Hollywood Faces A Swarm Of New Competitors
from the video-startups dept
Two recent stories illustrate the sort of threats Hollywood is facing. First, the New York Times profiles some of the many online video startups that have sprung up in the last couple of years. These sites develop a variety of different types of content and are built on a variety of different business models. Some are producing "webisodes": scripted, episodic video programs. Others are creating low-budget comedy clips to spread virally. For example, this silly clip of Will Farrell arguing with a 2-year-old has apparently racked up nearly 50 million views. At the opposite extreme, TechCrunch reports on Blowtorch, which has raised $50 million in venture capital to launch a new low-budget movie studio. The company plans to produce movies for about $5 million each, and has lined up 600 theaters near college campuses to show their movies. They're planning to solicit short films on their websites, and show the best short films on the big screen before their movies. It is, as TechCrunch puts it, "a movie company that is thinking like a cable channel": providing users with content whenever and whereever they want it, instead of trying to force users to watch content on the studio's schedule.
Now, it should be emphasized that it's far from certain that any given company will succeed. A lot of the content on these sites isn't that great. But with so many companies trying so many different approaches, it seems likely that some of them will create some hits. And if the flow of new content from Hollywood dries up, that's obviously going to create a huge opening for these sites. And once one of these companies creates a loyal following, Hollywood is going to find it awfully difficult to lure them back.