Spider-Man and the future of Radio


new issue of WIRED contains an article with profound implications for anyone in the entertainment content business, which I’ve long argued is what business radio should be in, whether we’re ready to face that fact or not.

The subject: Marvel comics.

In 2004, Marvel had net sales of $513 million. WIRED reports that “only 16% of that came from comics. The rest was from licensing characters for movies, TV, and toys. That is, comic books – the actual printed artifacts – have become little more than marketing materials.”

I have written before on the movie business and noted that this is exactly how the economics work there, too. Far more money is made in DVD sales than in first-run exhibition. The very existence of franchises is a form of licensing over time. Not to mention video games, toy deals, books, etc.

Once you have the content, it’s the licensing that provides your profits.

If this sounds like a strategy which would result in Opie & Anthony being “licensed” to terrestrial radio by XM, that’s hardly coincidental.

At the end of the proverbial day, we’re either in the unique content business, or we’re yesterday’s news.

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