With the advent of Netflix, we have all applauded the innovation it brought. For the creators and the talent, it was new and refreshing. No ads to interrupt the flow of the software. Complete Season commands to allow you to tell the full story. There are no ratings or opening box office for Doom. But all of this came with a major trade-off: fees paid upfront to creators rather than true ownership and share in the upside of long-term success.
The rest of the streamers followed suit. They, too, insisted on 100% ownership, which seemed like a fair deal. Create content for an exclusive global ad-free platform like Amazon and Apple forever. Get more up front to replace the upside that has historically come from multiple revenue streams and windows, such as sharing.
But now the game is changing again. Streaming companies like Netflix and Disney+ are rolling out ad-supported tiers this year on the same content they promised would live in an ad-free environment. And it won’t be long before some of this “exclusive” content is licensed to other platforms or broadcasters.
Nothing sneaky going on. Times change, and businesses must adapt. Consumers want low-cost options. Streamers want better profit margins. Marketers want to reach the masses on these platforms. The new twists on older models only make sense. Does it really make Netflix worth more each season Bridgerton only exist on their servers forever? Is it fair to imagine Apple TV + morning show Would it be a great future addition to a network or cable lineup?
Stream economics is reshaping the creative process and the overall Hollywood ecosystem. There are new opportunities for creators – and more space for an expanded universe of stories to connect with far-flung audiences. But some important things have been missed along the way — including clear, consistent, and transparent performance metrics that can help measure success.
For the creative community, what’s needed boils down to an accurate measurement of how well an individual show or film is doing to others – and an increased level of compensation for those who create the most value.
Forging a deeper relationship across storytelling, performance and compensation should lead to long-term benefits for everyone involved, including the audiences we’re doing all this for. We all want to see the culture-defining movies of the future that will be born on streaming. And even with today’s breadth of amazing content, it’s notable that as yet there is no new generation of beloved series that has a long-running streak like this. friends or The Simpsonss or Modern FamilyIt can live across multiple platforms for decades. Streaming audiences clearly love this kind of relaxed viewing, and we need to ensure that there are long-term incentives to promote and preserve this art form.
We are in a moment defining what comes next in entertainment. Backend incentives have been flagged as an issue in upcoming union negotiations, but the conversation extends much broader than that, encompassing every aspect of creativity and production.
Let’s not wait for the dialogue to become rancor and destructive for everyone. Let’s create the appropriate forum for all aspects of our industry to explore a new framework. Let’s all go back to the future together to come up with solutions that address the rapid changes in the worlds of film and television – and the central role of creators and talent in building its core and enduring value.
Jeremy Zimmer is the CEO and Co-Founder of Inc Utah.