The Fiction of Clips as Advertising

22 Mar ’07

Scott nails the problem with the argument that clips are free advertising in a great post on whether content can be a business any longer. What if the free clip is all the consumer wants? I haven’t watched a whole episode of the Daily Show since clips became available on YouTube, and now that they aren’t, I simply watch the clips I want off my PVR – they’re easy to find. Giving that power – the power to choose the clip – to the consumer means that no one will ever want to watch the whole show – people will understand that the reason the clip exists is because it’s the core of what the show has to offer – the funniest bit, in the case of The Daily Show – and they generally won’t bother to invest time or money in the rest.

But – and this is the point that Scott doesn’t make – the nature of the creative process is such that the producer has to create and pay for the whole show in order to produce the artistic serendipity that results in the moments in the great clip. If it were otherwise – if these great moments could be produced at will – each show would be 30 minutes of great clips. As great as Jon Stewart (for example) is, that never happens. You can’t produce the clip without investing in the show (and you can’t produce the great single without producing a bunch more songs – or more – that aren’t quite there; and you can’t make a magazine that consists entirely of great articles). And if you give away that clip, no one will ever buy the show. And if they don’t buy the show, you can’t create the clip. That’s just the nature of creativity. You have to produce the not-so-great to produce the great.

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