Digital Power 2009
Digital Power is something of a contradiction in terms in 2009. For all the hype that has enveloped the intersection of entertainment and technology in recent years, the reality of recent months has been sobering for anyone toiling in this nascent sector. The wobbly U.S. economy has drained advertising revenues and venture capital, the twin lifebloods of an industry dependent on investment given so little actual profit is on the horizon.
And yet they all soldier on. Whether you're Jon Miller, newly crowned chief digital officer of News Corp. and the first Digital Power Player honoree to be named by The Hollywood Reporter, or Felicia Day, the creator and star of a not-so-tiny cult Internet sensation called "The Guild" that she managed to distribute in a deal with Microsoft, "power" can be defined as the art of perseverance. Staying afloat in tough times means refining strategic focus and holding on for dear life. THR has found 50 such people at companies big and small who do their part to distinguish themselves from a thinning pack.
Compare this year's Digital Power 50 with last year's inaugural issue. Just look at how many of the honored names were drawn from the ranks of original online video programmers, a category that has gotten crushed by financial troubles. This year's list reflects a shift in momentum from those who dared to dream up new intellectual property -- though we still have a handful who hung on this year -- to those who are taking the existing premium video and pushing it through new distribution windows like Hulu, the undisputed digital darling of the past 12 months, to hardware options like Roku, which Netflix has helped put on the map.
This year, Digital Power includes a mix of names returning from last year's list as well as a new generation of tech-minded stars. At the furious rate of change transforming digital media, it's anyone's guess who will still be standing in 2010.
Meet the Digital Power 50:
VIDEO: Digital Power Player: Jon Miller
Conglomerate Kingpins: Setting the digital agenda inside big content companies
Portal Powerhouses: Driving strategy at dominant dot-coms
Brand Builders: Creating next-gen household names
Content Captains: Developing new-media programming to remember
Hardware Heroes: Making the machines changing the media
Savvy Specialists: Occupying unique niches in the media landscape
Profiles reported and written by Michelle Castillo, Eriq Gardner, Leah Messinger, Michael Stroud and Andrew Wallenstein