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LATV Fest Panel: Digital Platform at Core of Content Distribution

Posted July 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET

In a world of increasingly globalized content, one of the most crucial questions facing producers at NATPE's fourth annual LATV Festival in Los Angeles July 13 was how to navigate content distribution across the tenuous terrain of the Web.

"It's hard to break models that have been around for 25 or 30 years. That's our biggest challenge right now," said Jason Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of social media studio Katalyst.

Goldberg was joined by four other multimedia marketing insiders for the "Maximizing Multiplatform Distribution Strategies" panel. It was moderated by Christopher Albrecht, editor of GigaOM TV.

Though panelists' backgrounds ranged from network television to social media development, all the speakers agreed that the digital platform is at the core of content distribution today. When asked about the role of TV in the creation of Web content, SVP of digital media and business development and strategy for Starz Media, Marc DeBevoise, said that his company simply looks at digital and broadcasting as one and the same.

"Whenever we design a property, it's really designed so that it can live seamlessly in both the digital space and the traditional broadcast space," DeBevoise said.

Margaret Kim, VP of Programming and Production for Alloy Digital, agreed. Charged with developing a wide-ranging distribution mechanism for the digital entertainment network, Kim explained that her primary focus is to produce content tailored for multiple platforms.

"For us, it originates through the Web, initially, and then expanding out to other platforms like cable, that content has a life beyond its original space," Kim said.

Goldberg believes that social platforms are the most critical to successful content production and distribution in today's rapidly evolving media landscape.

"I think there's certainly a challenge for most brands in America right now to reach consumers," Goldberg said. "You cannot reach someone outside of Facebook right now [as] masses...People are still looking at the Web as just a marketing device. But people on Twitter right now are influencers."

So how do brands and content stay relevant on these new social media channels?

Stuart McLean, CEO of Content & Company, believes a multi-angled approach is key to successful multi-platform distribution.

"One of the things we've been designing is not only building the communities, but also studying the character development in the social media channels before you can catch up to broadcast," McLean said.

Erik Flannigan, EVP of digital media for MTV Networks Entertainment Group, also emphasized the necessity of such focused analysis and community-building in social media. He described a strategy MTV deems "the new mall tour": Much like musical pop stars Debbie Gibson and Ke$ha have built fan bases touring small-town malls before releasing debut albums, producers should use social networks to build up fan bases preceding the release of new content.

"We're taking show properties [and promoting them] six months before the show's even going to hit," Flannigan said.

"Let's go right out of the pilot green light and start showing people...start building that fan base one at a time. The challenge for us is you've got to make those commitments with talent at the start."

Albrecht added, "We can't just think of the distribution strategy once the video is in the can."

With the Web situated as the central force in contemporary media distribution and marketing, the panelists agreed that perhaps the greatest question facing the industry today is not which platform to focus on, but rather whose.

"It's a business that's driven by the people...and we don't know right now, today, what that's going to become," said Goldberg. "I think we came from that comfortable distance that's all about control, and I think that's the system's [challenge] right now--it's hard to give up control."