Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, April 27th, 2022
I am very tired of writing about Netflix....
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, April 27th, 2022.
NETFLIX'S BIG WAKE-UP CALL
The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters has a new piece up about Netflix and as you might expect, it focuses more on the industry's reaction to the last week and some information about what is going on in the streamer's executive suites:
But a former insider says Sarandos’ volume strategy began to prove destructive to the culture and the quality of the service’s offerings. “Ted is great at managing growth, but the company hit a phase where they needed to manage differently,” this person says. Whether Holland’s spendy approach itself would have proved sustainable is a question, but several creators believe Netflix lost much of its early cachet by over-rotating to less expensive, less curated and less compelling — or, the company might say, broader — fare that simultaneously overwhelmed and underwhelmed some subscribers.
The 2016 arrival of former CBS and Universal Television executive Bela Bajaria as head of unscripted and international content represented a huge turning point, according to multiple sources. By then, Holland was to oversee 80 shows on the service while Bajaria was responsible for 60. “Who can make 140 shows a year?” asks one creative. “That’s insane. That’s when the culture of fear took over.” Holland declined to comment.
The piece is well reported and it does a nice job of laying out some of the behind-the-scenes turmoil.
But to be honest, 140 shows a year - especially if you're talking about a wide mix of genres - is not undoable. Especially if you are factoring in that a growing percentage of those are going to be produced outside the U.S.
140 shows translates to less than three shows a week. And if you figure a new scripted series, some food or other home-oriented series, a documentary or comedy special...it's pretty easy to hit that 140 show a year mark. That doesn't include international productions and that is becoming more of a factor given that an increasing number of countries are mandating that streamers such as Netflix have to spend some percentage of their revenue on local productions.
The problem is less about the number of the productions per year and more about the fact that Netflix still hasn't figured out a way to properly promote what it produces. Money spent on content that just gets overlooked is essentially wasted. And if Netflix wants to maximize its content spend, overhauling its marketing and promotional efforts would be a good place to start.
NETFIX BEARS ON PARADE
The latest newsletter from Entertainment Strategy Guy highlights the analysts and journalists who have been Netflix "Bears" over the past several years - in other words, they had grave doubts about both Netflix's stock price and business model. He also gives some thought to Netflix's future, including their original movie business:
But what about some of my other calls? Specifically, why isn’t Netflix putting their films in theaters or releasing their TV series weekly?
Probably because you can only change so many things at once. Netflix won't overhaul their entire business model in one fell swoop because of one bad earnings report. Sure, putting films in theater is much lower hanging fruit than adding advertising, but they (somewhat arrogantly?) don’t think they need it.
But I think they do. I heard Rich Greenfield speculate that say $5 billion of Netflix’s $17+ billion content budget is for films. Imagine if they released some of films in theaters and could get even 25% of that back. That would really help their cash flow!
I've learned never to say never where Netflix is concerned. But I have real doubts about whether Netflix is going to shift to a more theatrical-friendly release model anytime soon. At least on a wide basis.
First, it really would be a massive sea change in what it means to bill something a "Netflix Original." One of the factors that Netflix is selling with their new movies is "you can only see it here." They've expanded that a bit with screenings at their Netflix-owned theaters and to a small extent with a deal they cut with some smaller movie chains. But generally, the problem has been that the large movie chains want Netflix to give their films a real "theatrical window" prior to debuting them on the streaming service. And even though the theatrical window has now been halved from 90 to 45 days, that delay remains a sticking point.
But doing wide releases of original movies would also be a financially risky move for Netflix. Prints, promotion and marketing for the average theatrical release would likely cost in the range of $40-50 million. And while a big hit could bring in much more than that during a theatrical release, how would that balance out financially with the films that wouldn't do so well at the box office? And while I can see an argument for doing a theatrical release for a big-budget star vehicle such as Red Notice, the majority of Netflix's original films are in genres that aren't being released by the major studios because the perception is that don't well enough to be financially viable. Rom-coms, teen-oriented action films, broader comedies. Those type of films do well enough on streaming, but I'm not all convinced they deserve an expensive theatrical release.
There is a more general point about all of these suggestions, and that the temptation to encourage change is high when any company hits a rough patch. And in some cases, fundamental changes are required to correct things. But more often than not, challenges bring with them panic and fear. And it's very easy to make a lot of changes to your business model that will turn out to be worse for the bottom line than the original problem.
Maybe an advertising-supported tier for Netflix makes sense. Perhaps some sort of limited theatrical release schedule will boost both movie theater and Netflix. But hearing both analysts and Netflix executives running around pushing a multitude of simultaneous changes to the streamer's business model makes me nervous.
GOOD IDEA, BUT THE TIMING IS ODD
On April 28th, Paramount+ will be premiering the first three episodes of the much-anticipated new series The Offer, a tale about the making of The Godfather based on Oscar-winning producer Albert S. Ruddy’s experiences, starring Miles Teller, Matthew Goode, and Juno Temple. The streaming service will also be adding the remastered versions of the three Godfather films tomorrow: The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.
As part of the premiere, Paramount+ will be launching a special homepage carousel on May 2nd, called "As Scene in The Offer,” which will include the series, the original three Godfather films, and 11 additional titles that are mentioned in The Offer series. The movies include:
The Great Gatsby
The Longest Yard
The Odd Couple
Paint Your Wagon
Little Fauss and Big Halsy
This carousel is a good idea, but not launching it until May 2nd seems like a weird bit of timing? It strikes me as the type of thing you would want to have live when the series launched.
AN INTERESTING HACK FOR MOVIE FANS
ScreenplaySubs is a Chrome or Firefox browser extension for Netflix that syncs up movies with screenplays, displaying them side by side. It's like having a subtitle that provides more insights on films.
It's pretty easy to use. You pick a movie from the list of supported films, click "watch" and you're connected to the appropriate Netflix page. Clicking the toggle button in the top right-hand corner displays the movie and the film side-by-side.
TWEET OF THE DAY
ODDS AND SODS
* Bluey has won legions of fans across the world as a show that appeals to both kids and parents, but when it was first pitched, industry executives didn’t quite know what to make of it.
* For all the talk in Hollywood about inclusion, there remains an astonishing lack of shows that both cast — and provide authentic depictions of — older Americans.
* The Two Fat Ladies proved pleasure was for every body. The late-’90s cooking show was a revolution before we knew much about body positivity.
WHAT'S NEW FOR WEDNESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Bullsh*t: The Game Show Series Premiere (Netflix)
Komi Can't Communicate (Netflix)
Silverton Siege (Netflix)
The Mystery Of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes (Netflix)
The Survivor (HBO)
365 Days: This Day (Netflix)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU THURSDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.