Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Content Is The Serf

I was a product of the old ITV system in the eighties when they produced the majority of their own programming, but now watching the UK's ITV's drive to buy independents to shore up its strategy of 75% of content produced internally seems very strange to me. The great media brands of our era - Yahoo, Google, Facebook, MySpace don't do content. They do platforms. They let their customers/users do content. Of course, it's important that these customers are able to make money from their platform, and the matching of content generators with advertising models has been the media theme of our time.

ITV are persisting with an old mind set in a new world and, apart from laudable initiatives such as ITV Local, seem lost. To be fair, many other broadcasters seem to be in the same boat.

The real value of offline broadcasters is that they can use their traditional audience base to leverage new audiences, but in a world that is ever fragmenting such audiences are quickly going to disappear. ITV.com is doing a decent job at presenting its video content online, but the Friends Reunited purchase was the right idea badly executed and showed an utter inability to leverage between old and new media.

The old adage is that 'content is king', but we live in a service age where trading derivatives is far more lucrative than manufacturing anything. Owning the marketplace is far more lucrative than producing the goods, as Google has shown.

Television has had a swagger and arrogance about it going back to the fifties, but it's time to realise that it has lost its crown before it looses its head.

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