Direct to Consumer Entertainment: Brand Differentiation

[Note: This is Part 2 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.]

As more and more media companies have pulled their content from aggregators, those aggregators have sought to compensate by producing original programming of their own.

Last March Netflix announced it would spend $8 billion to produce original shows, movies and specials in 2018. That move represents how the company understands that the value proposition to audiences has shifted from “come catch up on the shows you missed when they were on broadcast TV” to “watch us instead of broadcast TV.” The changing relationship between it and other content providers is at least partly behind that shift.

There’s no better example of that changed dynamic than Disney, which announced last year it would not be renewing the deal with Netflix allowing subscribers to watch a selection of animated and other classics as well as more recent fair from the Marvel Studios and Star Wars brands. The reason behind that decision was that this content would soon form the backbone of its own OTT service, planned for a 2019 launch.

Even Disney knows it can’t rely on old shows and movies to draw viewers, though. That’s why it’s already revealed a slate of original shows and movies – many of which are tied to classic properties like Star Wars, Lady & The Tramp, High School Musical and others – and more are likely to be coming soon.

A similar model will be used by DC Entertainment with its upcoming DC Universe OTT platform. It will mix new shows starring DC Comics characters like Harley Quinn, Teen Titans and others with a selection of catalog content including the Lynda Carter-starring “Wonder Woman” TV show, the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and more.

(Disclosure: I worked with DC Entertainment from 2011 to 2015 while at a PR agency. My time on that project predates any OTT plans, though.)

It’s not that it’s an either/or situation, though, even for those platforms that have long drawn material a variety of sources. Hulu, owned by a consortium of media companies that always seem to be using it as a negotiating tool, will likely continue to feature catalog programming from those companies while it also produces original shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Castle Rock” and more. So too, Apple will surely still be producer-agnostic in the movies and TV shows available through iTunes but also has a dozen or so original shows in production.

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

Author: Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.