My 2 Cents

At night when I cannot sleep, thinking about all the money buyers will shell out for dinners at Ginza Sushiko during the L.A. Screenings, a recurring thought comes to mind: "As an industry, where are we going?" Well, we know men don't like to ask for directions, so let's rely on instinct. But, let's first find out, at least, where we are.

At this point in time, I'm sorry to say, we're in the middle of nowhere and entrenched in a fog. We have a map and a compass, but they seem useless. We even have GPS, but that, too, is useless, since we cannot input our destination.

Our guide keeps saying that content is king and, therefore, as long as the industry meets the audience’s expectations, we don't have to worry about reaching our final destination.

But, it's not that simple because we’ve reached a fork in the road, and, at present, we cannot differentiate content (our King) from transport (our Queen). We're now left with Yogi Berra's logic of "when you come to a fork in the road, take it!" –– meaning that no one knows if we should focus on content, or concentrate on transport and technology; thus we take both directions. But, we cannot continue to be "Jack of all trades and master of none."

Our industry works via symbiosis but, in order to work well, there needs to be a separation of power between the two sectors.

This balance, or symmetry, is created only when the two elements and their peculiarities are taken into consideration:

  1. Transport cannot be restrictive.
  2. Content cannot be selective.

For many years now, the multi-media environment (from the 500-channel push to the single-channel pull) has provided a justification to restrict the transport to a few players. Early on, the industry viewed fragmentation as a threat and, thus, replaced it with concentration. This, however, went against basic logic: In effect, when the channels were few, the players were many; when the channels became many, the players were few.

These few players were then encouraged to be selective in their content consumption, favoring what they produced themselves.

Under these circumstances, the line between the two symbiotic elements –– content and transport –– became blurred and they lost their symmetry. Indeed, by losing the proper equilibrium, the industry has lost its sense of direction, rendering the future vision unclear.

However, we could easily regain the "vision thing" by separating the two basic elements that represent the foundation of our industry: content and transport.

In order for our industry to face a clear future with confidence, we need content providers to be just that, and transport providers to make that their sole direction.

This way, companies focusing on transport will provide the best possible highway for the present and be well prepared for the future.

Companies that focus on content will face the future with renewed confidence knowing that they will have transport companies as clients, not competitors.

Dom Serafini