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Observations From London

Last week Gene and I participated in the Guardian Changing Media Summit that provided for a number of stimulating conversations.

I wanted to share what I learned during the course of the event and provide my own personal opinion on some of these issues as they apply to the world of digital content and services.

  • The continued growth of “linear” broadcast TV in the UK. Apparently residents in the UK are watching more regular TV than ever before. This is in stark contrast to the US where the growth of DVRs and services like Boxee are leading to time-shifting of traditional TV viewing as well as the phenomenon of cord-cutting. Are the UK and the US fundamentally different in this regard, or do we expect the two regions to more closely align over time? I suspect things will change once Netflix enters the UK market — not just because of the added competition to companies like LOVEFiLM — but because it may stimulate the shift from traditional TV viewing as broadband continues to take hold in the region.
  • The use of the word “paywall” in every speech and constant discussion of the NYTimes model. Frankly, I dislike the word paywall. It implies creating a rigid barrier between provider and consumer at a time when the media industry is desperately seeking ways to strengthen and lengthen customer relationships. Rather than describing it as a wall of any type, companies should focus far more on the value of the service (that includes the content) to the consumer for which he or she is willing to pay some type of subscription fee.
  • The recognition that charging for regular news and content has as high a probability of success as I do of succeeding Queen Elizabeth. While most commentary focused on the need to provide unique content, there were few discussions on the need for media companies to recast their value in terms of a service that highlights the reason for their existence, whether that service is in the realm of entertainment, education or something else.
  • Importantly, a week of seeing the sun after non-stop rain in the Bay Area.

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The Guardian Changing Media Summit

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