Media is Jell-O, the Web is the wall

by Mathew on May 9, 2006 · 1 comment

And you are the nail. Every day there are new signs of how traditional media — newspapers, radio, television — are morphing and shifting and changing, as content finds new routes to the consumer, like water finding the easiest path as it flows downhill. Fox announces a deal to sell shows via iTunes, Warner Brothers announces a deal to use BitTorrent to offer downloads, newspapers watch their subscription levels continue to plummet as online readership rises. Media owners everywhere are trying to figure out how to adapt to the changing environment, which is where the Jell-O and the wall and the nail come in.

Warner Brothers may get some applause for going the BitTorrent download route, but the files are likely going to be all buggered up with DRM — a comment over at BoingBoing says Warner is already using a similar system (not BitTorrent) in Germany and the files are lower quality than a DVD but cost just as much and don’t have any extra features. How is that a good deal? Sharing a movie gets you credits, but you reportedly have to share an entire movie about 40 times before you get enough credits for a free one. As TechDirt points out, the studios are “offloading the cost of the bandwidth onto the buyers, but giving them no benefit in return.” Not smart.

As for newspapers, debate is still all over the map about how to offer content online — and I should know, because we’ve had (and are having) plenty of that kind of debate at globeandmail.com. Is the subscription model working? Does it make sense to combine that with a partial “pay wall” as the Globe does and the New York Times recently started doing — or should content be free and advertising carry the freight? Does Google actually help, or is it stealing content in some way as the European Newspaper Publishers contend (that last one is the reddest herring I’ve probably ever seen, as I’ve mentioned before).

As Mark has mentioned in his post, and Rob in his, these are just the kinds of questions that our conference was set up to try and tackle (tickets are still available, but time is running out). Notice I didn’t say “answer.” But at least we can have a go at nailing some of that Jell-O to the wall.

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