Video A La Carte –> A Disaster?

May 12, 2008

There was this Marc Cuban post a view days ago… and today I read again a post on Digital Media Wire by Paul Sweeting on the same theme: The report of Bernstein Research written by analyst Craig Moffet: “And Now for the News…The Emperor Has No Clothes”
I would love to read this report… but can´t afford it… so I’m just writting about what is posted out there in the blogosphere…

Craig Moffet made two important points in his report:

  • Consumer tolerance of advertising is much lower online than in the traditional TV channel and that it simply is not possible to support the sort of professional production values expected on TV through advertising online.
  • The web’s ability to let users select only the most desirable programs, or only the most desirable portions of programs–means programmers will not be able to leverage popular programs to support less popular programs through bundling

Don`t know what you think… but both points I don`t see as “dramatic” in the future as its discussed here (maybe it´s more dramatic in the shorterm):
First: People are already do something like “cherry picking”, not as much as they will do in the future but they already can choose their program format … under round about 50 Channels… the best format will win… now and in future. Zapping is no new thing.
Second: We can expect that people will at least watch the same amount of time video content now or in future irrespective of the media channel. So we have the same amount of attention, what means the same amount of value that can be monetized.
Third: People maybe don`t accept as much advertising online than on TV, but we will know the customer who is watching. We don`t have to believe on research based TV ratings… we will know the exact numbers and in future we are able to personalize advertising, the wastage of media money will be minimized, every user, every content view will be more valuable..
Fourth: The quality of watching video content will rise considerably – watch what, when, wherever you want – that means people will watch more video than ever before… so there will be even more attention to monetize.
Fifth: Bundling will definetely be an important tool in the digital age, like it is in the music industry. There will be just new kind of bundles…

And this is the real question: Which bundles could work? What kind of online platforms are able to monetize the content? What services or added value is needed? Who can compete with the “free” competition?

But the discussion in the blog posts mentioned above is more about the question: Are TV stations making a huge mistake by putting their current schedules online for free?

Marc Cuban added to the discussion the following point:

  • “The ala carting of video on the net will benefit those who enable the search for content and can monetize that search.”

Paul Sweeting made these points:

  • “What Moffet is describing is a process very much like what the record companies went through: a radical reorientation of the dynamic between producer and consumer. You do not “publish” or “distribute” content on the Internet, although publishers and distributors like to think they do. You make content available on the Internet for others to access and aggregate as they will. The process is fundamentally, always and ineluctably user-driven.”
  • Like it or not, the web simply isn’t very kind to publishers, packagers and distributors. It rewards enablers. Search is an enabling technology. (…) The challenge for publishers is not to figure out how to force the web to reward them. It’s to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling technology.

So far so good. I fully agree to all three points.

But then I was a little bit confused by conclusions like this from Paul:

“In that sense, Cuban is right. It may not make sense for the networks simply to make their schedules available for free on the Internet. That doesn’t really create any new value; it mostly just drains value from linear platforms.”

As Paul wrote himself, when the content is “public”, than it is available… Anyone know websites like “surfthechannel.com”? So, why shouldn`t they publish it online? It`s out there anyway. They can`t stop the technology! Said thousands of times…. There is the “free” (legal or not) competitor, so compete with it! Try to build your brand in the online world!

And to the question of Marc:

Will shows be forced to introduce different versions of shows, say with different ratings as a means of differentiating TV from streamed shows ? The R rated version of Friday Night Lights online and the PG version on TV?

I think content creator even have to go further: Transmedia Storytelling! Why shouldn`t there be complementary content for example at the daily mobisode, on the weekly TV show, the online version and the online game?.

And I fully agree with Paul:

“What the networks need is to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling consumers to access, select, aggregate, transform, embed and share content–in a word, to use it. Anything else is just TV with buffering.”

So please, don`t stop making content available for free online. But that`s not enough! There has to be more to monetize your content in the longterm. Video a la carte is not a disaster, but it`s just a small part of a new “business model” to monetize your content online. Try to find new ways to increase the consumer experience. Use the chance to present your content idea deeper and in more detail and extend than ever before to your fans. Not long ago you had just 40 minutes per week…

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