Old Media Industries At Different Stages Of The Grieving Process

from the denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance dept

One of the interesting people I met at last week's Princeton workshop was Douglas Dixon, who points out that almost all 20th-century media companies are going through the five stages of grief, but different media industries are going through the stages at different rates. Back in 2006, we noted that the music recording industry was still in the denial stage. Now, Dixon says that it seems to be "stuck cycling between Anger, Bargaining, and Depression -- as it still lashes out by suing its own customers, and grabs on to each next new copy protection scheme while simultaneously going DRM-free in other venues." And indeed, as we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Hollywood is still firmly in the denial phase, insisting that effective DRM is just around the corner.

In contrast, the news business has been responding pretty well of late to the disruptive technologies of the Internet. The newspaper folks at last week's conference seemed to accept that print was a dying business, and many of them declared their committed to making the painful changes necessary to stay competitive. As we've noted before, they've been dropping their paywalls and aggressively experimenting with new media. It remains to be seen if they'll be able to change fast enough to avoid large losses in readership, but at least they've begun moving decisively in the right direction. In contrast, the recording industry has been taking three steps back for every two steps forward, while Hollywood is still doing little more than shooting itself in the foot.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the lowest-bandwidth industry -- news reporting, which is largely text-based -- is showing the most flexibility, while the most bandwidth-intensive industry -- Hollywood -- still has its head in the sand. News organizations have faced serious competition from the Internet since the birth of the Web in the mid-1990s. Internet bandwidth was not sufficient to conveniently transfer music until the late 1990s. And there wasn't enough bandwidth to transmit movie files until recently. Arguably most peoples' connections still aren't fast enough to transmit high-def video. So news organizations have been facing serious competition for almost fifteen years, the recording industry for about a decade, and Hollywood for less than five. Industries that have been facing competition the longest are making the most serious changes.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Dark Pudding, May 20th, 2008 @ 5:01pm

    The trick is, not only to manufacture DRM in most devices, but to push it out veerrryy slowly. Ever so slowly, at a snail's pace. That way the public never realizes that media content is being slowly co-opted and devoured by DRM, they simply don't notice it happening. I reckon within 10 years all media, devices and transmission signals will be DRM compliant (and accepted by the public for convenience's sake), and once that happens its only a matter of time before laws get written, if only to confirm the already existing culture of DRM.

    The studios are behemoths with a near-endless suply of cash at their disposal, and you can only impede a behemoth for so long before it eventually tramples you underfoot. But at least you can go and see Ironman again along with your $10 donation to the studios. Enjoy.

    The future is here, and it is DRM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    this had me cracking up - tim, you're essentially the psychologist =)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    ehrichweiss, May 20th, 2008 @ 5:09pm

    my former employer...

    ..is still trying to figure out these tubes. They concentrate a lot on the print version of the paper and then fail miserably in reproducing it online. They're so bad that they now have some guy using a non-registered PDF->JPG program that watermarks the image...BADLY.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    James Hofmann, May 20th, 2008 @ 5:29pm


    It's worth noting that the game industry doesn't really even acknowledge the likely end of "classic" IP law. The developers, on an individual basis, have some awareness simply because of their tech-centric background, but only a few companies have chosen to seek monetization that isn't based on a product-centric approach.

    This state of affairs is probably only feasible so long as we have a multiple-consoles/closed-platform system driving the bulk of the industry. Big publishers have already moved away from the PC, in part because of piracy issues, but if platform standardization occurs the industry will be forced to make the transition, and project budgeting and scope may downsize as a result.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 20th, 2008 @ 7:25pm

    Re: :eR

    Dark Pudding wrote:

    The studios are behemoths with a near-endless sup[p]ly of cash at their disposal, and you can only impede a behemoth for so long before it eventually tramples you underfoot.

    On the contrary. As large as their supply of cash is, there is only so much trampling underfoot that they can do before it runs out.

    How did they get to be behemoths with large amounts of cash? By following the rules of the marketplace. If they decide that those rules don't apply to them, they will very quickly be reduced to pitiful non-behemoths with no cash at all.

    And one inexorable rule of the marketplace is that DRM is a complete waste of time. Every attempt to introduce it has ended either in the scheme being broken, or in customers simply turning away from the product. The big media companies have had this fact hammered into their heads over and over; they will continue to have it hammered into them until they either accept the lesson, or go out of business. Ultimately, those are their only two choices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Amature Psycologist, May 20th, 2008 @ 7:36pm


    Helllooooo Denial. If everyone shares the same DRM scheme... this is different from open how?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ima Fish, May 21st, 2008 @ 6:13am

    "Hollywood is still firmly in the denial phase, insisting that effective DRM is just around the corner."

    Waiting for a perfect DRM to save your outdated business model is about as asinine as waiting for the ocean to dry up to save your sinking ship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Joe Mullin, May 21st, 2008 @ 8:06am

    The role of advertising

    Tim, your point about competition is a good one.
    It's also a factor that for a lot of newspapers 75 or 80 percent of revenue already comes from advertising. While they can't maintain the monopoly ad rates of the pre-Internet age, it's still going to be an easier transition than the entertainment industry, which is used to having all content directly paid for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    BillDem, May 21st, 2008 @ 5:32pm

    Old Media - definitely!

    Let's look at it. They use the same tired business approach they used before World War II. They refuse to change their ways despite all evidence that their mean-spirited approach is failing. They think they are always right. They're bitter. They're stubborn. They're senile. They are incapable of learning new tricks. They think the digital lifestyle is a passing fad. They despise the very people who feed them. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me to find out half of them wear adult diapers and get spoon fed by nurses.

    Yeah, "Old Media" just fits, doesn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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