The Selling of History

Some notes while re-reading Hoskins, McFadyen, & Finn's (1997) Global television and film. An introduction to the economics of the business, from Oxford University Press:

The authors note that as technology-based barriers to entry continue to lower, power will shift from the traditional studios and major production centres (which have made major investments in fixed production facilities) to established creativity suppliers, such as the teams that produce athletic events. There will also be a movement away from centralized production centres, which challenges the massive investments made in sports stadia, if these stadia are viewed as media production centres.

The authors suggest that there will also be an increase in the value of sources of creativity and existing stocks of intellectual property. The primary source of creativity in sport media production is the athletes themselves, and we have already witnessed dramatic rises in athlete salaries over the past few years. Furthermore, we can expect "a sharp increase … in the value of existing libraries of programmes, especially those which can be supplied to services targeting narrow market niches" (p. 137). We have seen evidence of this already with ESPN's launch of ESPN Classic as well as pro league broadcasts of "classic" games, which may target an aging audience demographic at very low unit cost.

With another NBA season looming, fans like me are busy obsessing over questions like "What's the right round in fantasy to pick Kobe?" and "Should Damon Stoudamire change his first name to Cheech?" Still, I'm going to miss the off-season. Thanks to NBA TV and ESPN Classic, I spent my summer watching old games on the treadmill. As my TiVo skills progressed, I could bang out a two-hour game and 600 calories in 40 minutes. There wasn't a point all summer, not one, when I thought, "My god, I've gone insane."

– The Sports Guy

But we shouldn't just look to traditional communications media for libraries of programming. Nike's campaign for the new Air Zoom Huarache 2K4 provides an excellent example of a different medium that can go to the archives for content. The "Chronology" and "Evolution" spots show the last 30 years of their basketball shoes: the first is an audio ride through various basketball broadcasting milestones and the second shows an organic decomposition and renewal of their basketball products against a concrete urban backdrop. This cultural recycling can provide a competitive advantage for Nike against the flavour-of-the-week brands that challenge the giant for bits of market share.


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