Michael Eisner spoke at the Microsoft advance08 conference Tuesday, delivering what the Seattle PI called his “Internet Content Manifesto.” The former head of Disney (and the guy who begat Prom Queen) talked about YouTube’s place in the digital landscape, the length of web programming and how storytelling is the next killer app.
“YouTube is celebrated as a completely revolutionary concept — and it is. The ability for anyone, anywhere to create and distribute short-form entertainment that can be seen by anyone else, anywhere else is an extraordinary development. But in many ways, YouTube is very old news. It is to the Internet what the nickelodeon was to the movies — a very preliminary installment of what is to come.”
So what is next? Eisner thinks there is an opportunity for creative storytelling that takes advantage of the web’s unique interactive and community aspects. And he doesn’t think that audiences necessarily have to be fed in short bites of entertainment.
“Internet users…will stay with a story for as long as it’s good. It’s not just 90 seconds or two minutes. They’ll stay with a story if it’s 10 minutes, 20 minutes, even 30 minutes.”
Portals like MSN or Yahoo should take note. Eisner also warned that focusing on search to the exclusion of creating an environment conducive to telling stories would be a big mistake, that it would provide an opportunity for someone — possibly him — to become their competition:
“One of them, whether it’s Yahoo, MSN or MySpace, has got to say, story-driven content is going to be the next big app, and we better be there.”
UPDATE: During his talk yesterday, Eisner also announced that Vuguru will launch an online series based around baseball card company Topps (which Eisner also owns). Back on Topps will follow a group of executives vying to succeed fictional head of the company Martin Topps. The Sklar brothers (of Layers) will star.