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Natpe News: Eisner launches Booth, says old media on a ‘death march’

Michael Eisner told NATPE delegates that old media is on a ‘death march’ and that made-for-web content is an ‘explosion ready to happen’. Giving a keynote address at the Las Vegas trade show, former Disney and Paramount boss Eisner also took the opportunity to unveil a new web series, Booth, to a full auditorium.

“I don’t totally know where this is going, but I know that it is a business,” Eisner said, while talking about how and when professionally-produced original web content will take off. “It can’t not happen.”

He added: “There’s a death march going on for some of the older mediums – they are in trouble.”

The media veteran said that Booth had a budget of just US$250,000 for 150mins. It will air in five-minute chunks. The show follows a mysterious character who sits in the back of the restaurant and grants visitors their various desires, as long as they in turn perform various tasks for him. It’s not clear to the viewer whether the man in the booth is an angel or the devil.

Eisner said it did not have a distribution plan for the show yet, but that Vuguru, which is backed by Eisner’s investment vehicle Tornante, will be inking more output deals with interested parties along the lines of the one recently inked with Canadian media company Rogers.

However, he slammed MySpace and YouTube as outlets for professional digital content. Having paid a license fee for a 12-hour exclusive window of Vuguru’s slasher series Prom Queen, MySpace subsequently stopped issuing upfront payments for content.

“MySpace could have become one of the places original content was presented but they lost that opportunity,” Eisner said. “YouTube has a very draconian system of revenue shares,” he added.

The ex-studio boss forecast that within a generation top series will debut on the Internet before transferring to TV. “In 20 years some of the greatest content will air in this [digital] medium and will replay on NBC after… probably at 10pm” he joked.