Posts for 'Warner Bros.'

  • Non-Linear Presentation + Long-form Premium Video = Big Opportunity

    I continue to be surprised that more long-form premium content providers have not pursued initiatives to slice and dice their programs into a non-linear user presentation. This is what "The Daily Show" has done at its site, deconstructing every episode into searchable clips. I think it's a big opportunity to drive more fan engagement, new ad inventory and provide insight about new programming ideas.

    While this idea is a natural for archived sports and news programming, I think the model applies to scripted programs as well. Here's an example:

    As I've written before, my wife and I were huge fans of "The West Wing" during its seven-year run on NBC. While we now own the full DVD collection, periodically I'll talk to someone about the show and reminisce about a specific moment from years back. (In fact, TWW seems cosmically related to the current election cycle, given the show's last narrative around 2 candidates - one younger and one older - battling to succeed Bartlet.) This spurs many of those, "boy, I'd love to see that scene right now!" moments.

    So wouldn't it be awesome if NBC or Warner Bros. (its producer), or whoever has the rights, were to create a site where all the episodes were archived and fully indexed for searching? This would go far beyond the show's current lame-o web site. I could type in "Bartlet speeches," "Josh meltdowns" or even "C.J.-Danny fights" and instantly see collections of relevant clips.

    Before you accuse me of being geeky, stop and consider that we all have our favorite programs and love to relive memorable lines and moments. I'd argue that a really vibrant community could be built at these sites, attracting traditional advertisers eager to continue their audience relationships. Then of course there's the opportunity to embed clips into Facebook and MySpace pages, extending the community further. And think about what this ongoing loyalty would do to drive up the value of broadcast syndication rights.

    The big challenge here is indexing the archive. The process must rely heavily on accurate metadata generation, but in a highly scalable, cost-effective manner. That's a mouthful of requirements, so clearly this isn't easy stuff. Various players are trying to crack this nut; two which I've previously written about are Gotuit (which is announcing a partnership with Move Networks today) and EveryZing, but there are others too. Recently I've had briefings with 2 companies that are investing in this area and will have news in the coming months.

    Long-from premium providers are facing an onslaught of competition from short-form alternatives while also commonly experiencing a shortage of available inventory. Non-linear presentations of their content addresses both these issues, while delighting loyal fans. I see this as an emerging and sizable opportunity.

    Am I missing something here? Post a comment now!

     
  • iTunes Film Deals Not a Game-Changer

    In the last few days there's been a lot of attention paid to Apple's deals with Disney, Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Sony, Lionsgate, Imagine and First Look Studios giving iTunes day-and-date access to these studios' current films.

    As an advocate of the broadband medium, naturally I'm delighted to see studios put broadband distribution on a par with DVD release. The deals should rightly be interpreted as another step in the maturation of the broadband medium.

    However, these deals, in and of themselves, do not constitute a game-changing event for paid downloads of feature films. That's because until there's mass connectivity between PCs and TVs and much-improved portability, consumers' willingness to buy is going to be significantly muted. Consumers' inability to easily watch a feature film on their widescreen TV or easily grab-these- movies-to-go (as with DVDs) are a huge drag on the download value proposition, easily swamping its new convenience benefits.

    I believe that lack of mass connectivity between PCs and TVs is the last major hurdle to unlocking broadband video's ultimate potential. It is also the firewall that's preserving a lot of incumbents' business models (cable operators, broadcasters, etc.). No question, Apple and iTunes are powerful marketing partners for the studios, and their download revenue will certainly increase from its current modest base. But not even Apple's mighty brand (and certainly not its anemic AppleTV device) is enough to compensate for broadband's current deficiency.

    The good news is that there's a frenzy of energy directed at solving the PC-to-TV connectivity issue. Though no approach has yet broken through, I'm still betting it's only a matter of time until one does. When that happens, studios will reap the major benefits. Until then, these deals represent progress, but not game-changing events.

     
  • Warner Bros. International Television's On-Demand Rollout Seems On Track

    A piece in Variety yesterday describing WBITD's aggressive new strategy to mine on-demand opportunities in cable, satellite and broadband underscores how technology is driving new distribution options and revenue opportunities, while at the same time posing new challenges to traditional business models.

     

     The article, entitled "WB Shows Go On-Demand" outlines how WBITD is launching "Warner TV" branded on-demand initiatives in Europe and Asia. That Warner will be offering its library of films and TV programs Warner entirely on-demand is a clear acknowledgement that consumer behavior has shifted beyond the "appointment viewing" paradigm of linear TV.

    This shift, along with scarce channel capacity and resistant service providers, have all contributed to the fact that launching new cable networks here in the U.S has all but dried up. The recently unveiled Fox Business Channel is a huge exception; behind the scenes there are scores of people who aspired to launch their own cable networks who have now shifted their focus to on-demand, or increasingly to broadband.

    Jeffrey Schlesinger, WBITD's president put his finger on why the on-demand and broadband models make so much sense, "The costs here are much lower than creating a linear channel. You don't have as much on-air promotion that you have to do. You don't have as much scheduling or advertising sales infrastructure. You don't have to worry about commercial insertion."

    Building a new programming franchise today is more about nimbleness and experimentation than big structure and deliberative scheduling. WBITD seems to recognize this and also seems to be willing to test lots of different models depending on the opportunities and circumstances it encounters in each local market.

    Of course the key balancing act for WBITD here is pursuing these new initiatives without disrupting existing revenue streams and relationships. That's the first thing I hear from all content providers who have a vested interest in existing models, but a hunger for new revenues. WBITD is sensitive to this: its plan is to offer library titles or a secondary window on current programming,

    Add WBITD to your "watch list" of companies pioneering how distribution will work in the broadband era.

    -Will Richmond

     
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