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David Poland

By David Poland

Disney & Warners Lead The Way To Digital Future

While everyone was busy slapping Netflix on the back, two studios started making plans for a world in which Netflix makes for a lovely fourth tier window.

In-House Subscription Access
Single Unit Sell-Thru (digital or on disc)
Other Distribution Outlets, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc

Today’s discussion/announcements at All Thing Digital’s D9 Conference by Bob Iger pretty much clarified where this is all heading, with obvious room for variations along the road.

There will be a that is the content hub for all things Disney. “A subscription service, advertising, pay-per-view, and even micropayment.”

As Warners has said before, Iger is happy to have Netflix out there paying for content. Why not? In this evolution, the cost and value of content is rising and the next iteration is splitting up rights at even higher prices so brands can feed expectations.

For instance, Disney TV and Netflix did a deal to allow Netflix to stream a bunch of adult and family television content. Some of those shows air on Hulu for those first two weeks, but don’t stream to Hulu Plus (to be seen on your TV or iPad in HD quality). Some of them are on Hulu Plus. Some have entire seasons on Hule and Hulu Plus, while some no longer air on Hulu at all.

Just when things had gotten a bit staid and easy to predict, every film is a new sales opportunity and creative packaging (to content buyers, not consumers) will be a seriously valued commodity. Don’t be surprised if we see some agents move to studios so the studios can take advantage of their creative packaging skills.

There is no DVD replacement… there is a world of DVD replacements… though they probably won’t add up to enough to keep the more radical future of subscription-based access.

And in a world of smaller revenue streams, the relatively stable and high-cost-per-viewing theatrical business will become more and more important.

One Response to “Disney & Warners Lead The Way To Digital Future”

  1. Jason says:

    Maybe studios can get this to work and this is where post-theatrical (or day-and-date releases) are headed. But I for one will not have multiple subscriptions just to rent/stream movies. I would think the general public would too. Unless there are some real bargains/deals out there, in many cases (and history supports this), consumers’ decisions are based on cost and convenience. Having multiple subscriptions is not convenient and probably would be too expensive. This is why Netflix and Redbox have become so popular. But hey, I’m just one person – good luck Disney.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

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