Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Bird Box Phenomenon | Lefsetz Letter

In case you missed the memo, and unless you’re addicted to entertainment industry news you probably did, Netflix just announced its movie “Bird Box” was viewed by 45 million accounts and pundits can’t stop questioning the figure, the methodology, the meaning…

But it’s very clear, distribution is king.

I posit most people were unaware of “Bird Box” until they saw it on their Netflix account, or heard about it from friends. There was not the scorched earth publicity campaign employed by movie studios to make you aware of a film you most likely do not want to see. But you’re paying for Netflix, and since you log in on a regular basis, you saw “Bird Box” was available.


Not only is advertising not a factor, reviews aren’t either.

This is a sea change in the entertainment promotional complex. You must spend widely to make people aware, for a weekend, to overpay for your production. But what if people have already paid and you just need to induce them to view, or not. Actually, Netflix doesn’t care whether you watch “Bird Box” or not, just that you don’t cancel your subscription!

Once again, we see the paradigm shift from one time events to subscriptions. Oldsters still can’t get over this in music, they want to own, but once the industry shifted to streaming, revenue went up!

Counterintuitive only to those stuck in the past. Not only is Spotify good for creators, so is Netflix, with its deep pool of cash and its free spending ways. Sure, the streaming company is overspending now, just like every Silicon Valley, tech enterprise. You invest, you lose, and then you own the market and you’re profitable, can you say Amazon?

And actors just want to work. Used to be declasse to work on television, no longer.

And others above the line like the freedom. There are not the endless studio suits questioning every move.

And the audience likes the availability of new material on a regular basis, scarcity is history, just as it is in the music business. That may be overwhelming, that may be confusing, but it’s the path to the future, even if the NYT tech reporter gave them crap for it.

So welcome to the new world. Where it’s not only superhero movies at the theatre you don’t want to see, but a cornucopia of streaming product, even though “Bird Box” is a genre pic.

And who wants to go to the theatre anyway? With chomping, texting patrons who feel entitled to their behavior because they paid so much.

And you can have a fifty plus inch screen with surround sound for bupkes at home, with no interruptions.

But the oldsters cannot fathom this. Entrenched players cannot fathom this.

But online you compete for dominance. You do this by spending. Good luck Disney and HBO now controlled by AT&T, there’s a first-mover advantage. And the truth is content may be important, but distribution rules. The low monthly Netflix fee is a better offer than the theatre.

Movies killed vaudeville. TV killed movies, just check attendance figures. And now Netflix is killing not only network television, but putting a stake in the heart of theatrical distribution.

Money talks. Sandra Bullock likes the check and subscribers like the value proposition.

What’s not to like oldsters and scribes?


No comments: