Blog Post

Eisner: (High-end) Content is King

It’s not a huge surprise that Michael Eisner is a fan of premium content. He did, after all, run Disney (s DIS), one of the largest entertainment factories in the world. But in a nice little Q&A over at Broadcasting & Cable, Eisner showed just how big a proponent he is of high-end content. You should read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

On free content: “It’s hysterical experimentation, but it’s not altogether inappropriate. Nobody knows what the next act is.”

On distribution vs. content: “My bet has always been what is more important, content or distribution; distribution companies tend to be more and less relevant with the waving of a wand. People still underestimate the value of content. If you have ownership of high-end, exclusive content, end of game.”

On high-end content: “This [environment] has killed mediocre content. Audiences don’t just have to sit there anymore and be entertained by mediocre content like in the past.”

Eisner’s words dovetail nicely with a discussion we had in our comments over the weekend about Dr. Horrible‘s success. That was a case where ownership of high-end content stood out from all else out there, and created both paid and free distribution opportunities for itself. It didn’t matter whether you got Horrible through Hulu, iTunes or physical DVDs, people just wanted it because it was so good. Granted, not everyone has those sweetheart relationships with Hollywood talent and distribution muscle, but Whedon’s actions and Eisner’s words are worth paying attention to.

11 Responses to “Eisner: (High-end) Content is King”

  1. I think you might consider answering modelmotion’s question about web series, or at least give a couple of examples of web series you have watched. I’m not questioning your competence to discuss them, just curious really.

    • Chris Albrecht

      I like “The Legend of Neil” quite a bit (I’d say more than “The Guild”), I never miss an episode of “iFanboy” (though that’s non-fiction), Slate’s had some great stuff lately (again, I know that’s not a “series” but they, like College Humor consistently put out great video.) I liked “Dorm Life.” I didn’t like “Angel of Death” as much as I wanted to, nor “Rockville.” “Gold: The Series” didn’t do anything for me. Love the “Onion News Network.” I appreciate “Fred” for what and who he is. “CTRL” was a decent attempt at a web series from a network. “Gemini Division’s” green screens left me cold. “The Roadents” on Crackle made me giggle a time or two.

      Have I watched every single episode of all of those series? Nope. Even the stuff I really really like. There are lots of things to watch (and read, and listen to, and write about) and only so many hours in a day.

  2. David Clark

    What Eisner is saying is that in a world of abundance, talent (a necessary ingredient of compelling content) is scarce. The web makes talent easier to find, but god only hands out so much.

  3. Did you actually read the discussion on your own Dr. Horrible story. Clearly you did. How then do you justify the totality of that discussion in the context of this current post. Many of the comments supported the value and quality of shows like OzGirl and Maddison Atkins not the big studio pipeline.

    Please explain yourself.

    • Chris Albrecht

      I did read the discussion, and enjoyed it quite a bit.

      I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. What I was saying today is that anyone who is creating (and owning) quality content is on the right path.

      • And by implication you are saying that independent web series creations such as OzGirl and Maddison Atkins are on the wrong path? Clearly a lot of people pointed out to you that there are a number of things worth watching. What web series have you actually watched from beginning to end or do you simply look at the numbers and write off anything that does not get massive views as a phail?

        • Chris Albrecht

          Yikes. This isn’t a town hall and we’re not talking about health care.

          I didn’t define what quality is. I’m actually including anyone who creates content. Regardless of what I think about it, if a series finds an audience, being the creator — not merely the distributor of that content is the better position to be in.

          Now. Let’s go have a beer summit.

          • You really did not answer the question. Which web series have you watched from beginning to end?

            You cannot just wash every issue away with some flip remark. You make a statement and now you are being asked to justify it. That seems perfectly reasonable. To disparage a fair question with some oblique accusation of biased “heckling” just is not the reality here.

            I actually thought your original article had some merit because Dr. Horrible truely was awesome. However the discussion that followed convinced me that there are actually many other web series out there worth watching and not getting the views they deserve. True the big studios have the upper hand right now and true Dr. H was a major event. However your characterization of the discussion that followed is just plain misleading and inaccurate.

            • JimmyJones

              Hey modelmotion, R-E-L-A-X.

              Having quality content IS a requirement but is not sufficent (yet) for success. Just as independent films in physical theaters (regardless of ‘quality’) have to fight for audiences in ways that the studios do not, the same is true for the web.

              The fact that the distribution model has changed has not mattered (yet) in determining success — you still have to have significant resources to produce a high-quality product. And to date, that’s meant the backing of a studio. Hopefully that will change.

            • If you read the discussion on the link posted, it talks about quality content that does not come from the established media conglomerates. I fail to see how this conversation “dovetails nicely” with this present article. Would you care to explain that?