Content consumers are inversing the Bell curve

Bell curve - Standard normal distribution

The Bell curve:

We are all familiar with the Bell curve or normal distribution for product consumption as we learned during our education.

There are many examples and applications for this distribution in all kinds of environments.

For example: the Bell curve can be obtained by charting the customer distribution compared to price.

This should be applicable in content consumption too.

Or not?

The pattern of On-Demand content consumption

Concerning On-Demand content consumption Douglas Warshaw (four-time Emmy Award winning network television producer/writer/director and programmer and entrepreneur) has made a interesting observations:
In On-Demand content consumption the low end and the high end content are being consumed in large quantities, whereas the middle range of content offerings have low consumption.

Low-End content: in large quantities
– Home videos
– Home movies & amateur films “User-Generated content”

Medium content: hardly any interest
– Local news
– Random TV viewing “Sampling”

High-End content: in large quantities
– Magazine shows & Documentaries
– Network Dramas & Comedies and Documentaries and Movies.

Hence the Bell curve is no longer corresponding with current consumer behavior.
He calls it the inverse Bell curve or the Warshaw curve. He proposes to flip the Bell curve for consumer content.

Similarities with Infant Mortality and Burn-in distributions

As the Warshaw curve has the form of a bathtub, it reminds of the curves used for Infant Mortality of products and Burn-in.
The bathtub curve consists of three periods:
– An infant mortality period with a decreasing failure rate
– Followed by a normal life period (“useful life”) with a low, relatively constant failure rate
– Concluding with a wear-out period that exhibits an increasing failure rate.
Bathtub curveThese curves are called Weibull distributions.
Used in Operation Research for addressing production and operational problems.

If you would tweak the parameters you could produce a curve very similar to the Warshaw curve, as there are enough parameters to play with.

So far for the maths.

Other examples of Warshaw curve

Low-End content:
Flickr or Stock.XCHNG (high quality!)
– Blogs
– Free amateur adult content
– Product white paper of company

Medium content:
– Sony ImageStation has been closed – business model was: “paying” by receiving emails from Sony
– Newspapers, industry magazines with registrations allowing them to email the readers.
– Adult content portal websites linking to many other websites.
– White paper syndications: registration required

High-End content:
Getty Images
– Newspapers with subscriptions
– Paid adult content
– Paid white papers and market surveys by research organizations: Forrester, IDC, Gartner, Jupiter, Ovum, Bloor, …

In order to close “Entertainment style”:

“Will Warshaw curve meet B2C?”
“Will Warshaw be applicable in B2B?”
“These questions – and many others – will be answered in the next episode of LEADSExplorer.” (Soap – TV series)


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