On the couch or to go?

An IBM think tank has issued a provocatively titled study, “The end of TV as we know it, that predicts an audience split reaching critical mass by 2012, with some viewers happy to watch in their living room, while the rest will demand downloadable fare.

“For the next 5-7 years, there will be change on both fronts — but not uniformly. The industry instead will be stamped by consumer bimodality, a coexistence of two types of users with disparate channel requirements. While one consumer segment remains passive in the living room, the other will force radical change in business models in a search for anytime, anywhere content through multiple channels.”

The study, highlights of which are free, was produced by the IBM Institute for Business Value. Thanks to the InformItv newsletter for flagging it.

Rights, cameras, action? On the topic of broadcast distribution, a great piece in the Register (UK) offers a behind-the-scenes of deal-making under the title, “IIPTV and VoD: the great content adventure:”

“The business of agreeing rights over the distribution of content is almost always tedious and long-winded … lawyers talking to other lawyers, defining every last detail of allowances, sub-clauses and limitations, for every single time the content is re-licensed to someone new … it is a big boy’s game — a billion-dollar industry that everyone wants a piece of, which means you better have some serious chips to get a seat at the table.”

In what reads like an authoritative piece, consultant and entrepreneur Alex Cameron identifies the players: the Big Ten movie studios that dominate a $44 billion film industry, the Big Four record labels, 3,500 television production firms in the U.S. and UK and the $30 billion video game industry. He goes on to say:

“Their fundamental goal is to maximize the profitability of their intellectual property, and there is no group of industries who are more aware of, and better are exploiting, the value of it.”

With lots of firms looking to acquire content, a new layer of middlemen has become asisen:

“(Content) owners are finding it easier to grant sub-licensing contracts to one central point of contact than dealing with several hundred operators worldwide. Their reward for being the convenient middleman is a percentage of the typical revenue-share arrangement that constitutes the guts of the main licensing deal — a usual arrangement being 50 per cent to the studio, 25 per cent to the aggregator and 25 per cent to the operator.”

And what do all these big dealing have to do with the mini media hopefuls? Well, this middle layer will create a target, not an easy one but nevertheless a real selling opportunity, for custom-made fare. As Cameron writes:

“The costs of producing an distributing a multicast IPTV stream in MPEG-4 on a PC are negligible (aside from a camera and/or broadband connection, you can do it in less than 30 seconds with the free VLC player for example) — small enough that anyone in the whole world can produce and distribute their own live and on-demand TV channel(s) with a broadband connection and that geographic boundaries no longer apply.”

Thanks to Paid Content for the pointer to this piece.

Bonus report: While visiting the IBM site above I used its search engine to look for other reports of interest and found a study on the $70 billion B2B information industry that said in part:

“online newspapers, expert blogs, targeted search engines, low-cost research sites and niche providers — have begun to pull audiences from incumbents. With knowledge seekers atomizing and loyalties shifting … the industry’s two historical barriers to entry — proprietary content and proprietary analysis — are expected to hold. But longer term, the “opening” of source information will likely drive heightened competition and erosion of barriers. If these trends continue, future competitive advantage will go to firms that provide value-added services and expert insights, not access.”

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media