[Notes from the 2006 Digital Media Conference]
Larry Gerbrandt: The digital genie has been let out of the lamp. Case in point: Google has recently surpassed 44 million streams a day…From a macro-perspective, we’re looking at 110 million households here in the U.S…User-generated content is clearly the hottest ticket of the day, but just how big of a game changer is it? The bottom line of this panel is “to follow the eyeballs….”
Daniel Blackman: What’s interesting is that as we move forward, we can experiment with different models (i.e. day pass, syndication, etc…) Overall, the future is going to be positive because we can hook advertisers and customers together with better granularity that we really never had before and have more level of control. Targeting is also going to be very powerful…We’re trying to create the infrastructure and the platforms to reach those new consumers. How do you define user-generated content? (Stuff that’s professionally produced that then gets uploaded…..or the lo-fi stuff that’s created by the actual user?) How do we leverage all this content from the long tail to the torso to the premium content…? It’s all over the map in terms of capabilities and opportunities now. What we find exciting is the maturation towards premium content. Niche advertising is going to be a very big story down the line…Our video is primarily download video-to-own….
Paul Condolora: The landscape is largely positive. Historically speaking, technology clearly helps the media industry. Our brand translates incredibly well into the new media space. Fortunately, cannibalization of our linear format is not occurring for us….each channel is reinforcing the other. Primarily it’s a net win for the incumbents…Competition is great and it forces to rethink your strategy and forces you to raise your game. As we move forward, its still too early to make any comments or predictions. One thing is for sure, User-generated content is only going to grow…However, just because content is uploaded doesn’t mean its going to find an audience. And people aren’t always going to accept the status quo.
Joshua Freeman: Anytime a new distribution channel opens up, the ultimate winner is the content owner. Many companies in the space are tripping up over rights issues, which is inhibiting growth. The more that we all see and enable this explosion of content, the better for the industry. This is really about incremental growth by opening up shelf space. Use of the internet opens up new windows. Traditional television usage will suffer some… Short-form “snack sized” content is working best for AOL and is probably the best current viewing experience on a PC. Consumers will move the content where it needs to be. This year we’ve seen the addition of two pieces to the puzzle: 1) user-generated content – which is here to stay, but how do you monetize it?….and 2) distributed content (i.e. warner brothers) the redistribution of a branded content.
Ray Hopkins: We feel that we have the best content and we try to maximize that content across a bunch of different platforms. We’re not too concerned with competition from user-generated content. We just launched MLB.com last week…where we add programming that you can’t see on our linear channel. This is another area that we can exploit.
Chris Maxcy: Our success is incremental. In our view, we’re not hurting opportunities for the content owners; some are more forward looking than others. It really boils down to consumer choice and content is still king. The difference now is that there’s a new way to look at it…Obviously, an internet platform can help build awareness. We’re currently experiencing 70 million streams a day and the average length is 1-2 minutes… “I tell people that we cater to the ADD generation.” (laugh….laugh…) We think that advertising is the way to monetize free. Consumers are basically used to consuming television video in a free format…We look at our company as an advertising supported model. User-generated content has been around for a long time and it will continue to be, but the difference now is how its being delivered and who’s creating it. Our advertising model is going to evolve, but we’re going to be very careful not to alienate the users or the advertisers – make it relevant…but not annoying.