Still Confusing Content With Services

from the let's-try-this-again dept

The Online Publishers Association has been doing this for years, and every time they come out with yet another study talking about the growth in online content sales, we feel the need to point out that most of what they’re talking about is not content sales at all, but services. The biggest category, as always, is online dating — which is obviously not about the sale of “content” at all, but about connecting people to each other. No online dating site is creating and selling “content.” They’re selling access to other people. Another growth area described in the report is “fantasy sports.” Again, that’s not the sale of “content.” That’s the service of managing a fantasy sports league. Why does this matter? Because by lumping them all together, it makes people think that there really is a much bigger business in selling content online — and that’s going to lead to bad and stupid business models. The study does note, appropriately, that sales of downloadable entertainment content has increased, but the OPA’s President comes up with a whopper of a quote to explain that one: “My gut tells me this growth happened because of Napster coming back and the surge in iTunes and other online music services last year.” You think? Don’t you have the actual data? Why should your gut have to tell you that? Meanwhile, the latest version of Napster isn’t about selling content at all — but about renting content. Of course, given the loose definition of both “selling” and “content” the OPA seems to use, it’s unlikely they’ll make the distinction.

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