The Disruption and Resulting Opportunities of Digital Production and Distribution

Over the past decade, the proliferation of filmed content upended expectations of how, where and when we consume media. There has been explosive growth in original entertainment, sparked by the advent of video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, allowing Creatives to bypass traditional channels of distribution and interact directly with their audience.

The Internet has opened up the largest venue for the distribution and consumption of video content and it is impacting the expectations of consumers.

The explosion in content has coincided with advances in technology and increasing accessibility and affordability of technology for video producers at all levels of the production food chain. We are seeing higher levels of production value at lower costs. There is more quality content competing for an audience than ever before.

This has sent major shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Beyond YouTube, the advent of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime among others, have blurred (and in some cases eliminated) the boundaries between the Internet, TV, and Movies. These three, increasingly overlapping, spheres are competing against one another for our most precious currency, our time.

Television is in the midst of a new Golden Age. The past decade has seen innovative content, the championing of fresh voices, and seismic disruptions of content release patterns by various networks and non-traditional outlets.

Netflix has changed the consumers’ consumption expectations by embracing customers’ tendencies to ‘binge-watch.’ HBO has embraced ‘high-concept’ series such as Game of Thrones and Westworld which traditionally would be destined for a big screen.

Networks have embraced storytelling in all forms, breathing new life into anthologies and limited series. HBO, AMC, FX and others are creating ‘auteur TV’ where writers and producers have the power to create their vision of their stories .

Similarly, shifts in viewing habits have found the movie business trying to reinvent itself to continue to keep up with its audience. This has led to several schools of thought as to how to keep movie-goers coming to cinemas.

There are those who think the key is to enhance the theater-going experience by expanding concessions at the theater, making formal dinners available to movie-goers and serving alcohol to patrons. Some believe that movie theaters need to continue to enhance technology by increasing frame-rates, upping resolutions and creating 3-D experiences. There are those that champion day and date releases, meaning a consumer can see the film in a theater, stream it or watch it on-demand in the comfort of their home on the same release day.

For many indie filmmakers including RPR, we see this multi-platform world as an opportunity to find a mass audience for stories that never would have found them in the past.

The eye test to distinguish what belongs on TV and what belongs on film is increasingly blurry. The trend towards TV has grown so strong, that it is common practice for creative talent pitching projects to have both a TV and a film version of the project to shop.

The rise in quality has also coincided with an increase in quantity. With the massive expansion of the avenues to deliver content, there has been an increase in the demand for content for those channels. In 2016, there were over 490 original scripted series released, meaning that the production opportunities for content producers and the resulting viewing options for consumers is at an all-time high

This reinvention of content creation and consumption patterns has brought some non-traditional video producers into the market. Large newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are becoming increasingly digital, evolving from a traditional newspaper into content producers. Pushing content out across their various platforms, print, video, educational, and even virtual reality. Magazines have an increasing digital focus, featuring video updates on their websites and regular podcasts.

In February, Conde Nast, the publishing titan that owns such publications as Vanity Fair, GQ and Vogue increased their footprint in their video content arena by launching a program called The Big Script, intended to champion short films. This underscores the collapse of traditionally media siloes into the infinity of cyberspace. Conde Nast is simply doing what everyone in the content production must do, updating its storytelling to the medium of the moment with an eye on the future.

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