I think the primary issue isn’t what platform/medium to develop for but rather what the revenue model is for each. For example developing a web-series is inherently different in how the creator gets paid, upfront investment, ownership of content etc… And where most traditional content creators are stuck is in looking at the small per user profit in the new media platforms, ignoring how big the actual audience can be and the high return a successful I.P. could have. You also have to consider the fact that traditional TV has significant constraints such as a set number of shows that can be aired in a day, inflexibility of when a person can watch a particular show, content restrictions, etc.. and similar points can be argued for the traditional film model. Whereas, new media content distribution (mainly through mobile apps, YouTube channels, websites etc…) allows the audience to watch the program whenever they choose, pause and resume viewing, re-watch multiple times, watch an entire season in one lump period and watch on different devices.

Here are some of the most important reasons I think talented content creators should seriously consider digital video development alongside their big plans for TV/film:

1. Gaming – The rise of the freemium model (there are several examples of traditional console game developers and publishers that were pushed out of the market because of new business models created for mobile and online games). Even in the context of non-gaming content creators, it’s still an important fact to point out because it can illustrate how giving away something for free can lead to large returns (i.e. free first two webisodes of a show requiring purchase of each subsequent episode)

2. Online ad spending – Even if we exclude non-us ad spending (which by virtue of being online one could position their brand to generate revenue from more than just US audiences), total US online ad spending has already surpassed total US print ad spending and is on pace to catch up with total US TV ad spending in the next 4-5 years.

3. Music industry disruption – The music industry was the first of the big media industries to be disrupted by the Internet and spent years of trying to stop the disruption resulting in enormous losses. They finally embraced digital sales and for the first time in more than a decade posted a positive growth in worldwide sales. Hollywood will eventually embrace digital revenue streams as a much bigger part of the larger pie and content creators can start positioning themselves for when that time comes.

4. YouTube – Not only is YouTube incredibly viral and caters to any target market a content creator might want to reach out to, it also offers a platform to make advertising revenue from much lower budget productions and use hard data (e.g. number of views/subscribers) to pitch a show to a major network/studio (e.g. Annoying Orange). Even Disney is launching a new children’s series on YouTube based on the Talking Tom Cat app. Not to mention the incredible resources provided by YouTube (funding and production) and other YouTube focused production studios for content creators.

5. Geographic limitations of traditional media – A TV production will typically spend a few seasons in the U.S. before either attracting the attention of foreign buyers (or become cheap enough for them to purchase the rights). Whereas an online-based distribution model doesn’t set any geographical limitations as to who can consume the content from Day 1. Also, the market for English speaking populations is much larger than just the U.S., U.K. and Canada when you account for countries where the primary language might not be English but the audiences are well versed in consuming English produced content. Even though TV stations and movie theaters purchase foreign productions, there’s still an agenda to fit in content produced in their primary language and that further limits the total market size you can sell to.

6. U.S. cordcutters – Besides the growing trend of consuming most content online, US audiences have been gradually cutting ties with their cable TV providers. The number of cord-cutters (people that have no Cable TV) per year is still pretty small but that’s probably in large part due to the fact that most cable providers are also the internet provider for the majority of the population. And for the time being, companies like Comcast and Time Warner have been able to limit the amount of cord-cutters by making it more expensive to have Internet service vs. bundle of TV+Internet. But I seriously doubt that will prove to be a sustainable approach and eventually the traditional TV audience size will be downsized.

7. Content optimization – Data analytics are probably the most exciting tool content creators have ever had. From information as simple as the ability to know the demographic profile and location of each user and optimizing the ad experience delivered to more advanced information such as what elements/characters/themes resonate best and even how to most effectively trigger a purchase decision (where applicable) is a great revenue growth tool currently only found in new media platforms.

8. ‘Smart’ mobile device sales and growth – Internet enabled and high performing mobile devices have been on a tear in the developed markets and when you look at the explosive potential sales growth that will result from market penetration in developing countries, the mobile market size alone offers incredible opportunities. 9. Interaction – We’re part of an increasingly shifting social interaction model which calls for more than just passive viewing of content. Whether its commenting on news stories, tweeting actively along a show, videotaping oneself while playing a game, live chat with others in the same viewing audience etc… content creators have the opportunity to create unique interaction experiences for their audience that are otherwise unavailable in traditional TV/Film mediums.

9. Interaction – We’re part of an increasingly shifting social interaction model which calls for more than just passive viewing of content. Whether its commenting on news stories, tweeting actively along a show, videotaping oneself while playing a game, live chat with others in the same viewing audience etc… content creators have the opportunity to create unique interaction experiences for their audience that are otherwise unavailable in traditional TV/Film mediums. The linear model of viewing TV or shows will change and its very likely that a model where the audience will be able to have a direct effect on how the story progresses will become a critical component in future video developments.