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Watching the price of media fall

June 24, 2012
by seth godin

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I did a show at the NBC headquarters in NY a few weeks ago. I’m guessing that it costs them about $6,000 a minute to make a news show in the studio. That counts the painters, the set guys, the three camera operators and their assistants, the lighting guys, the producer, the executive producer, the on air talent, the make up people, etc. etc. all working from some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Cable shows cost less. Some are estimating a reality show might cost $4000 a minute by the time it gets on the air.

And now online shows are being made by people like Demand Media for the cost of about $2000 a minute.

Video podcasts and professional YouTube stuff is down to, I’m guessing here, less than $500 a minute.

What happens to the market leaders when there’s no restriction on what gets “on the air” and when the competitors have a cost basis that’s 10% of yours?

The same thing just happened to books. A New York City publisher probably needs $2000 a page to acquire, edit, typeset, print and distribute a book (making up a number from thin air). A self-published ebook author needs $1 a page.

That’s not a cost-efficiency. That’s a totally different industry. But the if the viewer/reader doesn’t treat the two products as fundamentally different, if reading or watching one is a replacement for the other, then a crisis is right around the corner.

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