Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Long Tail

Great post from PVRBlog on the long tail of content. Jumping off from a Wired article from last Fall, USA Today takes on the issue..

Here's a quote from Ramsay, CEO of TiVo:

What we've found is that the viewing patterns of people who watch live television — and are therefore restricted to prime time whenever they're home — are dramatically different than the viewing patterns of people who have the choice of just picking whatever they want.

Given the choice, people will migrate towards a much greater variety, and the deal is you've got to make everything available to everybody so that they're not restricted. And if you do, the market for that more esoteric, more specialized stuff is just as big as the market of the mainstream stuff.

The life of content is being extended as people are discovering all kinds of entertainment they previously didn't know existed. (Consider the longevity of the Star Wars series... although, I'm sure most people know of the existence of Star Wars!)

People all around the world have diverse interests. In the past, it was tough to line up an efficient delivery mechanism for that content while connecting consumers with content they're interested in.

For example, I love to watch anime, but probably only a small percentage of people in America like Japanese animation.

As Wired says:

Everyone's taste departs from the mainstream somewhere, and the more we explore alternatives, the more we're drawn to them.

In the past, broadcast television was the only way to get a show on-air and in order to appeal to a large audience, only the most mainstream and popular shows would survive and be aired. Primetime audiences were really limited in what they could view. A primetime anime show just wouldn't survive in the United States (of course, in Japan, that's another story).

I think what the cable industry has shown us is that there is an audience for very niche-based channels, channels focused on topics such as weather, science fiction, cooking, etc. These differing topics will not appeal to everyone, but if the right audience is made aware of the existence of the material and if they can cheaply obtain the content, I believe consumers will consume far more more content than they do today.

If you can believe it, "more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles."

I agree with what the Wired article proposes. Make everything available and help consumers find it. Finally, make it affordable/efficient to obtain the content.

If we can't figure out that the content exists, how can we purchase it and enjoy it?

People love to stimulate their minds -- as Robert Reich said:

The greater value and more eager expenditure comes in the psychological domain: speed and convenience, entertainment, intellectual stimulation, feelings of well-being and financial security… it is the rare human who can obtain enough of these; greater wealth only whets the appetite for more.

Humans have an unsatiable appetite...