Monday, April 21, 2008

Do Content Owners Need Content Aggregators Anymore

It seems that content creators can bypass the middlemen and get to the consumer directly. Digital technology has lowered the barriers of entry so that films and shows don't need to find distribution platforms, they can do it themselves.

When Showtime/CBS and Viacom/Paramount split, many argued that this would unlock the value of both companies and enable each to more fully realize their potential. But the nature of this deal means that the Viacom side can simply create its own distribution arm and not rely on its former partner. So the split of companies also signified a split of synergies.

What is not being discussed is that their still requires a marketing skillset to enable content to break through the clutter and get noticed. Content aggregators can coordinate distribution schedules, provide a single shop experience, and be a known landing page for the consumer. But the case can be made for aggregators and content creators to be vertically integrated, both making video content and distributing it. NBC Universal has shown that ability to produce a film, send to a theater, show it on USA, air it on Hulu and digitally sell it.

It may get to a point that distribution windows will disappear. A film leaves the theater and goes to every possible distribution vehicle simulaneously. The old methods of selling exclusive windows may be over. A film would be available for dvd, VOD, digital download at the same time. And content owners can maintain their profits by managing the distribution windows themselves, using their own networks, and technology to control the digital rights to their content. Maybe Viacom and Showtime should think about coming back together!