You and Content

It doesn’t matter how the content gets to you, by what ‘road” or in what form,  whether in a library book, a hard copy magazine or newspaper, the web and its various forms of streaming … it has something in common … it has to engage with you .. and make you want you to focus and read on.

This has always been the case. How often have you picked up a book, and it didn’t engage with you, watched a movie, switched channels, went to sleep or worse still walked out of a theatre .. or reading a web page and thought , no .. and moved on …  read a Twitter stream and nothing, you either clicked un-follow or went looking for content that you can relate to, regardless of how the content is delivered to you, how you view it or engage with it, it has to value you and engage with you as a person.

The current thinking in Hollywood and Old Media in general is that somehow they are a special case, somehow entitled to and deserving of exemption from a thing  called change, something that happens to us all, it isn’t the change that is a problem, its the attitude to it that matters … and the choices one makes based on these attitudes.

Now and in the future, content of all types, from the written word to a movie spectacular will reach us whether we are at home, mobile on at some kind of outside occasion via a internet appliance, in other words via an i/p address (VOD, Hulu and Netflix +++) …. and it accompanying infrastructure –   this will soon be the case for public screening (when or perhaps if they will happen) as well, perhaps by some kind of version of Bit torrent service.

If you need any convincing of the change to Internet distribution, currently in the USA, Netflix accounts for 25% of total North American Internet traffic. With their first International expansion, they now have an added 800,000 users (10% of all users) in Canada , with other International expansion slated, probably in the first step into Europe. I have spoken about this in previous post, going back a number of years … do not sit with your head in the sand – change will happen, with or without you.

I feel very sad for those companies who’s core business is public entertainment, and the picture theater complexes and soon they will make more money as retail malls .. or car parking .. but again no, the internet is all prevailing … even the traditional focus on malls will change, those huge real estate investments will be a thing of the past … perhaps the land will be returned long term into something productive, perhaps growing food. These changes in the utilization of malls and other huge public and retail edifices, will happen, it will not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

They say that Hollywood and TV production is a special case, this is such spin , it is not true, at the end of the day if the content is on You tube and you are engaged by it .. nothing else matters … now they have virtual scenery, and computer systems and CGI do so much inside a computer to generate content .. the quality will soon be available to have virtual actors .. so where is the future … where ever it is, it has to fulfill the emotional and entertainments needs of the customers, what they want … so for goodness sakes, ask them… perhaps back in the real world with real events, documentaries,  engagement with your viewers, (forbid the thought ..some sort of reality television) –   the content will need to relate to the needs of the viewers and have an emotional connection with the audience, the viewers … in this world not a virtual one. However being realistic, there will always be an need for entertainment that allows one to escape from the present, fiction or fantasy.

Hollywood is not a special case, get used to it .. change is here … mass media markets are now part of history, the future is niche interests and markets, so find and follow your bliss and there you will find your nirvana.

Back in 2008, I wrote a white paper on the then cliché phrase of the convergence of the internet with mass media .. at the time, I suggested that until band width is comparable with mass media models, that mass media had a little while, probably 3–5 years .. until the TV, Film and Cable business models primarily needed to be aware that there would be a problem, but they should be planning for this event now (in 2008) … because it would be a huge learning experience. However we are there early, bandwidth and distribution / streaming technology has made the jump to online media.

I always say in my day job, what make your business unique, what makes it different, why should the buyer come to you … this is never so apparent as the now, there is almost nothing unique about the Hollywood experience … and a small company can provide the content that people can engage with for a fraction of what the mass media market can .. but the key here is engagement, if I watch it , it is of value … how many times does the content producers play with us with the big fan fare with the new release, the new series, for a industry that is about the production of content .. with so much experience, you would think they would know what the formulae is and get it right more often .. but they so rarely do … occasionally with the NCIS Franchise, Grey Anatomy and Castle they do .. the BBC is about quality (well it was) others are great as well and are successful, however the vast majority of series are just taking up the air time with OK content .. measured by the engagement of people like you and I, as a ratings sample .. as soon as the engagement falls below a set point, they walk .. but seriously, why can’t they get it right more often, after all its their business … they don’t get it right, because they are not listening to the market .. they are producing content for a market that is not listened too or valued.  Does this sound familiar … it should be, it the song that corporations with flawed structures and cultures sing every day in all market segments that are only driven by a short term business view.

Hollywood, the TV Networks and the content producers are in denial, if they think they are in somehow a special case .. technology now has the ability to deliver digital pictures to a mobile device via a GSM or Wireless device .. by next year as the broadband speeds increase by factors of ten, or even multipliers by a 100 times, this will become the norm .. Goodness guys and girls … the future is here … adapt or die.

I have written a number of posts on this subject, going back 4 almost 5 years –  the attitude between of the content producers is desperation, they have almost no original stories that fit the Hollywood mold, and so the content producers regurgitate the same old formulae’s again and again … they do not rely on innovation, they rely on the past to provide their profit for the future … this reminds me of a old example but a good one, how do you think the last manufacturer of buggy whips did at quality control, through, over time, mergers and buy outs, I bet the last manufacturer produced the absolute best   product in the world, in what is defined as a shrinking. niche market, a long way from the Hey Day … we are seeing the same again … Hollywood is producing technically great content, all fluff and wonder, with almost no substance .. all fluff .. and relying on technical tricks, like 3D to enhance the viewing experience, it is not viable to do this .. I paid on 2009 for an adult and one child $40 for the tickets for Avatar .. (not including drinks, travel or parking ) … this is not sustainable.

Putting you content in a box, and controlling access, cannot and will not work in the digital world, this is a paradigm shift ladies and gentlemen, there are plenty of business models that will work, with this new technology, find another business model, even people of the Internet and New Media industry such as Google understand this, for instance, Eric Schmidt ex: Google CEO – “Free is better than cheap” work with adjacent income streams. This maybe an anathema to you, but it is reality.

Hollywood and its compatriots needs to realise that the dollar well is not bottomless, out here in the real world, money is not abundant (well nothing is really in the physical world) you have to appeal to your customers real needs and desires, I wrote a post about the current content production and MPAA  here …. which focused on the real situation of the motion picture content production industry .. their current healthy status and view of the future, please ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to be the one that says I told you so when a corporate liquidator is going through your asset list and seeing what they can make a return on .. do take note.

I have found another article on content and changes necessary by Jim Louderbeck, that brings more to this subject, I would suggest you look at it here

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