What America needs is a good, cheap, advertising-supported online content provider of quality content. Maybe Hulu will be that entity and we will be finding out soon as it spins out more of its new programming. It could be a contender.
But what a market still remains!
If younger viewers are leaving conventional commercial television, they’ve already come to grips with the non-conventional streaming alternative kind of branding that includes sponsored content and native advertising. Or features hosts, like the young women on Style Haul, hawking brands.
Some of that is repugnant, but not brand new at all. Ronald Reagan hosted the “General Electric Theater” from 1954 to 1962, when television was still sort of new.
Off-camera he used his on-camera presence to gain popularity as a speaker all around America and all was well until he kept telling Rotary Clubs all over America that the Tennessee Valley Authority an example bad “big government.” GE had a $50 million
contract with the TVA, and soon Reagan was gone.
That kind of sponsorship is so old hat now that musicians and athletes openly joke with their fans about their affiliations. Every star is sponsored by somebody.
If the current TV advertising model isn’t going to transfer online, then maybe the old one will: An omnipresent commercial, soft enough that, like Hulu, the provider can also charge users a subscription fee, but with a new kind of commercial presentation.
By doing not-much, the commercial content business is asleep at the switch. Viewers pretty clearly will pay to avoid ads, and they’re getting more and more, and better and better, opportunities.
Now, according to Variety, Apple is considering entering the made-for-streaming business. Also, YouTube keeps devising new pay schemes so its viewers can avoid advertising,
Amazon and Netflix are each pursuing their own strategies. In a showy way, Netflix is telling audiences it wants to embed its cash in television-like programming, particularly its own.
Its loss of its alliance with the Epix cable network means some big movie titles are will be going to Hulu which snagged Epix after Netflix let it go.
In a statement, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said, “our strategic paths are no longer aligned. Our focus has shifted to provide great movies and TV series for our members that are exclusive to Netflix. Epix’ focus is to make sure that their movies will be widely available for consumers through a variety of platforms.”
He explained that while some of those lost titles were popular, they’re available elsewhere. Also, by the time theatrical releases get to theaters, they’re old.
And of course, I exaggerate because millions looked forward to seeing films like Epix-packaged film such as “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “World War Z” for the first time, or again. Netflix believes its money is better spent on exclusive films, and more pointedly, original programming.
But it’s not like Netflix is wall-to-wall originals. “The Netflix loss of Epix is less significant when compared with the ‘Exclusive’ Disney/Pixar/Marvel catalogue that Netflix will be adding to its service shortly,” says Time Ware, vice president of television for Tremor Video, “not to mention the continuing success of Netflix' original programming investments like 'Orange is The New Black' or 'House of Cards.’ ”
He adds, in an email, “The overarching headline here is it’s a good time to be producing and licensing popular video programming."
He could add, it’s also a great time to create a palatable version of Netflix that also makes room for advertisers. Because one way or another, they’ll want in. If not now, when?