Saturday, November 17, 2007

Paradigm Shift

The long tail exists in many manifestations in the world of narrowcasting. Clearly, minority sports and hobbies is one paradigm, but there is also the hyperlocal angle, and then there's the displaced minority model.

I don't have Sky, so I don't know if there are any Polish TV stations on it, but there certainly aren't any on either Virgin or Freeview. Considering that there are, conservatively, 600,000 Poles living in the UK (I'd estimate that the figure is actually well over 900,000), not having a broadcast station serving them is surprising, so this is potentially a lucrative market. Polish is now the clear second language of the UK, overtaking Urdu, Arabic and Welsh.

So, companies such as Jump TV and BroadShift are focusing on this market. JumpTV uses a largely internet TV approach to providing ethnic re-broadcasts, but Broadshift recently purchased ITVN, a set top box manufacturer that didn't quite make it despite having a decent product.

In fact, this is a shell buy in, with Broadshift acquiring ITVN's listing on the OTC market and planning to raise $20m.

It's telling that a decent company on the market can't raise money whilst a new company being introduced can. (Could it possibly be anything to do with investment banking fees, I wonder ?).

It shows that the markets reckon that it's much better to be pre-revenue than to generate revenue in the real world. The OTC market is a brutal place where value is discounted daily by hedge funds. Broadshift seems to be a fast growing business that would be much better off using private equity as it seeks profitability, instead it will be shorted out of existence before it has a chance to get near cashflow positive.

The genuine problem is that exits in the internet TV business are few and far between to date, since most companies think they can do it themselves, leaving companies like my former employers Narrowstep hugely undervalued.

Moving the long tail is difficult whilst you're standing on it...

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