inoffensiveness when something is served to them over a broadcast channel that they may not have specifically selected; they seem to have one that’s a bit different when it comes to things that they’ve agreed to try voluntarily.

So not only are there lessons at press tour that apply outside of traditional television, but there are lessons that apply anywhere that the structure of media is changing. Which, of course, is everywhere.

More flexibility, more creativity, more risk, fewer complainers. How is a mass medium supposed to survive against that?