Everybody knows content is king, what I want to know is when are we going to free the content. Last year, I put some relationships on hold: I haven’t really been keeping up with Don, Wilfred, Dexter, Walt and Jesse (!) among others. You see, I gave up cable…gasp! But, oddly enough, I didn’t give up the content; I just gave up the middleman. Because I want a direct relationship with my content! I want what I want when I want it and I am not the only one. More than 10% of people are now without cable and are using alternative streaming services.
When I tell people about my cable-free experiment, most people say “I just can’t give up sports!” And I admit, that is a huge problem in our house since nearly all sporting events are on cable, we figure out alternatives. And I cannot stop wondering when I am going to be able to buy content direct. But, last month, I came across an interesting headline: Google CEO Larry Page, NFL Boss Discussed Sunday Ticket Games Package. I got very excited about this development and could not help but to think: Could it be? Could the day I have longed for be neigh? Are we about to enter into an era of direct content purchasing?
I certainly hope this era is upon us. The NFL contract with DirecTV will be over at the end of the 2014 season. At which point, the NFL is free to partner with any distribution partner. The meetings last month with Google and YouTube among others signals a change could be coming to one of the world’s biggest brands, the NFL. Because the NFL is the creator and owner of the content, they need distribution. Or do they? This is why the Internet is chock full of awesome, you can become your own distribution channel. Now, I know you have to pay someone to be connected to that glorious Internet, and, yes, they are middlemen too, but the big difference for me is that the Internet is limitless and cable is limited.
Imagine a day when you can pay directly for what you want to watch on whatever device you may have. This is possible through a number of cable providers, but then, you pay for stuff you don’t watch too. Everyone says a la carte viewing is far more expensive than bundles, but, I long for a day when I can have the content I want and pay the people who create it directly. You know, like Louis CK. Louis CK is a hero of mine because he gamed the system and won. He creates content that he wants to create and then sells it himself directly to his fans. And I gladly pay for it because that is some sweet content.
The Internet is a distribution channel for content. Sweet, sweet content that people will pay money for. For example, I would pay the NFL money for a game. I would demand that there be no commercials with my paid content. And you know what, I would pay more to the NFL if they would let me watch the game without the annoying announcers. Just give me the field feed. I would pay a pretty penny for that. Because I want my content pure!
And right now, it is so hard to get live content streamed without cable. Of course there are tools out there that make it possible, but, if you remember, I like things really easy. And some of these tools work great, but at the end of the day, I feel like the money should be paid to the people who make the content. Making a shift to direct distribution would be a groundbreaking move by the NFL or anyone willing to own their distribution. I find it analogous to manufactures that eschew ecommerce for fear of upsetting their retail partners. But, this fear should not be driving business. As they say, evolve of die. We are getting closer and closer to the evolution of content distribution.
Old paradigms die hard. Some people find upsetting the apple cart to be uncomfortable, until they realize that the apple cart may be more valuable than the apples themselves.