The advent of the internet has eased everything content-related. Sadly, that ease has also come with a difficulty in monetizing content across the multimedia - media production is suffering, physical sales of music has slid, millennials no longer watch television and visual content needs to evolve to meet the internet.

Physical sales vs Digital sales in America. (Visual Capitalists)
Physical sales vs Digital sales in America. (Visual Capitalists)

The continued slide in physical sales of music and the expensive rate of downloads birthed streaming. According to CNBC, revenue by cable companies was on a yearly increase, but their product owners were consistently failing to retain viewership. According to MoffettNathanson Research, ESPN reached only 3 percent of the total cable audience, but gets paid 18 percent of cable subscription fees. Fox is the same.

Cable TV Revenues in 2014. (CNBC)
Cable TV Revenues in 2014. (CNBC)

In media (news in written and video format), ad revenue was becoming a night fight in the mud and companies were cutting staff. In 2019, BuzzFeed cut about 15% of its staff and Guardian UK has to solicit for funding from readers.

Music and visual content owners/companies realized a need to grow with the internet. For that, different modes of streaming were birthed and so were monetization models - even for media companies. The idea is to get funding directly from each customer by owning and directly marketing the product, but there was a problem.

The problem with modern monetization models

The solo/individual subscription model that content platforms have employed will end in tears because it's not sustainable. The successful business of the future must be convenient, cost-effective and efficient. The modern tech-afforded subscription model is none of that.

The want customers to subscribe to two or more platforms for music, movies and even written content because they all rely on building their own audience. While that sounds nice, nobody wants to simply enjoy content from one platform and no platform has a monopoly on quality content.

There's something unique about every content creation platform. For example, this writer pays for Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Music because he needs all the music alongside all the freemium streaming platforms - that's not reasonable for the average consumer.

He wants to watch TV/Film and he has to subscribe to three or more premium platforms and pay at least $7 on each platform - this model is even the worst because they keep producing original content. He wants to read, but he has to subscribe to more than 10 platforms on average of $3.5 for each platform per month.

He wants to watch football (soccer) and he has to pay at least $11 each for two or more platforms and still pay for data and light. That's too expensive and too strenuos.

Where's the consumer's interest?

Businesses create product for the consumer. As attractive as monetizing based on an availability of customer model where companies only aim to provide services to those who can pay, it is an unreasonable model to leave out billions of other potential customers. That's why the current model of subscription is flawed.

Conversely, cable costs $50 dollars and we get everything. Newspapers cost $.50 too. Tech sells us a dream of ownership, but we're creating a future problem of an oversaturation of content on a decentralized model that will serve nobody long-term.

No platform will truly enjoy the benefits of this new world that technology has afforded us to create and own content. It's a grossly unreasonable model that content creation platforms need to rethink.

The solution

The way out is collaboration through a platform aggregation model that cable enjoys.

Think of a DSTV/Multichoice-type of model for visual content streaming (especially) or music streaming that places all the platforms in one, increases the average cost of subscription by 50% and splits revenue the way cable companies manage revenue.

It could also work in written content where similar platforms come under aggregators, increase the average subscription and agree to a fair revenue split model. It won't totally eradicate monopoly, but it will definitely give everybody a fair chance to be seen and help them know that their content isn't wasting or isn't totally free.

The cable bundle/aggregation model is the future. All these ones we're doing now needs to pass. Companies need to think together or perish together.

Social media was the successful start-up model of the 90's. Streaming is the offspring of the 2000s. Content aggregation platforms is the blueprint for the next billion dollar domination as a start-up. You hack it, you're a billionaire.