A new tipping point in favor of paid content

PaidContent.com reports that the annual media study by media investment banker VSS (Veronis Suhler Stevenson) showed a tipping occurred in 2008: It was the first time people spent more time with media they paid for — such as books and cable TV — than they did with media that is primarily ad-supported. That report raises a few points:

1. Cable TV is not predominantly ad supported? I must be watching the wrong cable stations.

2. It should come as good news to all the ad-supported media that are feverishly looking for ways to monetize their audience. It means people are willing to pay for content if there is enough value in it, and if they are trained over a long-enough period of time that the stuff just won’t come free.

3. By the time that happens, nobody knows how many traditional media will fail — their markets taken over by an upstart that “gets it.” My short answer: plenty.

4. Even those that are succeeding and profiting from paid content will have some struggles. Competition for the audience dollar is only starting to heat up, and over the next few years will become intense and insane. If you, as a consumer, are paying the full cost of content for books, movies, music, etc. and all of sudden you start hearing from newspapers and magazines that you need to pay more for their content too, and what point do you start making hard decisions about which content you really want and need? It’s not safe to assume that everything you’re paying full-ride for right now is necessarily going to be the winner in that evaluation.

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