The Latest Edition of "Everything Will Become Programming"
There’s a new player in the ever-escalating war for attention.
They stream 24 hours of live content every day of the year.
They’re building a $45 million studio in midtown Manhattan with aims to make it the world’s most technologically advanced digital streaming facility.
They’re acquiring a roster of stars who hold audiences of millions captive.
“We’re trying to benchmark ourselves against HBO and Netflix,” says their chief executive.
Oh, by the way, this new content powerhouse sells stationary bicycles.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Peloton.
There’s nothing special about their bikes. The magic is in the 22” HD touchscreen affixed to the handlebars.
Hop on a Peloton and you’ll quickly realize, this isn’t a workout in the traditional sense—this is a show, and an interactive one at that.
This isn’t the olden days of, well, last year, where working out with entertainment meant watching a movie, a TV show, listening to a podcast or God forbid just some music.
Peloton has the driver’s seat in the race toward the next evolution of media: content that knows what you’re doing.
Or, since Netflix has known you’re sitting on the couch, and chilling, as the saying goes, since its inception, perhaps we should call this new frontier “activity-driven content.”
We’ll worry about the branding later. Let’s talk Peloton.
Sit on a bike and behold: gleaming gods of abdomen appear before you, imploring you to push harder, dig deeper, give it all you’ve got!
Unlike the dull, one-dimensional shows and music of yesterday, everything you watch on a Peloton is purpose-built for the precise activity you’re doing. And if Peloton wants to stick around, they’d be wise to push the envelope further. Far further.
Imagine the next generation of spy thrillers, where your effort makes or breaks the heroine’s fate in a bike race along the Seine.
Or imagine a show where the health of the protagonist is directly related to the sweat equity you’ve invested in them.
These specific concepts are likely wild and unworkable, of course. But the fundamentals they depend upon—two-dimensional, interactive fitness entertainment, where your actions directly impact the outcome of the show—are almost certain to come to fruition (and in some cases, already have).
But Peloton’s future as a groundbreaking content creator is only one of two possibilities enabled by its wise strategy as a media company.
Peloton has powerful options as an audience aggregator.
Consider the people who shell out $39/month for Peloton content, and consider how and when they watch this content.
Whereas Netflix and HBO and Disney control millions of people at their most dazed and couch-ridden state, Peloton’s audience is, by definition, sweating.
Not just sweating, but drugged. The good way.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as "euphoric." That feeling, known as a "runner's high," can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
If you could map a person’s positivity, confidence and self-esteem throughout a day, it would peak, or come near peak, during and immediately following a workout.
If Peloton owns content delivery during that window, then they potentially own the most unique asset in media.
Don’t be surprised when they start co-producing shows with brands that are willing to pay a hefty price to be in front of their audience. Brands that care about healthy living, high achievement and positivity. Brands that want to engage with people when they feel the most motivated, most optimistic and most proud of themselves.
In other words, a whole boatload of brands.
Peloton represents a warning shot to every traditional media company: in the war for attention, winners can come from anywhere.
But perhaps most important, there’s a lesson to be learned for any brand looking closely—if you’re bold enough to jump into the media world with vision and strategic focus, you have the potential to not just build influence, but to steer the entire evolution of media in a whole new direction.