Fire up the PowerPoint

Robin Good puts together a few PowerPointable lines on the future of media:

Consumers become producers of content, and niche content surpasses by orders of magnitude the value of traditionally labelled commercial television and film.

The value is not anymore in the best seller or in the blockbuster.

The value is in infinite choice of content and in the opportunity for the consumer to see content when she wants it: prime time is anytime, and anytime is prime time.

  • Oh, please. This is a complete load of hooey. Any paen to user-created content that contains the phrase “infinite choice” should be viewed with deep suspicion, and any claim that the blockbuster will no longer exist is just laughable. There really is just so much talent in the world, and there really will be concentrations of people with enough talent to acquire disproportionate audience. When you add in the cost+value of production values and team-building, these differences become even more significant. More commentary on my blog.

  • steve

    There is a good name for this model: SOD, or Shit On Demand.

    Somehow I doubt that even the best techie toys will ever reduce the appeal (or even the dominance) of the Stephen Kings of the world, not to mention the Ella Fitzgeralds, Tom Cruises, Mick Jaggers, Steven Speilbergs, Madonnas, Andy Warhols, Ken Burns, Bill Cosbys, Yo Yo Mas, Malcolm Gladwells, etc.

    Yawn.

  • Jimmy

    People said these very same things when television came around. It didn’t destroy the film or radio industries. Those industries just had to change in order to survive. I agree with Ethan: the blockbuster and the best seller will ALWAYS matter. That’s how people make money — old and “new” media alike. Disregard that your peril. Let’s use an example: Eragon, which was self-published by its teenage author. A moderate enough success to the point that his family could rely on it to put food on the table; however, it wasn’t until Eragon was purchased by a major publishing conglomerate, Random House’s Knopf, that it then sold 1 million copies; along the way making it’s home-schooled teenage author a millionaire. Old-time big media still has power, no matter how much you may wish it to be otherwise. In my opinion, it will be how they come together with user-created content to remain alive that’s their future.

    I can accept the third supposition quite easily. After all, that’s been happening since cable started to produce original programming. However, big-media is already adapting. They’re offering downloads of their shows for less than a dollar; they are embracing video-on-demand. This whole small-is-the-new-big theory just seems like a bunch of hooey to me. These media companies have been successful because they’ve adapted to changing consumer environments. Granted, they are a little slow on the uptake and often do it kicking and screaming, but they do it. They embraced the home video maket after years of fighting it. They embraced digital downloads after years of crying piracy. They will adapt – they always do. What has the potential to kill them is if they’re too slow to adapt. Only time will tell.

  • To some extent the big name successes are pulled from the longtail(infinite niches) in situations like American Idol. They’re filtering the longtail and the people pick their favorite performers.

    We may see more independent content now that production is cheaper. The only way to get your movie seen is through distribution and advertisment. Once the little guy can get that remaining expensive barrier out of the way we’ll see something like Flickr but for movies.

    Recommendation systems are already enabling niche products to sell more, look at books on amazon for instance or movies on netflix or tags on del.icio.us. We need better recommendation systems before the niches will really be findable. Combine that with cheap distribution through better broadband and only then will the potential show up.

  • Wow, what nice comments.

    Guys, your arguments are either faulty or irrelevant.

    Last time I checked, blockbusters and “talent” were not exactly strongly correlated. Do you think the Left Behind books are an example of “talent”? Or Rocky pt 183? The Golden Girls? Stone Phillips? Survivor pt 1383? etc…

    I think you guys are fundamentally missing the point: Jeff is talking about blockbusters as one ultramarketed piece of content going from Movie –> Syndication –> Consumer Goods –> Talk Shows –> etc.

    Those days are ending. “Talent”, OTOH, is exactly what the death of the blockbuster unleashes – the end of distribution scarcity and scale economies mean real talent – not just marketing – has a fighting chance in the new media economy.

    …which leads us to other hole in your arguments, which is that you (or I) have no idea how much “talent” is really out there, because search and distribution costs have always been prohibitive.

    It’s pointless talking about Stephen King and Yo Yo Ma – the point is the opposite: how many people would love, for example, the Slits, but will never hear of them; that is, the opportunity cost of a Stephen King or Yo Yo Ma.