Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fixing Time Warner

Erick Schonfeld over at Business2.0 has an article up with a few proposals on how to fix the woes of Time Warner. The animating idea, here, is that T/W is a Media Giant in a world of Media Lilliputians. How does a giant remain effective when the focus is down at a micro level? How do you generate success with multi-million dollar releases, when everyone's watching Google Videos of the Star Wars Kid?

Erick's ideas are good; you should read them. But the idea essentially is to shift the focus of the company away from its size and more toward its ability. T/W should stop thinking about their content in terms of minutes and hours, and more in terms of bytes. That is, how much content they can make available to service the long tail of content demand.

I certainly find this to be a worthwhile endevaour. Not to sound like a broken record, but this clearly means that they need to reconsider the notion of content ownership, a la Creative Commons. Can they do this? Probably not without a significant fight in the legal department. Media companies already have themselves up to their neck in discussions about (and injunctions concerning) ownership. The content brand-managers maybe thinking different. But they get stymied at the legal department over and over again.

Erick considers the idea that, rather than making the company bigger by buying back shares, they should consider using their capital to launch a bunch of little companies that are built for nimbleness. That's a great idea. T/W should maybe stick to being a giant. I'm all in favor of big splashy movies, music and television. But they may need someone closer to the YouTube's of the world to remain relevant in this shifting world.
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