Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Old TV Doesn't Die - It Goes to Hulu Heaven

The folks at Digital Media Wire put on another classy and informative Future of Television Conference on Monday and Tuesday. I was pleased to have been invited to deliver a presentation on "The Top Digital Media Trends Impacting the Television Industry" on Monday along with Steve Canepa at IBM. I also moderated a panel yesterday titled "New Television Technologies You Need to Know." That panel included a nice broad representation of companies in the video technology space, including BitTorrent, the MoCA Alliance, FAST Search, and HP.

Leading off the conference was a panel titled A VIEW FROM THE TOP:The Outlook for the Television Industry & Digital Media. Moderated by Andrew Wallenstein, Deputy Editor at The Hollywood Reporter, this panel included representatives from Warner Bros. TV, Starz Media, Fox Entertainment Group, and MGM. All of these panelists were in agreement that the online distribution of their primtime TV programming via channels such as Hulu, ABC.com, MySpace (Fox), and other outlets has exhibited nice growth for the past couple of years. Of course, their comments also riled at least one Hollywood writer in the audience, who told me in a conversation afterwards that the studios' sunny outlook about online video distribution is in stark contrast to the message that the writers were receiving during the recently-resolved contract talks that ended the three-month Hollywood writers strike. Basically, I was told, the studios were much less bullish in their outlook for digital media distribution, and the writers accepted a proposal that (as was described to me) provides a cap of $1,600 per year that a writer can receive on content distributed over the Internet. In the end, it's clear that that there are some writers who are quite resentful about the terms of the new contract, and they are eager to explore alternatives to the traditional studio gatekeepers and see if there are more amenable terms available for them as they explore their own digital distribution deals.

One of the most interesting tidbits of information from that panel was finding out the Airwolf (the1980s TV show starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Earnest Borgnine) is the most-popular piece of content on Hulu. Now that's long-tail content that actually matters to a mid-30s geezer like me!

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