[Note: This is Part 3 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.]
The advent of digital storefronts like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon Prime Video began the steady decline of the physical home video market. Streaming and subscription revenue overtook physical media sales in 2016, cementing the fate of what for the better part of two decades had been a major source of revenue for studios. Also declining quickly are the number of cable subscriptions.
The latter explains why new subscription-based OTT services are being launched by networks that used to simply have their own app-based offerings, which often required cable subscription verification to access.
In short, OTT services are geared to reach an audience that isn’t interested in the traditional cable bundle and also is less and less interested in owning media, content instead to pay a subscription fee for continued access to a wide variety of material more in-line with their interests.
That also is why those aggregators that are thriving are more niche-oriented. FilmStruck has gained a powerful reputation among cinephiles as a must-have subscription for those who enjoy classic movies. Originally a service from Turner Classic Movies, it recently added movies from sister company Warner Archive and is also the exclusive home to The Criterion Collection, a title formerly held by Hulu.
You even see adjustments being made based on the changing market landscape at Amazon and Netflix. Each has noticed how movie studios have almost completely thrown out any property that doesn’t have an “expanded cinematic universe” out the window, which is why theaters are full of nothing but big-budget adventure comedies with lots of overseas box-office potential.
Each has responded in different ways, though. Amazon is reportedly looking for more large-scale projects, seeking to compete at the same scale as theatrical offerings. Meanwhile, Netflix has embraced the kind of mid-tier movie that’s totally fine and maybe even really good, finding success with the recent romantic comedy Set It Up, the sci-fi cop drama Bright and the racial drama Mudbound. Those movies would have likely bombed in theaters but they performed very well for the streaming distributor.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.