[Note: This is Part 1 of a series on how the entertainment industry is adapting to the same changing preferences in the marketing and delivery of goods as other consumer categories. To read the rest of the series, click here.]
For several years, TV networks and movie studios were anxious to get their shows and movies onto streaming platforms including Hulu, Netflix and others. While exclusive contracts created no small amount of consumer confusion and frustration, it was still pretty awesome to see so many great movies and shows available instantly.
It turns out those content producers were paying attention to how this new system was working and are looking to put some of those lessons to work on their own. Producers have been reclaiming streaming rights as contracts with third-party distributors expire and either auctioning them off at higher licensing rights or hoarding them for eventual use on their own branded OTT offerings.
This is being done in large part because the media companies believe they can either take advantage of or create brand loyalty that they own themselves instead of outsourcing that loyalty to a third party. When a Warner Bros. show like “Parks and Recreation” or movie like The African Queen is on Netflix, it’s one of many options from a number of producers, largely undifferentiated from everything else. Why not bring that content back under the company’s own control and truly set it apart?
The idea that brands have more value when standing on their own is also what’s driven Disney to launch ESPN+, which will feature loads of original sports programming and coverage designed to meet the insatiable demands of fans of all sorts. And it’s certainly why Fox News announced earlier this year it would debut a streaming subscription service featuring new shows and productions with some of its biggest, most well-known names.
It’s not, then, just about offering more content. It’s also about deepening the connection between the media brand and the audience.
That’s the same logic that has lead many entertainment companies to reconsider their offline marketing as well. Marvel Studios created lots of waves recently when it revealed it would not be holding Hall H panels for any of its upcoming movies at San Diego Comic-Con, which will also be free of any major Star Wars theatrical promotions.
Star Wars, of course, already has its own fan convention in the annual Star Wars Celebration. Disney does D23 every year and Marvel has toyed with the idea of creating its own specific event, while DC Comics has recently run pop-up shops and fan experiences at a smaller-scale to locations around the country. Image Comics has held Image Expo for a couple years now.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.