ICYMI: WBD's Plan, Netflix's Shrug, the Ad Battlefield
Catching up on The Ankler's recent best
It was all about dueling business models from the streaming giants playing out in The Ankler this week as nothing but the fate of the entertainment industry hangs in the balance. This weekend catch-up contains news and analysis you can’t find anywhere else about Warner Bros. Discovery’s plan, Netflix’s quantity vs. quality conflict, and the new battlefield: advertising (appropriately, Janice and Sean were at Advertising Week in New York).
Before we start, a quick note to say Janice will be moderating an evening conversation with two journalists she admires, Felix Gillette of Bloomberg and John Koblin of the New York Times, authors of the upcoming new HBO book everyone’s talking about, IT’S NOT TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution and Future of HBO (Penguin Random House), on November 15th at the Bloomberg offices in Century City. All our subscribers are invited, but it’s limited seating so register here.
WBD: What’s the Plan?
This week, Richard Rushfield began his studio-by-studio series about corporate strategy: What’s the Plan? In Streaming Wars, where each player has different goals — and a certainty theirs is the best — Rushfield is talking to top insiders at each company to reveal the complex financials at work, where the spending is going to be, and what the long-term vision and outcome is towards which they are striving. Our series opened with the company that is the biggest question mark right now: David Zaslav’s newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery.
From the piece:
“The cancellations are getting a lot of attention, but under AT&T, HBO Max massively accelerated production to a level that no model for the service could support. Even with the cuts, WBD is spending $22 billion a year on production across the empire, an amount to even make Netflix blush, but divided up among many different audiences and platforms — from CNN to The Batman.
But that number helps explain why even after the Batgirl imbroglio and the publicity about cuts, you don’t hear a peep of protest from Ari or Bryan, who can normally be counted on to start making waves if a strategy change is cutting into their bottom line.” Keep reading…
Netflix: Haters Gonna Hate But…
The big news this week was the Netflix earnings report, in which the streaming giant either stopped the bleeding, came roaring back or decided to shrug the whole thing off, depending on your own Rorschach Test. Sean McNulty made his usual brilliant analysis of the numbers in subscription, ARPU and advertising in his Wakeup newsletter and the podcast crew convened post-earnings report to make sense of the company’s numbers and re-found swagger.
BUT Does Netflix Have a Quality Problem?
Ooof! Amidst the “Netflix is back!” hoopla, Sean raised an eyebrow. He took a look at the ENTIRE Netflix film collection so far from 2022 and compared the Rotten Tomatoes’ critics and audience numbers against the other streaming services and studios. (Hint: Netflix LOST. Paramount WON). Take a look — or download our podcast, “Netflix: Where Quantity is Job 1”, before you go off on that hike today.
ESG on the New Battlefield: ADS!
Just when we got used to fighting about subscribers… now Entertainment Strategy Guy writes about the impact of the new Ad Wars on the town. Bonus: it might actually increase leverage for talent and creators in their negotiations. To find out also what it also could mean for the pending WGA strike, keep reading.
And then to sum it all up…
Martini Shot: You’re Going to Get Fired
Finally, Rob Long puts it all in perspective. Why are you feeling so tense? Cause you’re going to get fired, or will be firing someone else! After reading the news of the latest layoffs around town, Rob offers advice on how to deal with this part of the business, as well as how to handle the equally inevitable fallout: the creation of enemies.
A Note About SeeHer
Lastly, Janice was both interviewed at Advertising Week as a guest, and also moderated a great panel with Padma Lakshmi, Geena Rocero and Eva Chen there for SeeHer in conjunction with a survey they did about how API women are portrayed in media and entertainment, and a report containing guidelines that can help Hollywood make better choices in this regard. You can download the report here.
Thanks, and have a great week! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.