Thursday 19 January 2012

The Seven Year Itch

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe blew up audience skirts in The Seven Year Itch. Fifty years later, in 2005, YouTube was founded and not much happened. At first. The pioneer video uploaded to the new service (on 23 April 2005) runs for 18 seconds. It features one of YouTube's founders, Jawed Karim, at the San Diego ZooWatch this for an adrenaline burst of exhilaration (just kidding).

He finishes with the line, "And that's pretty much all there is to say." Maybe not.

Seven years later, YouTube is getting ready to blow up a few Hollywood skirts. There's an interesting article on what's afoot in the current issue of The New Yorker by John Seabrook, "Streaming Dreams." And another interesting write-up in PaidContent-dot-Org by Will Richmond, "What The Burst of Hollywood A-Listers Will Mean For Online Video."

The thrust of The New Yorker piece is that YouTube is gunning for the Netflix-style online-distribution-of-content business. Instead of trying to buy out the existing players, they will undercut them by building a subsidised range of online “YouTube Original Channels for creative people to use in constructing entertainment-on-demand services. Some of the people who have leapt aboard this moving train include: Jay-Z, Madonna, Amy Poehler, Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Brian Bedol, and Ken Lerer. Also The Onion, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, Hearst, Meredith and Disney have agreed to partner with the company.

The bottom line? High quality online entertainment is going to kill cable television, leaving the big boys nowhere to go, but online.

The Will Richmond article takes a wider view. It's not just YouTube, but Yahoo, AOL, Netflix and Hulu also leading the charge. "They are each doing their part to create an ecosystem of third-party production houses gaining expertise in digital, and therefore poised to help subsequent stars succeed in the online medium." 

These companies are poised to invest in original online video projects by people such as Tom Hanks, Louis C.K., Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Spacey, David Fincher, Bill Maher, Jennifer Lopez, Judy Greer, Steven Van Zandt, Morgan Spurlock, Ed Begley, Jr., and Heidi Klum

The result of this will be to help "upend the Hollywood ecosystem, legitimize the online medium and further fragment audiences." According to Richmond, "Hollywood is entering a brave new world, driven by audience changes, technology advancements and the shifting interests of its own biggest stars. How it adapts to all of this is yet to be determined."

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Kathy said...

It is so hard to comprehend that You-Tube is less than 10 years old. We don't know what markets will be like even two years ahead. Guess I'll just keep writing my stories...