The streaming wars content shakedown is entertaining, but YouTube’s exclusion is bizarre. While Netflix and Co. continue to announce new content as if pulling it out of an infinite hat, YouTube is chill.
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Billions of dollars are being thrown on intellectual properties and new ideas. It’s reminiscent of panic buying because there is no guarantee that someone who made a great show or movie before will do it again. Worst still, even if it is great, it might not get traction because of the overly saturated market. This is why Netflix spends so much on ads already.
The question no one is asking
Which is better?
- Make a handful of shows so they’re easy to promote and showcase.
- Overwhelm the subscriber with content and show where that subscription money is going.
As a consumer, the optics on the second option are best. We’re programmed for greed and consumption. It doesn’t matter if the show gets watched, because it’s there when wanted and adds value to the service. In turn, this drives subscriptions.
Despite the super geniuses behind this streaming phenomenon, their method of growth isn’t efficient. They don’t have to risk ridiculous amounts of money on shows and movies, because the content doesn’t need to be great. Instead, streaming services should look to buy next week’s attention and social engagement rather than take so many shots in the dark.
The YouTube prophecy
This is the move no one is making but they all should: Start buying exclusivity of YouTube shows. It’s very simple mathematics. Whoever has the content people come back to, will win the streaming war.
Spending billions on old shows because that’s what people binge on is idiotic. An old show will get subscribers for a short while, but it is always about what’s coming. Anticipation drives online trends. Online trends determine news cycles. News cycles create awareness. Awareness is what drives anticipation. It’s the digital age circle of life.
Friends is a $500 million background track for people getting daily rewards on whatever mobile app they’re currently playing. Imagine… “Hey, Mr. Joe Rogan, here is $100 million for 5 years exclusivity to making shows and podcasts for Amazon Prime Video and Audible.” They did it for The Grand Tour, and it worked a charm. The budget of majors, the freedom of streaming, devouring YouTube. It’s almost poetic.
The simple truth is, unless someone starts picking apart YouTube, it will remain the top platform for attention. If you were in charge of Netflix, wouldn’t you make plays for YouTube’s most popular content? Of course you would, and this is why YouTube’s chill approach will be its downfall in the streaming war.
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