I refer a lot of consulting projects to my friends these days. But I also keep a few gigs for myself when they seem particularly interesting. These allow me to have a hand in answering pressing questions about digital media and entertainment for hedge funds, private equity groups, and film and TV studios-which means that I spend a lot of time pontificating. With a schedule that leads me to consume content in snack sizes, I thought it'd be fitting to point out some of the tidbits upon which recent media engagements have caused me to pontificate:
- Everyone I know who works in cable television swears that movies whose titles start with the letters A, B, C, D, and E out-perform all the other letters combined in the video-on-demand (VOD) market. Perhaps the bigger shocker is that my cable system still makes me scroll through VOD movies in alphabetical order. 2006 called ... it wants its interface back.
- Launching an app for your business just isn't really newsworthy these days. I remember a time when startups got funded just because they had a website. And then I remember a time when they got funded just because they had an iPhone app. We're past both of those eras. If you're only now launching your company's first mobile app, shouldn't you be so embarrassed that you try to keep it out of the press?
- Social media has become one of the biggest tools used in corporate espionage. It has also changed another form of warfare: dating. No one says that I should just trust them when they set me up on a blind date. Instead, they'll say, "She's one of my Facebook friends. Check her out and let me know if I should connect you." Accordingly, I've learned that if you're single and only have pictures of sunsets on Facebook, you're hiding something. Trust me.
- I took my dog to the vet last week and asked the tech at the front desk to look something up online. She said the employees didn't have internet access. I guess this was the boss' ill-conceived effort to keep his employees off TMZ-at the expense of the largest information source in the history of mankind. Dear Mr. Business Owner, here's an idea: Try training your employees to balance online and offline time effectively, and you might find that they're more productive.
- Several years ago, Netflix, Inc. asked studios for the rights to stream movies. The studios couldn't wrap their heads around the request, so, instead, Netflix suggested to the pay TV channels that they might actually control the studios' streaming rights through the legacy language in their existing contracts. When Netflix backed up its Brink's truck to pay Hollywood cablers such as Starz Entertainment, LLC and EPIX for movie streaming rights, the studios didn't fight it. After all, Netflix had proved itself a good partner over the years. On the other hand, kiosk DVD distributor Redbox Automated Retail, LLC showed up without so much as an office in Los Angeles, took the studios to court with threats of buying DVDs from Walmart, and forced the studios to cave. The studios lost the battle, but have since then proceeded to kick Redbox in the jewels every time they could. Right now, Netflix is the market leader in digital streaming; Redbox is still trying to launch its version. The moral: Carry a big stick, but know how to talk to the guy across the table in a way he can understand.
- Finally, I've learned that everyone thinks they're an expert in two businesses: their own and Hollywood. And the same has become true of digital media. Everyone seems to know where the future of digital media is headed, but very few of us really know what we're talking about, especially when we're so early in the digital evolutionary game.
If you have your own nuggets of digital media wisdom, send them to me or post them here.