Dick Costolo: Content Discovery Needs to Be Made Easier in Order to Cut Through Clutter

Dick Costolo
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This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

There’s so much choice for consumers regarding where they get content. First it was Netflix and Amazon, now there’s HBO and CBS (which are launching direct-to-consumer subscription video services). I think it will be interesting to see how that explosion unfolds.

The challenge is, how do you find your audience, and how do you direct your audience to that in order to aggregate attention. It’s not at all clear how this will play out. Will the content creators have to build and find their audiences on Facebook and Twitter? Or will the destination platforms be the place to aggregate that audience?

We’re just starting to see the shortform video model become successful. Look at “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” for example. Previously it would have been a question of, where are you going to put that? Each episode is seven minutes. You can’t put that on TV. But those (programs) will be able to find an audience in a way that would have been more challenging previously. It’s not just all on the cable guide.

The lines are becoming more and more blurred as we participate in TV partnerships, like with (NBC’s) “The Voice,” to deliver original content experiences on digital platforms. We have video capabilities on our platform right now for professional content providers. We want to add video sharing for all of our users. That notion of communicating through video on Twitter will become a bigger phenomenon. Mobile (video) is a massive opportunity, and it’s still really early days. We’re on mobile networks in some countries with massive populations that aren’t ready for native video.

Platforms like Twitter — and we won’t be the only ones — play a vital role in content discovery, because without that, it will be hard to find what to watch and where to go.