Techtainment is taking down Hollywood. Here’s what the disruption will bring

Above: Movie still from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Hollywood and the entertainment industry are under a vicious and unstoppable assault from tech barbarians that are pillaging studio, cable, and TV profit streams.

This is no secret within the entertainment industry. They are fully aware of the threat to their traditional business models and are moving to adjust to the new paradigms of streaming media through multiple platforms (i.e., tablets, gaming consoles, smartphones). But they aren’t moving fast enough.

The first wave of disruptive tech companies brought consumers on-demand, short-form videos on YouTube. Currently, the industry is dealing with the second wave of disruption created by companies like Netflix, delivering on-demand, long-form content to our devices. But the third wave is coming. New techtainment companies will leave very little of the current entertainment models standing.

Something better and more exciting will rise from the ashes of the media establishment. Here are five ways that techtainment companies will combine targeting technology and content creation to change entertainment forever.

1. People will not only pay only for the shows they want but also the stories they want. Have you ever watched a show and hated a character’s decision? Maybe they made a decision not to help someone else or started a romance with someone they shouldn’t and that ruins the viewing experience for you.

In the future, shows will let you make that choice. Episodic and movie entertainment will be a two-way street – more like gaming. You will be able to decide how each episode or movie ends. This will lead to multiple story lines and a more involved and satisfying experience for the consumer. Tribeca Film Festival is already embracing this idea, holding a contest for non-linear short films this year.

2. Content will have multiple structures targeted to different regions and demographics. People from different parts of the country have diverse preferences for content. Tailoring media to cultural and social identities hasn’t been possible, but we’re already targeting digital ads to consumers based upon their region and behavior. In the future, your favorite content will be customized based on your social preferences or location – allowing a more relevant, socially friendly viewing experience.

3. Content will literally be designed to be addictive. This might be a surprise to you, but game designers have long known how to create games to be addictive. Game creators understand how to take advantage of how your brain works and design their content to get your brain to reward and reinforce behaviors with task completion. When game designers create levels or surprises in their content, they’re targeting that part of your brain to trigger this reward system. Entertainment content makers will start to use these same strategies to get you addicted to their movies or shows.

4. Content creation will become automated. Services like Netflix look at your viewing habits and suggest content that its algorithm thinks you would like. Techtainment algorithms will take this to the next level. They will learn that you like 90 minutes of explosions and 10 minutes of destruction, with most of the action occurring on a beach with aliens. Then a computer program will build that movie and deliver it right to you.

Techtainment companies are finding new and original ways of not only creating content but partnering with the viewer to create it. This is in large part being driven by what viewers have become used to in other content industries, like gaming. All of this will change the nature of the entertainment business and will soon come to be what the viewer expects.

Bobby Campbell, CEO of Columbia-based tech startup, AdKarma.

Bobby Campbell
Bobby Campbell

I think most of your points are artifacts of a generational view that does not take into account changing viewing habits across evolving platforms.  This is driving new engagement paradigms, I mean if everyone was still watching shows on black and white TVs I would agree with your point that this is all scifi.  Go check they are doing some great decision tree content, the data they are collecting on engagement is of the charts with rise of over 800%.

 Coming from the ad world targeting via demographics and behavioral profiling is fairly simple and we can see this already done by Netflix as they profile you via your viewing habits.  In an all digital consumption world data is plentiful and should be used to enhance viewership.

    As far as making movies addictive, I would argue that movies are in real trouble as 75% on all streaming consumption is episodic, and that's only going to increase.  Episodic tree content can mirror gaming design and enhance the addictive nature of content.    

   Also I would encourage readers to check out a these two articles.   Much of the change in consumption is a generational shift most acutely reflected in millennials and accelerating into their successor generations.

Eugene Evans
Eugene Evans

This is almost every cliche from the last 20 years of speculation about interactive video. In addition, no real consideration of the economics of production or peoples desire for great story telling.

#1 - 20 years ago attempts at full motion video games and interactive video demonstrated how impractical branching video becomes in terms of production costs. The return just doesn't justify the investment and the results are just not compelling story telling.

#2 - I'm not even sure what form this would take. Impractical except in the most simplistic manner.

#3 - It should be a surprise to no one that game designers know how to create addictive, compelling experiences but the key is the interaction and resulting feedback loop. This just doesn't apply to movies. Exactly what form will this "addiction" to movies take? I desire to re-watch a movie over and over?

#4 - Good sci-fi. Will remain so for a long time.

Current tech hasn't done anything to address any of the core issues. People like to be told great stories or play games. There isn't much in between. What has changed is that some games have become much more cinematic (rendered with in-game engines and scripted by designer/writers, not shot in video) but at the end of the day they are great games, not movies.