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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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June 13, 2007 11:40 AM

Trendspotting from the Digital Hollywood Summit

Yesterday I attended the first full day of the Digital Hollywood Summit, and what a day it was! It started as I sat down to enjoy a blueberry bran muffin and ended up meeting a woman that manages former Playboy bunnies who make their livings in large part based on subscription websites where they upload photos and video of themselves in various states of undress, and I finished my day eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the Santa Monica pier with one of the forefathers of online gambling.

In between, I bore witness to a series of panels chock full with experts discussing the past, present, and future of online content delivery.

Here's a rundown of some of the more interesting tidbits I gleaned:

- An oft discussed topic in the content delivery space is the willingness of consumers to watch long-form video on their computer screen. While attending a session on Television 2.0, Rishi Malhotra of HBO added a new wrinkle to this line of thought: "It's not about the screen you're looking at so much as the chair you're sitting in." I found this to be a very savvy observation that deflects attention from the nature of the screen towards the nature of the viewing experience.

- Along related lines, in a session about how Hollywood can enable the next level of consumer entertainment experience, Lewis Henderson of the William Morris Agency made the general comment that we no longer live in a world where screens should be looked at separately. Today, all screens can be monitors for displaying content of all sorts, and we shouldn't hold on to the outdated distinctions between them.

- I generally agree with Henderson's comment, though in a later session, Silvio Scaglia of Babelgum made the bold statement that, "TV over the Internet cannot compete with traditional TV. That's why we should focus on different things for online video than simply replicating what's on TV." This suggests the need for more differentiation between the screens. In the end, I think both sides are right, though I'm not yet ready to place any bets on how these distinctions will play out over the next few years.

- While much of this event is filled with positive energy about how far the industry has come, there was also a consistent thread of speakers expressing their concerns about the many challenges online video faces moving forward on the road to more mainstream adoption.

Jordan Levin of Generate gave a historical context in saying, "It used to be hard to get a show made and on the air, but it was easy to get attention." Today, he continues, it's easy to make a show and put it online, but it's incredibly difficult to get the attention of users.

The challenges of finding content and the exponentially growing amount of available content will make it "harder and harder to achieve mass audiences," or so said Jared Hoffman, also of Generate on a different panel.

John Penney of HBO highlighted how the overall pie for advertising dollars is relatively static, with about $65billion in TV dollars and $65billion in direct marketing dollars that anyone trying to build an online content business based on advertising has to fight over. And much like the stock market, "Whenever there's a gain by one party, someone else is likely losing out on money."

- My final thought for the day is a totally tangential observation I made: while I believe they're recording the audio of all the sessions, for most of the sessions there was not a video camera in sight. In many ways this blew my mind. Here we are at a conference focused on the technology and business of producing and distributing video, located a stone's throw from Hollywood, featuring an exhibit hall full of companies that help enable the workflow of working with video and crawling with bloggers/podcasters/reporters carrying cameras to conduct interviews, and no one's capturing video of the sessions.

I understand that video production can be expensive, and video of panel discussions isn't always compelling, but it seemed as though if any conference were going to record everything on video, it'd be this one, which points to an important element to remember when considering the present and future of demand for bandwidth: video as a medium is still very nascent, and video production, while increasingly prevalent, is not yet ubiquitous.

I often talk in terms of demand for bandwidth from the user side and supply of bandwidth from the network operator side, but the other element to supply is having a proper supply of content to drive demand for the bandwidth networks provide. Some day, every event will be captured on HD video, and the growth to get to that point should prove to be another major driver of demand for bandwidth.

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