Saturday, September 25, 2004

It's Gonna Cost Ya

Bryce Zabel, former Chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, ruminates on digital media and content-on-demand. The future looks bright for those who are willing to pony up the cash for it. For all their annoyances, commercials at least kept broadcast media from being “just another utility bill.” Everyone paid a flat fee, whether they were heavy consumers or light ones. In Zabel’s proposal, all content would be provided by multi-tasking “media servers,” and users would pay by consumption rate.

I predict we are living in a glorious, fleeting time, an era before Big Media has a chance to fully synthesize this paradigm shift. In the future, it may be true that every “film, TV show, video game and song ever made” will be available to you. It will also be true that this access will be controlled relentlessly. Gone will be the halcyon days of simply paying a cable bill for 300+ channels and pre-recording a program for the purpose of fast-forwarding past the commercials. I am cynical enough to expect that, in the future, fast-forwarding will cost ya, either in monthly fees or per-view.

This may not be a bad thing, at least for the nuclear family. A family of five accessing five different media delivery systems in five different parts of the house would probably run up a pretty big bill. Perhaps the high cost of heavy “media consumption” would bring the family together for 50’s style “family viewing” yet again.

Probably not. I imagine that the scenario above, lived too often in America today, is due very little to the relative cost of individual pursuits and interests. But that is the subject of another post.

Thanks to Michael Blowhard for the link.

No comments: