Monday, March 26, 2007

Coming soon to a living room near you

The latest illustration of how digital media is changing the face of the entertainment industry

On-line Yesterday, On Cable Today
(New York Times 3/25/07) chronicles just how quickly people created content is going from obscurity to the mainstream. As the article's title intones, Human Giant made the leap in very rapid fashion indeed, a time span unthinkable 5 or 10 years ago. Skit-orienting programming also seems to naturally lend itself to shorter, looser and more varied material from comedy and improv troupes that are an emerging breed of talent in the new entertainment economy.

What’s not surprising is how quickly and well entertainment companies – like Fuse, MTV and NBC – are evolving to chaperone this talent. They realize that content is king: whoever has that funniest, or at least most compelling whatever the genre – wins. They clearly see the choice in front of them and they aren’t about to take the road to extinction. The challenge is in spotting the next great blockbuster from the also ran. In the movie industry (and the music industry come to think of it) it’s often been the independents that have had more success in spotting and nurturing low budget big ideas than the Hollywood machine.

Beyond content alone there are exciting milestones ahead in entertainment culture too. I can see a day in the not too distance future in which some kind of new hit series, a participation-based format perhaps, takes place ENTIRELY on PDAs/cell phones and not on TV. (Perhaps one in which the general public provide input not to vote on elimination of characters but on outcomes for a scenario and the most popular suggestion is used to adapt the course of action the cast/participants must take in real time) Would it not be a defining moment in the evolution of mass entertainment to have a population transfixed not through a shared screen – as when people huddled around televisions in shop windows to witness the first steps of man walking on the moon – but instead connected through the intimate medium of their own, personal PDA or cell phone screen? One which allows each mobile viewer the opportunity to cast a vote and shape the outcome? Given the heightened anticipation of its $500 iPhone, it’s just the kind of ‘first’ that Apple could pull off.

No comments: