Jean Lievens: Digital World Increasing Access and Value of Old Content

Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

The digital world is changing the value of media content

Free of shelf-space limitations, the web’s ability to make ‘golden oldies’ accessible to everyone forever will force us to reassess the importance of ‘newness’


So, in the not too distant future, “the newest” may not be the most attractive. It’s going to change the equation of value and quality.

Owning the rights to “classics” – great music or film or video libraries – means an annuity in perpetuity.  Think of this as buying Rembrandts. They stopped making them years ago and so the value only continues to appreciate.

We are, all of us, the products of our life experience in the linear world. This is what we grew up with. We have a natural expectation that the “new stuff” is going to be better and much more desirable than the “old stuff”. We would rather have a 2013 Mercedes than a 1987 one.  We would rather see the “new” Great Gatsby than the “old” one.

But in the future, this may not be the case. The value may be much more for the “old” stuff than the “new”.  (What is worth more, an “old” Rembrandt or a “new” one?)

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Phi Beta Iota:  Our own database of over 30,000 pages from over 800 contributors goes back to 1992.  Our subscribers receive all the new posts as they are posted.  Validating the above article, we observe that on any given day, out of an average of 1,500 visits, fewer than 250 are focused on the new posts and the rest are across a very broad span of time and content, generally 1 to 7 hits for each of the other items visited on that day.  This is one of the reasons we were able to turn off the cache feature of WordPress that was crashing the system — the diversity levels itself out.

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