You don’t have to be an industry insider to know that media habits are changing. But in case you missed the warning signs, today’s Los Angeles Times gives it to you straight. Hollywood, the headline declares, is “in a losing race with the zeitgeist.” Box office sales are down; DVD sales are down. “The era of moviegoing as a mass audience ritual is slowly but inexorably drawing to a close.”
It’s hardly a new story, of course; we’ve been talking about it at TED for years. But it’s now playing out in real-time: Digital technologies — from Tivo to the iPod to always-on internet connections — are causing a sea change in Hollywood, as people individualize their entertainment experiences. And this trend will only accelerate once Tivo users can download programs to their iPods (a plan announced yesterday). As the L.A. Times points out, “Hollywood needs a new mindset, one that sees a movie as something that comes in all shapes and sizes, not something that is wedded to the big screen.” The same could be said for all media, from newspapers to record labels. You can’t fight the zeitgeist.