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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error



Exclusive Online Content Makes Sense for Creators

March 17, 2009 2:21 PM

In the age of digital distribution of media, content creators might want to consider offering some exclusive content online. That was the advice shared by musician Jonathan Coulton, who has become something of a Web star for releasing his music online without copyright protection on his own site, during a panel at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

 South by Southwest Festival in Austin

NETWORKING Where business gets done at South by Southwest—in the halls.

“The idea of exclusive content is not crazy,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense where if you are a member of the fan club, you get the CD. But be prepared for a lot of leakage and don’t worry about it, because there’s not a lot you can do about it.”

(Leakage doesn’t sound so pretty!)

But seriously, while Mr. Coulton’s advice was largely for musicians, I want to know if you think there is applicability to video content. What can video producers offer on an exclusive basis? Can anything even be exclusive anymore?

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Comments (3)

Andy S.:

It's exclusive only in the sense that you have to go to the website to get it. Perhaps a better word would be "promotional," because you're offering something for free in the hopes of monetizing it in another form down the line.

In music, recordings are increasingly being seen as promotional; that is, their value as saleable commodities in themselves has been eroded by the internet and easy digital distribution, so they're becoming little more than vehicles to get fans to pay for live performances and ancillary merchandise. I assume that's Coulton's business model. (Incidentally, I'm familiar with some of his songs, and they're very good, by and large.)

TV producers and networks want eyeballs on their websites, so they put webisodes on them, exclusive content that viewers can only get on the site. The monetization comes from selling ads, or in the stickiness of increased fan engagement. They must realize that a lot of their future business will be done on that platform, so they've got to find the way to condition viewer behavior in such a way that it will make financial sense to continue making television content.

Buck:

True, so long as "Exclusive Online Content" isn't synonymous with "Exclusive Online Crap." That's been the case for the past few years, because when the overhead is lower than broadcast content, producers get greedy and shrink the overhead far lower than it should go, and all that goes online is crap. When producers and studios get confident enough that their online success can be as lucrative as or more than their broadcast counterpart, we'll start seeing some actually good pieces.

Hayden Black:

We (Evil Global Corp) produced 20 episodes of Goodnight Burbank: Hollywood Report exclusively for Babelgum. Without going into the more intimate terms of the deal, they licensed the episodes for one year on the net and 3 on mobile.

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