Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Some thoughts on Niche and syndication

I've posted previously on the value of niche as an element of broadband distribution that can be leveraged in the creation of content. Niche is essentially the "long tail" phenomenon - that the commercial value of content as a product on the web is found not in the "hit" - a blockbuster that everyone loves - but in the long tail of commerce over time that appeals to a niche market.

In today's entertainment model, this might be a "b" movie about dragons that does very poorly at the box office, but turns a profit in dvd sales because it becomes really popular among Dungeons and Dragons fans, a cult film, so to speak. In the digital world, the long tail grows exponentially because the cost of producing that dvd is eliminated. Once the content is produced, digital delivery costs are minimal, and it's possible to produce content specifically for a niche or series of niches. This is Chris Anderson's concept (the editor-in-chief at Wired). I've linked to this article before - Chris has used this blog to develop a book out of the article, which should be out soon.

What I want to point out today, however, is that the niche attribute can also be used to market content across a broad range of websites. What is lost in the entertainment migration from the "real world" to the web is geography. Geography allows small television stations, and somewhat larger cable companies, all over the country to profit by selling local advertising and airing nationally syndicated programming at a low cost (relative to producing it themselves). In the online world, the geography is replaced by the niche. People go to sites that cater to their interests. And niche sites are usually second tier sites (Yahoo is not niche) that are trying to produce ad revenue, but are not big enough to produce their own content. So I see being able to syndicate fresh and exciting video content over multiple sites by crossing those niche lines and appealing to different audiences.

As social networking becomes more integrated into our everyday web experience (rather than a separate experience all its own), that web geography will only increase. People swim in tight circles on the web, and while they are not confined by geography, they tend to confine themselves through familiarity and community. This only increases the potential to syndicate content to different sites even within a niche market.

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