Entertainment Veterans Believe Hunger For Content May Be Limitless

by , Mar 12, 2012, 4:58 PM
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It’s staggering just how unending producers believe the public’s hunger for video content is. Some are still trying to launch cable networks or multicast channels, but of course most of the action is on the Web – whether via a YouTube channel, digital shorts or even a live stream of a Little League game.

But if this boundless optimism was once the province of up and comers, there is no doubt the establishment is fully on board. On Monday alone, came word of TV everywhere initiatives involving talk show legend Larry King and long-time entertainment executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner.       

Having recently left CNN, King is making a comeback as a partner with one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim, on a digital video network, Ora.tv. He’ll host a talk show similar to what he’s been doing on TV and radio seemingly since Sputnik.

But, this is not just a vanity play for a restless King. The digital network will be headed by Jon Housman, the former head of digital journalism at News Corp., who told the New York Times there’s an “opportunity to build a great brand.”

Diller is taking on the networks as an investor in Aereo, which will deliver live and on-demand programming from broadcast stations to digital devices for a $12 a month fee. Networks are furious – they want to be paid for the distribution -- and have filed suit.

But, Diller says Aereo, which uses tiny versions of rabbit ears, is simply delivering what’s on the public airwaves to consumers, while broadcasters have forgotten about their original obligation to the public interest.

Through Vuguru -- which was launched by a company he owns and also involves Canada’s Rogers Media – former Disney chief Eisner continues burrowing into digital video, where the bet is original, TV-like content will find a large audience. Vuguru will develop and distribute scripted content in partnership with Yahoo.    

Diller reportedly said about the transformative power of the Web: “Push a button and you publish to the world. So long as you have an idea, nothing between you and the consumer. That is a profound change of how media has been for the last 100 years.”

Leading that change, in part, are three veterans of a lot of those last 100 years. And their faith in content continues even as there are plenty of doubts an audience will be there.

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