Early signs that content creators and platform providers aren’t on the same team

It often seems that major content companies and platform firms walk in lockstep when it comes to digital distribution, but two articles published today reveal significant philosophical differences. Here’s an excerpt from a Bloomberg story on Viacom’s uneasy relationship with…

It often seems that major content companies and platform firms walk in lockstep when it comes to digital distribution, but two articles published today reveal significant philosophical differences.

Here’s an excerpt from a Bloomberg story on Viacom’s uneasy relationship with online viewing:

Viacom has to ensure that placing television shows and films online adds to its profit, through sources such as advertising sales, subscription fees and revenue from enabling users to buy content by downloading it, [Philippe] Dauman said. The viability of such a model relies on strong intellectual property safeguards, he said. [Link added.]

And here’s a passage from an AP story looking at a similar online offering from Comcast:

Comcast executives said the company plans to generate revenue by adding more and different types of ads on the sites. But the company’s goal is not necessarily to profit from it but to keep subscribers happy enough so they don’t cut the cord or defect to a competitor. [Emphasis added.]

The content creator is worried about direct revenue from the content, while the platform provider is more concerned about keeping its subscribers happy. It’ll be interesting to monitor Comcast’s mindset if/when that NBC deal goes through.

Content Creators vs. Content Aggregators: Can’t We All Get Along?

ReadWriteWeb looks at the increasing popularity of Breaking News Online, a news aggregator that’s harnessing the power of Twitter and other Web platforms (and it just happens to be run by a 19-year-old). Within the piece, ReadWriteWeb hits on the…

ReadWriteWeb looks at the increasing popularity of Breaking News Online, a news aggregator that’s harnessing the power of Twitter and other Web platforms (and it just happens to be run by a 19-year-old). Within the piece, ReadWriteWeb hits on the central issue of aggregators: can they use original content created by other outlets to turn popularity into profit?

All of this is fascinating, but isn’t BNO still just an aggregator? In traditional media outlets “aggregator” is a dirty word (unless they are the ones doing the aggregation). In fact, Breaking News Online does very little original reporting. The company is going to monetize its research flow, editorial judgment, distribution channels…and links to other peoples’ content. If BNO is successful, there is a real risk of original content publishers objecting to the fact that someone else has found a way to make money off of (links sending traffic to) their content.

This aggregator antagonism needs to end. Like it or not, content creators ultimately benefit from the increased exposure and traffic aggregators supply. Creators are generally lousy at Web distribution because they can’t shake the allure of lock in (you need to read my content on my site), but aggregators — unencumbered by oldthink — know the value of broad and diffuse distribution. Compare Breaking News Online’s Twitter presence with that of most mainstream outlets and you can see the stark difference: BNO understands you have to serve the audience through the platforms where it’s already congregating. Repurposing RSS feeds as tweets isn’t enough.

What kills me about all this content creator chest pounding is that these organizations are missing the central point: As long as aggregators point traffic back to source sites, both sides benefit in this relationship.