An enterprising start-up thinks it knows how to pick the next Da Vinci Code or "Friends," the Economist reports: virtual stockmarkets. MediaPredict.com lets volunteers use play money to bet on the success of a book manuscript, TV pilot, or opening-day take, and hopes the wisdom of crowds will predict the hits.
Other prediction markets, like those for elections, have proven surprisingly good at forecasting winners. The company is banking that they'll do just as well for media—and that execs, long reliant on erratic intuition or expert advice, will pay up for a service that raises their chances for a hit. “This year was kind of a bloodbath for new television programmes,” says the company's founder, “so we know that their systems need improving.”