Q: Mainstream Media vs. The Long Tail?

By Bob Mason, VP Technology

For many of us Chris Anderson's article on The Long Tail crystalized and brought into focus a set of ideas that have consciously (or not) been driving our own thinking. Associated with this theme, we, and others, are very excited about the prospects of promoting "media democracy" through Internet Television.

With the plummeting cost of production and distribution, along with a corresponding rise in quality, many feel that a new era is dawning and an explosion of talented media publishers will break forth. Don't get me wrong, the end-point of this revolution will take time. Personally, I draw inspiration from Brian Taylor and his impressive work with RustBoy. We want Brian to hit it big, make a million, and keep producing! We believe Brightcove can be an important service to help in this transformation.

Brightcove finds passion in providing opportunity for all to maximize their potential.

I am slightly worried that the zealous enthusiam focused solely on independent producers has started to create a subtext that pits aspects of The Long Tail and media democracy against "Mainstream Media." It is important to remember that the most positive benefit of media democracy is for the individual and family to gain control over their media consumption. And with this choice, viewers will still seek and desire mainstream media - the tail does not exist without the head.

Mainstream Media needs to participate within both the head and the tail. These two paths are not mutually exclusive.

Fundamentally, Brightcove believes that mainstream producers have the opportunity to radically transform and increase their revenue and improve the quality of products and choices for consumers by taking advantage of the power of Long Tail Economics.  Mainstream Media should not fear The Long Tail, and they should encourage consumer choice. With greater choice, comes greater opportunity to target content with latent value. By embracing unique forms of discovery and sharing on the Internet and accelerating online distribution, even for less popular content, mainstream publishers will have an opportunity to harvest their library and increase top-line revenue.

With Chris's "Long Tail Tour 2005" sweeping the world, and from our own conversations with broadcast networks I am very encouraged that people are open for experimentation and understand that a unique opportunity is present. Some networks are already emerging as strong leaders, leveraging niche targeting and alternative distribution. Take for example the ground breaking work from the Scripps Network and their new online offerings for HGTV, HGTVPro, and The Food Network. These guys get it.

A: Mainstream Media - at the head and along the tail.