Piracy is Good?

by Andy Polaine on May 16, 2005

Just been reading Mark Pesce’s Piracy is Good? on Mindjack. They’re serialising parts of his forthcoming book, Hyperpeople.

Those of you (all six of you) that have been reading this blog will know that I’ve been raving about the whole BitTorrent thing and Mark’s F*ck Big Media for a while. What’s interesting here though is that he goes beyond noting the demise of broadcast media and offers some potential ways of earning revenue. One model is a kind of Google Adsense model of hyperdistribution:

The advertiser is looking to lower costs in advertising; if those advertisers are paying between $250,000 and $500,000 for thirty seconds of advertising (in the United States), just a handful of advertisements would cover hyperdistribution costs. It’s a numbers game: if enough viewers watch a hyperdistributed television program, it is cheaper for advertisers to work with producers, and handle the distribution themselves. Furthermore, if the program is widely popular, it is far, far cheaper to do so. In other words, the higher your ratings, the cheaper the advertising. That’s precisely the reverse of broadcast television, and one big reason that advertisers will find this model so appealing.

The question is, of course, whether the advertisers will have the the sense to let the content producers create great work without screwing around with it too much. Of course, networks and studios do that all the time, but at least they have some practice at it. It means a real change of role for the ad industry too, who need to get their head out of their old ways of thinking and working out how they can guide their clients in this direction. Apart from the networks kicking and screaming, I think this is going to be one of the harder battles – the ad industry is very conservative despite its pretensions of whacky creativity.

1 Bianca May 22, 2005 at 2:27 pm

Have you read the second part to this article in which Mark Pesce declares that successful programs must be even more generic, melodramatic and mindless? Probably true on some levels, but he neglects to consider that this form of distribution also allows non-mainstream and obscure content to increase its popularity simply by becoming cheaper and more accessible. He hasn’t considered that word-of-mouth enables content currently deemed too risqué to find its audience. Content and form will diversify, not turn into an archetypal homogeny that conforms to all of his proposed rules. Hyperdistribution furthers the unified global culture (in English speaking countries at least), but it also provides the vehicle for the preservation and flowering of cultural diversity.

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