Special interest sites – another model for long tail internet TV

In the hard copy March issue of SportBusiness International there is an article about SecondsOut.com – a site for boxing fans. They aggregate a global audience for second tier boxing matches which they stream on their site, charging on a pay per view basis.

This is the internet at it’s best – national TV channels can’t find enough audience for most of these fights and so they don’t get screened, but the internet is able to pull together sufficient audience to create a business opportunity that didn’t exist before and satisfy a demand that was previously left wanting.

Apparently sports broadcasters are often not interested in showing title fights where a mandatory challenger for a match has little interest domestically.

This model could work for other sports. Tennis has a lot of parallels with boxing – an individual sport, high profile top matches/bouts, a long tail of less popular events and truly international competition. I think this could also extend to sports that don’t have a significant TV presence at all today, e.g. squash and table tennis.

It needn’t just be sports either – hobbies like cooking, magic (as in pulling rabbits out of hats) and needlework might also be interesting. (Re-reading this list I wonder if it provides some weird kind of window into my psyche!?!)

I’m starting to build a picture of a world where we get mass market shows like Lost from the sites of the producers, niche sports from special interest sites, mainstream sports from club sites, movies directly from the studio sites and archive material from companies that specialise in buying up old rights.

We will find these shows either because we know the sites (as a boxing fan I would have bookmarked SecondsOut), via their natural search rankings if we know what we want, or via aggregators/recommendation sites when we want something new. The aggregators will be social media sites – (e.g. like TIOTI).

As I wrote yesterday, the content would be micro-chunked and monetised
via in-chunk ads, or via per unit micropayments (this is kind of what
is happening already on SecondsOut).

This vision doesn’t leave much space for IPTV plays like BTVision, channel based plays like 4OD, or even dear old Joost.

I have deliberately ignored the delivery infrastructure side of the equation. To my mind that will be separate from the service provider side – not integrated. It seems to me that the quality is already good enough that an integrated service provider-infrastructure play is not the way to go. But I may be wrong about this – clearly the guys behind Joost and Babelgum think so. Remember also that I think that picture quality is of secondary importance to most people.

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