Rejoice! Your digital pennies are now dimes!

Well at least it’s progress, right?

NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker is of course famous for the statement a year ago that his company, and the entire entertainment industry, was “trading analog dollars for digital pennies.” Speaking yesterday at the McGraw Hill Media Summit, he updated that view, a bit:

We’re at digital dimes now. We’ve made progress. But it’s not just about revenues. It’s about costs. Look, these are scary times and this is all about the changing model.”

As I wrote in this past Sunday’s Variety, digital dimes may not be enough. The TV business especially is seeing its model radically transformed as viewers migrate online and advertisers choose the bets they’re willing to make on air more carefully.

A business that’s moving to a medium where it gets ten cents on the dollar (or even 20 or 30 or 60) is not a sustainable one. It’s not like the old ways of making money are on teh verge of disappearing. But they’re slowly fading. So the question is:Are digital dimes over pennies a reason for hope? Or despair?