What happens when customers are ahead of you?

One big problem for modern businesses is when customers understand the market better than they do, and set about changing the industry regardless of what the law allows.

We have seen this a decade ago with the music industry. It was consumers who set up peer-to-peer file sharing networks allowing songs to be copied from one users PC to another. Now music can be legally rented from services like Spotify and many in the music industry just don’t know where the industry will go next.

The movie industry is the same, though because of the larger file sizes it has taken longer to develop than music, but now it is normal to have an IP-enabled TV at home with movie rental on demand – killing the entire DVD market, which in turn is making it difficult to finance films, leading to very low or very high budget pictures becoming the norm.

Customers always find a way to change how a service works. If there is a better or cheaper way of doing something then the customers will find it, just like a stream will always find the easiest path to run downhill.

Live sports content is a good example of this problem in the present day. The Premier League in England closed down 30,000 illegal streaming sites last year where football was being broadcast live to a British audience before it should have been.

Official content providers buy rights to broadcast sport from organisations such as the Premier League. These illegal streams are officially piracy and the law treats them as such, but they could also be considered to be a warning for the future – sports broadcasting is in flux at present, between TV and the Internet and the fans are just trying to see their favourite teams live. The smart broadcasters will not just be enforcing the law, but will also be exploring how they can learn from what happened in music and movies, to ensure they stay ahead of broadcasting trends.

Premier League
Photo by Blue Square Thing licensed under Creative Commons

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