XBIZ Conference '09: The Future for Video Producers

Bob Preston
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — The panelists for the Future for Video Producers seminar were all looking for the same thing: a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I'm hoping that people will stay home and watch movies [during the recession]," said Digital Playground's Joone. "I'm hoping it'll help us."

The panel covered several topics, including a look at the biggest challenges facing content producers, an evaluation of the Blu-ray format, as well as a survey of attractive new content delivery solutions.

The panel was moderated by XBIZ Premiere editor Steve Javors and included Joone of Digital Playground; Ben Jelloun of Metro Interactive; Marc Bruder of CED; Michael Klein of Hustler; and Sean Holland of New Sensations. Traffic Dude and Video Secrets were the sponsors.

The panelists agreed that content piracy and video-sharing tube sites constituted the biggest challenge for content producers today. Many of the panelists suggested that the days of churning out cheaply produced content are over.

CED's Bruder said that a new DVD release used to start at 2,000 units, but has since declined to 600 units "at half price" because so much content winds up on tube sites. Bruder also suggested that producers may want to ask consumers to watch advertisements in exchange for a free movie.

All of the panelists agreed that producing high-quality content is one important way to compete with tube sites.

"We always say, 'You can get water for free, but people will pay for it in a bottle,'" Joone said.

The panelists were dubious of IPTV services like Fyre.tv, which puts a box on top of consumers' TV sets to deliver porn. Overall, they agreed that consumers are confused by all the choices and tired of hooking up so many boxes to their TVs. In addition, Hustler's Klein joked that even if consumers wanted to buy yet another box, it might not be for adult.

"It's a tough thing to get people to put another box on their TV," he said. "Companies should still offer a mixture of other products, and it might be a better idea to get porn in with other IPTV deals. I mean, are people going to say, 'Welcome to my house. This is my porn box'?"

The panelists also saw value in pursuing the siren song of mainstream, as well as the long-term savvy in recruiting and cultivating a pool of contract stars. Joone called the R-rated cuts of his "Pirates" movies "full-length ads" for the X-rated versions, and Klein noted that a little bit of infamy — long the purview of Hustler chieftain Larry Flynt — goes a long way.

As for contract stars, the panelists agreed that choosing to pay the extra money for them pays off with loyal fan followings and the possibilities of building larger movies with multiple stars.