It’s the End of the World as We Know It

By | December 31, 2012

With the failed Mayan apocalypse and all, I’ve been stuck reminiscing about the end of the world as we know it, at least in today’s Media & Entertainment industry.

Don’t worry, I won’t be too poignant. (Though, I will mention that 2012 was a year of mighty change for me with the doubling of  the little boy brood in our household. Yikes.) But, I would like to recap a year of mighty change in our business.  We’ve all been at this long enough to know that this shift has been shifting for a long time – but, 2012 seemed to bring with it a recognition on all fronts that these changes were nothing temporary,  and that old ways of doing business were just that, old ways of doing business. “Evolve or die baby” said some music industry executive somewhere.

So, let’s hit a few of the high points –

  1. Netflix Didn’t Die – Streaming services, like Netflix, continued to grow, despite what seemed like their own efforts at self-sabotage. (Recall the great  Netflix PR debacle of late 2011).   Hulu will crest the $700 million mark in revenue; and Amazon got even more serious with Prime. This is to say nothing of the widening net of TV Everywhere offers from cable providers, and the lingering promise of the Verizon/Redbox JV. The options to consume lots of great professional content continue to grow – with rates far undercutting those of traditional cable. Cord-nevers are on the rise.
  2. Variety Online Gets a Face-lift with a “Digital” Menu  – This might not seem like much, but when the industry bell weather overhauls its front page to insert a link to all things digital, you know it’s because every executive is looking for that information.   Digital distribution deals, technologies –  and the social media undercurrents that drive it  – became key business initiatives and drivers across studios, networks, cable and elsewhere.   While much of the conversation in the public domain still revolves around who is licensing content to Netflix, inside our companies, the conversations are much broader and more dynamic. That’s because…
  3. The Living Room is in Your Pocket –  or purse, or man-bag or diaper bag (in my case).  Pick your device poison: the smart phone and tablet continue to wreak havoc on the traditional living room. When we’re at home, these devices complement our experience, with 75% of users multitasking in front of the TV, and about 50% actually doing so in ways that complement the content experience. But, on the go – well, we take our content with us.
  4.  Know Thy Audience – New means of consuming content demand new ways to reach consumers.  Talk to any major studio or distributor, and they’ve all ramped-up direct-to-consumer initiatives. And, social media initiatives, along with  the analytics to understand them, are in play.  I had more conversations about the high profile business role of Big Data and analytics in this space in 2012 that I’d had in the previous three-years combined. And, trust me, that’s the right conversation to have, especially when it comes to content analytics.


So, who knows what 2013 will bring? I’m not a trend-spotter, so I won’t make guesses I’ll just have to debunk in 12 months. What I suspect is a settling of the dynamics above, as we all grow more comfortable with them.

Social will get more embedded into how we interact with our viewers – all good as long as we leverage the right analytics tools to understand the value; and, studio and network marketing organizations will race to ramp-up skills and technologies required for highly targeted one-to-one digital marketing.  The real risk comes when we think these are separate initiatives. Not really.  I hope that 2013 is the year our industry grasps that we need a holistic view of our audience across all channels – and that calls for an end-to-end analytics framework. Is that your New Year’s Resolution for 2013?

Wishing you a healthy, happy and successful 2013!

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