There always has to be someone declaring some point in time as the golden age of television, and it happened again last week when DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg told people at MIPCOM that, ”In the 40 years I've been in the entertainment industry, I don't think there's ever been a time filled with so much new and unique opportunity for the world of television."
So there you have it. You’re in the middle of it because much of this golden hue is coming from streaming video.
A wildly optimistic view of this future of video content overflowing (with, unsaid, corresponding riches) was delivered by the Guardian.com, based on the extraordinarily confident MIPCOM conference, though it really could have come from any news source. The upbeatedness in Cannes was unstoppable.
No doubt Netflix, Hulu, Vevo, Amazon and You Tube are changing the world. "People are responding to characters, to idiom, to depth. New TV is getting closer to what the novel used to be," Roy Price, a director at Amazon Studios, gushed to the Guardian.
Amazon is developing 30 original series and 24 films, which. I think, is more than more established TV purveyors have cooked up for the fall season. It has a new thing called Amazon Storyteller that make it possible for just about anybody to storyboard a series. As one producer told the Guardian, instead of 25 pilots, a producing entity using Storyteller could now easily have 25,000. So much to choose from.
Indeed, I submitted 27 storyboards over breakfast today. I should be hearing back any moment now.
Anything is probable!
Katzenberg, let’s not forget, made headlines last week when he said he offered the makers of “Breaking Bad” a $75 million deal to make three more episodes—in six minute segments—so viewers would pay 50 cents a day to see them.
"My idea was literally that you'd pay 50 cents a day for 30 days, so it would be $15, and I actually think there are 10 million people around the world that would have done that," he figured. "That's $150 million, so the $75 million I was prepared to pay would have delivered a 100% return on investment. And I'm trying to get people to think about this space in a new way by telling that story. It's emblematic of an opportunity coming."
Well, it’s emblematic of something coming, for sure, but maybe not that aforementioned golden age. Online video is reaching the deep pocketed entrepreneurial phase without having had much of a growing up period. Advertisers are still finding it. Viewers are still finding it. And online is still finding itself.
Into the mix are the speculators who, it seems to me, have figured out that if you throw so much at viewers, some of it will stick. For $53 million, DreamWorks last spring bought Awesomeness TV, a conglomeration of YouTube youth-focused channels. The Awesomeness multi-channel network, according to the Hollywood Reporter, has 73,000 channels, 20 million subscribers and more than 1 billion page views. Or, if you’re reading the Guardian, it has “more than 180,000 YouTube channels with a collective 25 million subscribers, and attracts more than 60 million unique monthly viewers.”
In any event, a lot of awesomeness, whatever the number. And in there somewhere is a golden age.