10.19.2004



HBO Declares War on Patch Cables


There was some discussion happening at Slashdot about HBO's brilliant (heh) decision to crack down on bad consumers who might be copying their programming.

What the megacorps don't get is that their whole marketing/sales paradigm is rapidly becoming outmoded.

If you own a mall and play music from the speakers in the mall, you have to pay ASCAP and/or BMI blanket fees to cover royalties for the publishers and artists. It's not a ton of money -- not so much that management is tempted to cheat. It's just not worth the hassle. The same kind of thing is going to have to happen in this digital age, or the whole media economy is going to choke on encrusted '60s-era business mindset placque in the revenue arteries.

Ultimately, if the price is right, people will pay for premium access to premium programming. And if reruns are affordable enough to access, then nobody will bother trying to copy things onto local media.

Alas, it will take a maverick success from the margins, some original thinking by the old white men in the board rooms, or a trainwreck before these monkeys will let go of the cookies in the jar.

Nobody got rich by disempowering the customer ... or not as rich as they might have. The customer is always right, even if wrong.

(As for what this means for the news, well, that's another story. Jon Stewart said it best last Friday.)

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