In a conversation at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco about where the future of content was headed, three very different experts in the industry shared thoughts on current and future states of content distribution.
When I say very different experts, I'm referring to the fact that they all distribute media across different spectrums of how society consumes content.
Richard Rosenblatt CEO of Demand Media, has built a platform for all sorts of writers, video producers, and bloggers to get their content across the Web, eventually getting paid for it. With all the recent layoffs in the print industry Demand Media has actually become a home to many talented writers and producers.
Dan Rosensweig CEO of Guitar Hero, is a key figure in the gaming industry. He's grown the popular music game we've all come to know from its signature plastic guitars to one of the largest selling games in history.
And finally, Peter Guber founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a company spanning major motion pictures like "Batman," "The Color Purple," and "Flashdance." A traditional media.
John Battelle, CEO and founder of Federated Media took the stage as moderator and sparked an interesting conversation about how distribution has changed each of the core businesses and where it was headed.
In the case of online media, Rosenblatt explained there are basically three ways people consume Internet content: they navigate to it, they find it through search, or they find it through social media. This is where Demand Media will continue to focus not putting any emphasis on either of the three but realizing them in thirds.
With gaming, Rosensweig was questioned whether shrink wrap boxes would still be around as to how video games are distributed. As outdated as that may sound, the answer of course is Yes. In the case of Guitar Hero, people need the hardware (plastic guitars) in order to run the game. But where the content is evolving comes with its connectivity to the Internet. Rosensweig shared people playing Guitar Hero online has grown 100 percent since last year. Back before games were connected the Web, people would buy a game, beat it, and move on. In the case of Guitar Hero 5, players can buy all sorts of virtual content like songs, and at the same time, contribute back to the game by composing and uploading their own songs. He also mentioned a lot of what they've been doing is borrowing from Zynga and other social gaming companies. All in all, Rosensweig is betting on the Internet for the future of Guitar Hero.
But the most, perhaps old fashioned of all the responses came from Guber, when he spoke of the Hollywood film industry. Battelle pointed out the fact that Hollywood has definitely been impacted by the Internet, yet for some reason, his industry continues to clash with rising trends in how content is consumed. For example the issue of piracy, or even sites like Hulu and YouTube. For Guber, the economics have yet to be proven.
But he did share an interesting view on the price of making movies. For the industry, each movie is a whole new business. Nobody goes to the movies to watch a Warner Brothers flick, they go to watch that movie. Where things have changed is the fact that a $350 million movie like James Cameron's "Avatar," can easily make more money than a $15,000 low budget horror movie the same day and same night released. Guber believes because of this fact, ultimately fewer big budget movies will be made and film companies will start looking more like Broadway plays - films being released only a few times a year and staying in the theaters for a while.
For Guber and his movie industry, the Internet is still not an economical form of distribution. He questioned, "Where do you get a return on investment?"