There are a lot of good reasons to believe that the internet is the future of the content business. From the woes of the traditional media to the evident power of internet distribution, I think it's hard to argue that the internet isn't going to play a prominent role in the future of content. It already is.

But that doesn't mean that online content is easy.

A reminder of that comes in the form of the shuttering of a digital studio called 60Frames Entertainment. Backed by Hollywood powerhouse United Talent Agency (UTA), 60Frames was based on an appealing concept: produce and finance the creation of video content as a pure-play digital studio.

It seemed like a good idea at the time and thanks to UTA's support, 60Frames brought on some big names. But 60Frames obviously couldn't develop into a self-sustaining business before the money ran out and wasn't able to raise additional financing to continue operations. The Hollywood Reporter explains:

Sources familiar with the company’s travails pinned the problem on the sluggish nature of dealmaking online and on bad timing on the fundraising front. The company was thwarted in its attempt to secure a second round of financing just as the U.S. economy soured.

As The Hollywood Reporter points out, another similar studio shut down recently. A handful of other players remain.

While I still like the concept of the digital studio and there are usually lots of failures in new markets before somebody finds the right model, we shouldn't pin all the blame on the economy. 60Frame's downfall highlights what is really taking place: the content business is changing.

From the challenges faced by newspapers to the misfortunes of online properties heavily dependent on display advertising, the signs are all around us. To say that this is an offline-online thing or to blame the economy is dishonest in my opinion.

There are a lot of upheavals taking place at the same time in the content business. Consumption habits are changing, distribution channels are evolving, content producers have been forced to reevaluate the economics of their business models and the advertisers who have so often supported content production are reconsidering the value of what they receive in return.

The impact of these upheavals is more evident online simply because there was far more revenue to fall from. But make no mistake about it: the internet is just as affected.

When asked about the business of news content on the internet, Rupert Murdoch recently declared that "The current days of the internet will soon be over". In other words, we'll soon be dropping the 'r' from 'free'. He may very well be right (I suspect he is) but when it comes to the content business in general, I'm confident about one thing: change is the only certainty. Those that get with it will survive; those that don't won't. Offline and online.

Photo credit: Silvio Tanaka via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)


Alec East

Content may be King but distribution is the real power behind the throne.

In the internet age, when everyone can be a creator, there's no shortage of content. The real challenge has always been how to bring an audience and enable them to find the content it wants to consume.

Apple's iTunes, App Store and arguably services like BitTorrent have succeeded in this space because no-one (including the music and movie distributors who should know better) bothered to do it properly.

about 9 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

The internet has solved the distribution problem.

The content generation issue remains. It's hard work and requires huge teams of talented people to make films.

They have to be paid with love or money. Vague online projects are hard to sustain, unless your leader has the charisma of Jesus H. Christ. Even then film folks are cynical enough that the messiah approach is tough to pull off.

Good content is hard.

Unfortunately easy internet distribution is putting too much flotsam into the river. We still haven't come up with a working editorial system.

Even econsultancy struggled for a long time until they tightened up editorial (there was a lot of crappy content set out undifferentiated from the worthwhile content). Still now the occasional article is true rubbish. Fortunately, less of those.

Editorial, content generation and then fees (in that order) are the way to make the process work.

about 9 years ago

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