A Call For Paid Content
September 3, 2008 9:37 AM
If there’s one important element about the internet, it’s that what we do now can set things up for the future. I’ve posted in the past about how the web is a sophisticated communications structure designed to merge multiple existing platforms (telephone, TV, etc.) into one, and that industries must learn to marry their audiences to it in order to successfully adapt.
One of the web’s goals, by design, is to merge into broadcast television. We are seeing the very early signs of this now.
What this looks like if you peer ahead: television as we know it, only better. More stable, more accessible, and most importantly, more open. It’ll pipe right into your 52” flat panel, your handheld’s new video-ready screen, or over your traditional computer–anywhere you go.
It will open up the opportunity for exciting new “television” networks, like Strike.TV, and enable greater capacity for a wider variety of shows. Right now, it’s extremely difficult to get a series made, as there are only so many slots a network can fill. With the web, this will be expanded. Model.Live is an early example.
It all sounds very exciting but there’s one critical flaw: it needs revenue models.
That’s where the story gets a little gray. Current revenue for web TV is ad supported with a lot of early promise, but as with banner ads, it may not be enough.
Brands are into the idea of creating shows and series themselves, but there’s a risk it’ll always feel ‘commercial’ to the audience. Production is costly even on web TV’s smaller scale. It is difficult to cut back on sound, lighting, and other crews without compromising quality.
We can’t forget that we’re not currently paying higher broadband costs to download all these series and shows. Many suggest that we someday will. ISPs are already talking about bandwidth waste being a problem.
All of these factors set a need for paid, or premium, web TV content.
Similar to cable now, audiences would be able to access specific web TV content for a fee or subscription. And, as with cable, it will most certainly help generate revenue and cover operation costs. How it would work is very simple: some web TV content will still be free, but to get the really good stuff, audiences would pay for it as they already do with cable TV now.
There are plenty of early signs pointing that paid content and paywalls will work online. Backstage.com users pay a fee for casting listings, for example. The key to making it happen with web TV? Thinking ahead and gradually moving audiences towards it as the market matures.