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. icon
    sehlat (profile), 19 Aug 2008 @ 2:36pm

    Mr.Reyes, what YOU want to see doesn't matter.

    What *I* want to see does.

    My family usually gets together for a "movie evening" at least once a week. My brother has an over-300-movie Netflix queue and there's always something nobody's seen, and frequently no one's heard of.

    The result has been some amazing surprises and the virtual extinction of theater visits for movies. To give but one example, Ang Lee's "The Wedding Banquet" astonished us all with both high and low comedy, along with a marvelously tender and heartwarming story. And that's only the most memorable of over two dozen non-latest-Hollycrud-blockbusters we've seen in the last few months.

    If I want a (shudder) mainstream staple (like the abysmal Mummy 3), I can rent that at the local supermarket these days for a buck while I'm picking up the milk.

    Viva Netflix!

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