A new report states that live TV viewership has dropped 6% over the last year, which comes as a surprise to no one. Most of us just have to look inside our own homes to see that much of what we watch today is recorded, streamed or downloaded.
TV networks have joined the game by offering most of its shows online, either through on demand services or their own websites. The fact that those between the ages of 18-24 watched live TV 16% less than they did a year ago just proves that our entertainment habits are quickly changing.
In light of that, I’m beginning to wonder if streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are going to become the largest content producers in the landscape.
Hear me out. It’s not just that both streaming services are producing their own TV shows, but they are also getting into the movie business. Netflix has already announced that its first feature, Beasts of No Nation (directed by True Detective Season 1 director Cary Fukunaga) will be shown in theaters and on Netflix on the same day later this year. It is only the first of a slate of movies Netflix will roll out the same way in the future.
Amazon may be even more aggressive in the movie department. It announced yesterday that Spike Lee’s new movie, Chi-Raq, will be released in theaters, followed a month later on Amazon Prime. Like Netflix, it will be the first of many to come.
What interested me most about these maneuvers is what Ted Hope, who leads Amazon’s film division, told the Hollywood Reporter.
“We’re looking to make visionary work by visionary directors. I would say The Imitation Game, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel are all totally in the zone. Prestige titles, the kind of movie that isn’t for the teenaged audience.”
Hope explained that audiences interested in prestige films are also the ones most likely to buy from the Amazon website (and become Prime members) so the movie push goes hand in hand with its retail business.
Why Netflix and Amazon are becoming movie studios.
The trend of Netflix Amazon movies is a smart move for both for different reasons. For Netflix, its business model is all about acquiring and producing content to attract new subscribers. (And Netflix is apparently doing very well with that.) For Amazon, it’s to prompt Prime members to buy more products.
In addition, they fill a hole in the movie landscape. Superhero movies have taken over our movie screens. So much so that last week’s Comic Con was treated as an important industry event along the lines of the Oscars and this weekend sees the opening of another Marvel product few have ever heard of: Ant-Man.
To get people out of their homes to watch a movie at a theater, the studios have to make each movie an event. Just like when, in the ‘50s, studios trotted out a host of biblical epics to combat the onset of television.
That kind of thinking leaves many of us out. It’s not the big budget or, really, the low-budget movies that make up most of the classic films we adore. It’s the middle-budget ones that aren’t targeted to a 16-year-old boy.
That’s where Amazon and Netflix are coming in. We are fast entering the period, if we are not already there, where we can simply cue up just about anything we want to see, including original content, at home.
To be a powerful brand, you have to state who you are for and, most importantly, who you are not for. In that sense, Netflix and Amazon are becoming even greater successes.