Movie Trailers

19 09 2007

Chris Thilk, in a column in BRANDWEEK, discusses why movie trailers are effective and wonders why more movie studies aren’t putting them online in places like YouTube. He makes mention, at the end, about NBC’s attempt to wrest control of their content from Apple and put it on their own site, hulu.com.

NBC and Fox are correct in their thinking behind Hulu.com: People do want professionally produced content online. But where they start to be wrong is when they think they can define where that content lives. Users want to find it where they are, not where they’re told to be.

He is absolutely correct in his postulate that users can’t be dragooned into a site which isn’t comprehensive. It’s all about where people congregate. Unless you’re supplying a particular niche, users like to go to an iTunes or a YouTube or a Facebook where they can pick and choose among a wide variety of files. It’s like Walmart. It’s easier to go there for six different items, all other things being equal, than to shop at six stores for them. Why would I want to go to hulu for NBC and Fox content, and another site for ABC, and a third for CBS (who, by the way, announced that they’re very happy with iTunes, thank you very much).

Interestingly, NBC announced today that they would be making their own shows available on yet another website — their own — for one week after they air. The downloadable files, which won’t be available for the Mac initially, would time expire after seven days of air, and have embedded ads which could not be skipped.

Ironically, when this venture fails, it won’t be because it is PC only. It will be for two main reasons the biggest of which is that users will download a show one day and go to watch it a week later and it will be gone. This is not something that happens on iTunes or on our PVRs like Tivo. The other is that, except for must watch shows like HEROES and THE OFFICE, no one is going to be shovelling around on NBC for shows they don’t know about. It’s much more satisfying to do that on a place that has content from more than one provider. The analogy to television doesn’t work guys. You don’t have my allegiance unequivocally. In a world in which I’m no longer sure what channel or time slot my shows are one (thanks to my PVR’s search and record functions), why should I remember to go to NBC?

About the only hopeful innovation in the announcement is the auto-download feature. Like iTunes full-season function, or Tivo’s Season Pass (or, even more accurately, a podcast’s RSS function), you’ll be able to schedule a show’s download for the future.

Which all circles around back to the BRANDWEEK column. Film distribution companies need to go where the viewers are, even when they don’t know where that location is. To seed a trailer or other promo piece in a place where viewers can download it or send it along virally to their friends will help send the message to a lot more people than if the studio held onto the distribution themselves.

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