The Battle Between Studios & Digital Media

Watching TV & film studios learn to profit in the world of digital media has become an obsessive hobby to many. The major players in both industries are figuring out how to live in a world where content and brands are ubiquitous. Today's New York Times article examines a recent debate over the show "24."

Until recently, that model worked something like this: a studio sold the initial rights to broadcast a program to a network within its own company or that of a competitor, usually for far less money than it had cost to make the show. The studio then waited patiently for the time, probably four years later, when the network's exclusive right to broadcast those episodes would end, thus allowing the studio to sell the show in syndication and not only erase the deficit but hopefully turn a profit.

But opportunities to get that material into ancillary markets much sooner — on DVD, as well as, more recently, via the Web and cellphones — have emerged as potential new sources of revenue for the studios that produce that content. But negotiations over how exactly to get a show to the point that it can be downloaded onto someone's iPod, for example, have created new tensions between studios and networks, including over how to share the additional revenue. Web revenue is small now, but if it ever approaches the scale of some series on DVD, the prize could be substantial.

The question of how to divide the profits from emerging media formats will continue to dominate the trades. Production companies and networks are dedicated to putting their content on as many platforms as possible.


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