What can Kevin Spacey teach enterprise?
The last few weekends I’ve been absorbed with watching The Americans, Broadwalk Empire and Breaking Bad. The common thread is that the new genre of ‘TV’ is rapidly going to NetFlix and/or Apple for extended distribution – and it is working. In the case of House of Cards, gone are the days when you had to wait from one week to another in order to catch up on your favorite show. Now you can get it on demand all in one go, from the get go.
In the above (edited) video, Kevin Spacey makes a powerful case for the refactoring of content distribution in recognition of the way the movie industry is going. He makes numerous statements that should serve as lessons for enterprise generally. And while the model he is discussing won’t transmute to every industry, there are broad lessons to be learned. Among other things:
Old v new: The tried and tested methods of the past are no longer relevant in a world where consumption habits are changing.
Data matters: Netflix was the only company willing to bet on a release of a full series in one go. Their data told them that model would work. I know that’s true from my own consumption patterns.
Omni-channel is gold: In Spacey’s example, he refers to the many ways in which movies can be consumed: TV, tablet, phone, laptop – basically any device, anywhere. If enterprise removes the consumption friction then the possibilities to connect become prize fruit.
Build with passion: Spacey talks about a ‘golden age’ where great content goes everywhere, gets talked about, gets foisted upon others. “All we have to do is give it them.” In business I wonder whether we have truly grasped what that means. There are examples. Nike with its FuelBand, attendant services and occasional email.
According to Wikipedia:
On July 18, 2013, Netflix earned the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for original online only web television for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. House of Cards received nine of Netflix’s fourteen total nominations.
That’s impressive by any standards. But how does business get there? In Spacey’s example, it took the imagination, determination and sheer guts of a small number of people to believe in a project and then find the distribution channel willing to place the necessary bets.
Lessons for all?
In the video, Spacey talks about the number of pilots – in tech we’d call them POCs – that get made each year and how so few get out the door to become full blown series. The amount of money involved is staggering: $300-400 million every year.
In tech I think about the numerous great ideas I’ve seen that never quite get the backing of the large vendors which could act as the distribution mechanism. It’s the same problem – an old model incapable of adapting to the new in the face of perceived risk.
Is the movie model unique? I don’t think so. Of course there are differences across industry but the basic idea of rethinking distribution still holds good. And it is one that is gaining attention. The YouTube movie above has been watched more than 1.5 million times since it was released some two months ago. I’m betting that’s not just because it is Kevin Spacey standing up but because the message is powerful in its own right and one that resonates with those interested in what Phil Wainewright calls ‘frictionless enterprise.’
Yes I watched that video with Kevin Spacey too. Since June 2011 I no longer have a TV in the house - and I can't believe I am saying this, but I don't miss it.
I don't need a TV any more as my own ways have watching and viewing things have changed considerably. "Give it to them and they will come" - I wonder if that will work.
Not only do you have Netflix you also have Amazon Prime (I am a member but watch very few shows there)
Kevin Spacey is right - the old ways of doing things especially in the TV business no longer work. 10 years ago everyone gave up their house phone / land line for cell phones - I wonder how long this next shift will occur.