In late November, AMC Networks announced the layoffs and resignation of CEO Christina Spade after only a few months. The move itself was rare amid growing economic uncertainty; Earlier this month, tech giant Meta cut more than 11,000 jobs. But a memo to AMC staff from CEO James Dolan — yes, but James Dolan — explained the decision that permeated the entertainment. “We thought the loss of cord cutting would be offset by the gain of streaming,” Dolan wrote. “That’s not what happened. We are primarily a content company and the way content is monetized is being disrupted.”
In a sort of corporate jargon, Dolan summed up the landscape: Streaming may be the future, but right now, it’s not paying the bills. The premise of Ady Streaming is that the frustrating days of free spending won’t last forever. The battle between heavyweights like Apple, Amazon, and Disney — and smaller companies like AMC, which operates specialty services like AMC+, Shudder, and ALLBLK — will be one of the few players left, but will not cause a flood. raise all ships. But 2022 is a year that undermines some of the fundamental assumptions that have driven Hollywood’s digital revolution. It was also a year that made it clear that the salad days of streaming are behind us in a way that can be felt by average consumers, not just professional readers. Time limit comments about their lunch break.
At the beginning of the year, for example, you can stream Westworld on HBO Max in anticipation of the upcoming season. Now, that’s not all Westworld cancelled; it has been completely removed from the platform and its catalog is available for sale to an as yet unspecified third party. A few months ago, millennial cooks like myself could look forward to the launch of chef Alison Roman’s new show on CNN+. Now, the project has been delayed because the entire scene was suddenly removed. In January, you didn’t see any ads near the Netflix interface. Now, you can trade a few minutes of your time for a cheaper subscription rate, breaking one of the rules that the company used to hold.
This principle can be summarized as follows: The future of entertainment is a revenue model that trades traditional sources of income – the box office, royalties, advertising – for to facilitate access (for consumers) and explosive growth (for businesses). . Backed by subscriptions, debt and investors, Netflix has looked like it could deliver on that promise for the past decade. It spent a lot of money creating movies and shows that appealed to audiences around the world, then attracted enough paying customers to justify the expense. Along the way, it has literally changed the way we watch TV. Users have been trained to expect entire seasons of release, hour-long episodes without intermission, and have become accustomed to subtitled imports as a simple fact of life.
Other entertainment companies soon followed suit. Among them are Disney, which launched Disney + in late 2019, and WarnerMedia, the original producer of HBO Max. But since the latter officially merged with Discovery Networks this April, almost a year after the announcement of the new company, it has come to show the limits of dependence on streaming. for businesses and product enthusiasts. This is partly because the general manager of David Zaslav, faced with billions of debts of the company, has made himself a spokesman for the idea that putting all the eggs in an expensive basket is very unwise. “The great experiment in creating something at any cost is over,” he said last month, dismissing his competitors’ (and predecessors’) strategy of “spending.[ing] money in abandonment, and make part in return. “
Some of this pivot is relatively easy to take, such as the increased emphasis on theatrical release after the previous administration put the entire 2021 list on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. (The scheme was successful in boosting the service, but it alienated longtime collaborators like Christopher Nolan, who called Max “the worst streaming service ever” before ditching it for Universal.) But it also led to unpopular decisions. This summer, HBO Max began the first of what will likely be many purges: show cancellations (Los Espookys), removing them from the platform completely (vinyl), or both (Gordita Chronicles, Love Life, Raised by Wolves, and many others). Most shockingly, the service removed almost the entire finished movie (Batgirl) and the TV season (previously updated Minx).
Such strict conditions can be attributed in part to special tax exemptions after the merger. But they also represent a return to TV style used work—a restoration of the old ground rules, and a breaking of the new rules to which whole generations of spectators have become accustomed. The full archive of a show is not necessarily accessible by order, nor will it be held permanently by its original distributor. Shows like Nosy FBoy SY Raised by Wolves to be rented out to make extra money for the studio, and that’s exactly what Warner Bros. plans to do. Discovery with them now. If you want to watch them after the fact, you can buy a box, or expect to be restored by surfing. Many of the former HBO Max series seem to be headed for the modern equivalent: ad-supported services like Pluto or Tubi.
Even the big disruptors in entertainment have made strides toward more mainstream models. Less than two weeks after the birth of Warner Bros. Discovery announced its first loss of subscribers in more than a decade to Netflix, followed by further declines the following quarter. The drop in its share price – still less than half of what it was earlier this year – has had an impact on the industry, with peers such as Disney and Paramount Global also sinking. In response, Netflix released the aforementioned ad segment; It has also released smaller experiments such as the upcoming Chris Rock special to be broadcast live, another violation of the already hallowed internal rules.
Batch release, such as the last two part releases of Harry & Meghan, has grown in popularity in recent years, both on Netflix and on other platforms, splitting the difference between binge and weekly releases. At the same time, Knife out sequel Glass Onion will be closely watched when it comes to church services this weekend; if it goes well, the film could do business with more trial balloons like its extremely limited run, a week around Thanksgiving that brought in $15 million from just 700 theaters. For all the complaints that Netflix left money on the table by not extending this window, if any evidence helped to confirm the week. Glass OnionZaslav’s performance on stage itself—according to Zaslav, the reality of such headlines The Batman on HBO Max — could lead to more experiments down the road.
A common joke is that the media has reinvented itself from where it started. Shops, cinemas, secondary markets: All these, we see again, have always had their charm. But it’s not as easy as flipping a button to get back to the old way of doing things. The pay cable continues to decline, while the box office remains behind the total of the epidemic by a third. Part of that drop is due to a lack of supply, but also a general reluctance to go to the multiplex for the kind of thing we used to think of as home viewing. Even the ads on Netflix are not very effective. According to Wall Street Journal, 9 percent of new signups in the US last month opted for ads, less than half of existing customers switched to an ad-free plan. Earlier, Digiday reported that Netflix was not getting enough viewers that it promised to advertisers until it offered refunds. The company is struggling to eliminate the expectation of uninterrupted entertainment that helped create it in the first place.
This leaves companies between a rock and a hard place — or, as Dolan puts it, in a mess. Take Disney, whose CEO was fired last month as a result of multibillion-dollar streaming losses. (The board’s displeasure with Bob Chapek was another factor, but that was the decision.) But with Bob Iger’s level of return declining, it will be left to the facts. Disney is difficult for other people to deal with. Unlimited growth and pre-launch profits are heralded as a dream among them, while the former path to sustainable production is collapsing in the rearview mirror. It’s a sad note to end the year on, but it’s better to approach 2023 with open eyes.