Monday, December 17, 2007

Striking writers in talks to launch Web start-ups

The writers strike is destined to forever change the broadcast model. The death of the upfronts, TCA, season premieres in the Fall, will all go away. And once they end, it is unlikely to see them return.

What the writers may have learned is that the new medium of digital downloads and streaming may have lowered the barriers to entry. Combine their creativity with the financial support of venture capitalists, and mix in a consumer's insatiable desire for well produced, original content, and finally share the pot amongst the players, and the writers may find that the strike has created more potential opportunities. And if the broadcaster wants to play, they will have to change their way of thinking.

Notice how the network schedules are dominated by game shows, reality series, and news. Movie hours will become more the norm in broadcast again; do you remember the Tuesday and Wednesday Movies of the Week. With so many different needs, it is unlikely that all the unique companies that make up AMPTP can ever agree. Writers will create independent production companies, like Letterman learned to do with Worldwide Pants, and negotiate more carefully the kind of rights they allow. By being independent, they will retain control.

So this writers strike will change the business and if venture capitalists are smart, they will embrace the chance to own content and perhaps prove that you can bypass networks and sell to independent cable companies and directly to the web. And then watch the ad dollars follow!