How I’d Build a Digital Entertainment Company Right Now
July 29, 2008 11:19 AM
On Friday, I made a case for why digital entertainment projects need to be seasoned with a few pure-play Internet talent on staff in addition to the usual entertainment types. It had stemmed from being at nexus of both worlds and was spurred in part a conference I had attended where speakers clearly sounded lost as they talked about their companies’ efforts on the Web.
I’ve been involved in digital entertainment efforts launched by Internet business, as well as digital entertainment efforts launched by entertainment executives, and my takeaway had been solidified since long before Friday’s post.
I believe that truly successful projects in the category, regardless of who launches them, need a mix of proven, successful veterans from both worlds.
I also think that the stakes are slowly getting higher as the Internet continues to converge. We’re long past the early days of social networks, and users are more sophisticated and experienced than ever. Also, video has moved from YouTube clips to professional, episodic and TV-quality content. Everything—everything—around is us either constantly changing or soon will.
The best defense in any game is a good offense, and I believe mixing geeks and creatives is the way to do it.
I’ve dreamt of launching a true digital television network start-up, with the intention to of course someday cash out to a traditional network, since early 2005. If I were to do it today, here’s how I would go about it:
1.) I’d target women: Women make up most of the online purchases, blog more, are naturally viral and stick to sites. Statistics point that women users are growing faster online than the two combined genders. Plus, we inherently fall into niches—parenting, fashion, etc. by way of our interests.
2.) I’d keep it very simple. I’ve been an evangelist and supporter of Webisodic/professional content online for years, but it’s still expensive to produce without a lot of monetary proof. My network would contain more news and informational type programming, which is cheaper. Plus, one or two Webisodic series for late night viewers.
3.) I’d remember I need to train the audience: Not long ago I talked about the importance of users being able to understand what to do. My Internet television network would be designed to do just that. Large player, easy navigation, plenty of real estate showing users what they can view and do.
4.) I’d make it multi-media, but keep the focus off mobile for now. I’ve always known smart sites would give users multiple ways to engage as well as the ability to use the access device of choice. So my network would have editorial content and social/community features, in addition to video programming. It’d also be device agnostic, though that’d come later—it’s not just early for mobile overall, but for the devices and the users.
5.) I’d mix the staff. Without question, my project would have plenty of high level, proven people from both Internet and entertainment involved in it, from producers to writers to traffic engineers.
Focusing on generating revenue is a given, of course. From there, the entire effort would be focused not on pushing our content out, but pulling our audience in. I believe there’s value in social marketing online and other efforts, but I’d take a cue from MySpace and Facebook and remember the offline world too.