Digital Revolution: The Active Audience is the fourth in a series of reports on the impact of digital change on consumer behaviour and industrial practice in European film.
The series is written by SampoMedia founder Michael Gubbins, and sponsored by Cine Regio, which represents Europe’s regional film agencies and funding bodies.
It argues that digital technology and social media has created a new kind of consumer, which the report calls ‘the active audience’. That broad categorisation hides vast differences in taste, habits and expectations between different kinds of consumers but there is a unifying factor in the vast increase in choice, availability of content, access to limitless perfect copies, and to social media, each of which have fundamentally changed the industrial environment.
The immediate impact of these trends on industries, such as film, publishing and music, has been the fragmentation of demand, undermining value chains largely built on the movement and sale of physical products, and on scarcity economic models.
The understandable initial reaction of business has been to try to protect existing structures and value chains. But Digital Revolution: The Active Audience suggests that future opportunities are reliant on engaging with more clearly understood audiences and with the realities of the digital environment, with data, new forms of interaction and a fresh perspective on intellectual property becoming essential.
The report suggests that changing patterns of demand is not necessarily reflective of a rejection of any particular media, art or creative business.
In fact, damage to some traditional art forms and creative businesses may owe more to the Law of Unintended Consequences than a wholesale shift to new interactive or transmedia alternatives.
The report argues that there are genuine opportunities for film, not least the unprecedented audience reach for film and the emergence of a participatory audiovisual culture. Out of the current uncertainties will come fresh ideas and talent, and perhaps new forms of art.
It makes a case for fresh perspectives, looking at the future from the demand side and from three related perspectives: reach, engagement and experience.