The trend for digital content in 2012 is in being everywhere, according to a two-part article by PaidContent’s Staci D. Kramer.
Any service that wants to charge directly needs to offer a low price ‘on-ramp’ for customers who don’t yet see all the benefits. This is usually sold through the must-have feature (for example, ‘pause live TV’ for Sky) and sold upwards into more expensive packages as customers fall in love with the service basics.
The modern challenge for digital content is that this on-ramp is often an entirely free service. User channels like YouTube and Pirate Bay have enabled people to uploaded chapterised feature films, full TV episodes, whole album collections.
But for content businesses the must-have feature is the content itself. And no business can support running quality services for any length of time without a revenue.
So the focus for 2012 is how to make ubiquity the reason to buy. ‘Must have’ is having it wherever they are. If a potential customer can view/stream/download to one device, perhaps they will see value in paying to get it everywhere, anywhere.
As Kramer points out, this re-introduces scarcity into content economics. And scarcity allows you to charge premiums. (Which in the case of digital content is the permission to charge anything at all!)
While this route keeps content providers firmly fixed to the route of service providers (as opposed to content producers) it does offer a glimmer of hope to producers of less bankable content — if your content takes a bit more ‘digesting’ then ubiquity gives your audience a chance to view and review at their leisure. Documentaries, rich TV series, indie films can offer time-starved audiences a more relaxed pace to consider and share the content than they get from buy-for-one-platform services.