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Which Kool-Aid Are You Drinking?

I’m the first to admit I’m drinking the digital Kool-Aid. In fact, I enjoyed a wicked little thrill earlier this month when I stood in front of a besuited audience of media agency and network executives at the TVWeek Upfront Summit at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and told them I had watched Web shows on my iPod on the flight to New York, not network television programs.

The world is changing, consumers are flocking to the Web and just what are you going to do about it, Mr. Big Media?

Yet later that evening when I shared a libation with a fellow reporter, I wondered if I had spoken too soon. He jabbered eloquently about “Lost” and “The Sopranos” and maybe even “Sanford & Son.” But what stood out most from the conversation was his unwavering belief in TV.

“This is why TV is never going away. It’s how we tell our stories,” he said.

I didn’t have a comeback. Because he made a really good point. TV is how we connect. It’s the gathering around the campfire with shared stories. And if media continues to fissure into ever-smaller slices, does entertainment just become a Tower of Babel? And how will we be able to tell our stories then?

But you know what? I’m not the only one drinking the Kool-Aid. Those attendees at the upfront summit come from the same companies that are betting the future is digital. Accenture reported last week that in its annual survey of more than 100 senior executives in the media and entertainment industry that 66% of them said that alternate forms of media will be the largest driver of new revenue in the next five years.

About half of these executives think that digital will comprise more than half of their ad revenues in those same five years. These are the same people who say they are making less than 10 percent of their revenue from new forms of media today.

To me that means we’re not going to be telling the same stories in two to five years. Sure, there will still be a “Lost.” But heck, I don’t even watch that show today.

So welcome to the road to the Tower of Babel. It’s one-way, it doesn’t stop, and you can’t get off.

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