Sep 25, 2013

A Crack In The Armor

So it turns out one of the most interesting things I heard about during IBC wasn’t happening anywhere near Amstedam, but rather many thousands of miles away in Los Angeles.

Where numerous people have allegedly done the math in their heads and come up with a Hollywood elevator pitch that goes something like this: “House of Cards. Without the middleman.”

The idea is that there’s a lot of talent in Hollywood, but that talent rarely makes it past the gatekeepers. And that networks like AMC, HBO, Showtime and now Netflix have proven that if you assemble the most talented writers and directors in the industry and let them follow their vision, you get award winning shows... and a whole lot of buzz which eventually translates to a whole lot of money. And then Netflix proved that you can put those well-crafted shows online and still get that buzz. To which the next logical response seemed to be “well then, who needs Netflix?”

So the idea is to raise the money to produce a high quality show: top writers, top actors, large production budgets. Only then, instead of selling it to a network (or wannabe network) you put it online yourself. Via a Roku channel and/or a Chromecast-friendly website. Maybe even one of the new on-demand only channels the MVPDs are rumored to be rolling out for non-broadcast content (provided their own cut isn’t extortionate.) And that between those outlets, you can recoup the money you spent producing and marketing the show and then some. By selling subscriptions or advertising or a little of both. With the potential for a lot more, as the long-tail effect kicks in along with overseas licensing deals.

Now to my knowledge, none of this has gone beyond the “taking a meeting” stage. Not that I’d be among the first to know if it had, but it still seems in the contemplation stage.

It’s also important to note that it’s far from a sure thing: you’d really need to get a lot of viewers or advertisers paying a lot of money to make something like this turn a profit. But if you did-- or even if you almost did-- the shockwaves reverberating through the industry would look a lot like Wile E. Coyote after the anvil fell on him.

And we’d all sit and stare at the crack in the armor and contemplate what it meant for the industry.

At least until the next one appeared.

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