Fall '13 Entertainment

September 17, 2013 | Los Angeles, California

3 reasons entertainment is at a crossroads

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New technologies have created a ripple effect across the entire marketing space. Here are the key ways the entertainment industry is shifting.

Entertainment today is at an interesting crossroads. More than ever before, the impact of technology, the new role of the audience and fan, and the financial models behind the business of our world are evolving at a rapid pace. The shifts are seismic and difficult to predict but also present great opportunities because constant disruption and a fragmented marketplace create room for small wins that can be game changers.

The tech

What today we are calling "social media" has literally transformed the way we react and respond to content. Twitter has become the premium destination where fans can talk about their favorite TV shows and movies in real time and determine the success of a Friday night premiere. Facebook has become the virtual watercooler, where communities gather to talk and share and consume more content on their favorite shows and films. Vine, Instagram, and all sorts of new niche consumer facing tech have created an environment where the audience and the fans are constantly connected.

The proliferation of a number of "Over-The-Top" boxes and MSO-ish services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, Verizon, Intel and AOL, Yahoo, and Apple will fuel more a la carte consumer behaviors. How we watch TV or movies will dramatically change, and how we discover new content will be fueled by a host of new personalization technologies including biometric sensors rolling out on TVs, on mobile devices, and in personal fitness solutions.

The business models

With new technologies come new revenue models. Due to the launch of a new Nielsen/Twitter partnership, the business model behind sponsored television will have new metrics for Madison Avenue to ponder. And with multiple portable devices, apps, and synchronized content, television now has a direct response engine. Advertisers can now actually drive down the funnel from marketing engagements delivered on all these channels. And these aren't just "niche" solutions; with Shazam, a popular second screen app, there are 350 million global users (100 million U.S. users). We're now getting into serious scale, where the audience gets a chance to immediately complement or continue a message they saw on a screen and make that content portable.

For television, there are implications that the big screen in the living room is not just the main consumption point but a trigger to more information and more engagement. (And more ad dollars.) For the moviegoer, checking in, engaging in franchise content, and making ticket purchases all create new data points to monetize. Per eMarketer, we know that simultaneous usage of secondary devices during content viewing is more task-based than entertainment-focused, so smart marketers are creating strategic content plays to leverage that.

The audience

Pioneer crowd-funding service Kickstarter is creating a whole new role for the fan, as the executive producer with a stake in the financing of content. It's literally changing the model for financing film -- and now TV. And it's not just for independents. Funding for "Veronica Mars" blew everyone away, Zach Braff raised over $3 million to make his new film "Wish I Was Here," and Spike Lee is now following his lead. Crowdsourcing is not only playing a financial role but also a content role, as audiences and fans are now becoming integral parts of the storytelling machine, contributing content and qualitative research to creators. Companies like Deviant Art, social platforms like Tumblr, and a host of other web apps are making it easy for the audience to participate.

The hunger for a fan's engagement is so immense that it's creating new opportunities for content, from broadcast to broadband. Cable hits like the "The Walking Dead" continue to engage fans 24/7 with popular webisodes and aftershows like "Talking Dead." In some cases, web series are actually changing the fate of reality programming (see Bravo's "Last Change Kitchen," where the broadband show changed the outcome of the broadcast program).

The audience is also driving the development of new IP. The fanaticism behind Disney's "Where's My Water," a mobile game with a cute little alligator, has driven the creation of T-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and ultimately, characters in Disney's theme parks. And driving a reverse model, games are becoming new shows on the Disney Channel.

Today, the smart marketer, producer, and content creator needs to be both entrepreneurial and archeological, constantly uncovering opportunities and looking forward to invent new models for the future. Let's hope marketers at this year's iMedia Entertainment Summit can put their heads together and discover the best ways to tackle this challenge.

Lori Schwartz is a tech catalyst and principal at World of Schwartz.

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