How To Fail In The Media Business

The media business is different from other businesses.

Other businesses operate on the maxim of, “Find a need a fill it.”

Media businesses operate on the maxim of, “Create a need.”

Oh, yes, they create needs.

You didn’t know you needed Ken Bruen’s books until Ken Bruen was published. You didn’t know you needed Star Trek until NBC, back in the day, aired it. You didn’t know you needed Justin Bieber until you heard his songs.

And now we get to Game of Thrones which, because of The Oatmeal, is today’s example of media doing it all wrong.

Because although media businesses are largely wonderful at the creating a need stuff, they have been falling down over and over again on the fulfillment side.

It’s too bad there isn’t an efficient and effective industry that also creates needs that we can point to as an example of doing business correctly.

Oh wait. There is.

Drug dealers.

You didn’t know you needed pot until you tried it. You didn’t know you needed coke until you snorted it. You didn’t know you needed heroin until you injected it.

That’s creating a need right there!

And drug dealers are a hell of a lot more effective at fulfilling those needs than every damn college-degreed smug bastard running any media company!

Need pot? Coke? Heroin? Hell, you’ll have your dealer’s number on speed dial and know that you can call that number any time — Christmas morning, 30 seconds before midnight on New Year’s Eve — and BAM! Your need will be fulfilled.

Can you imagine any drug dealer staying in business by refusing a customer? By telling them their drug hasn’t been released yet?

When someone is jonesing for Game of Thrones, it’s no different from someone jonesing for heroin.

An artificial need has been created.

But a drug dealer is smart enough to be there any time to fulfill that need.

A media company?

They set up ridiculous “release dates” so they don’t alienate their offline partners. As if the world is really clamoring to go to a store to buy something that can be instantly delivered online.

If pot, coke, and heroin could be downloaded, don’t you think they would be? Do you think a drug dealer would give one damn about alienating his “partners”?

A drug dealer is in it for the same reason media companies are supposed to be in it: To make money.

Why is this so difficult for people like Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Andy Ihnatko to see?


Game of Thrones isn’t on Netflix or iTunes? Boo-fucking-hoo. Cancel your account and sign up for HBO, or wait until they make it available via other channels that work for you.


The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it.

What absolute self-serving bullshit.

All that does is let the two of them stand up and proclaim their “moral superiority” over those who have been hooked on something by a media company.

Do you think a drug dealer would do that?

Again: What is the purpose of a drug dealer or a media company?

It is to make money.

Not to stand up as a self-righeous eejit and piss on someone’s customers.

Nor to stand there like a hectoring media company bastard and blame the customer who only wants to buy something while they are immediately interested in it.

Under different circumstances, I’m sure both Gonzalez and Ihnatko would bleat about “leaving money on the table” in regard to some deal that took place and never see the hypocrisy of that position!

When you create a need in someone, be there to fulfill it.

And if you’re a media company who doesn’t, you don’t get to whine like an impotent bitch — while backed by billions of dollars of value and corrupted Constitution-shredding politicians in your pocket — when your customers turn to “online drug dealers” for their fix.

Be there to fulfill that need you created or just go the hell out of business.


Filed under Friction

4 responses to “How To Fail In The Media Business

  1. The humorous comparison to an illegal business aside (seriously, this would be a more effective rant if you offered a legally replicable model), you’re missing the point by a mile and a half. You chose a juicy quote from my post and ignored the context:

    “I do think studios are doin it rong with ridiculously long release windows tied to marketing subsequent seasons rather than fulfilling immediate demand”

    I was in no way defending antiquated release windows; my complaint was the sense of entitlement that’s used to justify theft, as implied by The Oatmeal cartoon that started it all.

    • mikecane

      Oh, I saw the rest of your post. I read it thoroughly. That doesn’t mask the attitude behind it, though. And eh, I could have cited Prohibition and Al Capone. Same point: FILL the damn need and STOP blaming people who have been jacked-up by corporations to Want It Now.

  2. Good post. I agree that companies can’t operate like this – if you rely on a consumer’s rampant desire for a product and poor impulse control around consuming it for your business model, you can’t expect consumers to suddenly learn delayed gratification when you can’t provide what they want NOW.

    Downloading may show a weakness of character, yes. But capitalism doesn’t care about our characters, surely? Capitalism schooled us in “have it now” – it’s hardly in a position to teach patience. :)

    Hm. Getting my Trot on today it seems. Anyway, excellent post, thanks.

  3. Geoff-UK

    Nice post. There’s a similar rant on the Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray release over at Amazon…the theatrical edition was going to be released YEARS before they let customers buy the Extended Blu-Ray edition (they originally were talking AFTER release of the Hobbit, Part I). Despite fact that the Extended edition master ***already existed*** in original master form from the normal DVD release. So the producers wanted to hold the Extended edition hostage until everyone bought up Theatrical. In short, they wanted the fanboys to pony up the coin for the Theatrical Blu-Ray…then 12 mths later pony up for the Extended…then buy the movie again 12 mths later with some Collector’s Edition with some cool statuette or something.

    It’s win-win! The producers sell the movie 3 times(!), and the customer…uh…the customer wins by…uh…

    The greed of the producers of content is understandable…but their stupidity operates on the presumption that there’s no greed on the part their customers for fair value. In short, the producers of content think they hold all the cards, and the customers can suck it if they don’t want to play. Some customers have declined to suck it:

    Some 19,000 customers on Amazon agreed with this guy giving the producers the middle finger, after he figured out what they were doing.

    You can shear a sheep many times, but if you try to slaughter him, he’ll download your shitty show illegally and tell you to eff yourself = zero profit.

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