Dear Readers: I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Ready or not, it’s 2009.
I’ve been reading some of the doom-and-gloom scenarios surrounding mobile content’s prospects in the coming year. Those predictions have had me thinking about two very disparate events that I think paint a bigger and more accurate picture of where mobile content, mobile TV, mobile entertainment fits in the coming year.
One is the possibility of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild. If you’re reading this from Hollywood, you no doubt are already an expert in the stand-off, as two factions of the Guild push and pull for authorizing a strike. I won’t bore you with the details of the potential strike or its impact on the Hollywood film/TV industry. If you’re interested in that, feel free to google it and you’ll find a treasure trove of information.
What interests me is what the Screen Actors Guild membership and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television producers are fighting over. In a nutshell, the actors want residuals for the TV shows/films that, in some form, end up on the Internet. The idea goes, if it benefits the studios, it should benefit the actors. The studios/producers argue that they’re not profiting from Internet content (yet), therefore they can’t promise residuals.Although the argument is over “new media,” it really boils down to the Internet, with perhaps a whiff of consciousness about the potential of the mobile platform.
But that is a false paradigm. In the not-so-distant future, content will, to a large degree, be platform-agnostic. We’ll be able to cache it at home and move it fairly seamlessly between TV receivers, PC monitors and, yes, mobile platforms. Content will not be so clearly created for one medium and then repurposed for others. In a future of seamless connectivity, you (the viewer) may never know what platform it was created for first and if it’s entertaining, you won’t care.
This is a pretty terrifying prospect for the studios, which are built on a linear, top-down model and notorious for their lack of nimbleness. I’m most definitely not saying that the future of entertainment belongs to anybody with a digital camera. Let’s hope the future of entertainment rises above the majority of the videos found on YouTube. We don’t know much about the future model(s) for distribution of professionally produced content, but I do believe it will be much less hierarchical.
A fight over how many pennies are being made or could be made from Internet distribution is ultimately a futile one. It’s a lot bigger than the Internet. Professional actors, writers and other creatives should be fairly compensated for their work. Just trying to keep track of who’s watching it where is going to get a lot more complicated.
In that same mode, for the years that the giant electronics manufacturers fought it out between HD DVD and BluRay, I believed the battle was a moot point. I’m not saying that physical media will disappear in this new connected entertainment environment, but it’s going to be a lot less important. BluRay “won” the wars for the next-gen High Definition digital media format. But its victory may be very short-lived as people gravitate to downloading movies and other entertainment…and watching on whatever platform they choose.
So, back to the dire predictions for mobile entertainment in 2009 in the U.S. I doubt that mobile entertainment will ever arrive as a “splash” of exciting new technology. I don’t know if we’ll have “the year that mobile TV arrived.” (If so, I agree with the pundits that it won’t happen in 2009.) But maybe our interaction with content will shift in fits and starts, gradually enough, that we–or at least the teenagers we know–will be accessing content on a mobile platform and forget we were supposed to be amazed.
Coming up for 2009:
* The next mobile installment of filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson’s “Africa Diaries,” with a story of the latest Nokia N95 production he shot in Zambia for The Sundance Channel.
* My coverage at the Consumer Electronics Show tomorrow morning and hope to cover bits and pieces of it!
And, drum roll please, MobilizedTV is on the verge of a format change. The new MobilizedTV – which I hope will appear in the next week or two — will be easier to navigate and feature video. I’ll look forward to your feedback.
All best wishes for a happy, healthy 2009.
And thanks for reading and supporting MobilizedTV.