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It’s Different This Time. Right?

Todd Spangler column in Variety asks the question: Interactive Video: A Gamechanger for the Medium or Just Another Gimmick? “Now a cluster of startups is breathing new life into an idea that’s been around for decades — making video interactive, so that viewers pay closer attention, and become more emotionally invested in what they’re watching,” he writes. “Turning audiences into active participants, the theory goes, translates into digital dollars.”

But the promise has been around so long, the column notes, and yet the digital dollars haven’t yet piled up in the way countless boosters have promised. 

“While the technology will prove useful in some cases, especially for advertisers, it’s not clear Hollywood will rush to embrace it, says Jon Liebman, CEO of talent management/production company Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

“’The jury is still out on that,’ Liebman says of TV showrunners or moviemakers using interactivity as a storytelling device. In any case, he notes, flawless execution is critical: ‘Things have to be super-easy for a generation that is intuitively digital. It has to be like turning on the light.’ (Liebman is an investor in interactive-video startup Fuisz Media.)”

Spangler interviews a number of players in the interactive space, all of whom tout the exciting potential of interactivity and caution that interactive features will not move the industry forward without compelling content.