TV Content Wants to be Free


As Netflix, NBC Universal and a variety of new distributors and content networks enter the field of developing their own channel programming, they are tending to gravitate towards maintaining a tight grip over their productions.

We believe this will ultimately turn out to be a counter-productive strategy, because it creates walled fortresses, silos of content, in a time where the public demands even more flexibility and selective control over what they want to view, and when they want to view it.

Matt Asay of ReadWriteWeb explains the downside of this trend aptly, stating the following:

“Once-neutral content networks are now investing in original content, exclusive to their networks. While these are honest attempts to differentiate and create value for customers, they risk Balkanizing content. It’s CompuServe all over again.”

Further to the point, Matt illustrates that there will be eventual repercussions of this strategy, based on consumers eventual reaction:

“Whether expressed through digital piracy and even Apple’s iTunes, content wants to be free. By this I don’t mean to suggest that consumers want to pay nothing for content, but rather that we want to have convenient, multi-channel access to content…Markets get bigger through open access; they constrict when access is closed.”

Sooner or later, consumers are going to get what they want, that is how the open market works. And if Netflix and other such previously neutral content distribution networks continue to erect barriers around their original content programs, then public dissatisfaction will grow, and new disruptive innovators will enter the scene.

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