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Digital Delivery Still Forging Its Path

1 Oct, 2013 By: Stephanie Prange

Continuous change was the mantra at the Entertainment Merchants Association’s fifth annual Digital Media Pipeline, held Sept. 24 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Such established outlets as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have made their mark in the digital world, but that world is constantly shifting.

Content owners, service providers and retailers hope digital revenue will make up for the shortfall in packaged media. While Blu-ray Disc may be a stalwart followup to DVD, it cannot hope to match the revenue avalanche that groundbreaking disc created. Thus, extracting revenue from the elusive and mercurial digital market is a necessity if home entertainment and indeed the entire entertainment ecosystem is to continue to flourish.

How that can be done is the real puzzle, and no one seems to know exactly how the pieces should fit. Early digital release may boost the segment. Incremental revenue post-sale in the game market might bring in steady income. But, while promising, these strategies are far from universal or commonplace.

Entertainment in the future may tend to cross platform “worlds” that can be monetized in various mediums — games, user-generated content, movies, physical and digital delivery, and merchandise.

Where does that leave the quiet drama or coming-of-age film that are the bread-and-butter of independent film as well as some of our most-beloved classics?

Keynote speaker Morgan Spurlock seemed to indicate that Netflix and other digital outlets were offering documentaries to a wider audience. Certainly, Netflix is also helping to put the spotlight on television series with its move into original programming and Emmy plaudits. But are these digital services capable of financing the kind of quality entertainment that the studios, networks and independent producers have been offering in years past? In large part, Netflix and other digital services are reaping the harvest of programs and talent financed by the old system. If the newfangled digital world can’t produce a strong stream of revenue, will quality content wane as well?

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