By John Vanderhoef and Kevin Sanson
September 6 & 7, 2012
See Also: CVI Research Summit I
The Media Industries Project convened the entire Connected Viewing Research Team on Sept. 6 and 7 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA, for the initiative’s final two-day summit. The event marked the culmination of a yearlong research endeavor, a rare academic-industry partnership with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) that focused on the multi-screen, socially networked entertainment experience. At the summit, team members presented findings from 11 individual research projects to a room full of WB executives, including WBDD President Thomas Gewecke.
Research presentations discussed connected viewing as it relates to issues of consumer engagement, audience expectations, regulatory challenges, international markets, and windowing strategies. Individual case studies included second screen support apps, social media content curation, new distribution platforms and services, and emergent business models. Projects coalesced around themes of control, convenience, and cost--a set of core concerns that suggest growing enthusiasm from end users about connected viewing technologies and services thus far.
Specific findings emphasized the opportunities and challenges that “connected viewing” creates for content providers like WB. For example, researchers identified ways to encourage digital sell-through and promote collecting as well as issued urgent warnings about the importance of net neutrality, international data jurisdiction, and consumer privacy.
As the conversations between scholars and executives unfolded over the course of the summit, two distinct takeaways emerged:
First, the collaboration united a community of researchers and professionals around a common set of questions and concerns, a shared enthusiasm for content delivery and audience engagement in the digital era. Open, direct dialogue between the academy and industry is a rare opportunity. We speak different languages, work on different timelines, and prioritize different deliverables. Yet, CVI bridged those differences to cement something truly original, innovative, and exciting in academic-industry partnerships: a space in which the day-to-day pressures of working for a major media conglomerate were temporarily suspended to brainstorm alternative business strategies with a group of researchers whose training has primed them to deliver critical insights that market research firms and trade magazines do not explore.
Second, the conversation underscored the mercurial nature and definition of “connected viewing” itself. Our initial inquiries into the digital entertainment space have grown into conference proceedings, roundtable discussions, and various publications—all of which have significantly expanded our thinking about this moment of uncertainty for content providers and their audiences but also underscored the growing list of behaviors, platforms, services, and strategies under the “connected viewing” umbrella. Originally, we approached connected viewing as an activity that brings multiple screens into alignment and facilitates a more interactive mode of engagement with entertainment texts. Now, as a direct consequence of the research we’ve done, we have nuanced our understanding of the many ways in which connected viewing operates differently for regulators, consumers, content providers, and distributors. MIP will release additional details from the final research report in the coming months.
Finally, we want to thank our research team for their diligent work and imaginative research on the issues surrounding the digital future of content delivery, access, and engagement; and our partners at WB, who have shown a visionary enthusiasm for new research perspectives, and helped us forge this exciting collaboration.