The Entertainment Strategy Guide to 8-Nov-2019

Intelligence and the Streaming Wars, a Collection of Datecdotes and Franchise Lessons

Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy Newsletter! My favorite reads, listens, socials and more to keep you informed on the business of entertainment, with the links to my recent writing on my website and elsewhere.

Last week I started a long gestating series on the (hashtag) streaming wars. That’s going to take most of the month (and into December). Plus, I have a series on another deep dive into streaming film economics, so we’ll be as busy as all the streamers will be launching new services.

Programming note: I’ve been trying to write some more evergreen articles because next week my wife is due to give birth to our second child. I’ve asked my boss (me) for some paternity leave, but our company (again, just me) doesn’t have a clear policy. Expect regular articles, though social commentary may be light.

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The Best of the Entertainment Strategy Guy

“Introducing an Intelligence Preparation of the ‘Streaming Wars’ Battlefield” at my website.

Sure, the streaming wars nomenclature may be overused, but it makes such a great organizing framework to analyze digital video. Since I love “frameworks”, I’m using a common U.S. Army tool—an Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield—to help explain the coming disruption of traditional media by digital video. In the first article, I explain what the IPB process is and how I plan to use it. 

“Defining the Battlefield – Areas of Operation, Interest and Influence in The Streaming Wars” at my website.

In my second article, I define the battlefield. In war, this is surprisingly important. Even in business, it’s a good idea to clarify what you can and can’t influence. This both ties directly to problem-solving and avoiding surprises. In the streaming wars, I’m focusing on digital video in the United States, with some related industries like telecommunications.

“Unrolling the Map – The Video Value Web…Explained” at my website.

In Part 3 of my series, it was time to “unroll the map”, since you can’t plan your attack until you know what the battlefield looks like. There have been a few maps of the video landscape, but none that captured my view of the landscape. This article packs a lot of topics into one place, including value chains, Porter’s Five Forces, “jobs to be done”, aggregation, bundling and more. I’ve been playing with this model/theory for a few months and it will heavily influence who I think will capture or create the most value in the streaming wars.

“Most Important Story of the Week: Franchise Lessons from all the Game of Thrones and Star Wars News” at my website.

I cheated a bit this week since most of the Star Wars and Game of Thrones news came from the week prior. I drew some business lessons about franchises, using Game of Thrones, Marvel and Star Wars as the inspirations, while explaining the key reason I think HBO picked one future GoT series over another. Plus I look at the strategic implications of the earnings report season, Apple TV+ launch initial reactions, Sprint-T-Mobile merger news and more.

“Every Netflix Viewing Statistic Netflix Has Released So Far” at Whats-On-Netflix

Friend of the website Whats-On-Netflix have taken all of Netflix’s datecdotes and collected them into one place. They shouted out my term “datecdotes” and now have a Google Doc to share too. An innovation I love is that they are tying viewership to the size of the service at the time of launch.

Twitter Threads

First, I tackled Disney’s earning report in a thread here:

Second, in non-entertainment news, I explained why Uber and LAX have implications for modern business:

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Other Most Important Stories

The late breaking Friday news about Hulu taking old FX programming probably generated the most news buzz, just late in the week. My bet is a few of the newsletter that launch early in the week dig into it deeper. Otherwise, Netflix wading into politics inspired its share of headlines.

The Business - Reed Hastings Talk at Dealbook & Oscar’s Foreign Language Nigeria controversy

Screengrab - HBO Max plans

TV’s Top Five - ABC’s Live Bets, FX on Hulu and Disney+ Preview

Streaming Wars Newsletter - Apple TV+ launch and WarnerMedia’s Pivot

(The analogy of AT&T to Kleenex is a must read. The question is whether AT&T can pull it off the way Kimberly-Clark did.)

TV Rev Week in Review - Dish is fine without RSNs; Discovery contemplates streaming

PARQOR SVOD - Hulu & FX news; Hallmark and ESPN sub milestones

Axios Media Trends - Free Speech and Youtube; DAZN spending spree

Hollywood Torrent - Netflix’s politics problem; Disney+ launching

The Best of The Rest

(These are the best reads, listens, newsletters, or social conversations I came across last week.)

Long Read of the Week - “The most surprising video game predictions from a decade ago” by Colin Campbell in Polygon

Polygon takes a very sober approach to video game predictions here. They aren’t setting out to dunk on folks for being wrong, just point out how we were thinking back in 2009. As such, this article serves a very timely purpose: reminding us that predicting the future is really, really hard. It turns out a lot of trends in full-force in the last decade just didn’t last that long. My favorite trend was about the death of retail. This leads to another good point about predictions: often we think the future will happen quicker than it does.

(As a bonus, this very, very long review of Red Dead Redemption 2 by FilmCritHulk is a great exploration of UX, story, video games and more.)

Other Long Read - “Don’t Subscribe to DIRECTV Before Reading This!” By TV Answerman

This article was worth it for me just for the question, which shows how real customer needs influence customer behavior in ways much streaming coverage ignores. 

Other Long Read - All the Game of Thrones/Star Wars in-depth pieces

If you enjoyed my column on Game of Thrones and Star Wars, well here’s further reading from the trades with a lot more of the nitty-gritty details:

Hollywood Reporter - “'Game of Thrones': What's Next for Westeros After the Naomi Watts Prequel Pass?”

Variety - “‘Star Wars’: Inside ‘Game of Thrones’ Creators’ Exit and the Pressures Facing Lucasfilm”

Hollywood Reporter - “Divided Attention and Toxic Fandom: Why the 'Game of Thrones' Duo Bailed on 'Star Wars’"

The Ankler “There’s No Business Like Showrunner Business”

Listen of the Week - HBR IdeaCast on Open Offices

What if the most common form of office design doesn’t do what it is supposed to: foster communication? If it doesn’t, the only other cynical interpretation is that it saves companies money, while passing the costs (in this case privacy) to employees and business units.

Twitter Threads

Professor Derek Kompare brings up the issue that has been neglected in a lot of the film/cinema/vault issues, which is home entertainment:

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(If this email was forwarded to you, and you’re wondering who I am, The Entertainment Strategy Guy writes under this pseudonym at his eponymous website. A former exec at a streaming company, he prefers writing to sending emails/attending meetings, so he launched his own website.)

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