Blockbuster CEO Is Still Confused By The Long Tail

from the have-you-taken-a-look-at-your-competitors? dept

In 2004, Chris Anderson wrote his feature article for Wired Magazine in which he coined the term "the long tail" to describe the business possibilities made possible by digital distribution. Four years and one best-selling book later, the CEO of Blockbuster is still confused by the concept that has been utilized by Netflix to wreak havoc on his business model. Yet, in a recent interview, the head of Blockbuster, Jim Reyes, misses the entire point of the long tail.

In response to a question regarding the small catalog of Movielink, Blockbuster's digital download service, Reyes responded, "When was the last time you watched 10,000 movies, you know? I don't care how many movies are available to me. As my personal taste as a customer, I want to watch the new stuff so whether we have 10,000 movies or 200 movies it doesn't matter if I don't want to see any of the movies that we have." The point of the long tail is not to ignore the hits, but to make available more. While Reyes's quixotic opinion may appease viewers with very limited tastes, when distribution and content creation is exceedingly cheap, it makes no sense to limit content. In his original article on the concept, Anderson noted that one-fifth of Netflix rentals are outside the top 3,000 movies. Clearly, a sizable minority of movie-watchers want to see films outside Movielink's inventory that "is heavily weighted toward newer releases and mainstream staple titles."

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  1. identicon
    Anon2, 20 Aug 2008 @ 7:53am

    confusion

    I also have to point out that it seems a lot of commenters here are confused -- the long-tail concept does not apply to brick-and-mortar retailers, nor can it since the entire premise is based on building virtual stores with unlimited inventory depth. People who are complaining that Blockbuster needs to get with the long-tail program and stock more titles in its stores are the ones who are confused.

    I'm not defending Blockbuster, and as one person above noted, it would be interesting to actually post something comparing Netflix and Blockbuster in terms of where each stands today, how it is doing, and where it appears to be heading. But it does seem as if a lot of the people who comment here are not understanding that there's an apples-to-oranges aspect of the conversation here since Blockbuster is still very much based on a traditional brick-and-mortar model.

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