Ben Young
Ben Young
May 12, 2021
The man synonymous with the term ‘content is king’ – Sumner Redstone passed away in 2020. Sumner spent his lifetime expanding the Boston based theatre company National Amusements his father started in to tv and movies. Today known as ViacomCBS, though National Amusements remains active in the cinema business.

However, a quick Google of the phrase ‘content is king’, shows a Bill Gates essay as the originator. So who said it first?

Turns out neither was, two authors beat them to the punch. J.W. Click and Russell N. Baird first used the term in the 1974 edition of Magazine Editing and Production,
Now if that isn’t timeless. I could put that in any presentation and date it 2020 and no one would bat an eyelid.

Sumner did popularize the term, referencing competitors’ focus on distribution mechanisms but he believed the best content would always endure. In hindsight this makes sense, but it is a narrative that is on a repeat cycle. Distribution or content.

Then in 1996 along came Bill Gates who penned the essay: Content is King, which is where we see it most referenced. Bill saw that content being delivered over the internet was an inevitability 24 years ago.
It’s worth a read if you’ve got a couple of minutes.

There we have it. The content is king phrase has lived on through multiple incarnations, from magazine photography, to the cable roll up era and our present day digital era. Thanks to LGK for their outline and guidance.


Why do people say content is king?

They say this, to highlight, that it is the content that consumers seek out. And it is what they consume.

Distribution helps get eyeballs but content is what consumers will seek out. So you can have all the distribution but if you don’t have the best content, it won’t help.