Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Value Of Content

The video content industry is being blown open by the advent of internet video, and I've been thinking through the implications.

First of all, it's clear that there will be more demand for more video content. This is good for both production and facility companies, but the bad news is that the overall trend for more to be produced for less is going to continue to squeeze budgets, and much of the slack may be taken up by a Current TV or Sumo TV type user generated content model.

Another disappointment to producers is that back libraries may be worth less in some cases, although there is a huge body of content that could easily be liberated and monetized if the situation with residual payments could easily be sorted out. Is it time for a MCPS type organisation for video ? Valuable programming will be drama and, in some cases, documentaries, children's shows, natural history and historical programming. Less valuable will be reality TV and fly on the wall programming and non-'name' TV shows.

Content producers need to allied themselves closer to the big brands rather than broadcasters, so those with a strong sponsored programming and/or corporate production arm may be well positioned.

Product placement and far more blatant promotional techniques will be the order of the day, although I doubt if the 10 - 30 sec ad break will go away. PPV will be possible for only the strongest content such as memorable TV series and sporting events.

Web agencies are going to have to set up, or merge with, video production outfits. Video production companies are going to need to change the way they work and adopt new, more flexible, web-based tools much more rapidly.

The good news for all of those involved in the content industry is that the old skills don't go away. Good storytelling, tight production, strong technical capabilities are all still essential; the public love affair with shaky, grainy, blurry videos will not last long, IMHO.

This is a classic case of the old Chinese saying: "Crisis is an opportunity sailing on an ill wind"...

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