Entertainment lawyer Kevin Morris seems to have a better understanding of the world of online entertainment than most. He’s got a great quote in a recent NYTimes article:
“Everybody says that content is king, but they’re not acting like it,” Mr. Morris said. “On the tech side, they don’t have any cultural understanding of the tradition of paying for talent. They’re enamored of user-generated stuff because they think ‘Entourage’ is real — that they’re going to get ripped off.”
He continued: “The media companies, meanwhile, are so big, they have no spirit of entrepreneurialism and they’re obsessed with being tough. Nobody wants to be the guy that overpaid. It creates a risk-averse culture, just at a time when we need risks.”
He’s right. With a few small exceptions, the world of online video is still obsessed with two things right now: technology and user-generated content. While content is king, everyone is afraid of it, and because of that they are also afraid to take risks. The old-school media companies, with all of their money, are racing themselves to the bottom.
Where does this leave us? My prediction is that we’re going to continue to see the real groundbreaking online video work from small companies and less traditional online media companies. The movie studio of the future isn’t at a lot in Burbank, but is in some office building in New York.
Now’s the time to jump in.
A few months ago I posted about the rise of consumer choice and how centralized media giants like MTV would be taking the brunt of this change. Here is an article in today’s New York Times about how MTV is struggling with this very phenomenon.
As a brand, MTV has been beyond durable, managing to reinvent itself continuously and in doing so presenting a fast-moving target that left many would-be rivals in its wake…
But finding the edge was simpler before competition for its core demographic started coming from all fronts, from video games and social-networking Web sites to amateur clips on YouTube. And consumers can use the Web to come up with their own reality narratives — the current transformation of Britney Spears from pop superstar to bald alien is pretty tough for anyone to compete with.
According to a recent NYTimes article, many TiVo owners do not skip ads. Who knew?
“That’s part of the reward of taping: being able to zip through the advertisements,” said Marjorie Elson, a 62-year-old psychologist in Maryland. “But sometimes I do watch them — only if they capture me.”
Guess what? It pays to make an interesting ad, even on TV.
The story of Anheuser-Busch’s online television network, Bud.TV (NYTimes, login required)
Bud.TV may be a marketing venture at heart, but it is marketing sotto voce. The shows’ plots won’t revolve around the quest for the perfect beer and a beautiful woman to share it with. Characters won’t declaim the virtues of Budweiser’s freshness at every opportunity. The site won’t be cluttered with banner ads. Anheuser-Busch executives are banking on a more subtle connection. Attach a brand name to something cool, something entertaining, and that elusive young man (and to a lesser extent, young woman) may check out Bud.TV’s offerings again and again, send them along to friends, even take a stab at creating his own minifilm for the site.