‘Content’ – the Latin root is the same for both meanings of the word. Perhaps it stems from when the original meaning for contentment was “to be pleasantly full from a good meal.” So one can only be truly content if the content was good. That’s our job right? To put great wholesome sustenance on the mental plates of our young audience, and if we get that bit right our shareholders should end up content too.
This month we have two major content fairs in the same week, MIP and Frankfurt Book Fair. Like many content producers, I am attending both and this year will be speaking at Frankfurt about these interesting times we storytellers live in. For years Frankfurt has been known as a book fair, a premier event for print publishing, but in the last few years it has been redefining itself as a content fair.
Many of the pressures facing publishers are similar to those facing broadcasters. I have been in TV for only 12 years, but have worked with publishers for the last 33 years, and in the last six years I have seen the enthusiasts and the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have viewed digital publishing as an ancillary revenue at best, a slightly grubby fad at worst. Within those publishing houses the digital teams have tended to be aligned with the sales and marketing divisions, so operating after the fact, rather than alongside the editorial teams.
The enthusiasts have taken the opposite approach. In these companies the digital teams work directly with the editorial and creative teams at the outset so that the new platforms of delivery can be used to offer new kinds of experiences.
TV is much the same and most broadcasters are still treating these new platforms as ancillary markets while a very few, mostly new to the market, are reaching out to producers and encouraging them to think out of the box.
It is a very exciting time right now. Producers can create and deliver TV shows all wrapped up in a digital book with articles, chat rooms, and new episodes streamed daily – all there in one app, a TV community at their fingertips. But this is not the bundling and selling of old content in new ways, though there is a place for that. This is developing new experiences that can challenge classic linear passive experiences.
Who will own that space, the delivery systems, is immaterial to producers and creators. We just want ‘path to market’ partners who care about delivering great content.