There is a recurring theme occurring across the entertainment spectrum: as a content producer, if you’re not ready to take your productions to mobile platforms, very shortly, your content will become obsolete. This theme was ever apparent at the 2009 NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV, where each vendor clearly demonstrated this quickly moving trend in the broadcasting industry.
The days of programming for Sunday at 8:00 PM are dying, no matter how hard the networks try to fight it. I attended an extremely insightful session with Stephen J. Davis, CEO of the Family Entertainment Group, where we discussed this in an engaging Q&A format. While his company does work with traditional programming methods (they have a new show coming to ABC Family this January), he recognizes the fact that social media is going to be a critical component of promotional platforms in the future.
Utilizing the Internet for promotion, this type of mobility will require content producers to accept the fact that we must be placing content on the web as part of our distribution model. We as professionals must maintain the quality of our productions, just as we were creating it for primetime or a theatrical release. Today, we’re sharing the same outlets as amateur creators on YouTube. In the near future, it is not going to be about budgets or production length, but how traditional advertising methods can be integrated into programming.
Product placement is back to stay, as viewers don’t want to sit through advertisements that aren’t masked as entertainment. Most of our most popular television shows are using it today, and not all successfully. Take “90210,” which plasters Dr. Pepper around everywhere. It’s even part of the script. As an aside, this really breaks my heart, because I respect Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, the showrunners, more than about any other duo working in television (though, they are leaving the series at the end of this 1st season, so I wonder if they had much to do with it).
Anyway, as people quit watching scripted television on scheduled airing, the cost of production requires product placement models to keep costs under control. It will require creative executives to find ways that it can work, without being obtrusive to the show. Working on Theater of the Mind, I am reminded of the beginning of radio and television history, when companies like Maxwell House sponsored specific hours of television and radio with an advertisement at the beginning.
After NAB this week, I am a lot more willing to move to mobile platforms, and think that I will do some experimentation with Di Passaggio before we go to DVD on Amazon later this year.
The second emerging trend goes back to the home; this, of course, is the advent of 3D Television. Now, I know that I just waxed on for a while about mobile platforms, but 3D Television is coming. With everyone demanding mobility, there’s got to be a way to keep people watching television in their homes. Industry leaders, such as Sony, were demonstrating these technologies. Alioscopy actually had a “glasses free” 3D TV, but it gave me a headache looking at it (I apologize, you can’t take a 3D picture with a 2D camera, but you can see some of the artifacts):
One thing is clear; content is still king. No matter what format consumers demand as a delivery option, the material delivered must be watchable and entertaining. While YouTube and other such services are popular, people ultimately want to see a film or a television series.
They simply want to watch it their way.