Kate Modern’s no-so-modern Commercial Model

Kate_modernBebo’s Kate Modern will end next month

on June 28th Bebo’s Kate Modern, the online drama broadcast by the social networking site, will ‘air’ for the last time.  the strategy of creating bespoke content for the SN is a solid one; it not only attracts and locks in new users, but adds value through interactivity with content to existing users.

however EQAL, who make the show (and formerly Lonely Girl 15) have suggested that in future they’d like to see more than the 1.5m views the average episode received.  doesn’t sound too bad to me…  whilst a quick scan of the Viral Video Chart  shows that the top 20 virals currently deliver anything between 30,000 and 3m views, a better comparison is with the ‘push’ model of broadcast television, in which an average digital channel would be happy to get 1.5m people to watch an episode.

but the more interesting observation is how Bebo applied such old-school thinking to the commercial model.  A spokeswoman for Bebo (quoted here) said the show was profitable
because of the sponsorship deals it put together with the likes of Orange, Toyota and Cadbury Creme Egg.  but this seems like a missed opportunity…

like any online site / brand, Bebo has to be clear about what it is.  Yahoo’s current woes stem from the fact that they don’t know what they are.  Google by comparison are quite clear.  they’re an advertising company.  Bebo would say that they are a social network, but it could be argued that by being seen to ‘create’ Kate Modern, they confuse this proposition.  they should be the third force of Anderson’s Long Tail – connecting source and demand, rather than part of the first – democratisation of production.

but perhaps the biggest opportunity is being missed by brands, who are contenting themselves with being attached to someone else’s content rather than producing their own.  its Orange, Toyota and Cadbury that should be making Kate Modern (or its strategic equivalent), and using Bebo as a distribution mechanism.

Bebo (or any social network) should be happy to filter content from elsewhere…  and benefit commercially from the audiences it attracts as a result…

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