☀️+ HBO & AMAZON's Dragon Duel and Streaming's sham metrics
#MediaNerd bonus: the total collapse of objective measurement as everyone races to be a 'winner'
Hi it’s Sean McNulty from The Wakeup and… this isn’t a usual #medianerd🤓 read per se. Today I’m not diving into an Excel sheet to translate a company’s nuts and bolts.... instead, I’m diving into…
The Great “GOT: HOTD” v “LOTR: TROP” Dragon Battle of Fall 2022!
(btw did Hollywood battles always look like eyecharts?)
It really got me thinking bigger picture about just… well, the kinda sad state the Industry has reached with numbers overall in 2022 compared to the industry in which many of us came of age (I’m talking music album sales, TV, etc... more on this below.)
Especially as it pertains to HOLLYWOOD’s Competition Limb, which has been tingling once again with our current Dragon Battle, as apparently America’s attention factor is no longer enthralled with our Awards Battles anymore. #sorryEMMYS
For a business that’s made acceptance & inclusion its buzzwords these days, nothing is still more embedded in the industry’s culture than having a winner and a loser.
After all, this is an industry whose annual calendar is primarily built around pitting artistic endeavors against each other in an insular popularity contest just so we can declare a winner. That apparently only HOLLYWOOD still cares about. Well, maybe keep a good thought for the GLOBES after all.
BUT: Almost all of the lifeblood metrics that HOLLYWOOD’s Competition Limb relied on for several decades to declare a definitive “winner”… are gone. The Streaming era has amputated the limb — but no one’s told the patient.
No indication how many were streaming, what the audience was like outside the U.S., or… anything really.
And it’s info coming from… the company that produced the show. (Although we trust, as publicly traded companies, none would be so bold as to fudge numbers. #lawsuit).
Then we got a “25 Million in week one in the US” number with… again absolutely zero other context.
Again with absolutely zero other context… and again — coming from the company that produced the show.
AND: If you’re waiting another 2 weeks for the main “independent” arbiter NIELSEN to chime in and level the playing field with their “total minutes streamed” metric to give you a winner — well, probably best to just stop reading here.
“Well, it’s the only information available”. No.
NIELSEN data is“This is all we know.”
STREAMER data is “This is all we want to tell you.”
Streamers know damn well how many accounts watched a given show, completion rates, and where the audience is. They just don’t want to tell the rest of us, thus creating a relationship that’s severely dysfunctional even for HOLLYWOOD. And frankly, taken a lot of the fun out of the business.
HOLLYWOOD 1990s > HOLLYWOOD 2020s
Thus, our long-hardwired desire for competition keeps us fruitlessly searching for tips & insights like a guy outside the OTB at 2 pm on a Tuesday.
Which is only natural really, as most executives, talent & journalists grew up in an era where “a winner” was easily discernible.
And an era where all information was openly shared, and for the most part vetted by companies other than those that ya know… made the shows.
For decades it was simple:
Ok yes NIELSEN numbers were always a little fugazi, but it’s something we all signed onto, figuring they were the same kind of fugazi for everyone anyway.
Why these metrics? Because they were directly related to how the respective businesses largely made, ya know, their money: Selling Albums, TV Ad Sales, and Box Office.
But throughout the 2000s, the game slowly changed… where BOX OFFICE is the only one left standing. Granted, about 5 feet from a very big cliff… but standing.
And as the #StreamingWars era is now 100% fully upon us, we find ourselves left with:
MINUTES STREAMED — a metric that has little bottom-line effect on how most of these streaming businesses make money.
Particularly the 2 businesses currently in the Dragon battle as… neither has Ads.
NUMBER OF VIEWERS — but with no context of:
Where they are (very helpful in a now global business… where the business itself is priced differently in various regions)
How long they watched (is “oops I pressed the wrong button” a “viewer?”)
And again - not independently verified
How did we get here?? Reduced to counting the minutes of TV series like pigeons clustered around bread crumbs thrown from benevolent Silicon Valley cloud servers?
And what saviors are potentially on the horizon? Let’s take a look at…
The music business
How advertising changes things