The Archive Monetization Principle


Nick@Nite, move over. AOL In2TV is here. America Online 2.0 is going to offer the classic television shows from Time Warner archives to viewers for free. Batman cartoons…. oh yeah! I share Michael Parekh’s enthusiasm over this development. (Though I get a little miffed at all these news announcements way before the actual deployment of the service… a cheap trick to get twice the publicity! Of course there are no details on technical requirements and all that stuff!)

…It’s the first real synergistic thing I’ve seen from the AOL merger with Time Warner that goes to why I thought the merger might have been a good idea way back when…but we needed high broadband penetration…it’s been a LOOOONG five year wait…. The reruns are free! No insipid $0.99 per view on demand charge like the announcements by CBS and NBC a few days ago.

The ad-supported service is the first proof that some in the mainstream media are finally getting what I call the archive principle. Let me explain! If like me you are one of those caffeine addicts who gladly hands over a substantial portion of their hard earned dollars to Starbucks, then you are also a likely buyer of James Brown’s greatest hits or some new compilation of “old music” that pops up in cafes. Sitting in the studio, those tracks simply gather dust. At $15 a CD, they are making huge honking profits for the record companies. Music archives that are making a lot of money! Think of them as coupons you clip when you are a trustafarian.

Now what AOL In2Tv is doing is precisely that – re-treading the old television archives, and using them to make some ad dollars. How big a commercial success this is going to be? Not sure, but its something worth trying out. TVWeek says AOL is looking for $1 million a year advertising packages and expect 4 million impressions a month.

What if newspapers, magazines and others who simply let their archives sit and gather dust follow this model? How about some classic rock-and-roll radio shows from the 1960s, so some of us who missed the experience could enjoy an ad-supported nostalgia. I think archives can make a lot of money if packaged properly, as record industry has shown.

PS: I would love to see the re-runs of Miami Vice, if I could get them…


Stephanie Rieger

“What if newspapers, magazines and others who simply let their archives sit and gather dust follow this model?”

I ran into an interesting service last week by The Scotsman. All their archives dating back to the 1820s are now online. One frustrating trend i’m noticing however is the insistance of many of these organizations to copyright public domain materials (i.e. copyright the scans of the material which is technically public domain.) I’m ok with the monetization thing. Let it be add supported but let the pre 1920’s material be free to download. Just how long does the long tail really have to be? I bet there’s lots more traffic on the Scotsman’s coverage of the JFK assassination than a piece of nameless news from 1820. So why not make that stuff free and available to all. (Not that i’m implying that only less valuable stuff deserves to be public domain-far from it.)
Ah well…baby steps I guess. At least the stuff is now online.

Sunil Chhaya

Any news on Bugs Bunny / Pink Panther / Inspector cartoons also being available? I’d pay money for those ones! I have Animania HD on my Dish Network / Voom channels, where it’s just a joy to see some of these revived.

One yet another channel for distribution that these guys may be missing is HD. No one really seems to have a strategy to really differentiate their product with HD.

Jesse Kopelman

Miami Vice was a rights issue. I think it finally got worked out, which is hwy there is a DVD set and new movie forthcoming.

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