I think sooner or later we have a couple of game changing things we need to be aware of as content producers.
- Audiences are (mostly) unwilling to pay for content.
Movies are still an exception, but only when priced fairly. The collapse of the movie rental industry (in their $3.99 Brick and Mortar incarnation anyway) is a clear sign of this. As is the drop in attendance at movie theaters the last few years (though gaining in overall dollars as ticket prices are hiked – again, at odds with the continued perceived decline of the quality of the product).
- Advertisers are willing to pay for access to the audience that wants our content.Unfortunately, I know most of us really hate advertising, but in lieu of a better way to pay for the cost of the creating content in the first place, this is about as good an option as we have.
In light of those facts, Chris Anderson over at The Long Tail has put up some great data on Ad CPM’s that I strongly believe are a leading indicator of putting power back into the hands of the producers.
The data shows that higher traffic websites (eg – bigger distributors of content), receive far lower CPM’s than smaller traffic websites that deliver more focused demographics.
The vast majority of content created today really *does* fall into niche categories – and niches where even a (relatively) small number of viewers could potentially turn a profit for smart producers.
It also means that as producers we have to be more savvy about *where* our audience is, what their interests are, and how to engage them, and how to earn enough revenue from them that we can survive, maybe even thrive.
It means we have to be smart enough to adapt and learn more about business than maybe we did in the past. It may mean extending your product “brand” to finite goods ahead of seeing if you have a hit movie or not. With low/no cost on-demand product fulfillment these days, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t launch your new online series with a shopping cart and backend vendor already set up to sell t-shirts or mugs or whatever with your show logo on them or catchy phrases from your script (think: “I drink your milkshake”).
This is all usually way out of bounds for producers, as studios took that to run with themselves, but as our business models change, so must the things we do to keep our livelihoods lively.