Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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A Call for Unbundling

Just last week I talked about the popularity of short video clips and how they can contribute to the success of a television show. I quoted Matt Haughey who wrote:

Like Napster, there are positive sides to this kind of loose fair use/infringement. It’s only because things are so lax that everyone and their brother saw the Chronicles of Narnia SNL spoof video, and SNL ratings definitely saw a spike in the shows that followed (and I noticed SNL tried to capitalize on this by putting Andy Samberg in more skits and letting cast members do funny little videos for the two following episodes).

Well, it seems as if NBC read my entry and did the exact opposite. I suggested that “Maybe unlike the music industry, television networks will think a little bit before they fight a battle they can’t win. Don’t just cry foul and whine about people stealing your content: do something about it! Think about how you can change with people, not fight against them.” Well, thanks to Boing Boing I’ve learned that NBC has asked YouTube to remove the video. YouTube has since confirmed it on their blog (which has no permalinks by the way), stating, “We know how popular that video is but YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders.”

Now of course the video has not completely disappeared, NBC still streams it on their site or you could buy it for $2 from iTunes. The thing is, the NBC site is for Windows users only and iTunes is not free and DRM-crippled (I believe), a serious downer. Now why would NBC do such a stupid thing when this video is the only reason I (and I’m sure many others) have tuned into Saturday Night Live again (only to be disappointed I might add)? It’s because they don’t get it. Plain and simple.

It’s a perfect opportunity to bring up unbundling again. Media outlets that believe that they’re going to survive on their current path are sorely mistaken. Things have changed, access to information is available anytime and anywhere. Your little television show, magazine or newspaper just isn’t as valuable as it once was. A media outlet’s value is no longer in its ability to bundle everything together. I can staple together my printouts myself, thank you! It’s time to start considering what everyone championship sports team past its prime as to consider: Is it time to blow it up?

What needs to happen first is an inventory. What pieces are held and what value do they have. This is a general inventory, like ticking off TV station in New York, newspaper in Chicago. This is a specific inventory: Sports writer in Chicago, prime time show in New York. It’s about finding the smallest pieces of value. After an inventory it’s time to start assigning values and considering alternate forms of distribution. That’s sports writer may hold value in more arenas than just his daily newspaper column. What other ways can you leverage his expertise to add revenue. Is it a text-message service for sports fans? A fantasy football consultation service? Media doesn’t mean newspaper/magazine/television/radio anymore: It’s any information/communication vehicle.

February 19, 2006