Redefining Professional Content and Accepting Digital's Limitations

Scott Karp expands on claims that Hulu is nipping at YouTube’s heels with 10 pointed observations about the future of media. Karp’s full list is recommended reading, but the following points inspired a few thoughts of my own:

1 . Professional content still has A LOT more value than “user-generated content.”

This bodes well for publishers, studios and other companies that have attained professional status, but there’s another aspect that deserves mention: The concept of professional in the digital realm is transforming from exclusive to inclusive.

Under traditional models with limited channels, a professional was someone who achieved a certain title through luck, talent and output; the content produced by these people was deemed professional by default. But digital platforms allow consumers to choose material on their own terms, and with that comes a shift of the professional label from job association to consumer impression. If consumers deem a piece of “user-generated” content to be professional, then it is (to those particular consumers). And if enough consumers assign the same value to the same content, advertisers will eventually get on board. We’re in the very early stages of this professional transition (and the ensuing debate), but I’m excited to see how a reimiagining that includes both traditional companies and upstart professionals plays out.

8. Most analogue media businesses, when fully transitioned to the web, will likely bear little resemblance to the original businesses.

Karp summarizes something that’s been gnawing at me for months: the old models just don’t hold up in the digital world. Distribution went from narrow and expensive to wide and cheap; audiences once limited to specific channels have dispersed across a broad landscape; Web advertising revenue will not replace traditional ad revenue; and, after 10-plus years of Web use, consumers now expect basic digital content to be free. Fighting against these changes delays the inevitable, but acceptance opens up enormous opportunity to build leaner businesses that use content, community and the Web’s efficiences to sell scarce products (i.e. targeted research, consulting, education, events, experiences, and access).

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