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Although this report is likely past-the-deadline – I’ve several points to make:

1) Digital Hollywood is a GREAT place to interact with industry people.  By Day #2 I knew my way around and more easily settled in.  RESULT:  I had meaningful conversation with all sorts of folks I would ordinarily not have had the opportunity to meet.

2) Happy Hour – aka Poolside Reception – is a world unto itself.  Against the backdrop of beautiful boats in the Marina, the fabulosity of the Ritz Carlton and the setting sun, the attendees readily mingle.  For myself, mingling is THE best part.  I think that writers often don’t do enough of it, and women often feel left out.  Happy Hour is the Great Equalizer.

3) My final panel: The Brightest Innovations in Media from Israel!  This was a 6-MAN panel, touting highly specific inroads into all sorts of venues.  From “interactive script-writing” to the laying of video onto virtual walls.  Yes, men do love their toys.  I even understood some of what they said.

4) Bottom line:  This is an exciting, pioneering time for entertainment.  Digital Hollywood has really opened my mind to that fact.

– Leah Markus

WHO’S FINGER IS REALLY ON THE BUTTON?                                             A Final Assessment of Digital Hollywood Spring 2015

At last week’s Digital Hollywood Spring 2015 conference at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, technology, art, content, creativity, and culture collided to forge the future of what we consume online; not just online though, really in all facets of media.

The entertainment landscape has changed drastically over the past few years and, according to Russell Schwartz, Sr. VP at Starz Network, “It’s only just begun.”

“With an ever-changing group of players providing every specialty of content, the choices facing consumers brings variety to a whole new level.”

What’s this mean to consumers? It means that in the coming evolution of technology and content consumers will have their choice of virtually any content at any time from any device or platform.

“It’s the Wild West again!” declared James M. Berger, who’s law firm Thompson Coburn, LLP in Washington DC specializes in copyright and trademark law as it applies to Technology, Media, and Entertainment.

Berger’s perspective that no one really knows where we’re ultimately going because the variables are not stable long enough for uniformity is a salient and erudite one. It is true that while digital media is encroaching heavily on traditional media’s portion of the consumer pie, what will ultimately win the dollars and keep the eyeballs still remains anyone’s guess.

In a paradigm where Millennials are happy experiencing their worlds through a pocketsize screen, content providers are now charged with creating for a screen that fits in your pocket simultaneously as one that fills your living room wall. But the issue goes deeper. It has to do with deliverability.

Where are those elusive eyeballs?

While the big five or six media conglomerates dominate overwhelmingly in the broadcast, cable, and satellite space, in the digital world, it’s anyone’s game.

An executive with DirecTV, wishing to remain nameless, shared a statistic indicating that the average wireless device now offers between 300 and 1,000 apps. “This levels the playing field somewhat in that anyone can play. But is Bob’s self-designed super niche bug counting app able to compete with the likes of BeachBody whose web foot print has been significantly established? Or social sites like E-harmony or”

But the real question is not who is winning, but who will win?

Audra Priluck, VP at GfK Consulting North America says that there are just too many providers and not enough content yet.

“The problem is that our copyright laws and licensing agreements have not yet caught up with existing contracts and new technology. So we’re waiting for everyone to compete equally.”

If it is the Wild West, who’s the sheriff? Is there anyone able to wrangle the posse? Is there anyone emerging to bring it all into a cohesive platform?

Right now to get your content you have choices, but they’re expensive and web users want everything for free.

According to Damian Johnson, an independent market researcher, subscription services like DirecTV run an average household $150 per month for its set programming. Dish and Time Warner Digital Cable are fairly competitive.

Amazon Prime at $9.99 per month, Hulu at $7.99 and Netflix at $7.99 per month beg the question, Why not subscribe online,re cutting the cord and getting the same value?

“The problem,” shares Yolanda Burkenberg, a media consultant based in Seattle “is that the value of the customer has not yet been identified but it’s beginning to standardize.”

Her insight suggests a counter to the generally accepted perspective that large media enterprises can’t think like small ones and the small ones like Netflix, when it was new, who think big get the lion’s share of the market. Excellent examples are Redbox and DVDs.

The answer to the question of equality in the marketplace insists Ericson’s Vice President Business Development, David Price, is, “No sheriff yet!”

Price reveals that “We all want the biggest piece of the pie and every company is going to do whatever it can to get it.”

It seems obvious to me that as a result, a mobile device with 700 apps with 800 payment plans is what’s in store for many unless and until one of the big media technology players like Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, offers a plan where within one single app all your devices and all your content will be accessible with a click or two.

“Until that happens,” offers Bruce Lancaster with Logitech, “the confusion will continue and maybe even increase. But it’s great to watch it happen, because eventually the best will win and we’ll have an entirely new media landscape. It’s just going to take a few painful learning curves to get there.”

Learning curve is right, but at whose expense? Most likely the consumer’s as these titans must recoup their investments into this emerging marketplace.

So what have we learned at Digital Hollywood 2015?

For one, the future looks brighter and more dynamic than ever before. With so much burgeoning technology improving content creation, deliverability, and consumption, one can hardly wait for holography to come into play.

Also, one no longer needs a ton of money to be a legitimate player in online and digital media. Simply concoct a great premise, forego the studio process, the development deals, and the endless barrage of inane executive notes for changes, and if you’re lucky, really lucky, you just might be a hit.

The only thing yet to happen is the big brands and the many power players in all industries realizing the power of digital media and fully embracing it as they have traditional marketing. When that finally happens the powers that be will once again rise to the top and the digital world will become a playground of the already mighty and influential.

In other words, nothing has really changed.

– Mike Herman

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