Don't Fight Distribution

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 14, 2007 12:17:16 PM

You may (or more likely, may not) know that the College World Series in going on right now. On Sunday, the NCAA kicked a reporter out of a game, because he was posting live updates on his blog on the newspaper’s site. The NCAA claims it is because they sell the rights to live broadcasts and that blogging is considered a “live representation of the game" and blogs containing action photos or game reports are prohibited until the game is over.

While newspapers (and the reporter) are claiming that this is a first amendment issue, I question it on an economic basis. To be blunt, this was a stupid economic decision by the NCAA. You’d have thought that the recent internet-fueled turmoil in the entertainment industry would have provided a clear lesson for the NCAA.

For those that still need to learn a lesson, here it is: DON’T FIGHT YOUR DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS.

I guess we need to go back to the basics. Here are the basics:

  • When I first started in sales, I learned that the fastest way to increase sales was to make it easy for customers to buy.

  • Recently in a radio interview, I was asked if business had changed. I said that while aspects of business have changed – the fundamentals have not. Business is, was – and probably always will be – about matching content to distribution. The key, by the way, is distribution. The greater and smoother the distribution, the better the chances of business success.

  • Finally, you must embrace what is, not what was or what you wish would be.

Record companies, to their detriment, have been fighting distribution “as it is” for years. Only grudgingly have they even ‘allowed’ digital distribution to take hold. Had they embraced it, they would have energized a new, easier form of distribution – then they could have hired a bunch of MBA grad students to monetize that distribution.

Back to the NCAA. They should be happy that someone thinks the College World Series is worthy enough to be a blog topic. The only thing a blog – or a group of bloggers – could do to the College World Series is increase its relevancy and make more people aware of it. While I am not a media consultant, there is one thing I know – if the event is more meaningful and relevant, the fees for everything from sponsorships to broadcast rights go up. Instead of embracing distribution AS IT IS, the NCAA is fighting to keep things as they were. They are falling victim to the “Illusion of Control.”

Topics: B2B Sales Strategy