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Panel: Social Media Changing Content Strategy

30 Apr, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey


'Variety' held its annual Entertainment and Technology Summit April 29.


MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — Social media is changing the game for content owners. Just ask Jill Calcaterra, chief marketing officer for media company Cinedigm Entertainment Group.

Cindeigm’s Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War —which tackles sexual assault in the U.S. military — saw a Facebook VOD release before DVD in late 2012, and Cinedigm and New Video Group specifically targeted military families with their social marketing campaign. The results were impressive, she said.

“There really hasn’t been a better time for content and for consumers, who can get what they want, where they want on the devices they want,” she said, speaking at the annual Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit.

Russell Hicks, president of content development and production for Nickelodeon Group, said the days of test audiences to determine whether or not to greenlight a show are coming to a close. Now — at least with Nickelodeon — social media allows for an easy, accurate way to gauge interest in content.

“Kids need to access content everywhere,” Hicks said. “That’s where we’re doing all our development for the characters of tomorrow. Through these devices we can see what they’re liking, what keeps them engaged.”

Kevin Conroy, president of digital and entertainment development for Univision Communications, put it more simply: “Social is the new search.”

Dan Black, co-chair of West Coast entertainment for international law firm Greenberg Traurig, said social media is offering something to content owners they didn’t have previously: real-time, accurate data.

“It’s an incredible amount of information,” he said. “You have the potential to get a lot of data that shows your relationships with audiences, and that can create a lot of insight. Giving them [content over social media] allows them to share their enthusiasm with their friends.”

It’s not just social media changing the way content owners treat their product. Before the mid-April premiere of the Syfy Channel series “Defiance,” parent company NBC Universal put out a PC and console game that allowed consumers to play through a storyline that led up to the series debut.

“It allows people to get involved in the experience itself,” Lehman said. “Storytelling is still king and social [media] lets people become a part of the story.”

While content companies are spending more effort on non-traditional outlets, there’s no reason to forget about old fashioned disc media, Calcaterra insisted. She said Cinedigm has taken content — like the sci-fi Web series “Red vs. Blue” — that was originally aired free on YouTube, slapped it on DVD, “and sold millions and millions of dollars worth,” she said.


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