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I Don't Think Barry Diller Gets It

Posted by: David Kiley on November 19, 2007


I know Barry Diller has a lot more money than I do. But his comments at the Idea Conference in New York City last week are by a man who is missing the big point about user-generated content.

Diller used a tired and probaby non-existent example of a short film of “A cat throwing up on a grandmother” to illustrate why he isn’t worried about UGC hurting what passes for entertainment in prime-time these days.,, and the rest are sucking time from people who would otherwise be watching TV. The penetration of these websites that star UGC among people over 40 is still quite limited compared with those under 40, and especially those under 30. So, is Diller not concerned because he’ll be dead and buried by the time baby boomers who support the conventional media model he likes so much die off?

Sounds like a great idea to have invited him to the Idea Conference.

He said he could only envision a very few examples of UGC ascending to the level of mass market appeal. I’d say once again he misses the big point. The mass market is a dying polar bear. UGC is taking off because it is based on the appeal of the micro market.

I wish NBC and CBS all the luck in the world trying to come up with non-sports programming in the future that appeals to a big enough audience to justify the CPM advertising model they are still pursuing. On the other hand, Youtube and Facebook can appeal to ten million people at once each finding their own entertainment. What sounds like smarter business play? NBC and QVC or Youtube and Facebook?

Reader Comments


November 21, 2007 8:43 AM

Well Diller's example of what passes for user generated content isn't that far from the truth and for some reason a lot of writers and editors love to praise user made media because it's a fashionable thing to do and because that's the media industry's meme. User generated videos are the future, TV shows are out, the internet is the future and whoever is posting the most user submitted videos on his or her site is a visionary genius is the template for nearly all these stories. Diller sees through that and is trying to kill this meme, albeit clumsily.

What really lures time away from the TV is reading blogs, looking at Facebook/MySpace profiles and instant messaging with friends. The occasional homemade viral video is good for a quick gag and takes maybe five or six minutes out of your day depending how long the video is, but they're still just minor diversios. That's what Diller was really trying to say.

That mass market is still there and it will be there for quite a while because shows like Heroes and 24 and CSI and whatever hits may come in the future will always find an audience. It's just that people will spend less time watching it on TV and prefer to time-shift it via TiVo or DVR or to watch it on the web. The much vaunted clips on YouTube are usually bite sized highlights of great professional content designed for the mass market or music videos for mainstream bands and popular DJs. I don't understand why so many reporters miss that fact. I mean just take a look on YouTube and take note of what you see, it's not that difficult.

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January 2, 2008 3:58 AM

No, No, No, Barry got alright. He is just in denial because he had poured billions of dollars into various internet ventures that have poor ROI.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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