Book review

If content is king then distribution is King Kong

2 Oct 2013

Review Details
Date: 2 October 2013
Author: Annabelle Sheehan
Publisher: Inside Story
Owning Institution(s): Swinburne University

Book Details
Title: Screen Distribution and the New King Kongs of the Online World
Publisher: Palgrave
Date Published: 2013
Author/s: Stuart CunninghamJon Silver

From Thomas Edison’s short films, distributed via the tiny Kinetoscope, through picture palaces, IMAX screens, 3D TV and into the era of YouTube, it’s fascinating to find that once again we are peeping at images on small screens. While the movie-going business remains strong, with annual global revenues at $34.7 billion, the splintering of screens develops apace with ever-smaller computer screens, tablets and smart phones. In Screen Distribution and the New King Kongs of the Online World, Stuart Cunningham and Jon Silver describe this new landscape, laying out the emerging patterns of screen ownership, distribution and consumption.

Cunningham and Silver anoint Google, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Yahoo and Facebook as “The Magnificent Seven” – the leaders in this landscape. These web companies have been able to “push” content to individuals on a broad scale, creating new markets, new forms of content, and ultimately challenging the dominance of traditional media. In a perfect confluence of events, the internet and growing broadband capacity combined with new, more affordable production gear and digitisation equipment allowed savvy entrepreneurs to exploit a totally new platform. We may be witnessing a changing of the guard in the domination of screen distribution from the major Hollywood studios and television networks to these new online players. While many have said that “content is king,” Cunningham and Silver suggest that “if content is King then distribution is King Kong.”

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