ICYMI: Amazon's Slate, Netflix and that Bad Feeling
Catch up on The Ankler's recent best
Welcome back and we hope you’re having a great weekend (even in these times of ongoing disquiet). In the midst of a largely rough Q3 earnings season, and looming layoffs, we captured the mood of the business in our new podcast episode It's Not Just You. Things are Gloomy. CNBC's Alex Sherman joined with host Sean McNulty to discuss what lies ahead for our entertainment behemoths, and the consequences of an industry’s whiplash messaging — it’s about subscribers, wait it’s ads! — that’s damaging its stock prices and the bottom line of its employee comp and 401Ks (not to mention their mood). Says Sherman, “Wall Street doesn’t love mixed messaging.”
IT’S ROUGH OUT THERE
That ongoing theme imbued our coverage this week overall. Let’s hit it:
The day before Amazon posted not-so-great quarterly earnings — with a grim forecast for Q4 — Jeff Sneider took a look at what’s happening at its studios arm. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said in the earnings call that the company is moving to “tighten our belt, including pausing hiring in certain businesses and winding down products and services where we believe our resources are better spent elsewhere.” Big question: what does that mean for the Hollywood arm, which Sneider says has an “org chart (and brand identity) about to be upended”? He writes: “I suspect that’s why Amazon is taking time sorting its executive ranks, which aren’t so much in disarray but in the calm before the storm (not to mention the subject of myriad guessing games around town).” Keep reading and then take a look at our entire State of Slate series right here. Oh, and at least one guessing game seems to be coming to a close: it sure looks like marketing whiz Sue Kroll will be joining the ranks.
Studios and Streamers: The Q3 Scorecard
Sean McNulty’s Wakeup newsletter is a delight: fun, fast but also filled with smart original analysis. This week, our resident #medianerd unpacked this week’s earnings calls (in other words, he did the listening for you) to detail what it all means for you:
From our Entertainment Strategy Guy, in the wake of Netflix’s positive Q3 earnings, where the execs dunked on the competition:
“Netflix writes incredible quarterly ‘letters to shareholders.’ So many of its competitors either don’t write anything at all, using just a PowerPoint with some tables, or if they do write something, they fill it with incredibly stilted prose. Netflix, in contrast, usually writes up a nice little essay that communicates one overall theme. Netflix also knows that by setting the narrative, it can rely on nearly every major news outlet to repeat it… Of course, just because Netflix tries to set a new narrative doesn’t mean we have to let them. When Netflix says it’s the most profitable streamer, it isn’t lying. But it definitely spun things in the most positive light.” Keep reading…
The Kanye Courage Awards
This week, Richard unpacked the entertainment industry’s slow-motion response to Kanye West’s ongoing decompensation and hate speech, most recently West’s call for violence against Jews, which culminated in an antisemitic banner declaring “Kanye is right about the Jews” hung over the town over the 405.
“That it took CAA more than two weeks to react to this, is insane. It’s pretty unimaginable that CAA gave Ari and Jeremy Zimmer a free throw, allowing them to take a high moral stand demanding that CAA drop one of its most lucrative clients. And that they would let them take that stand, and have no answer to it until the inevitable caving in is pretty unprecedented.
This week, when Ari Emanuel stood alone as the moral conscience of Hollywood — let that sink in — was an amazing illustration of just what a hollow charade these panics have become. The entertainment industry will absolutely do the right thing every time — just as soon as the entire world rises up against them and they have no choice, and definitely not a moment before.” Keep reading…
Is it Time to Get Out of This Business?
Rob Long posed this question in his latest Martini Shot podcast, Timing Your Exit, where he discusses the very real possibility that your career might be coming to an end and you don’t yet know it. So, he asks, why not call a wrap on your work life — before someone calls it for you? Listen here…
The Optionist – The Ankler’s tip sheet on the world of available IP — began a second new free edition, where author Andy Lewis will report on and make sense of the latest moves and hottest properties in intellectual property. This week, he kicked off the free edition with a look at Hollywood's Pickleball Push, and Other IP Pursuits. Meanwhile, his paid newsletter delivered five new hand-picked selections ready to option. Keep reading…
Worth a Listen
With the elections just over a week away, we call your attention to the pair of interviews Peter Kiefer did with our would-be mayors of Los Angeles.
Rep. Karen Bass: What I'll Do For Hollywood L.A.'s mayoral hopeful on the GOP ('taken over by extremists'), the reported Kamala Harris feud ('tabloid journalism') and how the city 'took the [entertainment] industry for granted' (full transcript here)
Ankler in the News
Janice stopped by a pair of pods this week to talk about The Ankler, where we’re headed and the state of media in general.
First she joined Recode Media’s Peter Kafka to chat about, as he says, “how running Ankler differs from running The Hollywood Reporter, and what happens when two media journalists hit up Y Combinator for seed capital.”
Then she visited the Press Gazette Podcast to talk “Betting Big On Newsletters” and why after a career of mass publications, she choose to partner with Richard.
A final note from Janice:
Incredibly there are three high-profile rape trials happening at once involving prominent men in entertainment: Harvey Weinstein, Danny Masterson and Paul Haggis. Haggis’s accuser is Haleigh Breest, who, when I re-launched The Hollywood Reporter in 2010, was part of the PR team — she remains fun, dedicated, and enamored of the entertainment business. We have stayed in touch through the years, and I am heartbroken by what I’ve read about what she is enduring and had to endure. A reminder that every single one of these cases involves a woman whose life has been shattered in one way or another. I am sending all my best thoughts to her… and hoping for a fair and just verdict.
We hope The Ankler continues to help illuminate this industry for you during these tumultuous days. As ever, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.