Disrupting the Content Distributors

Dungeon Seige (007)

by Ronald C. Burkhardt

Big Media is beset by threats on all sides.  They are trying to deal with the web, the app economy, and the monetization of bandwidth by the cable companies.  ‘Free’ broadcast TV has been challenged by the higher-quality shows on subscription networks like HBO, Showtime, and Starz as well as basic-cable entries like Mad Men or Breaking Bad.  Amazon is looking to do to the studio system what they’ve done to the publishing business.

The entertainment ecosystem is about to be shaken yet again.  Amazon is getting into the content business (Businesswire Press Release via the Verge):

Each month, Amazon Studios intends to option one promising new project and add it to the development slate where it will be tested for viability with an audience. If Amazon Studios elects to distribute a full-budget series, the creator will receive a $55,000 payment, up to 5 percent of Amazon’s net receipts from toy and t-shirt licensing, and other royalties and bonuses. Amazon Studios’ production company, the People’s Production Company, is signatory to the Writers Guild of America and to The Animation Guild, Local 839.

To submit, a project must have a five-page description, along with a 22-minute pilot script for comedies, or an 11-minute pilot script for children’s shows. Within 45 days of submission, Amazon Studios will either extend an option on the project for $10,000 or invite the creator to add the project to the Amazon Studios site. If a project is not optioned, creators may remove their idea from the Amazon Studios site or leave it to get community feedback.

What could you produce with $10,000?

Half-time in America

There are a handful of American campaign advertisements and political speeches that have stood the test of time.  Consider JFK’s moonshot speech, FDR’s “nothing to fear except fear itself”, LBJ’s “Daisy” advertisement, and Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America”.

I firmly believe that one advertisement – from an unexpected place – has the ability to reframe our national debate and our expectations of the political process.  You saw it last night during the Super Bowl.  I am of course referring to Clint Eastwood’s “Half-time in America” spot for Chrysler*, embedded after the jump, with transcript.

Continue reading “Half-time in America”

Squeezing the Middlemen

by Ronald C. Burkhardt

Comedian Louis CK [website, Twitter] is the latest of real world creatives to sidestep the various middlemen involved in content distribution to go it alone.  He went directly to his fans, releasing a show taped at the Beacon Theater for the low price of $5.  He also omitted any digital rights measures (DRM), opening the door to potential content piracy via various online methods such as download sites, torrents, or newsgroups.

Louis, in a stunning moment of transparency, released a statement breaking down his revenue, costs, and profits:   Continue reading “Squeezing the Middlemen”

Jobs 101

by Ronald C. Burkhardt

Cross-posted at my own site.

It became apparent to Steve Jobs in the summer of 2011 that his death was a near certainty.  Fortunately, he had set out with a plan to distill the Essence of Jobs into a form that could be taught to Apple Executives as early as 2008.  An anonymous Apple Executive said the following in a recent LA Times article by Jessica Guynn:

“Steve was looking to his legacy. The idea was to take what is unique about Apple and create a forum that can impart that DNA to future generations of Apple employees,” said a former Apple executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve his relationship with the company. “No other company has a university charged with probing so deeply into the roots of what makes the company so successful.”   Continue reading “Jobs 101”

Gimmicks Are Not a Sustainable Business Model

by Ronald C. Burkhardt

Crossposted at my site.

I’m impressed by Philadelphia Media Networks’ bold push into the tablet-consumed digital content space, but dismayed as well.  This is a solution to A problem, but not the problem.

PMN will be selling a subsidized Archos ANOVA 10 G2 (similar to this one on Amazon), bundled with applications and subscriptions for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.  The tablet will have a 10″ and has contemporary technical specifications (though not quite equal to the iPad).  The launch is scheduled for Black Friday.  From Philly.com:

Customers who sign up for a two-year subscription to the package of apps for $10 per month will pay $99 for the tablet, for a total price of about $339, a 65 percent discount. Customers who agree to a one-year subscription will pay $129 for the tablet plus $13 per month, for a total price of $285, a 53 percent discount.

The package includes replica-edition apps of The Inquirer and Daily News, in which tablet users can view digital images of every page of the newspapers, or click on headlines to see enlarged versions of each article or column. Subscriptions to those apps, initially developed for owners of Apple’s popular iPad tablet, each sell for $13 a month.

The offer also includes a newly developed multimedia app that expands on The Inquirer’s content with photo galleries, video, social-media links, and other new features, the company said. Separate subscriptions to the new app will eventually be sold for $45 a year, the company said.

The problem that print publications have had to deal with is two-fold.  First, billions of items of content are available online, for free.  Secondly,this  has conditioned the reader to not pay for content.  Neither of these gets to the real problems.   Continue reading “Gimmicks Are Not a Sustainable Business Model”