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Timeshifting Metcalfe-Cuban

One of the first blog articles I ever wrote was Timeshifting The Family. In that article, I described how TiVo has changed the content consumption experience for millions of people.

One of the points I touched on was the fact that TiVo, through timeshifting, was fundamentally changing the "shared experience" of how we viewed content. It's hard to quantify that change, but it is definitely something that I experienced while watching Roots with my family back in the 1970's.

What got me thinking about all of this (again) today was a recent article written by Mark Cuban, Metcalfe's Law and Video, where he applies Metcalfe's Law to video content distribution and forms some hypotheses. The two that relate to timeshifting I found most relevant and well stated:

1. The more people that see content when it is originally "broadcast", regardless of the distribution medium, the more valuable the content.

This is the example of "appointment viewing" or "breaking news". The more people who planned to watch, or did so as soon as they heard about it, the more valuable the content.

Call this the "heat check".


10mm people watching a tv show at the same time creates more value for the content than 10mm people watching the same show on demand over the course of time.

2. The greater the number of people that watch content simultaneously, the greater the emotional attachment of the viewer.

The greater amount of confirmation that a viewer can get from other viewers that there were others, like them that made an appointment to see a video or immediately changed their plans to watch a video, the greater the "we" effect and emotional attachment.


In the case of Roots, it was more like 130mm viewers consuming the content simultaneously. A pretty big "we" effect with definite emotional attachment. A validated data point for Mark's hypotheses.

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