Google, MTV & Superdistribution

Back in April in a piece titled “SocialNets & the Power of the URL”, I wrote:

… Like every media revolution in history, when tectonic shifts occur on the production side of content, equally disruptive shifts follow in distribution (or visa versa). What we’re experiencing now is no different. Not only do these (consumer-generated) URLs mean that consumers are now “producers”, they are also being used as a new channel for media distribution… the consumer is also becoming a “distributor”………. Over the next few years, new ventures will emerge to monetize such new distribution opportunities, and they will more directly compensate people for the role they are playing as filters and distributors of media.

Google’s joint venture with Viacom’s MTV, announced this week, provides a watershed moment in the scenario depicted above. Google’s Adsense represents one of the largest web-based content syndication platforms in the world, and the fact that MTV will begin to use it to distribute video programming out to the edges marks a breakthrough in a business model known as “superdistribution”.

A key facet of superdistribution is the willingness of the content/copyright owner to compensate each player who functions as a redistributor of digital media. For instance, bloggers who participate in Google’s Adsense network will now be able to earn income as a redistributor of MTV’s video content.

To go back to our original post again,

Since the Internet does away with the need for physical packaging of content (e.g. DVDs, CDs, newsprint, etc.), the need for specialized distribution outlets goes with it… Looking out several years, it’s not too difficult to envision a media landscape where the majority of traditional media distribution outlets reliant on the benefits of natural monopoly economics have largely been replaced with a highly-fragmented layer of people-powered community-based distribution networks.

At the end of the day, Google’s deal with MTV will prove hugely disruptive, as people-powered superdistribution begins to transform the way Hollywood products are discovered, delivered and consumed. And not surprisingly, Google will be the center of gravity of this new digital media universe.

Now, if I could convince/help them buy Lions Gate Entertainment, the stage would be all set for Google to become one of the first “socially-integrated” media empires of the the 21st century… one that could leapfrog Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Robert Young is a serial entrepreneur who played a major role in the invention & commercialization of the world’s first consumer ISP, Internet advertising (pay-per-click ads), free email, and digital media superdistribution.