Media

Amazon Studios seems to be in the midst of a bit of upheaval in terms of direction, canceling a number of beloved shows (many of them by female creators, which is coming off as a bit tone deaf) and with reports it’s shifting its film acquisitions away from indie fare to bigger blockbusters. That’s being positioned as an evolution in its approach but it’s hard to figure how this is going to endear it to anyone. Basically what the studio is saying is that those smaller filmmakers were great to use to build prestige and get its foot in the door but now it would like some of the buzz Netflix got for Bright, thank you and good day. That makes this report from a Sundance panel where streaming platforms were praised for their support of underrepresented filmmakers and quirky stories a bit awkward.

At the same time, Moviepass announced it formed a division that will seek opportunities to acquire films in partnership with distributors, which is 100% a move designed to set the stage for it to launch its own streaming subscription service because theaters don’t want to do business with it any longer than they have to.

The writers at the L.A. Times voted to unionize and, I imagine, Joe Ricketts spent four hours vainly trying to shut down the paper before someone was finally able to remind him he didn’t own it.

It’s hard to adequately measure how nonsensical and poorly thought-out Facebook’s move to let readers rank the authority of news outlets is. This isn’t a Maytag clothes dryer here, people. It’s the news. Plus, isn’t “rank the authority of the news” kind of the point of how the News Feed worked before, with engagement and interaction with content signaling the opinion that you trusted that outlet? This is going to fix nothing and, by encouraging small, devoted groups of indoctrinated followers to game the system, could make things even more problematic than they were before.

Rupert Murdoch thinks the key is for Facebook and Google to start paying publishers carriage fees similar to what cable companies pay to networks and I can’t ever stop laughing.

Content Marketing

Marketers don’t think pre-roll (or any other form of “roll”) ads are going to be much good long-term and so are increasing their plans to invest in the branded content publishers are offering to produce and distribute.

Speaking of which, look for Facebook to address branded content in some manner in the near future because it wants to emphasize just the kinds of pre- and other-roll ads in videos that marketers are no longer interested in.

Social Media

Facebook is hoping adding the ability to create and add to Stories from the desktop web will help spur use of a feature that is seen as a major ad revenue engine but which hasn’t been widely-adopted to date.

Snap last week laid off about two dozen staffers, many from its content team, which isn’t exactly the “everything’s fine here” message the company wants to be sending amidst multiple reports of falling revenue and internal chaos.

About 40% of Facebook users have viewed a Watch video since that feature launched. Cool, but I’m curious as to what that number will be after the recent News Feed change and after the curiosity factor wears off and people realize it’s just Facebook creating a less-interesting version of YouTube.

Not really surprising that the biggest YouTube creators – the ones with existing massive audiences – don’t get why smaller creators who fell just below the line the site recently imposed to participate in the Preferred Partner Program are upset. Remember, these are the same “big” stars who cry foul every time YouTube changes anything that *does* impact them even slightly.

Technology

Lots of headlines around the opening of Amazon’s first official Amazon Go quick convenience/grocery store that doesn’t take cash or feature checkout clerks but charges people based on what various scanners around the store determine you walk out with. Great news for anyone who isn’t at all concerned with the erosion of privacy, the collection of biometric data by private companies and how automation is killing the kinds of jobs often filled by young workers, those trying to cobble together a variety of part-time work or immigrants who can’t get other work for various reasons. So…yay?

Want even more recommendations? Check out my Pocket Shared Items.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs

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