Majority Of Independent Content Producers Will Never Make Money

With all the talk of online video advertising and the projections people are making, one of the biggest downsides to it is that just about every independent content producer thinks they should be making money. But the reality it, most of them are not making any money today and never will, even year’s from now when there are more eyeballs online.

Monetization is now the word that seems to be used in every discussion and in every article, yet rarely do we hear or read about any content producers who are making money from their content. We know of the success that some major broadcasters and those with very unique brands and content like MLB are having, but aside from those, there are very few content creators making any money.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that much of the content on the web today stinks. Not all content, but much of it is really bad, poorly produced and quite frankly, will never make any money no matter how much this industry grows. Content creators think that just because they can create content it must be worth something. When I speak to content creators I use the analogy of TV content. Lots and lots of shows are produced for TV yet many never make it. Only a small fraction of content on TV lasts and makes the networks any money. Now I know many will say that does not apply since the costs for TV style production is so much different than content produced for online, but the principle is still the same. Not all content is something people want to watch, let alone pay for.

Having a discussion with a content producer earlier in the week they said, “Media reviews of our site and customer feedback is very positive. Everyone thinks the idea is wonderful and they love the quality of the videos. We give website visitors two free views of the videos of their choice and then prompt them to sign up for a subscription. However, when it comes time to haul out the credit card to purchase a subscription the enthusiasm wanes.

The questions we need to be addressing are is the subscription-based approach working for anyone, or is sponsorship/ad-supported the only potential option for generating a reasonable ROI? Is the ad-supported model generating revenue for small
producers who don’t have tens of thousands of viewers per month? Does this revenue amount to anything more than pocket change? Must the small producer partner with a platform provider, e.g., Brightcove, in order to have a chance of success, or is it feasible to “roll your own” website realizing that most small players don’t have ad sales staffs and experience in selling ads?

In the long run, the small content producer is still going to struggle to make any money from their content. Viral marketing, syndication and other forms of promotion can help, but not for the majority of those making video. Putting all of the business models aside I still think the biggest problem facing the industry is that there is not enough quality content on the web today.

The comments section is open and I’m sure many have their own take on the subject, so feel free to get the conversation going.