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Monday, December 05, 2005

Times clips: Sundance, video-on-demand

Two quick links from the NY Times...

Swell piece yesterday about how the selection process works for the Sundance Film Festival. John Clark got a inside look into how Geoffrey Gilmore and his team of programmers make their choices. They winnowed 7459 films - features, shorts, and docs - down to 120 final selections. Gilmore alone says he watches between 800 and 1000 films a year. Every film is seen at least once in its entirely. Wonder what the process would look like if it was distributed, using the Net, to an army of a hundred or a thousand programmers... Would the 'widsom of crowds' effect kick in - and would the selections be better or worse? (Click on the graphic at right - it illustrates how the process works.)

Richard Siklos writes in Monday's Times about the wrangling that's taking place in the video-on-demand:

    "...the road to video convergence is crowded with convoluted business relationships and potential conflicts. Behind the press releases, a major power struggle is unfolding among a wide group of stakeholders - from studios to satellite operators to manufacturers of consumer products - as new ventures are being devised for the digital age.

    "We've taken a couple of steps forward, but there really isn't a clear business model yet," said David Zaslav, the president of NBC Universal Cable.

    One issue is whether consumers ought to pay for their shows individually or whether on-demand access should be a free component of a subscription to video services provided by cable or satellite operators or newer competitors like Internet or telecom companies. Another is whether the shows will be sold for viewing during a set time period, or will be permanent so that consumers can collect them like DVD's. And, not surprisingly, a big point of contention is how the revenue generated by these new services is shared. As a result, only a handful of the most popular shows on television are available on-demand so far.


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