> Some (but not all!) of them have one and only one incentive: future royalties from associated patents.
For something to be distributed, it has to exist (i.e. you need to make a movie, music etc.). So, without these folks (the content providers), there is no mass distribution. If they want to distribute this in digital format, one has to exist. If software patents exist and one technology corners the market, royalty collection is not just from the content, but also from the patents enabling the content to be seen (in some cases it is the same company collecting both: see Sony). That would be the double dipping.
Now, if software patents didn't exist, digital media still would (same reason as before: smaller, faster, cheaper, better). Content producers would make sure someone develops the codecs for them, so they can sell the content. Everyone still gets paid, just not in perpetuity.