Back to the Future: Bridging a Generational Gap21 Dec, 2015 By: Stephanie Prange
It’s very fitting that Universal’s iconic “Back to the Future” series celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015. Finding the right balance between the past and the future was atop the industry’s agenda.
The home entertainment business grappled with new forms of disruptive distribution while setting up the specs and packaging for a new disc-based format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, that promises to revitalize the legacy physical business. Indeed, it seemed that all year entertainment executives were attempting to find the right balance of revenue between new digital distribution models and the continuing cash cow from older models, whether it be physical disc or cable bundles.
Just as Back to the Future’s Marty McFly grappled with the tastes and technology of generations both older and younger, the home entertainment industry looked to bridge a technological generation gap in 2015. The industry tried to satisfy the tastes of cinephile collectors who skew older and like to build libraries of high-quality physical discs, as well as the millennial generation weaned on digital delivery and “Netflix and chill.” A generation comfortable with physical media and cable bills was joined by a younger, more digitally addicted generation ready to cut the cable cord and find the entertainment they want when they want it (often without advertisements) online — and often without a TV.
It’s no accident CES chose industry father and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to give a keynote at the 2016 confab. OTT was the talk of 2015, as it promises to be the dominant distribution format of the future.
As entertainment executives face a business in which the old reliable revenue streams are under threat and the digital revenue of the future is uncertain, it’s perhaps useful to remember that famous Back to the Future line: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”