Wake up call for the film industry

The recent decision in the Swedish courts to jail the founders of the Pirate Bay, has caused the music industry to let out a little cheer. Who knows where this will finally end up after the inevitable appeal has run its course, but one thing seems obvious, it isn’t going to make any difference to consumers sharing digital music “illegally”.

For me this is a great example of how the music industry has concentrated on re arranging the deck chairs as the Titanic has sunk underneath them. The internet has fundamentally changed how people want to consume music, it is high time the music industry spent its energy on developing propositions that appeal to these new needs.

It also seems to me that the film industry is heading towards a similar cliff. Consumers are already sharing film content in the same way they share music content, but not everyone can be bothered to have their computers downloading torrents all night. Very soon consumers will have even faster broadband connections and lots of storage and so they will be even better equipped to share and when it is quick and easy consumer behaviour will change overnight- there is no way I am going to traipse down to HMV or Blockbuster when I can get whatever I want on demand.

The film industry is a little more insulated from this change than the music industry was. The consumer home entertainment experience has evolved with HD and blu ray technologies – which provide a consumer benefit to high quality content on a physical disc. And broadcast media brands have introduced on demand digital services like BBC iplayer, 4OD and Hulu in the US that cater for consumers digital needs and so means they don’t need to resort to illegal methods to get TV shows.

But now is the time for film studios, production house and media companies to innovate. There are lots of opportunities. Firstly around connectivity and interaction, a merging of the engaging experience of a film with the immersive experience of a computer game is surely not that hard to imagine. Secondly there are opportunities around new usage occasions that result from the evolution of mobile devices, these devices demand shorter bite size content more suited to a bus ride than an evening on the sofa. And finally there are opportunities to re think existing experiences like cinema, consumers will always want the type of shared experience events that new film release offer. These events are social currency, but the actual experience could be so much better, 3D will help, but what about food and drink, merchandise and event extra content that is unavailable elsewhere?

Essentially this is a fantastic challenge for marketers. The challenge is to understand how consumers are behaving, develop insights into their needs and then answer those needs by reframing existing propositions or creating new ones.

Whatever happens a lot of thought needs to be given to how to continue to monetize all of this. Digitisation could easily lead to a decline in revenues, but if the existing stakeholders are prepared to think radically about the business they are in today vs the business they will be in tomorrow, it could be an exciting new chapter in entertainment……


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