56 channels and nothing on

TV Static

Fred Wilson wrote a blog post about the scarcity business model in the entertainment industry, specifically film, but it applies universally.

I left a comment that accidentally turned into a blog post.


Here it is.

I remember the days when Christmas shows like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty, The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas were on TV at ONLY a specific night in December. Everyone cleared their calendar, sat in front of the TV and made it an event. Now, all these shows are on 24/7/365 on the Internet, run 5 million times a week on cable and nobody cares. “I’ll catch it later” and they usually don’t.

56 channels and nothing on.

Fred’s opening paragraph actually makes a case FOR scarcity. There is SO MUCH content that none of it looks appetizing any more, like an all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas open 24/7/365 for $7.99. There is no anticipation, no sense of community that an event creates, no anything that gets the juices flowing, the heart racing and the mind thinking. I remember seeing the Death Star blow up in a movie theatre and to this day, it still overwhelms me. I doubt very much anyone under forty has had that same sensory experience.

Even if Fred were to be able to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I’d lay odds that he would have been checking Twitter, his email, etc within 20 minutes of the start. “What else is out there..”

I watched the Golden Globes last night… the television was not enough stimulation; I had to also tweet.

The problem isn’t one of access or scarcity. The problem is there is TOO MUCH access. Any time, any where, any place. We have programmed our audience to always expect the “New and Improved” model instead of building value for the experience of enjoying what is available now.