For studios and television networks, the question is deceptively simple: how will you get your content everywhere it needs to be seen?
Music clearances, distribution agreements and Hollywood's recent labor concessions all contribute to a remarkably complex set of rules -- one that governs exactly where a piece of premium content can be seen, for how long, and in what formats.
If a studio is looking to distribute content to untold dozens of platforms, the level of detail required to do so both accurately and legally is just plain baffling.
Wait -- how long is the SAG promotional window for online streaming of television series? Is it 13 days, or 17? Is that Coldplay song from the love scene cleared to air throughout all of Europe? And when do I need to take that half-hour comedy down from Hulu?
At the moment, digital programming executives are managing this process by hand, using Excel sheets and groups of attorneys to keep track of everything.
That's right: by hand.
Networks, studios and other premium content producers have a pressing need for intuitive and comprehensive video publishing and scheduling systems: systems that enable the programmer to make creative decisions about their content distribution and tell them on what platforms a film or episode can be seen and during what windows.
Further, these same studios would benefit from linear and non-linear scheduling management: the ability to manage one's entire library of content from one system. Such systems add enormous value to media companies by adding speed and accuracy to the programming process. But that isn't even the best part.
The best part is this: The video publishing systems of the near future will come bundled with what I'm calling the "Lost Opportunity" button. As a programmer, you should be presented with all the reasons why your content couldn't be scheduled on certain channels if there are rules that prevent publishing. More intriguing, though, is looking at those areas you could immediately impact. Given the complexity of the digital video landscape, it may be easy to overlook the fact that, say, your television show could actually be distributed on-demand for 16 additional days after the mobile window but before you flip the switch on an exclusive electronic sell-through (EST) window.
Multiply those 16 days by the number of users out there, then multiply that by the number of assets you control and the number of other missed opportunities this dense digital thicket presents -- and that turns into real dollars, real fast.
The other good news? We're not talking about something that will happen far off into the future. Everything I'm describing is either already live or a short few months away.
With any luck, studio-grade digital media publishing systems will help make lost opportunities a thing of the past.