As much as I’d like to sell my sci-fi script to Hollywood, at the same time I hate all the lawyering and politics behind it. I now read that Warner Bros will make its DVDs arrive even later on Netflix than usual, and that Apple, like Google & Amazon, is unable to secure deals for TV/movie content in any manner that makes financial sense. Big Content is trying to keep back progress as much as it can, by only licensing its property to traditional outlets.
There is only one solution for this chicken-and-egg TV problem: make your own content. And when you start winning, Hollywood will come and beg you to carry their content! Netflix is the first company to go this route by re-creating content: by shooting its own TV series. Google has already pledged $100mil via YouTube for original web TV series too. Apple hasn’t initiated anything of sorts so far, neither it’s in its style to do so.
There are three possibilities here:
1. These original series will only make a blip, and nothing really changes.
2. Big Content gets a clue and embraces the new mediums for lower licensing costs.
3. Studios abroad start creating Hollywood-worthy content, for cheaper, and initiate a cultural revolution that brings American media to its knees.
Of course, option #1 is the most likely one to happen unfortunately. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I believe that if all three (Netflix, Apple, Google) come together to share costs, they can put $1 billion aside per year for the creation of TV series and movies. Content that would be shot and post-produced abroad, using mostly non-Union unknown American actors & writers/directors. Unlike media companies that are on the brink of financial disaster, these tech companies HAVE money to spend.
As I’ve written before, I truly believe that great quality television can be produced for $500,000 to $800,000 per episode, or even cheaper, when shooting abroad on a place like the Balkans, South America, or China. As for a full-length movie, with enough talent you can do miracles from anywhere $1mil to $3mil per movie. $1 billion dollars per year gives enough room for 50 twelve-episode-per-season TV series, and 250 movies (or 100 movies with higher budget). Such work would be free from MPAA and FCC regulations too, allowing for free expression and radical ideas in the work, something that’s missing from networked TV series and movies today in the US. Not to mention that duration of an one-hour TV show can go back at 55 mins, instead of the laughable 42 minutes we get today (a few location/user-specific ads can run at the beginning of the show, but not during). And there won’t be any reason for streaming IP restriction for any country! As long as a show is released, everyone with a smart TV everywhere in the world gets it!
Such a large amount of on-demand products is enough to bring people to these new “smart” TV devices, they are enough to make the viewers “cut the cord“. In the beginning, they will be few doing so, but as the numbers will grow, the cable TV industry will start to crumble, because their sourcing media companies still operate with huge budgets that are unsustainable, while at the same time their customers would wither away. Those who will still remain subscribed would mainly be sports viewers, but if in year 2012 you’re still avid fan of professional sports, in my mind, you’re entertainment-retarded (hate away).
Bottom line is that content is king. And I believe that Apple/Google/Amazon/Netflix can go for such a pact together. But they have to be united for this to work. Hollywood would have no alternative but to join away eventually. There would be 3-5 years of adjustment for everyone, and a few flying lawsuits of course, but eventually, content must be freed one way or another. If common sense doesn’t work with Big Content, if enough money on the table doesn’t work either, then competition WILL work. Have the motherfucking sharks in Hollywood die off of a streaming starvation.