Perth Fire © Gary Hayes 2005I was trawling through some videos of a conference on New Distribution (PDF of programme here) I produced earlier in the year in Santa Barbara – primarily looking for a couple of quotes for a paper I am writing about the granularity and fragmentation of TV viewing. The first panel which I chaired was composed of Microsoft (Home Ent), Christie (Digi Cinema), IPSH (Mobile) and TiVo (Personal Video) – Howard Look who heads up the TiVo user design pointed out that:

“75 programmes make up 50% of TV watching, 15 000 make up the other 50%” Howard Look, VP Applications Software & User Experience, TiVo.

Howard is a very nice bloke by the way! Anyway I suddenly remembered that this ‘long tail’ of TV was researched long before Wired’s Chris Anderson – in fact way back in 2000 when early broadband DSL TV companies (YesTV and HomeChoice) did research into viewing habits of TV programmes. They noted at first the high level the appetite for archive material which worked really well cause it was cheaper to buy from the distributors! From these early portals of a few thousand items of TV they tracked what programmes were in fact being watched. The stats that came out were indeed of the long tail variety – more than 50% watched was the really old stuff.

Further research then raised another issue in that people were asked how much they would pay for this content – unanimously less, it is of perceived less value, old after all – so those business models broke, the long tail would not pay for itself. Shelf (server) space was limited and markets were small so only the new content survived. So to today – the explosion begins when broadband TV is global, interoperable and the niche markets (although spread physically and culturally) are large enough to be profitable. But to the point of this post – it requires the telcos worldwide to NOT lock small communities into capped, triple play IPTV type walled gardens – for pete’s sake can we get it right this time round!

Posted by Gary Hayes © 2005