For about a decade, I’ve advocated that venture capitalists and angel investors doing a brilliant job making investments in Web and mobile start-ups do likewise for the next generation of TV content and technology. Think of how far a billion or two a year, from a community spending upwards of $30 billion annually on many industries, could go in forming new TV networks, programming, technology, video-on-demand and 3D services, interactive TV applications and such.
The problem is, VCs and angels to a great extent don’t think that way. Most continue to blow off TV proposals in their face, and make incredible excuses why they don’t get involved. What’s more, they don’t pay attention to the few VCs who do see the possibilities.
Example: VCs and angels jump into forming funds to stimulate iPhone or iPad apps, but go silent and don’t create an interactive app or Google TV app fund in the face of a smart/connected TV movement.
The same attitude seems to be taken by the wave of incubators and accelerator enterprises springing up nationwide, such as Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups and NewMe. Again, sensational work raising Web and mobile prospects, not only offering seed money but valuable coaching, mentoring and oversight skills making the difference in ventures working or not. Again, blind to the idea of taking on new TV projects.
At times I imagine myself as Don Quixote diced by the windmills, a lone voice in the face of this national disgrace underway. That’s why it’s wonderful to note that last month, at least two more voices chimed in. IndieWire editor Dana Harris came first, reporting from the recent South By Southwest fest in Austin, Texas that it was high time for “a start-up incubator entirely devoted to problem-solving for the entertainment industry.” After reading Harris’ tome, former American Film Institute Digital Content Lab manager Nick DeMartino posted a blog entry which calls for development of incubators willing to work with TV and digital newbies.
“I believe that an amazing community will flock to support such a venture focused upon entertainment, providing a deeper layer of support that can help shortcut the unique challenges of navigating the entertainment ecosystem,” DeMartino elaborates. “With that, and some deep pockets, the model could be extremely powerful. Clearly there’s a gap, an unmet need, a vacuum waiting to be filled with investors and visionaries with a passion for entertainment solutions driven by technology.”
On his own, DeMartino’s advising a Toronto-based venture working in an incubator/accelerator-style manner with digital entertainment content start-ups. Content that, given TV is a digital medium last time I checked, can find a path to your TV sets. Credit DeMartino will backing up his viewpoint with actions.
Welcome to the fight, Dana and Nick, as Paul Henreid’s character says near the end of Casablanca. Nice to know others are in your corner when getting off the ground and taking another walk into the windmills of apathy towards TV investments. With more people following their lead, we can accelerate the day these windmills topple to the ground–and rise nevermore.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!