Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, October 03, 2021

During this week’s speculation over Comcast buying a controlling interest in NBC Universal, the oft-invoked “content is king” mantra cropped up as motivation for the deal. If that’s true, the scope of today’s media landscape is the king’s crown:

By owning the content itself — NBC Universal’s assets include the NBC network, movie studios and several cable channels — Comcast stands to make money no matter where a show is viewed.

Such leverage is welcome at a time when cable is losing basic cable subscribers to competitors and growth is slowing at its Internet and phone businesses. Meanwhile, fees it pays to programmers such as NBC Universal continue to climb.

“This is about the future of content distribution,” said James McQuivey, media analyst at Forrester Research. “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be multiplatform.”

So it’s not so much the content itself, but the inroads that NBC’s made into cross-media and multimedia presentation that makes it attractive to Comcast. Yet those inroads exist only because of the TV shows, movies, and other properties that NBC has invested so much money into to develop. I guess content really is king.

Except when it’s not. User-generated content is an established factor in current media, having migrated from the Web to other media channels (think reality shows and similar fare). It’s the ultimate on-the-cheap product development, yet it’s a central part of media propagation. Success here prompts regular speculation on why traditional media spends millions of dollars on professional-grade movies, music, and books when so much creative output can be solicited for free (or close enough to free, when factoring in Web bandwidth, marketing, etc.).

Comcast’s pursuit bears out why. When it comes to content, there are two levels: The slick, finished products from traditional media, and the raw-material participatory contributions from new media. The former is investment-intensive, and pays itself back with wide exposure. The latter is more passive to foster and generate, and serves to perpetuate public engagement. They’re complementary — one’s not going to supplant the other.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/03/2021 08:00 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
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