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Network Live: A New Era in Streaming Entertainment?

Wall hopes to follow up what may have been a seminal moment in streaming media’s history by refusing to continue treating streaming media as an extension of the artificial structure imposed by TV. "We’re going to try and break the mold. We’re going to introduce some whole new concepts, some of which will come out in 2006," says Wall. "Don’t expect a live police car chase; we’re going to redefine how consumers experience live entertainment."

One example of how Wall aims to do this is by altering the value chain of content distribution upon which media companies rely so heavily. "We’re changing the whole idea of (distribution) windows. Generally online distribution would’ve followed DVD. Everything we do live or near to live will be available on-demand within 48 hours of the event," says Wall. "We’re trying to bring the freshest and best right into the gate from day one."

And there’s no better way to try and reach a global audience quickly than through the use of streaming media. "Because of the nature of broadband, we can get very quickly to any device any time anywhere," says Wall. "People are becoming very comfortable with watching video on more devices than their TV sets."

Multiple Distribution Channels
Wall sees the various modes through which consumers will view Network Live content as simply additional pipelines that need to be filled with content. "Going off the back of the same event, we’ll be delivering it to those different platforms within the context of who they’re being used by, be it AOL or XM or Digital Cinema," says Wall. "The idea behind Network Live is that we will fill these digital distribution pipes."

Network Live’s business model and future profitability are reliant on the licensing deals that they’ve worked out with AOL and XM—not to mention a handful of other soon-to-be-announced partnerships—as well as the revenue-generating potential of advertising. "We have licensing agreements with our partners, and each one of our partners has their own individual models for our content," says Wall. "We have a fantastic model; we’re not going to be burning tons of cash for a long time." Additionally, this model rewards consumers, as all of Network Live’s content is currently slated to be available for free through Network Live’s Web site and their affiliates’ sites.

Even though a large amount of Network Live’s events will focus on smaller-name acts, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be treated as second-class citizens. "Everything we’re doing is going to be shot in HD with extreme quality. We’re definitely not going cheap in terms of production," says Wall.

Capturing all of their content in HD leaves open the possibilities of tapping brand new distribution methods like Network Live’s plans to partner with National CineMedia to simulcast their launch event to more than 100 movie screens across the U.S. "I think it’s the early days for this, as there’s not a lot of capacity yet in the U.S., but in a movie theater you can deliver the ultimate quality in terms of a concert experience. You can actually see the HD resolution with the great surround sound," says Wall.

Finally, while initially focused on U.S. acts, Network Live is most definitely geared towards reaching a global audience. "Some of the programs are going to be appropriate and applicable to a global audience, while others will be more regional," says Wall. "It’s a global effort, and we’re going to announce a bunch of global partners in countries like Italy, Japan, the UK, and others in the coming months."

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