What the broadcasting industry can learn from Facebook


Following an over-inflated IPO pricing, revelations about fake accounts and a firmly downwards trend in its share price, Facebook is a dirty word at the moment.

But there is one crucial point that our industry can learn from Facebook – its take on innovation.

Within the broadcasting world, the innovation focus is now moving rapidly towards software and applications. Major players want to deliver content and associated services to viewers, wherever they may be and whenever they want, rather than on tangible, infrastructure-based innovation.

But in a software world speed to market for new services is very different to that of the traditional broadcasting industry.

In the Facebook IPO prospectus Mark Zuckerberg talked about a concept called “The Hacker Way”, where hacking just means building something quickly.

In Zuckerberg’s words: “The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo. Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

That’s a very different mentality to that in place at most incumbent broadcasters, rightsholders and platforms, which err on the side of the caution and defer to cautious senior management when faced with the risk of disrupting existing revenue streams.

Zuckerberg’s recipe for innovation is:

“The best way to have the biggest impact is to always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.”

“Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.”

“Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.”

Which broadcaster, platform or rightsholder can say its innovation cycle approaches the speed necessary for today’s changing media market? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Nick Moreno, Head of Market Intelligence