Apr 24, 2019

Silicon Valley and Hollywood team up on shared streaming battles

Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein with comedian and producer Wanda Sykes. Photo: Alison Yin/Variety/Shutterstock

On Tuesday, a number of Hollywood and NYC execs shared a stage with their Silicon Valley counterparts at an event hosted by Variety magazine to discuss how their worlds collide. It was cheekily named "Silicon Valleywood."

The big picture: As tech providers get into the content business and the content makers spin up their own streaming services, Hollywood and Silicon Valley are looking to learn from each other — and even unite for shared battles.

What they're saying: "If we let a group of regulators in Washington or in Brussels regulate how we distribute content … we're all a little screwed," Viacom Digital Studios president Kelly Day said at the event.

More from the event's discussions:

1. Business models: "We're looking at companies with multiple revenue streams," said Comcast Ventures managing director Amy Banse during a panel. "Advertising is certainly one … but we're seeing companies come out with subscriptions, e-commerce."

  • And while online streaming has been all the rage, some execs admitted that the economics are still challenging and that it's unclear exactly how many (or few) services consumers will ultimately want to pay for.

2. Data: While helpful in identifying underserved audiences, for example, it won't dictate individual elements of a piece of content, Snap head of content strategy Mike DiBenedetto said during a storytelling panel, with other execs agreeing with him.

3. Screen talent: "Now there's just more opportunities, more avenues," comedian and producer Wanda Sykes said of the effect of new distribution channels like Netflix.

  • "Broadcast and cable, it was about their audience and what they were looking for ... But now, it's just 'go for it' — and hopefully somebody will be into this." (Sykes has a comedy special coming up on Netflix.)

Flashback: Variety's event came just a month after Apple hosted some of Hollywood's biggest stars at its own Silicon Valley press event to unveil its TV ambitions.

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