Studio Execs Emphasize Ownership9 Jan, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey
LAS VEGAS — Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, does not want to be in the digital book business. He just wants home entertainment to see the same hockey-stick economic curve the digital book business has enjoyed lately.
He said nearly 100 million people have purchased DVDs since the recession, but nearly 40 million people are digital only consumers. That’s where UltraViolet comes in. Get them on board with the buy once, play anywhere video cloud service, and that digital book explosion can be true for movie, too.
“They’re ripe for a digital purchase,” Dunn said, speaking at a panel at the International Consumer Electronics Show. “It’s just a matter of getting the right [offering] and ecosystem.”
Part of that push is disc-to-digital, which allows disc owners to take their home collections and unlock a digital version from their home. Both Best Buy and Walmart have launched the service, and Warner’s Flixster is next in line to offer it.
“It’s become a powerful ecosystem … guaranteed, permanent ownership in the cloud,” Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, said of UltraViolet.
Disc-to-digital, various windowing, digital-first offerings and other, more flexible moves on the part of content owners are necessary today, according to David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
“You have to anticipate consumer behavior, especially around digital,” he said. “You have to be more flexible in your strategy than you had to be in the past.”
Gewecke said that extends to the number of outlets on which studios offer their content. But while Dunn stressed that the increase in portable devices makes impulse digital-only purchases more regular and easier, Gewecke pointed out that physical stores still offer more impressions and represent something more tangible.
And downloading content isn’t as easy as downloading that book.
“The major piece of friction is a movie is like Mount Everest [in terms of file size],” Dunn said. “We’re at a very critical point in the media landscape today.”
A year from now, Bishop would like to see 25 million-plus households with an UltraViolet account, and for ownership of content to be 30% vs. 70% rental. Today those numbers are 20% vs. 80%.
“I think we’re on the path to that,” Bishop said. “We’ve put all the building blocks in place.”