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The Long Tail

Posted by tomwiles at 8:06 PM on August 13, 2010

In the world of blogging, podcasting and social networking, much has been said about the so-called “long tail.” The concept of the “long tail” revolves around the idea that available content living on the Internet gets a lot of extra audience over a long period of time, as opposed to traditional print and broadcast content which has a much more limited lifespan.

As services such as Netflix gain popularity, yet another form of content is experiencing the benefits of the long tail – movies and TV shows that are available for long-term streaming. An excellent example of how the “long tail” benefits movies in particular are obscure documentaries that in the old pre-streaming days would have a limited initial audience and then end up on a shelf somewhere or be sold in consumer video release one at a time.

Now more obscure movies and TV shows that had a limited lifespan and limited impact are able to take a new lease-on life that used to simply not exist.

I am particularly enjoying streaming documentaries on Netflix. There are some real gems out there. One documentary I really enjoyed in particular that I’d never heard of before I found it on Netflix is called “Cowboy Del Amor.” It’s about a Texas matchmaker who specializes in matching up American men with Mexican women. If you haven’t seen this gem, I highly recommend it. “Cowboy Del Amor” is but one example of movies that have a very limited promotion budgets and therefore are unable to make much of a publicity splash when they are released, yet they can be absolutely fantastic movies to not only watch yourself but to share later with friends and family.

I dropped my Dish Network account in July 2010 and have not looked back. Streaming videos via services such as Netflix forces me to take a much more active role in selecting something good to watch. Having literally tens of thousands of movies and videos available for instant streaming on demand is a far superior way to find and consume commercial content.

2 Comments

  1. From Greg at 11:11 am on August 17, 2010

    Hey, Tom – one of the first movies we streamed when we got our Roku box a few years ago was “Cowboy Del Amor”. Yes, it is an interesting documentary, but I must confess that we are documentary junkies so we probably would have watched if it were only so-so. Thankfully, there are a disproportionate number of documentaries available in Netflix’ Watch Instantly library.

    We dropped our cable last November, and for the most part we really haven’t missed it much. If Hulu Plus offered just a few more shows, it would be worth it to us to pay the $10/mo. they charge. As it is, we use the regular Hulu to catch most of the cable shows we miss (Burn Notice, Royal Pains, Warehouse 13, Eureka, etc.) as well as Netflix’ DVD and streaming services. Oh, and since we have a small-but-serviceable HTPC, we do off-the-air recording during the non-Summer season to catch whatever it is we like (e.g., Chuck) to watch on our time schedule.

  2. From tomwiles at 1:10 am on August 18, 2010

    I agonized over the idea of dumping my Dish Network account for several months before finally jumping the emotional hurdle and just pulling the plug. I’m not missing it at all. What a waste of money !!!!

    I will watch season two of “V” when it airs. Otherwise, I will mostly be watching Netflix and other OTT video content.