The Price of Streaming (“Show me the money”😏)

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“Want to make sure you are ready, brother. Here it is…Show me the money.” That is Oscar-winning performance by Cuba Gooding Jr. from:

Jerry Maguire is a 1996 American romantic sports comedy-drama film directed, written, and co-produced by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise in the title role with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Tom Cruise, with Cuba Gooding Jr. winning Best Supporting Actor. It was also a financial success, grossing more than $273 million worldwide against its $50 million budget.

You have probably not seen Fran Drescher in

Hollywood plunges into all-out war on the heels of pandemic and a streaming revolution.

“You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change, too,” said Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president, in a fiery press conference announcing the strike. “We’re not going to keep doing incremental changes on a contract that no longer honors what is happening right now with this business model that was foisted upon us. What are we doing?” she added. “Moving around furniture on the Titanic?”

Of course, one of the most successful movies of all time is:

Titanic is a 1997 American disaster film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, it is based on accounts of the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912. it was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 11, including Best Picture and Best Director. On a budget of $200 million, its box office receipts have exceeded $2.25 billion.

As a counter to Fran Drescher, this is from Bob Iger (who I have discussed earlier in Loki, Lupin and In the Heights):

“We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing. It’s not completely back,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said Thursday. “This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.”

As the article continues:

Though many of the demands of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA are longstanding, much of the current dispute gathered force in the helter-skelter days of the pandemic. A digital land rush to streaming ensued, as studios, in many cases, hurried to craft their Netflix competitors. Subscriber growth became the top priority.

CMU’s own Rahul Telang is quoted:

“What is happening right now was bound to happen. With streaming, the whole business got disrupted,” says Telang. “So naturally, they’re complaining, ‘We need our fair share.’ But how do you decide what’s a fair share? There has to be a transparency about where the money is coming from and where it’s going. Until this gets resolved, this issue will keep coming up.”

What makes it difficult to it? As the article states:

But streaming, especially when companies carefully guard audience numbers, offers no easy metric like box office or TV ratings to establish residuals — long a foundational part of how writers and actors make a living. SAG-AFTRA is seeking a small percentage of subscriber revenue, with data measured by a third party, Parrot Analytics.

Is there a way around it? Absolutely!

That is exactly what our paper The Price of Streaming does! 

Indeed, we are also able to provide decision support for the new subscriber numbers that need to be added to make streaming worthwhile, as a function of market conditions and the streaming strategy, in line with what Wall Street is looking for:

Increasingly, it’s looking like everyone lost in the so-called streaming wars that went into hyperdrive under COVID-19. Since Wall Street last year began souring on subscription numbers being the be-all-end-all, most media companies have suffered stock declines. Wall Street’s message turned to: Show us the profits.

We hope our data-driven quantitative analysis provides the transparency for rational negotiation bringing fairness to the talent in the industry we all love.

(Of course, we need to also discuss the other important issue on the table in the negotiations that is not part of our paper above: The Impact of AI.)

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