House of Opportunity: Disrupting the Programming Model | Blog
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Gary3Unless you're living in a cave, you're aware of the sea change in digital programming and delivery. The incredible growth of streaming services, dropping television HUT levels, the cord-cutting phenomenon – all of these changes and more have programming executives consuming truckloads of Ambien to get a good night's sleep. It seems like there's a new game-changer every week. Let's focus on just one – a potentially unnoticed aspect of a recent big game changer, the release of "House of Cards" on Netflix.

The release of a high profile series offering compelling subject matter, written and directed by top-notch talent, released all at one time had HUGE industry-wide ramifications, but it just might be the tip of the iceberg. I, personally, watched all 13 episodes on my iPad in two days. Whether or not you liked the series, "House of Cards" may have laid the ground work to be the "House of Opportunity!"

Unless you're living in a cave, you're aware of the sea change in digital programming and delivery. The incredible growth of streaming services, dropping television HUT levels, the cord-cutting phenomenon – all of these changes and more have programming executives consuming truckloads of Ambien to get a good night's sleep. It seems like there's a new game-changer every week. Let's focus on just one – a potentially unnoticed aspect of a recent big game changer, the release of "House of Cards" on Netflix.

The release of a high profile series offering compelling subject matter, written and directed by top-notch talent, released all at one time had HUGE industry-wide ramifications, but it just might be the tip of the iceberg. I, personally, watched all 13 episodes on my iPad in two days. Whether or not you liked the series, "House of Cards" may have laid the ground work to be the "House of Opportunity!"

Let's assume "House of Cards" got the result Netflix intended: added value for current customers plus new viewers. Let's take this added value one step farther: What if offering of an entire season, all at once, became a new revenue driver for content producers and digital distributors? What if AMC offered the entire season of "Madmen" in advance for a premium on iTunes, even though it was available for free later? What if Showtime did the same with "Homeland"? What if network TV got in on the act, offering the entire series of "The Good Wife" in advance for a premium?

Some might be skeptical about getting people to pay for content that would soon be offered for free, but we did see this model work with "Downton Abbey." I was one of the die-hard fans who gladly paid $14.95 for the third season, which included the last five episodes in advance, even though they aired for free just weeks later. By the way, that offer dominated the top of the sales charts for weeks. The content holders and distributors picked up millions in additional "found money" for "Downton Abbey," just because fans like me couldn't wait or wanted to watch in our own time frame on our choice of device. Tell me that "Homeland" and "Madmen" are available on the same basis, and I am already taking out my credit card – if the price is right.

This "found money" formula could increase revenue significantly and give consumers something they really want: the opportunity to watch their favorite programming anytime on any device and pay a premium to avoid unresolved storylines. Think of how this kind of offer could change the dynamics of both production and distribution.

Of course, this model would not work for all programming. There are obvious criteria, especially being popular, that would need to apply. But think of the disruption that this opportunity could have on the way programing is monetized. The only downside, of course, is that people wouldn't have as much to discuss around the water cooler.


About the author

Gary3Gary Delfiner, President of Digital Distribution of Screen Media Ventures & Creator of Popcornflix, LLC

Gary’s key responsibility is developing, managing, and distributing POPCORNFLIX, the company’s digital streaming movie platform. Additionally, Gary is responsible for developing direct relationships with the major worldwide digital platforms for the purpose of exploiting Screen Media’s library of over 2000 films. Gary works closely with those platforms to develop promotional and marketing opportunities to focus consumer attention on the company’s assets. Screen Media’s digital distribution division actively aggregates film content from independent producers and suppliers specifically for digital exploitation.  As a twenty year veteran of the home entertainment business, Gary held several executive positions in the industry. At Spelling Entertainment, Gary was one of the key executives who created the home entertainment division called Worldvison Home Video.  As head of acquisition and marketing, Gary distributed hundreds of films as well as exploiting Aaron Spelling’s library of programming. At Spelling, Gary helped pioneer distribution of television shows on video. The release of Beverly Hills 90210 and Twin Peaks were among the first ever releases of that genre.  When Spelling Entertainment acquired Republic Pictures, Gary became the head of original film production for Republic. During his tenure, he developed and executive produced 15 films. Gary also developed and managed international co-productions deals.  After leaving Spelling, Gary continued to produce television and movies under his own banner of Gemini Releasing.  Gary was honored with the Parents Choice Award for his Showtime Original film Wildcat Canyon, as well as two Canadian Gemini Awards for the kid’s series I Was A Sixth Grade Alien the CBS television film Borrowed Hearts. Wanting to return to his distribution roots, Gary joined Screen Media Ventures in 2008. Gary is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Film and Television.