Lessons from the Public Media Platform: Kristin Calhoun Keynote at API Strategy and Practice

Traditional media is going through a major upheaval at present, with paywalls proving an ineffective business model, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post, viral masters BuzzFeed promising to invest their revenue in investigative reporting, and Netflix overtaking traditional paid cable like HBO in revenue generation. At API Strategy and Practice, Kristin Calhoun from the Public Media Platform talks about how public media partners are using APIs to prepare for the changing landscape.

The changing media landscape has meant America's public media players have also had to look at how they are positioned in an connected future. In the past, public media has at times collaborated, but at other times been in competition.

Kristin Calhoun, from the newly formed Public Media Platform, took to the keynote stage at API Strategy and Practice this afternoon to talk about how the huge public media base with so many moving parts will manage to build new revenue streams and maintain sustainability in whatever shape the media industry takes in the future. "Public media is the most trusted brand in America. There is a reason why every time governments try to stop public media they fail," Calhoun said, adding cheekily: "But high brand equity also means lots of meetings, so at times I have to stab myself with a pen under the table to keep myself awake."

The Public Media Platform was created a year ago to help public media players - television broadcasters, radio, and independent local print media - easily share and exchange digital content in order to allow continued widespread access and opportunities to grow an audience.

The new model shows a central core infrastructure based on common standards, and common business rules. A shared toolkit is then built on top of this for collaborating partners, including sharing of best practice, open source tools and master service agreements. Above these foundations, partner autonomy is encouraged and supported. It is a model other business and open data networks can apply.

To date, the model has had a smooth implementation path. Current deployment timeline is on track, with version one pilots in progress at present.

The PMP is currently modeling potential business models to help the public media group generate new revenue streams. These include:

  • Licensed access to public media content through the API (for example, public radio in New Orleans was able to take photos to show the levees were not safe during Hurricane Katrina, and immediately fielded requests for publication licensing arrangements from CNN and major commercial media)
  • Creation of revenue share opportunities that would not be feasible without the PMP (for example, a relocation service could draw on local content to show city lifestyle and conviviality to newly arriving residents)
  • External partner content inclusion into the PMP for a fee (for example, newspaper editorial teams and television news co-locating and figuring out how to create shared cost and revenue models)
  • Suite of fee based services for those using the PMP (for example, selling access to the PMP platform to those such as National Parks Service that may need a shared platform to draw content from that could be used to create personalized apps for parks visits and guides).

It is a model that other businesses can learn from: any distributed business with outlets across a nation or around the globe, any collaborative network of business partners looking to compete as a group, or any open data network can learn from the Public Media Platform's approach to distributing content via APIs and identifying new business revenue streams.

API Strategy and Practice continues today, Friday, 25 October. ProgrammableWeb offers live streaming of keynote presentations and will be reporting on key discussions throughout the day.

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