Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going Hulu: Six Things Bible Publishers Can REALLY Do to Work Together - (My BibleTech Presentation Part 3 of 3)

What does any of this have to do with Hulu? Well I have to admit, I went a different direction from what I originally had in mind, but to a certain degree it still applies. As you know, Hulu is owned by NBC Universal and Fox but is run independently. Their structure gives them freedom to move in the market without being encumbered by the branding or individual priorities of the different owners, yet gives them access to a great pool of content, and marketing reach to a huge consumer base. And Hulu demonstrates each of the six lessons we are learning about digital publishing.

Lesson 1: Content is more valuable together than in silos.
The great pool of content amassed by NBC and Fox draws a significant audience making this attractive for other content providers and advertisers.

Lesson 2: There is no “either—or.” You must think, “both—and.”
It is not broadcast or syndication, cable or satellite, television or Internet. It is both-and.

Lesson 3: Connecting directly with consumers is more important than ever.
Hulu connects two major networks directly with consumers without intermediary broadcast stations, cable or satellite providers. Through that access they gain valuable data to people’s viewing habits and trends that can help inform programming decisions, as well as another advertising revenue channel.

Lesson 4: Online content represents new revenue, not a threat to old models.
Hulu broke two traditions: going direct to consumers through the Internet and the collaboration of two significant competitors instead of building their own individual platforms.

Lesson 5: Capture all the value under the demand curve.
NBC and Fox are capturing one more valuable channel. They get ad revenue, data, and a direct connection with their customers. They are still broadcasting, syndicating, airing reruns, selling DVDs, and more.

Lesson 6: Enhanced content does not have to mean bells and whistles.
One of my favorit features of Hulu is the ability to low light everything around the screen and just watch the show. Simple and effective.

Now, what can Bible publishers do to achieve the Hulu effect? Here are six things we came up with at BibleTech and I’d love to hear more.

  1. Put your content everywhere. Our content is more valuable together. Amazon, Sony, Apple, Logos, WORDsearch, Olive Tree. The burden is on each of those retailers and each of us publishers to create a community, an environment, and content people like and trust. Consumers will be loyal to their communities so put your stuff everywhere if you want everyone to have it.

  2. Make a direct connection with your customers. If you don’t want to sell directly, work out a unique deal with someone who will process the orders and share the data. You’ve got to give your consumers a place to gather and talk to you directly.

  3. Put your money where your mouth is. If you like the agency model, are you willing to offer it? If you have an app or a Web site where you can sell a competitor’s digital products, will you do it? Will you give them 70%? Don’t cling to the licensing model when selling other publishers’ content and ask for the agency model when selling your own content.

  4. Develop a better ePub Bible. We’ve finally arrived at a place where one file format allows us to get to the entire market, more or less, but it is not entirely conducive to Bible reading, especially linking. Let’s develop a standard for best TOC navigation, footnote and cross-reference linking, study Bible notes and extra-biblical content (think ebook+ Bible with link Scripture references).

  5. Share. Let’s tell each other what we are doing and what we are learning from it. Of course we need to protect certain trade secrets and attempt to gain some strategic advantage in a competitive market, but some of that can be accomplished by actually helping each other. Sean Harrison from Tyndale has started a new site at DigitalBibleForum.com. Join the conversation.

  6. Get face to face. BibleTech was a great conference because of the people and the time we had to share our ideas. If you are involved in religious and digital publishing at any level, go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year. And, we need to meet regularly throughout the year, together, and in our own cities. B&H is in Nashville with Nelson, Howard, FaithWords, and UMPH. Tyndale and Crossway and Moody are close enough for a snowball fight. Zondervan and Baker are in each other’s backyard. And I promise that every one of us has somebody who is interested in growing digital publishing. Go to lunch and talk about your boss who doesn’t “get it” and all the ways we could be working together. Then look for an announcement on a time for all of us to convene around the topic of digital for the express purpose of helping each other succeed for the kingdom and glory of God.

Thank you.

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