Thursday, July 9, 2009

DISNEY chief - Bob Iger promises.....people Will pay for Digital Online Content

Sun Valley: Paid Content on the Agenda

By Julia Angwin

As the media moguls gather here in Sun Valley, Idaho, for their annual schmooze-fest, there is one phrase on everybody’s lips as they emerge from their sports-utility vehicles:

“paid content.”

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a surprise attendee in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week.

They’re not talking about their current paid content — those traditional-but-declining businesses of selling magazines, newspapers and access to cable shows.
They are talking about the dream that consumers will pay for digital versions of those things on the Internet.
That’s their hoped-for path to future growth and, for many, mere survival.

Every year, nearly 300 powerful media executives gather here at the secretive Allen & Co. summit, to which the press is not invited.
Perennial attendees include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller.
As the definition of media has expanded to include the Internet, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Evan Williams have been added to the guest list.

We interviewed a few of the executives as they were stepping out of their rental cars.

First up was the highly confident Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, who claimed that paid content was a fait accompli.

“People are going to pay for content,” he said.
“We are not worried about that.”
At the same time, Mr. Iger said proudly that Disney had this week begun putting ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” on Hulu — which is a free service.

We didn’t have a chance to ask him about the contradiction.
But soon enough Blake Krikorian, former CEO of Sling Media, arrived to blast the TV networks for digging themselves into a hole.
Unlike the music industry, he said, which was blindsided by Napster, Mr. Krikorian said the television industry has been pirating its own shows by placing them on the Internet for free.

“Now they are going to try to put the genie back in the bottle,” Mr. Krikorian said, ostensibly referring to efforts such as Time Warner’s “TV Everywhere” initiative.

Upon his arrival, former AOL executive Ted Leonsis chimed in that media executives who are hoping to to force consumers to pay for content are likely to be “disappointed.”

Amidst all the arrivals, check-ins and press interviews, some confusion ensued.
Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer mistakenly drove off in BET founder Robert Johnson’s gray-green Nissan Pathfinder.
He quickly realized his mistake and drove back to return the car.
The two shook hands.
If only all the media executives could agree so easily to charge for content.

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