Digital networks see linear TV ripe for replacement


Multi-channel content networks: a platform whose time has come?

Apparently so, judging by the heads of some of the industry’s biggest disruptive forces in digital distribution these days, including Machinima, Maker Studios, Smosh and Fullscreen.

“It really is ready for the lights to go on,” Drew Buckley, COO of Electus, Ben Silverman’s cross-platform studio, said as he emceed a panel on MCNs at the Stream conference on Tuesday.

As traditional and new media converges and content creators look at how to exploit emerging cross-platform opportunities in the digital space, the MCN execs told conference delegates about the benefits of going with a digital over a TV network in a cross-media world.

“Advertising dollars eventually follow eyeballs. The eyeballs are usually way ahead of the ad dollars,” Chris M. Williams, chief development officer at Maker Studios, said as he foresaw an increasing alignment of advertisers online going forward.

“It will eventually happen. Will there be one single tipping point, or an evolution? It will happen. That money has to go where the consumption is, and the eyeballs,” he added.

Barry Blumberg, executive vice president of Alloy Digital, said event TV like live sports and HBO’s Game of Thrones on Sunday nights will continue to draw big ad dollars.

But appointment TV aside, audiences will increasingly embrace on-demand viewing, leaving the linear TV model ripe for replacement.

“Having to program at 3 a.m., that’s the challenge,” he argued.

The MCNs were also represented by Brett Bouttier, COO of AwesomenessTV, who hails from a TV background.

AwesomenessTV, a multi-platform creator of digital content, launched as a YouTube Original Channel and was recently acquired by Dreamworks Animation for a reported $33 million.

Bouttier, who was previously general manager of digital at the Warner Bros Television Group as well as general manager of TMZ said, “As a company, we realized the power of the audience online when you have a loyal brand, and the creative freedom that comes when you distribute something yourself.”