John McCann

Participate and sell

In Early Predictions, Television, Video, Vlogging on March 19, 2006 at 4:07 pm

The lead story in the Business section of Monday’s New York Times blasts an invitation to us to get off our butts and create something of value that the big media companies can buy:

nytimes.jpg

The article seems to be driven by NBC Universal’s purchase, for $600 million, of iVillage, an Internet company that appeals to women. According to the author of the article, this interest by media companies is driven by their recognition of the need to reach niche audiences. His take is that this purchase illustrates

“the continuing interest by media companies in adding new Web sites to reach and connect with consumers, hobbyists, parents, investors, car buyers, Scrabble players and virtually every other niche audience.”

This reminds me of a lecture I delivered in the mid-1990s to a classroom full of MBA students. I suggested that they might be able to make more money traveling around the world with a video camera recording tennis matches, volleyball games and chess tournaments. I was not at all surprised that the students scoffed at the idea with statements such as “Who would want to watch THAT?” Perhaps recent events indicate that the large media companies think that at least some people might want to watch just about anything.

Well, there are now about 1 billion people on the Internet, and there will likely be 2 billion in a few years. And there are already 2 billion mobile phone users, headed towards 4 billion. An audience whose size is a very small fraction of those people can be very valuable if it is an audience that some advertiser finds valuable.

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