A Conversation with Time, Inc.’s Bruce Gersh

 Transforming and Mobilizing Entertainment Brands, February 23, 5 – 7 p.m., Rich 103.

“Business ties to talent,” Mr. Gersh said.

I had a mandatory screening session at 6pm, so I only attended the first 50 minutes of the talk, during which Mr. Gersh shared his amazing career as an accountant in the entertainment industry. Having made various career moves, Mr. Gersh has an astounding sensibility of the future. People asked how he made the decisions; he modestly replied that he moved with people with whom he worked to build the vision. However, the undeniable factor is his acute sense of the cultural shifts yet to come. Talking about his eight years working with Disney, Mr. Gersh commented that the business environment of the entertainment industry is a bit more different. The industry itself is “more eliminating than growing,” “smaller networks will go away,” and since cable companies are not sponsoring anymore, there will be a shrinking demand for the consolidated cable. When Netflix is gone, cableless TV is going to be the future, as streamlining services are growing on the subscription side. Mr. Gersh spoke of how the industry has been experimenting with formats over the recent years. TV show producers are no longer strict with the length of each episode. Great filmmakers directors producers are also going out of the traditional business, because the digital media are paying them more.

An interesting remark I remember is him saying “Amazon knows how to do everything…and nobody knows Apple TV.” This reminds me that Amazon produced the award-winning Manchester by the Sea, which is also well received among critics. I first saw Amazon Studios in the opening credits when I was watching Elvis & Nixon and The Neon Demon just last year, still unaware at the time that Amazon was making an important move into the film industry. Then Amazon became the co-producer and co-distributor behind Café SocietyThe Dressmaker, The Handmaiden, Manchester by the Sea and quite a handful other projects. The films I named are among the films I enjoyed the most in 2016. Amazon does have an impressive grasp on the cultural shifts yet-to-come. Amazon does know how to do everything. I googled for online consumers in the United States who are Amazon Prime members as of August 2016, by gender–as data suggests, male consumers take up a larger percentage, yet in general Amazon Prime members are evenly divided between male and female. Considering Amazon.com was initially launched as an online store selling books and electronic gadgets, the targeted user group of Amazon used to be more tilted towards consumers interested in technical and intellectual items. Over the years Amazon has been diversifying to provide comprehensive online shopping options for consumers from all age groups and genders. Yet Amazon has kept its spatial affordance functional and systematic as its initial design. I buy cosmetic products, books, my Sony cameras and grocery from Amazon Fresh. Amazon also developed consumer electronics for instant purchase, and the streaming service of Amazon Video is stunningly convenient. Amazon truly infiltrated all aspects of my shopping experience.

Mr. Gersh demonstrated that FB and Google are the major forces in entertainment industry. FB and Google take over the most of digital media and they both took very little time to build–yet in total they are bigger than the broadcast. That was the part where I left for another screening.

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