Monday, May 5, 2008

Who Wins from the Long Tail?

We've talked a lot about Chris Anderson's concept of the Long Tail and the democratization of content. Journalism, film, music and other such "artistic" endeavors are things that anyone can do. The crowd determines who has "talent" and then rewards them with mainstream publicity. And with mainstream publicity comes the ability to reap riches beyond your imaginable belief.

Fast forward to two years from now when the Long Tail is more prevalent than ever. Box office will remain flat, but less people will go see movies (it'll be $20 a ticket after all). CD sales will go the way of the cassette and iTunes will rule but only at 99 cents a track. Amazon will claim that 75% of their sales come from Long Tail books and blockbusters will gravitate more toward the body of the tail. TV...What's that? Everyone will watch "TV" on their laptops when and where they want.

So who wins? There's a glut of video content coming online with the latest being "GodTube" receiving $30 million. Let's assume that there is an effective monetization strategy whether that is pay per view (like JumpTV), pre roll, plinking, or some other strategy to turn this content into cash. Even then, are we giving up control to the power broker (i.e. Google)? That would be as if everytime TV Guide sent NBC a viewer they would get a cut. Hmmm. Are content owners slowly losing control?

With the long tail of content is there an effective monetization strategy that can allow the niche creator to make a living? We've seen with YouTube's monetization that the BreakALeg.TV received an 80 cent CPM. So who wins? Unfortunately (please don't deindex me, Google), it seems to be the broker which is shaping up to be more and more Google/YouTube.

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