@ Mipcom: Eisner Keynote: Content’s Still King (At The End Of A Needle)

imageContent’s still king and creativity still the crown jewels, regardless of new media, former Disney (NYSE: DIS) CEO Michael Eisner suggested in his keynote at the Mipcom audiovisual market in Cannes. Translation: great stories will succeed whether online or off.

But Eisner – whose new plaything away from Mickey Mouse’s gaze, Tornante, has funded or started digital ventures like video site Veoh and web drama studio Vuguru – all but forecast the end of the traditional entertainment business… he compared TV bosses to “prehistoric cavemen” whose “oligarchic control over the viewer” will be merely an “infinitesimal moment in time”…

VOD will reign: “Big sporting events will still be big (on linear TV) – but the area of story and entertainment on cable and broadcast will be on-demand. Appointment-to-view TV will be sports and American Idol, but Lost and Desperate Housewives… will have a large proposition of its advertising and viewers on-demand.”

Content is king: Tornante’s focus is online (Vuguru’s initial efforts comprising Prom Queen, other efforts including a web video of a Robin Cook novel), but: “As much as I’ve become enamored with the internet, I continue to have faith in all media. With all due respect to Marshall McLuhan, the message trumps the medium.” He used a confusing analogy – “creativity in a box, think inside the box” – to urge a focus on core fundamentals … “my message to you is that’s it all about the content”. “You can have all these moguls running around … saying ‘I’m the king’ – I say they’re not the king; they’re a good queen, but they’re not content.”

A message to old media: “To have a breakdown over new media … it’s kind of irrelevant – each time you get a new medium, one plus one tends to add up to three. It’s always good for the content player – it’s not always good for the legacy player stuck in a distribution system that’s still valuable but maybe not as valuable as it was before.”

Shrinking world: Channeling not just McLuhan but also Thomas Friedman: “The world has become a single dot, the internet has made it possible for everyone to occupy the same physical space – we’re all standing at the same point on a needle.”

Ad growth: “But he acknowledged that advertising in online video is “still infinitesimal … you’ll read about a Superbowl final getting millions of dollars for 30 seconds and then I’ll go off and sell an ad on Back On Topps for $500″, referring to the video series being made following Tornante’s acquisition of the sports cards brand. Still, in the future, “millions of dollars will be going to the Back On Topps of the world”.

Vuguru’s next steps: After drawing 20 million views for the first seasons of Prom Queen and Summer Heat, worldwide multilingual spin-offs are following: “The translation actually costs more than the production costs.”