Another article over at the New York Times about how the boneheads at AOL think they are HBO. I have to wonder whether a) they just hire dumb people over there b) they’re so disconnected from the general Internet culture that they haven’t learned its key business lessons; or c) they hire genuinely smart people who are then overwhelmed by the groupthink of a large media company.
In any case, the problem is this: We’ve been using the Internet as a mass medium since 1994 and no one in those nine years has created an entertainment content play with broad appeal and financial success. No one! Literally hundred of millions of dollars have gone down the tubes with the dream of an Internet content “hit” — the Sopranos of the Internet, Internet soap operas, Internet television. All gone to shit. I could try to espouse why this is, but smarter people have done so elsewhere. If it was my money, I’d just look at the dismal track record and move on to another business plan.
Meanwhile, Internet services have been wildly, impossibly, astoundingly, successful. Email, search, illegal music downloads, all have reached hundreds of millions of consumers, many of whom are happy to pay for the products consumed.
So AOL, keep trying to come up with the “Online Sopranos,” but don’t come crying to me when it all goes to shit.