Content Development and Fiscal Responsibility: Not Mutually Exclusive - Gary Reisman

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Since the advent of mass media, especially the Big Kahuna known as television, which is now morphing into digital video, someone decided that content development was a purely creative endeavor. Writers and other creative types were assumed to be able to tap into the psyche of the American viewer and develop content that would attract massive audiences. Poof. Just like that.

But in reality, the past "big-TV-reach" infrastructure had more to do with success than anyone wanted to admit. Come on, we all knew HUT (Houses Using Television) levels were higher on Thursday nights.

Now, the content-consumption world has changed to a "pull-based" world. Consumers "pull" to them the content they want to view (via DVRs, On-Demand, tablets, smartphones, online, etc.), not the other way around. Content developers must develop content that has “built-in” audience appeal to ensure the content will be “pulled” and viewed by consumers.

Let’s talk about financing. After all, someone has to pay for the development and production of all of this content. Each new show idea or digital-video idea is essentially a new product.

If studios and distributors take a step back and acknowledge that concept, then it’s easy to see that the first phase in new-product development is market sizing. Does this new idea ("product") seed an audience? What is the size and demographic makeup of this audience? Does this content have “legs,” i.e., will it last over multiple seasons and produce revenues beyond first run? Ultimately, will it draw valuable viewer audiences that can be monetized? The key word here is “monetized.”

If what I’m saying sounds reasonable, then it also stands to reason that it is fiscally responsible to determine the market value of any new content prior to investment. Conversely, it’s fiscally irresponsible to develop and finance pilots, digital video, etc., without upfront marketplace sizing and value analysis.

The time has come to impose more stringent fiscal responsibility on the content-development process.

Winners in media monetization will be those who put market sizing/analysis on the front-end of the development process. These very smart people will only finance content projected to draw valuable audiences that can be monetized. They will quantify market size/value upfront and present advertisers with valuable propositions – prior to production – to quicken the monetization of that content.

Losers will be the old guard who refuse to change their ways and continue to finance early-stage (e.g., pilots) and sometimes fully developed content based on instinct, or rely on old-school techniques that don’t fully leverage new technologies and marketplace data to access viability.

This group will continue to develop and finance a considerable amount of content with little to no audience draw. (I won't mention names but we can all remember a slew of shows that aired just a few times or even just once.) New-world realities will make this approach harder and harder to endure.

Frankly, I’m going to hang out with the winners.

Gary Reisman is co-founder of NewMediaMetrics - a content-investment and alignment company that works with content developers to predict the marketplace value (or audience draw) in the early stages of development via the LEAP™ Content Investment Marketplace. Using LEAP™ developers can determine whether content is worthy of production investment. NMM also works with brand marketers to quantify the value of aligning their brands with specific TV, digital video and cross-platform media to aid their strategic media allocations using NMM's proprietary LEAP™ (Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit) Platform.


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