In search of the content saturation point

There has to be a point of diminishing returns on television content, but Yahoo! isn't betting on it just yet. Company execs there are hinting at a new video strategy, as if there's one that hasn't yet been tried.

There are only 24 hours in a day. There are something like 300 channels available on digital cable and at least that many video outlets online. Therefore, if I did nothing else but watch TV and Internet videos 24 hours a day, I could spend about two minutes with each outlet. The chances that I'll tune in during a commercial or even perceive an ad online are statistically slim. So when does the madness end?

Probably not soon, even though the average TV viewer tends to watch the same seven to 12 channels. Enough average TV viewers apparently are not watching the same seven to 12 channels as their neighbors to keep channels based on jewelry, guns, aging sports icons and motor yachts alive. (It should be noted, however, that most niche channels are attached to a giant mothership sometimes named "Disney," "Fox" or "Viacom.")

Online video is a different animal, even though TV networks contribute a big chunk of available content. Much of online video is characterized by complete anarchy. I have seen images on the Internet that no amount of disassociation will ever erase from my mind, thanks to all those folks compelled to share them with me. Perhaps the inability to tear ones eyes away is the key to the perceived explosion of online video. Reston, Va. 'Net measurement firm comScore recently reported that Americans watched 264 million 'Net videos in May. I have to wonder how many of those represent accidental trainwreck views or inadvertent hits made during a search for something else. The bottom line, in my wee world view, is that there does exist a saturation point when online video consumption levels off. But we don't appear to be there yet.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts at [email protected], or by all means, post a comment below. -D.

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