Consumer Coup?

sweeney.jpgAt a recent media gathering, Disney-ABC Television President Anne Sweeney lamented the state of her business:

“We all thought we were in charge of the consumer experience,” Sweeney said. Today, “it’s all about when a consumer wants it,” what device they want it on and where they want to view it, Sweeney told attendees of the Aspen Summit on Monday.

That’s an interesting,and typically adverserial, way to put it. What’s really happening is consumers finally have the tools to shape the entertainment experience any way they want to. Whether that means using a DVR to skip commercials, remixing a song or video or making their own content and bypassing the majors completely, consumers are running the table, no matter how many lawmakers the RIAA or MPA pay off.

In a now-familiar whine, Sweeney said, “Piracy is a pretty darn good business model when you think about it” – as if that were the problem. The fact that millions of netizens see a digital copy of “Desperate Housewives” 15 minutes after it airs is GOOD for Disney’s business. It’s the watercooler effect mutated into King Kong.

Let me put it another way. How do you think a DVD market for reruns came to be in the first place? Not due to some pent-up demand for the mediocre crap that passes for TV’s best work these days. People saw the shape of things to come. The industry had little to do with that awakening; in fact, if left to its’ own devices, it would have killed it.

It still wants it dead, so blind are they to the exponential growth opportunities it represents.

With that reality so clear, what else do consumers have left to do? Of COURSE they’ll YouTube, ABSOLUTELY they’ll fill the Internet with the content they want. If the industry can’t figure out how to make that work for them, that’s their problem, not one for our laws to remedy.

“We all thought we were in charge of the consumer experience,” Sweeney whines.

You WERE. You’re fired.

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