Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television

Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television

Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television

Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television


Distribution Revolution is a collection of interviews with leading film and TV professionals concerning the many ways that digital delivery systems are transforming the entertainment business. These interviews provide lively insider accounts from studio executives, distribution professionals, and creative talent of the tumultuous transformation of film and TV in the digital era. The first section features interviews with top executives at major Hollywood studios, providing a window into the big-picture concerns of media conglomerates with respect to changing business models, revenue streams, and audience behaviors. The second focuses on innovative enterprises that are providing path-breaking models for new modes of content creation, curation, and distribution--creatively meshing the strategies and practices of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And the final section offers insights from creative talent whose professional practices, compensation, and everyday working conditions have been transformed over the past ten years. Taken together, these interviews demonstrate that virtually every aspect of the film and television businesses is being affected by the digital distribution revolution, a revolution that has likely just begun.

Interviewees include:

• Gary Newman, Chairman, 20th Century Fox Television
• Kelly Summers, Former Vice President, Global Business Development and New Media Strategy, Walt Disney Studios
• Thomas Gewecke, Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Warner Bros. Entertainment
• Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix
• Felicia D. Henderson, Writer-Producer, Soul Food, Gossip Girl
• Dick Wolf, Executive Producer and Creator, Law & Order


In the past five years, the scramble to manage the digital future of film and television has sparked both turmoil and transformation, forcing industry leaders to reconsider established maxims about how screen media are created, circulated, and consumed. We see it almost every day in the headlines of trade papers and the mainstream press. For example, the 2007 Writers Guild strike hinged on payments and residuals for network and cable television content being streamed online. After a long and bitter conflict, the writers finally settled when the studios agreed to pay them more for digitally distributed work. Although the strike was costly for all concerned, the writers seemed to understand that a new era was dawning. Not only were digital platforms recycling content from other media, they also were becoming original creative forces in the entertainment industry.

Netflix is perhaps the most obvious example. In 2013, the leading subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service surprised its cable and network counterparts with prominent Emmy nominations for original productions such as Arrested Development and House of Cards. Netflix says more original content is on the way. Meanwhile, Amazon and Hulu are rolling out their own programming. For now, these new shows look much like their broadcast and cable peers, but the programmers at the major SVOD services say that they don’t need to play the ratings game and that they’re aiming to break the mold with new approaches. Inflated rhetoric perhaps, but they have already proven that they are willing to leave tradition behind by releasing an entire season’s worth of original episodes all at once, which has film and television companies abuzz with speculation about further innovations on the horizon.

Of course the major media conglomerates have their own plans for the digital future. That became clear when Kevin Tsujihara was tapped to take . . .

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