Part of the economic we make here is that the nature of content as a digital good means that it's going to move towards free in an open marketplace. However, that isn't a bad thing, because "free" content can be used in good ways - as promotional material for something else. The argument goes both ways - promotional materials should be looked at as content, too. Unfortunately, too many people seem to think they're different - that somehow content that is produced for promotional purposes is somehow "less" than other content. That sort of thinking leads to (a) people trying to lock up their "good" content and (b) people producing really bad promotional content that tends to annoy people more than make them interested in whatever is being promoted. We've argued this before in reference to TV commercials. It seemed like too many executives (such as those who claimed that not watching commercials was "stealing") seemed to think that forcing people to watch bad content was the only way to produce good content. This is, of course, not true - which has been shown by the likes of Honda and BMW with the advertising they created that people actively seek out (not to mention the whole damn Super Bowl commercial watching phenomenon). It appears that finally some advertising and broadcasting execs are understanding this message. NBC is going to start airing mini-movies during commercial breaks. Some of these really are still commercials - but they're actually designed (what a concept!) to be entertaining. Others, though, are more traditional programming content - but designed to fill 30 second spots, and use cliff-hanger endings to get you to want to see the next one. Basically, they're hoping to provide content that is worth watching, so you don't just TiVo through all the commercials (or worse, change channels). Should be interesting to see how this experiment goes.
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