Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Digital Hollywood

Last week, I spoke at a panel for Digital Hollywood. It was an interesting panel on Content Distribution Models.
Most interesting to me was the new buzzword in Hollywood: branded content.
Remember the concept of product placements? Simon Covell casually sipping Coke in American Idol?
Well - turns out that the 'brands' (like Coke, P&G, GM etc.) have decided if they are shelling out the dough, they want to be more of the hero of the show, and not an after thought.  So take transformers, where the brand - Chevys - was so intertwined with the story and the characters that it was the perfect marketing vehicle for the company all in the guise of entertainment!

If done right, branded entertainment can be a win win for all. But more often that not, I believe that the creative process will bow to the brand needs - leading to sub par story lines and plots

Video content - broadcast or broadband?

A paradigm shift is unfolding in front of us: - video content is finding so many more ways of getting itself to the consumer:
  • by traditional means (broadcast/cable/sat) and now also by broadband. 
  • on all devices - ranging from your mobile phone to the PC all the way to the large screen TV. 
  • you can consume it on the go or at your leisure in the work place ;) or at home
All the players in the content space are aware of this shift and are rushing to find the right 'new' model that will help them retain their audiences and their revenues.
The networks have all rushed to make their presence online - abc, cbs, nbc, fox: all have strong online presence. To make things even more interesting, all (except for cbs) are betting on an aggregator site - to capture user demand for finding a single location for varied content (wait - I thought that was called Google Search!).

The cable guys are also rushing in - Time Warner has been public about their plans with TV Everywhere, and seemingly similar plans from Comcast and others.

The smaller guys are also jumping in - creating aggregator sites such as or simply posting their videos on youtube and waiting for the viral distribution to kick them into their two seconds of fame.

One thing is clear - reaching the audience where and when they want to be reached, is good for the consumer and will result in longer 'video' watching, as hard data from Nielsen bares out.

Who will be the winners and the losers in this new paradigm? Much like what the iPod did to the music industry - My bet is that:
  • Networks as we know it, will die (ala the record labels)
  • Operators of the pipes will continue to win (the cable guys/telcos) - they still control the path to the consumer. Satellite guys will fade into oblivion
  • Aggregator sites like YouTube, hulu will still drive eyeballs (ala iTunes)
  • Content owners like  will continue to be squeezed in the middle of the operators and the aggregators. 
However, the end user will be the winner - better pricing and more ways to access their content. So thats why this paradigm is good for us!