William Morris, Porn as leading Indicator, and "Next New Networks"
CNBC Media and Entertainment Reporter
William Morris Agency starts distributing content!
Hollywood talent agencies are always selling stars, negotiating to get their clients big gigs, whether its writing, starring in, or directing movies and TV shows. But now, the super-agency, which has more than 3,000 clients, is teaming up with an Internet video-streaming company to actually create TV-quality programs for consumers to watch on computers, cell phones and other gadgets like iPods. This isn't just a deal for William Morris' star clients like Russell Crowe and Jennifer Lopez, it's also a deal that benefits their corporate clients like Starbucks, General Motors, and MySpace. The content is meant to be free and ad supported, which means that the corporate clients could sponsor the content.
The Internet video-streaming company is 'Narrowstep,' which went public in 2005. ABC and the UK's largest TV broadcaster, ITV have used Narrowstep to stream video over the internet. THis is fairly revolutionary, removing the need for any formal network, whether its a traditional distributor like a TV network, like ABC, or even an Internet portal, like AOL. Each program will be set up as a separate company and they say they want to create hundreds. How and where they'll find an audience still remains to be seen. The heft of the clients definitely works in their advantage. This is an innovative way to cut out the middle man and get those William Morris clients a bigger percent of their content's take. We'll keep an eye on whether the money floods in and where it goes.
Porn as leading indicator
The porn industry as always been ahead of the game, pioneering the adoption of VHS, then making the switch to DVD. And yes of course, porn certainly drew a lot of people into the Internet. Now, porn's telling the story of the DVD's decline. While mainstream Hollywood is worrying about a drastic DVD decline -- now DVD sales are merely flat -- over the hill in the San Fernando Valley, the porn industry is already suffering. Bottom line: watch out Hollywood, the porn industry indicator has never failed. Check this link for the Financial Times take
What's next from Next New Networks
What do MTV and Nickelodeon execs do once they've moved on? Well, they keep on selling to that desirable younger demographic. A handful of former execs from the Viacom properties, now running Next New Networks are putting together 101 community-based sites to provide content targeted at 18-34 year olds. They're calling them "micro networks," focused on everything from fashion to comics and cars. This idea of pitching focused content to enthusiasts is one I've been talking about for a while. I think that people won't go to MySpace for community, MySpace will become the general homepage while people go to more focused sites that are more vertically integrated, go-to places for community and content. I'm a believer in the vertical integration of content and communities, but isn't there a ton of competition in this space?
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