Saturday, November 10, 2007

Okay, I Said I Wouldn't Write Anything During the Strike...

... but I figure a post about the WGA strike should be exempt. Right?

If I hear one more person claim the Internet can't be made profitable I might scream. And not just because they sell millions and millions of units on iTunes, from which Apple makes only a small percentage. (I don't know what the cut is on Unbox or Xbox, but I assume it's comparable.)

And it's not just because every time I watch an episode on one of the networks' websites I see ads. But then again, taking ad money and not splitting it with anyone is an old network trick from way back.

What really drives me crazy is the whole "no way to make money online" crap. "It's the Wild West!" "No one's figured out how to monetize the Internet!"

¿Como se dice Google?

If the networks and studios are having trouble making money with their online business model, it's because they don't have one. They're treating the Internet like it's a big Tower Records, another place to sell their wares. And we all know what happened to Tower Records.

Google, meanwhile, is the most wildly profitable enterprise in the history of the universe, and they don't charge a penny for their products and services. They recognize that, in this century, data is more valuable than content.

The networks and studios should give the content away. Take a cue from Radiohead and shareware. Watch it, enjoy it, pay what it's worth. (Radiohead's seen almost 40% compliance. That's pretty damn good for the honor system, don't you think?)

Also, audiences would, I think, happily pay a la carte for extras like deleted scenes, commentaries, press kits, behind-the-scenes videos, and so on. And what about membership in the kinds of online clubs that Todd Rundgren pioneered. Pay a yearly fee of, say, $50, and get access to an on-set webcam, sneak peeks, cast interviews, etc.

I joined the Who fan club and got a year's worth of daily entertainment and content and a concert DVD at the end. Have you ever joined a fan club for a TV show? Chances are you got a mug and a 10% discount on other crap you could buy.

And we still haven't gotten to the money they make from that crap: hats and shirts and bobbleheads, and cobranding with Target and McDonalds and all the rest. And have you ever picked up a Circuit City or Best Buy circular and seen your favorite TV stars' faces on all the TVs on sale? Someone makes money on that, don't you think?

Now, though, comes the real payday.

Through all of this the studios are collecting extremely detailed demographic data. They could take all this data and use it for targeted ads and auctioned space, just like Google. And then sell the data to the many indstries that would salivate to have it. Imagine if a network sold, say, BMW or an ad agency something they can actually use, instead of an ad during a show no one's watching.

And that's just ONE way to make a fortune off the Internet. And are there flaws? Sure, probably. I'm just a guy sitting here. But at least I took a moment to think of a plan. What are the studios and networks doing?

If we take them at their own word, absolutely nothing.

1 comment:

norm said...

Let's say, for a moment, the networks are right and there's no way to make money on the internet, (I agree with you, that's B.S.)
But...let's say it's true.

Why fight giving you a piece?

A percentage of nothing is nothing.
Why resist paying you nothing?

Am I missing something.

Or are they offering a percentage but then cooking the books to make it look like there's no profit?