Saturday, January 26, 2019

Neflix vs. the Oscars | Lefsetz Letter

Generational change happens while you’re busy arguing about disruption.

Happened in the music business. For over a decade, we heard about piracy, after the advent of Spotify, we heard about streaming payouts, meanwhile the bitchers got older and the users got younger and the paradigm shifted. In music the oldsters have no chance, because they have not learned how to harness the power of the internet. Never mind e-mail lists, which oldsters still do not have, not knowing that you are the one in charge of reaching your audience, but social media.

Sure, Atlantic Records gave Cardi B a platform, but it’s her Instagram account that is keeping her career front and center. Not waiting years to tweak albums that go ignored, Cardi B is in your face constantly with messages not only about Trump, but hygiene and sex and…it’s a train-wreck you can’t keep your eyes from. Oldsters pooh-pooh this behavior, they don’t understand the concept of a hit has changed. That you break on streaming services, if you’re lucky radio will amplify your track thereafter, and you keep yourself in the public eye by yourself.

Cardi B’s audience does not get the physical newspaper. It is well-informed, there’s news all over their connected devices all day, but their interests vary from those of the oldsters who’ve made it and want to preserve it. They’re worried about the environment, left and right, and paying their student loans and making it and life is so hard that they turn to Cardi B for mindless entertainment, while oldsters keep decrying that it’s mindless. Meanwhile, Cardi B takes a stand against the President and everybody with a career prior to 2010 thinks it’s anathema, they don’t want to antagonize any potential fan, not realizing most people are not paying attention to them anyway and if they had a backbone this would appeal to people.

And now we have the curious case of the Oscars, an aged institution propped up by those who don’t know how to surf the web on their smartphone. First and foremost, the younger generation doesn’t go. And if it does, it’s to the movies that the Academy does not nominate. So while the film industry is up in arms about #MeToo, whether John Lasseter should be entitled to work, what protests will be like during the telecast, on the red carpet, youngsters have no interest in watching and are more worried about what Chappelle has to say about the sexes on Netflix.

Sure, kids go to the movie theatre for event pictures and to get out of the house, but even more they watch streaming video, they’re the ones who made “Bird Box” a hit on Netflix, with its 45 million viewers right after its launch, begging the question of whether you’re better off going into the theatre and enduring theatrical windows or going straight to streaming.


This is exactly like the music business. While trying to preserve the old, those in charge don’t realize that the younger generation has rejected it, and moved on to the new.

Just check the numbers. You’re gonna be viewed more on Netflix.

So what’s important, views or grosses?

First and foremost, right now Netflix pays pretty well. And it’s guaranteed. But if you don’t know that views are more important than cash, you’ve missed the hip-hop memo, where being noteworthy leads to riches and if you’re not willing to give it away for free, you can’t get paid. Fans have no problem coughing up cash, when there’s a transactional moment offered. But going to the theatre for fifteen bucks on a whim, and enduring the commercials and the b.s., that’s not appealing.

Like in music, the war has already been waged, and Netflix won.

The story today is that Netflix joined the MPAA. So they’re winning both ways, they’re in both markets. But people watched “Roma” as part of their monthly subscription, even though it played in theatres previously, those that didn’t ban it.

So to survive you have to jump to the future, it’s the only way.

Our idiotic President lowers fuel economy rules at the instigation of the Kochs and energy companies, but the carmakers don’t want this reduction. Did you see that Sweden is gonna halt the sale of gas and diesel in 2030, and Norway plans 2025? That’s right, your internal combustion engine will be worth nothing, but Trump and the Republicans are ignorant of this, influenced by those left behind.

But disruption never stops, if you’re not entering the future, you’re already being left behind. Like in Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs gets rid of legacy ports and the Academy focuses on the Oscars. If the Academy were smart, and it’s not, it would join forces with the Emmys and rule in the future. Consolidation is inevitable. Because filmed/taped/chipped entertainment is the same whether it’s on your mobile phone or on your flat screen or in a theatre.

As for advertising…

The studios spend all that money to reach people who don’t care.

Meanwhile, if you make a deal with Netflix they promote it on their site to people who’ve tuned in to watch. That’s what they call targeted advertising. If you leave behind the behemoth of old, you can still be a star, like Adam Sandler, whose movies get viewed by millions on Netflix but are not covered in the mainstream media where the audience for these films never plays.

It’s kinda like going to number one in music. You’re not satiating the fans, they don’t care! If they want to know what number one is, they just go to the streaming chart on Spotify, or their service of choice, they don’t need no middleman fudging the numbers so those who top the chart can wave their flag in the industry.

Then again, the music business hates truthful data. Except when it uses it to promote acts.

And movies are worse than music. One film a week goes to number one and the rest fail. Wouldn’t these flicks be better off on Netflix?

Look at “Vice.” A small conversation playing in theatres…would have been the talk of Christmas if it was released on Netflix. Hell, the only thing people really want to see in theatres are cartoons anyway, both superhero and digital animation.

But the industry and the media are wrapped up in an old paradigm that is eroding away. Ads on Thursday night broadcast television and billboards. Is anybody watching Thursday night live TV really gonna be motivated to go see this crap, aren’t they the truly out of it couch potatoes?

And the film industry, like the music industry, is looking for scapegoats. It was Rotten Tomatoes, until flicks with bad ratings on the Tomatometer did well at the box office anyway.

But there is no failure on Netflix, they’re paying you up front. So you minimize your losses. But no, the theatre must be preserved.

Meanwhile, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco got almost no mainstream press, but he just sold out four Madison Square Gardens and where does his new special air? NETFLIX!

Sure, the studios are heavily involved in TV.

But the Academy, the Oscars, are so busy being unforgiving and politically correct that they’ve lost their audience. The only people still watching are those who bitch about anything edgy. And that’s what Netflix and YouTube are all about, edginess!

Not that we should ignore sexual harassment/abuse and homophobia, but you must realize the world has changed, and if you don’t change with it, you end up frozen in amber, history.

They’re making new people every day. Who are not burdened by said history. They embrace the new. Look to where they’re going.

They’re the customers.


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