Streaming Upstream

More entertaining than some content they offer: Streaming content wars. ‘Vertical Integration’ is a big strategic dilemma; popular classic examples include The New York Times buying forestry rights (integrating ‘upstream’ ie to better control/ access supply) and Tesla setting up own dealership showrooms (integrating ‘downstream’ to better control/ access consumer prospects). While Tesla built its Vertical Integration downstream, Amazon bought downstream (Whole Foods). A truly classic strategic dilemma- buy or build?

And now it’s…. buying time! Amazon bought MGM studios for the library & series-friendly licensed properties, in a very predictable development. It had to be one of The Big 3- Disney, Netflix or Amazon (in fact, I wrote this post weeks ago & temporarily revealed a draft that had the winning bidder as Netflix, not Amazon- oops!). But the race for streaming content isn’t done yet, is it?

Step right up folks! See the epic battle! This is a Ragnarok of gods & giants (Amazon, Netflix, AT&T, Disney) in which ‘presently sidelined sidekicks‘ are gaining some serious appeal (and value).

Netflix created some net-new hits (eg ‘Stranger Things’): Maximum Control achieved, albeit at major Cost & Risk.

Buying a proven winning library is less risky. Hence Amazon taking the Tier 1 path: buying MGM an entire studio and proven successful library. A slam-dunk of Low Risk, but High Cost. But there are only so many major studio libraries.

Tier 2 acquisition possibilities (on a scale of Maximizing likely Return, while minimizing risk of failure) might include (imo) License Content holders with less proven TV streaming appeal, but reliable fan appeal in graphic novels, manga, theatres, etc (Mark Millar, LOTR).

Tier 3 of Risk/Return: Content holders that made it to TV or theatres but didn’t succeed in a big way (Goosebumps, Animorphs, Golden Compass, Series Of Unfortunate Events) OR deserve an update (James Clavell, Jack Higgins, SilverWing young adult, etc) OR series promoting an understanding & perspective of First Nations & Visible Minorities.

Tier 4: Popular books or graphic novels that haven’t ‘taken a run at’ TV format eg the ‘Stormbringer’ fantasy books (I’d written ‘Ringworld’, then heard Amazon has moved ahead on that project–> Move Fast! Inventory is Going Quickly!’)

Tier 5 would include Greek, Norse or Roman myths/fables not already ‘owned*’ by Disney (*I wince, as ancient tales such as Cinderella lack any real 1 ‘owner’) or 1-off novels with a pro-ecology, pro-female &/or pro Visible Minority message that SHOULD be brought to streaming – eg ‘The Demon Breed’ by Schmitz.

Can’t wrap up w/o an uneasy* prediction. George Friedman gives uncannily accurate geopolitical predictions; given his ‘The Storm Before The Calm‘ forecast of 2020’s as a chaotic decade of change, I bet ‘reassurance’ will be hot, so Westerns will be hot. Why? Their reputation is they give much-desired (albeit often woefully oversimplified*) moral clarity. I’m uneasy with this since, if Westerns are not interpreted at some depth, one may overlook an often-substantial message & merely build Confirmation Bias. If you think a Western through deeply, you may find they aim to enlighten, promote tolerance, etc. I invite you to view Star Trek or Serenity (Westerns, set in space), Silverado, The Magnificent Seven; you may find Westerns’ “simple” B&W Morality (Right vs Wrong, Peacemaker vs Villain, Good vs Evil) is a myth. Westerns can carry progressive messages; if you haven’t seen the classic ‘High Noon’ in a while, view it, then reread Friedman’s eloquent, wise interpretation.

So ….what property/character/series/novel(s) would you like to see resurrected for the Streaming World?


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