Content distribution takes center stage at Mipcom

CANNES — A dust-up over day-and-date availability of content on multiple platforms took center stage Tuesday at Mipcom, suggesting a ticklish balance between old media players and new-media platforms.

On one side are indie producers such as 2929 Entertainment’s Todd Wagner, who’d like to see Hollywood’s current modus operandi thrown out the window.

In a keynote titled Rethinking Hollywood, Wagner told attendees that the movie biz, ever resistant to change, should take a page out of other retail industries’ book, where, for example, impulse buying is encouraged.

“Is your customer still interested five months later after seeing a movie?” he asked rhetorically. Making product available across multiple platforms is now technically possible and would pay off in more satisfied customers, he argued.

“It’s about how to mine content in different ways,” Wagner said. Half of moviegoers surveyed recently, he pointed out, would buy the DVD immediately afterward. Why throw that opportunity away, he intimated.

On the other hand, MGM’s Rick Sands countered on another panel that windowing and marketing are the tools to ensure that all kinds of content get a proper chance to be sampled.

“You can fail in one day with the day-and-date model. Then only certain tentpoles would work,” he argued.

Sands said he believed pics like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Material Girls” would not do as well without having calibrated marketing plans that took into account when and how to roll out the property.

“If everything is available to everyone all the time, how would you know what to watch? That’s where marketing comes in,” Sands said.

One thing most fellow panelists, including Granada’s Martin Blakstad and ProSieben’s Marcus Englert, did agree on: getting paid for the rolling out of content on whatever platform. (For that reason, Ashwin Navin, prexy and co-founder of peer-to-peer file sharer Bit Torrent, took the brunt of other panelists’ criticism for his service’s facilitation of essentially illegal downloads of movies. Navin said a million downloads of movies occur on his site every day.)

The panels were part of Mipcom’s current focus on digital distribution and how rights holders intend to take advantage of the new services — without being taken advantage of.

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