In last week’s mail was a note from reader Ed, who wanted to go deeper on the matter of the overworked term “curation.”
“It’s understandable that writers sometimes have cause to view ‘curation’ as code for ‘plagiarism,” but there’s a whole other connotation to mine with respect to ‘curation’ and ‘TV everywhere,” he wrote.
Good point, Ed. In the TVE world, “curation” tends to pop up in discussions about how to build an on-demand inventory of episodic TV, so as to satisfy the growing mass of us who like to engage in “marathon viewing.” As in watching every episode of Breaking Bad, one by one. Sequentially, yes, but in one or two sittings.
For multichannel video providers, “to curate” is often code for “we haven’t cleared the rights for everything our customers want to watch, so we’ll put up what we have and call it ‘curated content.’”
This is, of course, confusing to even savvy consumers. You can see Season One of Breaking Bad on your connected TV, but not from your set-top-connected TV. Huh? Or vice versa: You can view a season on demand on the “main TV,” but not on your provider’s tablet or smart phone app.
Curation, in this context, also tends to get jumbled up with discovery, navigation, and user experience. When HBO GO makes episodes of Boardwalk Empire available, in a tasteful way, representative of their brand, is that curation, or navigation?
Other lingo tends to lurk near “curation,” too – like “full stacking rights,” and “deep library.” A deep library gets one rights to stack inventory such that it extends across all platforms, in other words. Full stacking.
Nonetheless, the “curation” conundrum is a problem with precedent. VOD had the same rights issues in its early years. With any luck, time and continued work on rights will someday stream live TV to all your screens, backed by a deep library of on-demand titles, including multi-season “binge viewing.”
Until then, though, it makes the marketing of TV Everywhere slightly more complicated. (Slightly.)
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.