Yesterday I was invited to a "C-Level dinner" with folks from great companies such as Facebook, JetBlue and even Dunkin Donuts. Usually those encounters entail conversations you don't want to have, with people you don't really want to meet about things you don't really care about.
This was actually a great event, great conversation and incredible people.
One thing, though, caught my attention. Someone said the very well-known line: "Content is king." I've said it once or twice in the past. We all did.
It's time to come clean. I've changed my mind. Aside from a very specific type, content is no longer a king. Here's why.
There are two types of content in the world:
1. Closest to being a king. The type you can't do without. For me it could be "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or "Mad Men." I can't get an alternative, I can't relate to conversations about it if I hadn't seen it -- so I have to watch it, beginning to end. This content is usually extremely expensive to produce; as an example, an episode of "ER" that cost ~$2 million to produce. For this type of content, people will pay on iTunes, will subscribe to Netflix and will go to the theatre to buy tickets. In general, people would literally pay to consume that "near-king content." However, the reason I don't think it's a full-fledged king: What is a king without a proper kingdom? In a world where Youtube generates 3 billion video views every single day, Blip.TV streams a third of a billion views per month, and the king of premium content, Hulu, streams only a few hundreds per month -- does it matter if their "content is king"? I'm not convinced. Convince me.
2. Content that is not a king, but discoverable in the wild. This is the rest of the world: the news item you can find on many different sites; the how-to video you can see on hundreds of sites; the funny video you're not really attached to but find fun to watch and would share on Facebook or Twitter. It's literally the Web, the world, "the new kingdom."
True, you would not pay a dime to see a little girl kicking a ball on the pavement, but (some) advertisers will end up paying a lot of money, I think, if that video gets 100 million streams. Why? It's scalable. This type of content could get massive scale, if it were to be discovered. Still this is the undiscovered kingdom nobody wants to talk about, since it's not as appealing as Donald Draper.
In my mind, the world is becoming heavily loaded with information and it's becoming near impossible to discover content. I'm convinced the challenge is not finding the best content per se, but making sure that the content that climbs to the top, and the majority of adaption, gets discovered.
Discoverability. That's the new king.
In the new world, the world of billions of streams per day coming from all around the web from syndication, distribution, etc., "Mad Men" is not a king, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is not a king, but videos that get discovered by mass audience are kings.
Discovery is the new kingdom. Long live the (discovery) king !