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Producer Herskovitz warns of devaluing content

June 6, 2010 | 12:18 pm

Veteran television and movie producer Marshall Herskovitz is worried that big media's rush to exploit new platforms for content could ultimately end up cheapening the value of that content.

Speaking Sunday morning at the Producer Guild's second annual "Produced By" conference being held on the Fox lot, Herskovitz, whose producing credits include "Blood Diamond," "The Last Samurai" and "thirtysomething" warned that the networks and studios are "devaluing content" by throwing television shows online. "Everything you make is available everywhere and hence has less intrinsic value.... I don't have a solution for it."

Herskovitz expressed concern about the shortening of windows between a movie's theatrical release and when it shows up on DVD, video-on-demand and elsewhere."The audience experience," he said has been devalued.

Herskovitz also said producing original scripted content for the Internet is not a business yet but will be. He tried his hand at creating original web programming with "Quarterlife." The magic number for success there, he said, is getting 1 million hits.  

"The advertising model for new media simply isn't there yet," Herskovitz said. In a chat after his session, Herskovitz said a typical six- to eight-minute episode of "Quarterlife" cost about $150,000, which was "way too expensive for the Internet." Episodes of the show were averaging just under 400,000 hits.

The big problem, Herskovitz said, is marketing. Without a million hits, it is hard to draw serious ad dollars and without a big marketing campaign, getting to a million hits is a huge hurdle.

-- Joe Flint