AI's showrunner sparks debate on future of entertainment

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Fable Studio has launched Showrunner, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered streaming platform that creates personalized animated shows based on subscriber cues.

Chief Executive Edward Saatchi described Touted by The Hollywood Reporter as “the Netflix of AI,” it offers viewers a higher level of control over the content they consume and blurs the lines between creator and consumer.

Showrunner allows subscribers to customize various aspects of their animated experience, from shot types and animation styles to story elements. AI handles text, sound and animation, bringing the viewer's ideas to life.

The platform's launch video features anime and irreverent-inspired action reminiscent of “South Park,” showcasing AI's ability to create content that feels both familiar and new.

Saatchi envisions a seamless viewing experience where users can move from watching series to creating their own episodes with a single click. AI understands the core conflict of an episode and develops it further by introducing new characters and locations, while subscribers can provide scene-by-scene instructions.

Kevin Sussman, vice president of consulting at MATRIXX Software, told PYMNTS that Showrunner is part of a larger trend in the democratization of content creation. “First, it was desktop publishing, which made graphic design accessible to companies of all sizes,” he added. “Then it was digital creators, enabling a new generation of creators who could produce high-quality content for a fraction of the cost. Now, Showrunner and many other GenAI-powered creative tools are on the market. With the arrival of I, we are witnessing the next evolution in democratizing the business of content creation.”

Subscriber-based content creation

Sussman predicts that AI-generated content will become mainstream, especially in advertising and marketing, leading to increased insurance coverage and lower costs for businesses. “In practical terms, especially for advertising and marketing-related content, we should expect a dramatic increase in the insuring of work, as anyone with a device now has the ability to realize their vision,” he said. “

Showrunner offers digital content creators a new revenue stream that previously required significant investment. Brandon DorskyAn intellectual property and entertainment lawyer told PYMNTS. He believes that this platform can provide opportunities for content creators and e-commerce platforms alike.

Dorsky also sees the show's potential to influence advertising and drive innovation in related areas such as merchandise, gaming and virtual experiences. “To the extent that Showrunner engages an end user over a longer period of time or otherwise influences their behavior in ways that are proven to attract greater or stronger attention, it is likely that other Digital marketplaces, including gaming environments and virtual experiences, will be quick to add Showrunner or otherwise adopt its capabilities to capture more of the user's time and attention,” he explained.

Building on previous AI experiences

Showrunner isn't Fable Studio's first experiment with AI-generated content. The company previously released an app that allowed users to create their own “South Park” episodes, a project detailed in a published research paper.

Sussman acknowledged that the rise of AI-generated content will create both winners and losers in the creative community. “People who have historically been able to command a premium for their media creation skills will see an overall decline in demand,” he said. “Conversely, those who are able to make the best use of new tools will find themselves more competitive in the marketplace and, therefore, able to unlock new ways to make money.”

Asked about the potential impact on the broader entertainment market, Sussman is cautiously optimistic. “YouTube and TikTok are now virtual influencers who are making real money promoting goods and services. Yet MrBeast and his ilk still rule because people are not only attracted to content, but to all these creative choices. Because we are drawn to stories and storytellers and not all content is experienced the same.

Susman also places Showrunner in the context of broader innovations in filmmaking, such as virtual production and real-time motion capture. He believes AI-powered platforms like Showrunner will enable more people to create high-quality content, as YouTube and TikTok have already disrupted traditional entertainment models.

As Fable Studio's Showrunner begins its journey to redefine animated entertainment, its impact on the world of animation and e-commerce remains to be seen. This platform can serve as either a testament to the power of human-AI collaboration or a cautionary tale about the dangers of relying too heavily on AI in the creative process. Regardless of the outcome, Showrunner is sure to spark important conversations about the future of entertainment in the age of AI.

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