Notes on the Revolutionary Expansion in Digital Content Availability

October 31, 2013

A revolution in digital content is sweeping the globe, forever changing how we create and consume the content we all love – from films and TV shows, to literature, music, video games, art and photographs. It’s a very exciting time for creators and makers, and all of us who work with them in the content industry and beyond.  The innovation at the core of this revolution is only going to continue.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to join representatives of Google Play, the National Music Publishers Association and the Digital Media Association on a panel hosted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) to discuss the impact that the surge in available content is having on both consumers and creators, and how this space has evolved in recent years. A link to a webcast of the panel discussion is available here.

One thing that’s clear is that quality content has never been more influential to the growth of the Internet than it is today.  If you want to attract visitors to your website, subscribers to your service, or eyeballs to your advertisements, your content needs to be compelling. That’s why players like Amazon and Netflix have begun producing their own original programming, and that is just as true for Hollywood studios who continue to be on the cutting-edge of the digital content revolution.

With services like HBOGo, Crackle, and Hulu that stream films and TV shows, to search engines like CanIStream.it, Fan.tv, GoWatchIt and others like iTunes, Vudu, and Target Ticket for purchasing movies and TV, companies are working every day to create innovative ways of delivering content to consumers when, where and how they want it.  At this moment there are 95 services in the U.S. providing access to online legal film and TV content, and all of them can be found on the MPAA’s recently launched website – wheretowatch.org.

These efforts show that we have a very competitive marketplace for developing compelling content, distributing it in new ways, and experimenting with new business models in order to meet consumer demand. And that is great news for everyone.

As my fellow panelist, Zahavah Levine, head of content partnerships at Google Play, said, “the market is working….” and we have “more legal digital content options than ever before.”

But even with all of these new innovations, the problem of piracy remains. A recently study by NetNames concluded that the amount of bandwidth used for infringing content represents nearly a quarter of the total bandwidth used by all Internet users.

It’s going to take all stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem collaborating in good faith in order to make a meaningful reduction in that number. But it can be done.  Voluntary initiatives like the Copyright Alert System (CAS) – a partnership between the major ISPs and the movie and music industries, which alerts consumers when they have accessed illegal content and helps guide them to other legal sources for accessing that content – are perfect examples of how we can create a safe, secure and sustainable Internet for consumers and creators by working together and ushering the next big innovation in digital content.