By Sahil Patel
This video had been making the rounds over the weekend (it’s up to 597,000 views), but it’s still worth your time if you haven’t already watched it. Kevin Spacey — he of the Emmy-nominated political drama “House of Cards,” for which he also received a Best Actor nomination — spoke at the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival last week. What was his address about? “House of Cards,” of course, and how it speaks to the future of entertainment, which he says will be more about giving “control” to the viewer.
“Clearly the success of the Netflix model — releasing the entire season of ‘House of Cards’ at once — proved one thing, the audience wants the control,” says Spacey in the video. “They want the freedom. If they want to binge, as they have been doing with ‘House of Cards’ and lots of other shows, then we should let them binge.”
“Through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn,” he continues. “Give people what they want; when they want it; in the form they want it in; at a reasonable price; and they will more likely pay for it rather than steal it.” (“Well some will still steal it,” he adds, “but I think we can take a bite out of piracy.”)
It’s an entertaining speech, in which Spacey hits on a couple of things the online video has talked about in the past couple of months — how kids are becoming increasingly screen agnostic, and how the old ways of defining things might not be relevant going forward.
If you are unable to watch the video, I’ve transcribed it below:
“I predict in the next decade or two, any differentiation between these platforms will fall away. Is 13 hours watched as one cinematic whole really any different than a film? Do we define film as being something that is 2 hours or less? If you’re watching a film on your television is it no longer a film because you’re not watching it in a theater? If you watch a TV show on your ipad, is it no longer a TV show? The device and length are irrelevant. The labels are useless. Except perhaps to agents, managers, and lawyers, who use these labels to conduct business deals.”
“But for kids growing up now, there is no difference [between] watching ‘Avatar’ on an iPad, or watching YouTube on a TV, or watching ‘Game of Thrones’ on a computer. It’s all content. It’s just story. And the audience has spoken. They want stories — they are dying for them. They are rooting for us to give them the right thing. And they will talk about it; binge on it; carry it with them on the bus or to the hairdresser; force it on their friends; tweet; blog; Facebook; make fanpages; silly GIFs; and god knows what else about it. [They will] engage with it with a passion and intimacy that a blockbuster movie could only dream of. All we have to do is give it to them.”