Digital Entertainment’s Fatal Flaw?
July 25, 2008 8:57 AM
Not long ago, I attended a great conference where many high-level entertainment media and television executives spoke about the future of the Internet and their companies’ online initiatives. I’m not really the type of person to say something like this, but after a few hours, I wasn’t the only one in the room who noticed that though all were very talented and knowledgeable about the traditional part of their business, a lot of them didn’t seem to know what they were doing or talking about when it came to the Web.
The bigger disappointment, of course, wasn’t that they didn’t really understand the Internet business, but that only one person admitted it. Everybody else tried to sound like they were experts, and honestly, it wasn’t very convincing.
It no longer surprises me to see big media and entertainment companies struggling with the Web as they are. How could they be successful when a lot of their new-media departments are led and staffed with people from their traditional business?
I wouldn’t pretend to know development beyond what I’ve learned in the past two months, nor can I assume that I’d be able to successfully write a scripted series on my first pass, but that’s kind of what entertainment companies are doing to their executives regarding the Web.
The problem is, you are talking about two totally different businesses, with many different elements. There is no way a traditional entertainment or media executive could know what we from the Internet business know about the Web, just as you all know things we don’t about television, production and so on.
I believe the smart play at the moment would be to staff projects with a mix of executives from both. I’m not talking about the guy who has worked in the new-media department of a talent agency, but execs from the true Internet side, who have a history, knowledge in the business and have done this stuff.
I know it’s still hard to execute when you’re a giant entity, but perhaps creating your own incubator for Web projects is a solution. I’m not sure.
What I can say for certain is that there’s still time for entertainment to survive the current and coming disruption. But failure is certain if the industry continues to take the current approach. Coming Monday: How a tech girl would build a digital entertainment project now.