The long tail losers

Go with the flow or fight your way upstream against the tide? It’s a question that challenges us all at various times, and one that is always relevant in digital media.

In the September 2010 issue of Euromedia we focus on an area where maximising the flow is the aim – multiple screens means multiple formats and play out and content management providers are working hard to keep the ever expanding processing required as automated as possible.

If only the direction of travel were so clear when it comes to maximising content monetization. As Larry Gerbrandt points outin the magazine, a far bigger constraint than technology in exploiting new delivery channels are the complex rights and windows contracts attached to content by the major providers.

Certainly the owners of premium TV content – by which we mean mainstream studio movies and series drama, major sports rights and big franchise peak time shows, know the value of their product and eek it out channel by channel, window by window. And why not? It may slow down progress in some new areas, it may even suppress competition and, therefore, deny the consumer optimum pricing, but the health of the content maker’s margin matters to us all. If the big ticket items don’t cash in at the time of maximum value, we know that monetizing them once they are in the tail is really tough. In our research round up items about a recovery of advertising in prime time sit alongside others about how easily viewers ignore pre-rolls on VoD. If you don’t make money when the product’s fresh you won’t make enough to bring more to the market.

As OTT becomes a reality and players like Apple try and slice and dice everything to 99 cent portions, producers do well to remember what happened when their colleagues in music and the printed word came to the Net. Music tried to ignore it and ‘alternative distribution providers’ nearly bankrupted the industry. Conversely, newspapers and magazines embraced it wildly and now can’t get the genie of free content back in the bottle.

Good creative content, in any medium, isn’t cheap but if you let the consumer thinks it is, it will be next to impossible to persuade them otherwise and – as appears to be happening with newspapers – by the time you do it will probably be too late.

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