Should You Pay For Content?

I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were chatting back and forth about the newly offered Hulu Plus, where for $10 dollars a month, you can get Hulu on a wide variety of devices including smart phones and over-the-top Internet TV boxes. Hulu is also offering a somewhat wider, but still incomplete back catalog archive of shows. One of the hosts was saying he wouldn’t pay for content, he wanted it “for free.”

Whether we realize it or not, we are all paying for content, either directly or indirectly. Even if we have only a TV antenna and watch only the local TV channels, we are still paying for content indirectly via advertising. When we buy consumer products of virtually any kind, part of what we pay goes for advertising, which pays for content creation.

If we are paying indirectly only, someone else is deciding for us as to the quality of the programming content. We can either consume that content or not, but we still pay as consumers buying products. We have very little indirect control over what gets put on the air. On the other hand, if we pay for content directly, then we have far greater control over the quality of the media we are consuming.

If Hulu can offer value for the money, then it will succeed What they have to do is figure out what people are willing to pay for. Perhaps that value revolves around putting highly-sought-after content on as many devices as possible. Perhaps it revolves around coming up with the absolute best back catalog of old TV shows. Imagine having instant streaming access to every TV show ever produced in every country in any language, and every movie ever produced anywhere in any language. Something like that would be well worth paying for. Imagine a site such as IMDB.Com that lists every movie and TV show ever made, except as a subscriber you could instantly stream it – now you’re talking. Hulu, anyone else out there – are you listening?

I personally would be willing to pay for a service such as Hulu, except for one small glitch. There are no back catalog shows on the site at the moment that really excite me. Network drama shows can sometimes be quite good, but my tastes are somewhat different.

When I had Dish Network, I was watching a few selected shows on only 3 channels – Discovery, TLC and History. I can get most of these shows if I really want them at some point via Netflix. To my way of thinking, Netflix is a much better value. Netflix has a far wider variety of content, plus they also offer the handy rental service of DVD’s and Blu-ray discs.

The verdict is currently out whether Hulu will be able to figure out what value it needs to best serve its customers. If people are paying Hulu money directly, then Hulu had better quickly figure out exactly what those customers want and do its best to deliver it to them.

Hey Hulu, here’s an idea to try. Offer first-run streaming movies, but do it the Hulu way. I would be willing to pay for a first run movie streaming for a nominal pay-per-view fee, say $5.99. Vudu is offering streaming first run movies, but you have to have a big fat Internet connection to be able to use Vudu. The Vudu service demands way more bandwidth than my Internet service can currently deliver.

Here’s yet another idea for Hulu – offer exclusive, Hulu-only content consisting of well-produced material revolving around the “Entertainment Tonight” type of concept. Do exclusive interviews of movie and TV stars. Do exclusive interviews of directors. Give people real value for their money. Make your customers want to not only see you succeed, but motivate them to help you succeed.

Has Six Degrees of Separation Really Become Three?

I was rummaging through my photos and videos the other day and realized something. There is no more six degrees of separation. I have met people in the last year that have in fact hob-nobbed with the celebs. I have Friends on Facebook being friends with other friends of facebook – And I don’t even know how they know each other. It really begs the question: Is the 6 degree thing really a lot closer than that?

Six degrees of Separation is a movie and a Kevin Bacon game. How many people can you go through til you get to Kevin Bacon? It really started as a movie reference – you would name a movie that had 2 people in it, then you pass through other movies and TV shows to see when they knew Kevin Bacon. Sometimes, you would get to the end in less than 6.

But now with so many movies out and different actors in different roles (not to mention IMDB to link it all), you could most likely find less than 6 degrees there. And the cool part is that it’s not just celebrities that this happens to – It is everyone.

Example: Yesterday I saw a post to an old friend from Facebook. I went up on their page and interestingly enough, another person is both our friends. That seems to happen all the time. I go to someone’s page and notice that we both know person C, person D and so on. My friends have become friends – with my other friends.

And distance is not a factor anymore. I had a friend in TX, but last year another friend went to TX and met that person, then THEY became friends. Social Networking tells me this.

What about Kevin Bacon? I could do that in a couple step easily. I met and talked with Anthony Edwards last October at Blogworld. Top Gun – Mystic River. BAM! Done. Oh wait. Another – Top Gun – A Few Good Men. BAM! Done again.

While I cannot boast 1 degree of separation, it’s pretty dang cool to say it can happen in 2. This social experiment is really showing us that we are more connected with each other.

21 years ago, Tim Berners Lee mapped out the basics of the Internet. Nowadays, that basic roll has moved to a wireless mobile level. But did Tim Berners-Lee think that this would bring us all closer together? Maybe. He did know that we could at least communicate better.

Communication; Or at least the thought you are communicating. I don’t think I would get a response from Ashton Kutcher simply because I follow @aplusk on Twitter and reply to something he says. But it could happen: And then I still have to wonder if that was Ashton that said it, or someone helping him control his reply box.

So I think it’s time to retire the “Six Degrees of Separation” idea and take it down to at most – 3. After all, if you cannot get to another through 3 people, then you might just be a Hermit. At that point, this social experiment wouldn’t even matter…