UGC: BusinessWeek misses the point

BusinessWeek magazine has a piece about user-generated content and how it’s old and busted now — people really want professional content, apparently. As proof that “one after another,” video sites are turning their backs on UGC and going steady with the pros instead, BusinessWeek gives us one example:, which recently refocused and got rid of the user-generated part of its model, which apparently never really drew that many viewers.

Of course, it’s possible that Mania either didn’t approach that part of its business properly, or didn’t bother looking for the diamonds in the UGC rough — or maybe people were too busy uploading their stuff to YouTube and DailyMotion and Metacafe. It’s tough being third or fourth to the party, as a number of commenters have pointed out on Lost Remote.

The thing that really bugs me about the BusinessWeek article is that there’s this false dichotomy between high-quality professional content and low-quality UGC crap. It’s not that binary, I would argue. It’s more like a spectrum, with professional content on one end, and as you move down the scale you get lower quality, until there’s your brother-in-law singing karaoke.

Is there a lot of UGC crap that only someone’s mother would watch? Sure there is. But there’s a lot of garbage produced by “professionals” that gets foisted on people through traditional media too, whether they want it or not. I’d take some half-decent UGC over that any day.


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