Big Media vs Individual – Indian Media

Nikhil has spurred up an interesting conversation @ contentsutra about big media and individual content creators.Read the entire post and don’t miss out the comments section as it has pretty important thoughts.I have been following this debate in many places and now it’s spilled over to this side of the globe.

As much as I want just like Nikhil to hail ‘user generated content’ aka UGC (I dislike that term but using it for the lack of a better term) I certainly don’t think Indian media market is prime for it yet.The main reason for this is that the media value chain in India is the same as the older form of other media markets with the scarce part still being distribution and marketing. Put in another way media markets are still a function of distribution and content.  This is not directly observable but evidence for this could be seen through the still rising numbers of TV viewership (while elsewhere it is declining) and increase in average ad time.

Elaborating on this a little further the following two are the two main important reasons.

  • Slightly shifted supply curve

Technology is certainly driving down the cost of production but not much as it is still very expensive to create content ( creation devices such as cameras/recorders and bandwidth costs/horrid publising platforms/syndicators/aggregators). To think about it intuitively try to ascertain the ratio of  uploads/downloads that happen in any user generated sites specific to India.

  • Unmoved demand curve

Another most important aspect is the lack of demand for user generated content. In other media markets there was high demand for user generated media because consumers were saturated and tired of mass media.To think about it how many examples can be recounted that have come out in the last one year which is a user generated vide/audio/post which has caught the imagination of the Indian audience.

The new industry structure (promised through this UGC) that seems so exciting is possible only when the supply curve shifts considerably and the demand curve moves outwards so that we derive a new equilibirium and industry order.

No company can do much about the shifts in the demand curve except wait/prepare for the opportune time.   But the parameter that it has control over could be worked upon. But on the whole treating UGC as a yet another fad opportunity and trying to build a business through plain concept arbitrage in India might be extremely risky.

Some things mentioned in the post which I specifically do not agree with.

“There are innumerable instances of blogs with consistently great content”  – Quality on an average erodes with UGC but this is really not the point blogs will trump newspaper despite of that fact. Blogs on an average give better news experience is how I might put it.

“Life magazine shut offline publication in the US earlier this year” does not indicate anything about the Indian market, the media markets of developed country and developing countries are vastly different.

Property rights (fight for editorial space) as rightly put is certainly going to assume new meaning in this phase and it would be most fun to watch how this pans out.

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