Media C-Suite Week No. 29, Issue No. 16

A Week in he Media C-Suite Issue 16

A Week in the Media C-Suite

It’s Sunday, the 16th of July, 2023.

A day of rest for some. One can hope.

For anyone working in the Media & Entertainment industry, this past week has been one for the record books (and text books, and perhaps a mini-series). 

Just Catching Up?

Wishful thinking!

Here’s what you might have missed in all of the chaos.

Strategic Divergence

For the past week, news coverage of this industry has focused on the combined strike action of both the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) and the Stage Actors’ Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Few media watchers, or members of the general public, will be wholly unfamiliar with those acronyms: WGA & SAG-AFTRA. 

They strike for a clear and convincing purpose: to seek better paid compensation for the writers and performers that craft a product that drives an industry on track to generate revenues of US$2.5 trillion this year.

What is not widely reported on is who the WGA & SAG-AFTRA are striking against. The source of insecurity for the writers and performers who craft Hollywood film and television productions is known as the AMPTP, or the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. AMPTP members are also known as the ‘Media Majors’, or simply as the ‘Studios’. 

Consider this from the comments section of our latest article:

“the ‘Studios’ have a very different agenda than the members of either WGA or SAG-AFTRA. That agenda is to break with the “old” LA-Centric Hollywood and build a “new” global Hollywood.

The historic WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes offer additional international corporate rationale for doing just that.”

Read the article, and add to the comments. 


Hollywood's Own Goal

Hollywood Scores Own Goal as Studio Bosses Prepare for the Coming Era in the Global Streaming Wars

The historic strike action of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA highlights the diverging interests of Studio-owning conglomerates and the American-centric unionised talent concentrated within Los Angeles County.


Special Delivery

As LA-based writers and performers halt production of new Hollywood films and television series, the opposite end of the supply-chain is eager to fill theatres with audiences wanting to come back for more. 

To achieve this, cinema owners are looking to an emerging exhibition market in the Middle East with a long-term strategic vision that could not benefit more from the picket lines in Los Angeles. 

To understand what’s driving all this change, and who’s paying for it, check out …


New Generation Cinemas

Resurgent Box Offices Eye Gulf States’ Market and Money

Cinema owners seek innovation and renewal as global exhibition begins to re-claim its pre-pandemic prominence. New ideas on the cinema experience, and the capital needed to pursue them, are finding fertile soil on desert sand.    


Looking Ahead?

You don’t have to look far.

October

That is the expectation seeded into the minds of reporters on the when the WGA and/or SAG-AFTRA strikes will end. That is a long-time for the majority of professional film crew and supporting performers that work on day-rates to be out of work. Just long enough in theory for maximum pressure on Union bosses. 

It is also when, in theory, streaming services and broadcast television networks will begin to run out of new scripted content. That is what Union bosses are counting on as a red-line for AMPTP bosses. 

If the Media C-Suite is right about a much bigger agenda for the Media Majors, the strike will go on well past October.

For an understanding of where new content might come from, check out this article:


Cinema Audience Coming Soon

The Global Appeal of Foreign Content

For well over a century, Hollywood has been exporting American-centric film and television content to the world.  Now the tide seems to be turning as the world exercises its own creativity in telling its own stories.  Those stories are now beginning to take root in what has long been both Hollywood’s own back yard and the world’s most lucrative content market.  


Of Paramount Importance

It might be interesting to consider a little thought experiment. 

In the late 1940s, the US Supreme Court forced the then Media Majors to choose between either distribution businesses or owning cinemas. They could not do both and stay on the right side of US Anti-Trust laws. In what became known as the Paramount Decrees, all of the Media Majors did just that, selling their interests in movie theatres and focusing instead on distribution.

The old, “Studio System” crumbled. That system was built on the “Studios” owning everything. Writers were employees. Actors were employees. Their contracts tied them to a certain number of films for the relevant studio for which they were paid salaries. Studio films were marketed and initially shown only in studio-owned “first run” cinemas. It was like printing money. 

After the Paramount Decrees, the age of the “indies” arose. The Studios would pick film projects from independent producers, sign distribution agreements that acted as collateral for production budgets and call the film theirs.

What if the Media Majors were free to build the old “Studio System” again from scratch? The Paramount Decrees were lifted under the Trump Administration. Streaming platforms are analogous to cinemas in some ways. Could “first look deals” and other arrangements that tie creatives to studios become the prevailing business model that replaces an era of independent creatives and residuals?

Consider a deal announced last week between Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures. 

Read a Variety report on this here.

Now, explore that thought.

Is that a business model that works for both sides?

You might find these articles interesting:


Intangible Matter

The Insanely Lucrative Ownership of Intangible Matter

This year alone, media executives and corporate shareholders will feast on the leftovers of more than US$2.5 trillion in annual revenues from a product literally willed into existence.


Saudi’s New Investment Strategy in Media & Entertainment

Saudi Arabia’s investment activities point to a determined strategy to make use of the Media & Entertainment industry’s massive soft power.

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