Disney is embarking on a journey which will see the company embracing the Web as a content delivery system in ways most major studios have so far resisted.
The only problem is that creating yet another means of accessing online content risks fracturing the whole industry even further than it already is.
Moving To The Web
As soon as Napster was created Pandora’s Box was opened, never to be sealed again. Once music sharing over the Internet entered the mainstream there was little point fighting to contain the problem, but the major record labels tried to regardless of common sense.
That’s not to say the music industry should have just let people share music online illegally. No, it should have concentrated on offering alternatives, and building Web services into its business plans for the future.
The television and movie industries haven’t been quite as short-sighted, having had a few years to learn from the mistakes of others, but there is still a lot of work that needs doing.
Disney Accepting Change
Thankfully the signs are there that some of the major studios and industry players have accepted the need to adapt and are gearing up for a future where almost all content is digitally distributed over the Web.
Disney is the latest to suggest a willingness to change, with CEO Robert Iger recently saying the following at the D9 conference:
“There’s going to be displacement of consumption…the opportunities to be entertained in the home are so much greater today. We view Netflix positively. It’s a good provider for our content to be accessible on. We like Hulu for a number of reasons, and not just because we’re an equity partner. It keeps people honest.”
“Because of its brand strength … [Disney.com] has the ability to be a destination. We believe we have an opportunity to deliver content directly to consumers. Disney and Disney.com is being rebuilt. It will be monetized in multiple ways.”
Content isn’t going to be free, but then I would expect nothing less from Disney. The positive point is that the company realizes the future is already happening and there’s no reason to hark back to the past. Instead, offer up content on the Web and monetize it in any way possible.
There is still one major problem inherent in these plans, which is that every company has its own idea of how best to proceed. Disney.com will soon become another service where people can access content on the Web, and in many cases it will be the same content that is also available elsewhere.
We really need one service, or at worst a handful of them, to reign supreme. That may seem anti-competitive but one central location with all content obtainable from it is arguably the only legitimate way piracy is going to be turned from a norm to a niche.
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