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Online Entertainment – What’s more important – Content or Technology?

- November 29, 2010 - 1 Comment

Mary Meeker - Morgan Stanley Slide on the Online Advertising Market

At the Web 2.0 Summit 2010, internet analyst Mary Meeker presented data, shown above. The chart she offered drives home an important point to media and entertainment companies – 28% of our time spent with media in the US is on the internet – so we expect our media brands to deliver online. And Nielsen also released data this summer  showing 22% of the time people spend on the internet is with social media. In aggregate, Web users spend a total of 110 billion minutes on social Web sites and blogs each month. Therefore media companies must tailor and create engaging digital content to speak to the audiences who want to interact with content brands online and across social media sites. But what’s more important when trying to create appealing media experiences for socially engaged audiences who are spending 28% of their media time online: Is the technology experience more important than the content? Or is the content more important than the technology experience? Vivi Zigler, President of NBC Universal Digital Entertainment (bio link here), attempted to address this question at the Digital Media Conference West in San Francisco:

Vivi Zigler tells us in the clip that NBC Universal has to tailor and tweak existing technologies to the story lines of the NBC TV shows and to the shifting tastes of the online audiences to create engaging experiences.  How does NBC Universal adapt technology to changing television story lines and still create an engaging and quality experiences? (continued ..)

Zigler calls the process of adapting technology to the demands of online audiences and evolving digital content “dimentionalized storytelling”.

If, is NOT, as Zigler says creating “cookie cutter experiences” with each individual TV show, and instead is developing unique casual games, differentiated video experiences, and apps for the 100 shows it promotes on the site, you begin to wonder: just how does NBC meet the demand of tailoring the technology to continually changing story lines, various characters, comedies, dramas, to come up with all these unique web experiences across 100 shows. As Vivi mentions, it takes a robust engineering staff ; she says “lots of people you might not expect to find at a media company – code engineers, senior architects, PHP developers”.

We noted previously in a post that is the web traffic leader in the category of TV oriented web sites because of the network’s attention producing a high volume of engaging TV oriented web content. But can NBC and other TV networks afford to maintain a talented and broad engineering team in order to be flexible with web content production? As shown at the top of this post, while the internet accounts for 28% of the time spent with media by USA consumers, right now, the internet only accounts for 13% of US advertising spend. As our own Cisco Media Solutions Group Director of Marketing, Scott Brown, added at Digital Media Conference West, the disparity between the cost of online production and the current spend on internet advertising means that media companies need to diversify their monetization strategies.

Regardless of monetization strategies, internal technology spends at media companies are still very costly. Dan Scheinman, SVP and GM of the Cisco Media Solutions Group, speaking here at the Bandwidth Conference 2010, shows off and speaks to a chart showing the disparity between technology costs to produce digital media and digital media revenues.

Dan mentions that in many instances media companies are creating online experiences that simply duplicate the traditional media content, thereby cannibalizing the traditional advertising revenues opportunities. However, we do not believe NBC is simply duplicating linear broadcast content for the online audience. Indeed, the peacock network is creating unique digital media experiences for their audiences. For instance, with the TV show “Heroes”, NBC created an online graphic novel that paralleled, but did not duplicate, the plot of the action oriented series. The graphic novel online received enough fan interest, that unique characters from the novel then were migrated back to the TV show. That’s a very interesting model – digital media production driving linear broadcast story development; as Vivi Zigler dubbed it – “dimentionalized storytelling”. In conclusion, we believe that with a partner like Cisco and the Cisco Eos© platform as a launch pad to create unique online content experiences that have social entertainment features, media companies can lower their technology costs and scale the production of unique online content.


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  1. It's not enough for media companies to simply put reruns of their shows on the Internet. To truly leverage the power of the Web they have to add something of substance to the experience.