Podcast

208 – The Streaming War

The Mythcreant Podcast

Most of us see streaming movies and shows as a way to relax after a hard day, but behind the scenes, streaming is anything but peaceful. In fact, a host of companies are gearing up for a full blown war over your streaming dollars, and the first shots have already been fired. Will this be good or bad for the consumer? How will it affect our precious spec fic content? That’s what we’re talking about this week, plus some speculation on what upcoming streaming shows will look like.

Download Episode 208 Subscription Feed 

Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Curiosity Stream

Amazon Lord of the Ring show

New content coming to streaming services

Star Trek: Discovery

All the Star Trek shows coming to CBS

Alex Kurtzman

Getting around region locking with a VPN

Qwikster

“The goal is to become HBO before HBO becomes us”

Netflix joins the MPAA

Netflix/Cannes Festival dustup

Google employees protest

Wheel of Time Show

Buffy Show

Dune Show

Welcome to Night Vale Show

Good Omens Show

Dark Crystal Prequel

Jump down to comments ↓

Transcript

Generously transcribed by SpacePineapple . Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast with your hosts Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock, and Chris Winkle.  [Intro Music]

Chris: This is the Mythcreant podcast. I’m Chris, and with me is—

Oren: Oren.

Chris: And—

Wes: Wes.

Chris: And this time, we are talking about (dramatically) The Streaming Wars.

Wes: Oooh.

Everyone: (makes “pew pew” laser blaster sounds)

Chris: We don’t normally spend a lot of time—or really any time—covering what businesses are doing in the real world. But what’s happening out there right now is just so wild, and it really affects us, because it’s the reason why so many stories are getting produced right now. And if you’re consuming those stories or doing a media critique of those stories, it’s pretty huge. Just for some context, I have to say the babies on this podcast with me probably can’t remember, but I remember way back when, when it felt like any decently budgeted spec fic movie coming out in theaters was worth my attention. Then I had to go see them, because there just wasn’t that many out there. There was less than there is now. There were still some at the time, but they were also less likely to be high quality, big budget; more likely to be cheap sequels. And now, these days, I think because of the improved special effects that have made speculative fiction movies more feasible, and the lessening of the stigma on speculative fiction, which I think was always just inevitable, personally.

Oren: Yeah.

Chris: Now it’s like all of the top movies are speculative fiction. There’s so many speculative fiction movies. And it’s just amazing, and I still feel grateful for how much speculative fiction material is coming out. And now in that context where speculative fiction is making the most money at the box offices, more than mainstream movies, now we have (dramatically) The Streaming Wars, where now we just have this explosion in content because of businesses doing their funny antics. (laughs) Business things.

Wes: Business.

Chris: Business business business business.

Oren: Just to clarify, ‘cuz not everyone necessarily knows what The Streaming Wars is right off the top of their head. What we’re talking about here is that the number of streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, has really gone up recently, and it is set to go up even further.

Wes: Well, I know three: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. So please, Oren, do share.

Chris: So many.

Oren: Well, and Amazon’s a little even unusual, because Amazon is, at the moment, I believe, still mostly à la carte system. I’m specifically referring to subscription-based services.

Wes: Right.

Oren: ‘Cuz most of the Amazon stuff, you just buy individually, but I think they’re planning to change that soon. I could be wrong.

Wes: I think a basic Prime membership does give you some free things to stream, but I think you’re right. I think you still kind of have to rent stuff.

Chris: Amazon, they have à la carte movie rentals. There’s no doubt about that. But they have increasingly—so they started with Prime, and they have some free videos with Prime, but they’ve increasingly been adding a lot of … more Prime subscriptions. Like there’s more kinds of Prime and one of them is—I believe there are additional video services. There also have been partnering up with a lot of traditional networks like HBO to deliver subscriptions to those networks. And yeah, I think they are getting more into the subscriptions. They certainly are one of the competitors that is jumping in because, you know, video streaming services are considered new and quite possibly lucrative. And they’re still new enough that it doesn’t feel like there’s an established industry where you already have a monopoly, that’s kind of intractable yet.

Oren: Right.

Wes: I think, yeah.

Chris: So everybody’s jumping in.

Wes: I might be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure that the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is on Amazon, and that show has done very well. So you’re probably right. They’re probably just gearing up to get into this war in earnest now.

Oren: Yeah, they are. And we’ll talk more about the shows that are coming up in a bit, but just to list a few, just to give you an idea of how many streaming services there are out there—and this is definitely not a comprehensive list—there’s the two everyone knows about, Netflix and Hulu. Then a lot of TV networks have a subscription-based streaming service now. HBO has one, STARZ has one. CBS has one, (sarcastically) which they’re trying to make into The Star Trek Channel—more on that later. Disney is going to have one soon.

Wes: Oh, nice.

Oren: It’s not out yet, but that’s the reason all the Marvel stuff is disappearing from Netflix, is because Disney is launching their own streaming service. I believe I might have said Apple already. There is a DC streaming service.

Wes: (laughs) What?

Oren: Not for Warner Brothers, just for DC content. And if you think that’s ridiculous, I haven’t gotten to the most ridiculous one—and this is my personal favorite—is Stargate Command, which is a streaming service exclusively for Stargate content.

Wes: Uh … all right.

Oren: It’s amazing.

Chris: And the question is, does anybody subscribe to it? Is there actually … I have not heard—

Oren: I don’t think so. When you Google it, it doesn’t come up on the first page. The only way I was able to find it was by finding the article that announced it, and that article linked to it. And its website is janky as all get-out, like I click on an option, and a little popup appears that says, “you need to log in to access this content.” I’m like, okay. And there’s a login and a register button, and they’re both broken. Neither of them do anything. And I’m like, okay, I guess not that many people are logging in, apparently.

Chris: (laughs) All but abandoned, I guess.

Oren: But most of them are not that ridiculous.

Chris: There are some more legitimate specialized ones, like Curiosity Stream, which specializes in documentaries. Which, typically, in other rental services, people who like documentaries have been very underserved in a lot of businesses that are used to renting out fiction. So, I consider that one more legitimate. Comcast Time Warner is another big one that is planning on launching one. But there’s gonna be more, (laughs) and it’s a bubble. It is a bubble that will pop, and they all know that. The question is, they’re all trying to compete to be one of the ones that survive, because their consumers don’t want to pay for this much streaming services.

It’s actually going to be good for us when it pops. I’m not saying that no competition is good in this category, but generally, would you rather pay for one streaming service and just get all of the shows and movies that you want to see there, or would you rather have to pay for ten different streaming services to get all of the movies and shows that you want to see? That’s not a good outcome,

Oren: I have a good analogy for this. So normally, competition among companies and providers is good for the consumer, because it means that if you don’t like a thing, you can just go and get the other thing instead. That’s the basic model of the market, and Economics 101, right here. The streaming services are different, though, because streaming services do not compete over service. They compete for content.

So it’s sorta like if car companies sold cars that could only run on certain roads. And those roads were all proprietary. So if you bought a Toyota, you could only go to about a fourth of the city. And you would need a Prius. No, that’s the wrong car. You would need a Honda to go to another part, and a Ford to leave town—if you were desperate, I guess—is kind of how this works. So instead of the customer benefiting, in a lot of ways, we actually lose out, because content that would normally go to a streaming service we already have is instead sectioned off behind its own streaming service. So that’s why it’s actually becoming more expensive now to subscribe to all the content than it used to be, because it was more likely to be bundled in packages back when it was still on the TVs in various ways.

Wes: I’ve talked to people that have their preference of player. Do you think that maybe isn’t really a big factor in people’s decisions? I like how, on Netflix, how you play the shows on it. I think the interface is better, and it doesn’t clip, as opposed to Hulu being choppy or something. Do you think that that isn’t really a factor compared to the content?

Oren: It’s certainly not a big factor, in my opinion. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter at all. The fact that Stargate Command’s website is broken probably isn’t helping them, but let me put it this way. If we were competing on service, Hulu would not exist. Hulu is a janky service. It is the worst. It is constantly freezing up and stuttering, and sometimes are just episodes that won’t play. It’s really unfriendly to lower quality laptops. You need to have a fairly powerful laptop to stream videos with Hulu, which is weird. But Hulu can continue to exist because it has exclusive content. So I still subscribe to Hulu, even though I hate it with a fiery passion. And I wouldn’t, if I didn’t have to go there to get shows I wanted to watch.

Wes: Plus, they just lowered their prices. So, hey, they’re trying to keep you around.

Oren: They did do that. They know they’re trash. Whereas Netflix is actually increasing its prices and I still have customer loyalty to Netflix, even though I know Netflix doesn’t actually care about me. But their service is better, even though it’s more expensive. I’m still willing to pay for that.

Chris: Yeah. Admittedly, there is a little bit, because I have been paying for Netflix, even on months in which I’m just not watching anything on Netflix. I could unsubscribe for a while and save a little money and subscribe back again. But I keep up my Netflix subscription because I just want Netflix to win, you know? And no, it’s not like Netflix won’t become evil. I do think that, if there is a monopoly in the streaming services later—which could be Netflix, it could happen—that it’s still possible that they’ll have the power to raise their prices pretty high. It’s not like there’s any easy path to just having all of the content for really low prices. But at the same time, they clearly have a better experience than Hulu. And I have a certain sense of them deserving to win. I’ll go more into them later, and what their strategies are.

So it’s not like it doesn’t matter, but I think in the end it’s who has the content that people want, and make it practical. It’s all about the practicality, and all of these businesses, they know that whoever has the most valuable content library is going to win the streaming wars. And that’s one of the easy ways to basically get them to win, to position themselves to win this huge competition over this new sector, is to produce more valuable content to add to their library. And that’s why we have so many new things coming out, is because it’s a huge competition over the fate of this industry.

Oren: Yeah. I mean, Amazon didn’t spend $200 million on the rights to Lord of the Rings, just ‘cuz they wanted to make a Lord of the Rings show. Right?

Chris: (laughs) They’re just big fans. In total, Amazon has spent $750 million on the Lord of the Rings show. They spent $250 million to license Lord of the Rings, and then they spent another $500 million producing the show.

Oren: Dear Lord, that’s too much money.

Wes: Wow.

Chris: It’s so much money. It’s like three quarters of a billion dollars on one show.

Oren: The show is gonna be painfully average. I predict this right now. There’s no way they’re going to take any risks with a show that expensive. And it’s not like they have a winning—Lord of the Rings doesn’t really present a winning TV formula. So I just predicted now it’s going to be fine. We’re gonna watch—

Wes: Fine’s appropriate.

Chris: I think it could be fine for TV. I mean, they’re not setting it during the actual books, they’re sitting earlier in the same world. So they’ve got a lot of freedom to plot it and do what they want. I mean, again, it just depends on how high quality it is. They might be high quality. I think everybody realizes, after Game of Thrones, how much pull one show could have. And I think that, knowing how valuable the Lord of the Rings movies were, and seeing how much Game of Thrones has mattered for HBO, I think has really shaped why they are doing this, why they are pouring so much money into this. ‘Cuz they think that, hey, if we get one really iconic fantasy show that everybody’s talking about, everybody wants to see, people will subscribe just for that show. And then if we have a big enough library, they will stay. Right?

Wes: Yeah.

Chris: Which brings me to CBS. Unless you guys have any more you want to talk about?

Oren: No, we should definitely talk about CBS,

Chris: Yeah, let’s talk about CBS.

Wes: Real quick, though. Real quick, though. I just want to address the bubble, because I have a thought. So it’s ballooning, we’re talking about wars, we’re talking about competition and who’s going to win, but I’m thinking about the whole Stargate thing. We have to acknowledge, and I still think this plays into exactly what you were talking about. It’s going to be good for the consumer, but there’s gotta be plenty of these streaming services that are just going to do their small thing, make certain types of content with the aim to get bought out, right? They’re not really playing to win the war. They just want to sell out and like bro down, probably.

Chris: I mean, I don’t think so. So, being bought out is a common business strategy, but it’s usually a business strategy in little startups that have a bunch of people get investment. People work really hard, and their purpose is to be bought by a bigger company. I mean, I don’t know. CBS, to me, doesn’t feel like the amount of money they’re pouring in is designed to be bought out by somebody else. I don’t know. Maybe, but I guess, in my experience, trying to make your company get bought out is something where you start small and you get big, because it’s that value difference between when you were small, and growing a whole bunch that makes you get lots of profits when you sell out to a larger company. And if you’re already big, for instance, Comcast Time Warner. They’re just merging. They definitely are way too big. They’re not going to pour money into a streaming service just to have it bought out, you know? I don’t think that’s a thing they’re gonna do.

Wes: Right. I guess I’m thinking that Netflix is like, well, we could spend this much money to produce our own content, or we could just acquire the Stargate stuff and then take the content.

Chris: Right.

Oren: Well, interesting you should say that, because Netflix’s strategy is definitely to produce their own content, partially because no one will license them stuff anymore.

Wes: Yeah.

Chris: Okay. We can talk more about the bubble potentially collapsing, but let’s talk about CBS, ‘cuz CBS is one of the most hilarious anecdotes from this entire process. So, when (Star Trek) Discovery was about to come out, I remember Oren was worried about this fracturing of content. ‘Cuz we are paying more and more as we’ve got different services that are all taking their content off of Netflix and trying to start their own service with it costing more.

And I was like, oh, don’t worry. One show cannot sustain one of these streaming services, even one popular show. Everybody’s gonna subscribe, they’re gonna watch Discovery, and if they want to, they can wait and do it late when the whole season is basically up. And then they’re going to unsubscribe again. It’s not enough to sustain the service. And I was right.

Oren: Yes.

Chris: I was right. But CBS’s response to this happening, to everybody subscribing, watching discovery, and unsubscribe again, was to make more Star Trek, all the Star Trek.

Oren: So much Star Trek.

Chris: So much Star Trek. So now we have, at last count, five new Star Trek shows. There’s never been so much Star Trek at once before. And the biggest, of course, if you haven’t heard, is that Captain—no, not captain anymore, but Jean-Luc Picard is coming back, played by Patrick Stewart. Now, whether that’s a good thing (laughs) is a good question.

Oren: Probably not. Let me put it this way. I would be much more excited for the flooding of the zone with Star Trek if the whole thing was overseen by someone other than the least interesting of the Abrams trio. I’ve seen their work before; it’s average at best. And it got to be (Alex) Kurtzman, because (J.J.) Abrams isn’t gonna do it, and (Roberto) Orci’s a weird conspiracy theorist. So, I guess it’s Kurtzman, that’s what we’re left with. And so far, he’s produced a pretty thoroughly average Discovery show, and I think we’re gonna keep seeing more of that. We’ll see.

Chris: Yeah. Part of the big issue with this show starring Jean-Luc Picard is the fact that Patrick Stewart is a great guy. He’s a wonderful human being, but he also has never really had great taste when it comes to what Patrick Stewart should be doing onscreen. I mean, sorry, what Jean-Luc Picard specifically should be doing onscreen. He wants Jean-Luc Picard to be an action hero when he has always been a diplomat, and that’s why he’s been loved is, because he solves things through diplomatic means. So he was very reluctant to come back onto the show, and they had to convince him and the only really way they could have convinced him is pretty much by giving him whatever he wanted.

Oren: Bags of money. (laughs)

Chris: So, we have some concerns about this Jean-Luc Picard show in which he will apparently not be a captain, but sounds like also not be an Admiral. Not really sure what he’s doing.

Oren: Yeah. They’re being really cagey about it, ‘cuz they gotta keep that hype machine going. I don’t know. There are ways it could be really good, I just don’t have a lot of confidence that it will be, based on their current track record.

Chris: So CBS has just decided that (laughs) they’re gonna try to double down on this strategy of trying to do a service that is pretty much completely boosted by Star Trek. I mean, there’s other things besides Star Trek on their service, but not much.

Oren: Yeah. Not stuff that Star Trek fans really want to watch. Like, when you end a Netflix show, it recommends you some other things. And it’s like, yeah, maybe if I finished watching Stranger Things, I would want to watch one of the other weird, creepy magic shows that is on Netflix, right? With CBS, it’s like, you finished watching Discovery. Would you like to watch a weird reality show? I would not. That is definitely not what I’m interested in. That’s what’s going on with CBS. It’s also funny, because CBS is trying to get you to sign up for a multi-month-long contract. And it’s like, no CBS, I’m not doing that. I’m gonna watch Star Trek. You decided to hold Star Trek hostage for your weird streaming service. So now you get to reap the whirlwind.

Chris: Right. And of course, everybody’s mad at CBS because in other countries, Discovery’s on Netflix, and Star Trek is on Netflix. It’s only in the US where they’re like, no. And so everybody’s just mad at them. They have no goodwill.

Oren: That’s another funny thing about the streaming wars. This is kind of a side note, but the whole region-locking element of it is kind of hilarious because it’s super easy to get around, it turns out. You can completely, legally get a virtual, private VPN. And then you can just tell them that you’re coming from another country and then they have to show you their not-American stuff. And that’s not illegal. You can just do it. They don’t like it. They would prefer that you not. So that’s a funny little side effect, if you’re a little more tech savvy, you can just get a lot more shows for the same amount of money by abusing their ridiculous region-locked stuff.

Wes: Well, good. More people should do that.

Oren: Yeah. I definitely support—

Wes: I’m going to totally do that now. (laughs)

Oren: I mean, if you do the math, it might be cheaper to just do the VPN thing than to pay for more streaming services.

Wes: Yeah, right.

Oren: I’m pretty sure the two top contenders are going to be Netflix and Disney.

Chris: Yeah, I agree.

Oren: Netflix, because it’s already super entrenched.

Chris: It’s got a headstart, definitely.

Oren: Yeah.

Wes: They have a deep library to pull from. I don’t know about if you two have ever done this or know anybody who has, but one of my good friends, he’s been Netflix since it started, when you got a DVD in the mail.

Oren: Oh, those were the good days.

Chris: Oh, yeah.

Wes: He still does that because they have a more extensive library than what they have available to stream. And so if he doesn’t find something that he’s interested in, cause he’s looking for maybe something specific, he’ll go onto Netflix’s site and get a DVD in the mail, because he wants to watch a really obscure Marvel show, that they don’t have streaming at that moment.

Chris: Do you remember when Netflix tried to spin off their content and their DVD mailing service into its own business?

Wes: No, really?

Oren: I do. It was called Qwikster.

Wes: What?

Chris: And people got so mad.

Wes: (laughs) Oh, I didn’t know.

Chris: People were furious. It was a huge PR disaster. (laughs)

Oren: Yeah, it was bad.

Wes: (derisively) Qwikster?

Chris: So they put them back. They did. It was really funny, ‘cuz they’ve always intended, I think, to really go towards the internet streaming. And so, this other service is kind of a legacy service that I think they thought that this was sinking, taking away resources that they needed to invest in being a great streaming service. And so they try to just, like, here; it’s its own company now. And there was just so much anger over it. They had to take it back.

Oren: Yeah, a friend of mine had actually been hired by Qwikster to start work with them. And then he never got to start the job, because the company was dissolved because of all of the backlash. It was fantastic.

Chris: So back in the day, of course, when Netflix first got started, they were just licensing other people’s content and they were able to do so fairly cheaply because they weren’t big. And so, to other content producers, it didn’t feel like they were a competitor. It felt like they were just an extra way to make a little income on top of what—they were only income, that they wouldn’t make a difference. And then, they were able to get a big subscriber base, but the issue was that they didn’t own any of their content. And as they got bigger, other people were like, um, no, I see what you’re doing there.

Wes: Ah.

Chris: And there was also a stage when Netflix just started offering tons and tons of money to other companies to license content. And these companies were like, these people must not know what they’re doing. This content can’t possibly be worth this much. But I think Netflix is always seeing the big picture about the fact that you have to invest a lot in order to get a lead in the market, so that later, you’re powerful. This is exactly the strategy that Amazon used, and becoming a powerhouse today. You dig deep into your coffers, and then suddenly you’re the monopoly. But they realize this issue early, and so they got a really good head start on making their own content. And that’s why we’ve seen Netflix originals for years, and how their strategy was, as summarized by their chief content officer—I just love this quote—”The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

Oren: That’s a great quote.

Chris: (laughs) It feels so dystopian. It’s companies eating each other.

Wes: They’re just waiting for that day when somebody says, “it’s not TV, it’s Netflix.”

Chris: But right now, what they’re really aiming for is, they want Hollywood legitimacy. They want to be in theaters. Last I heard they were even buying or opening their own theaters. Just to be able to show their content in theaters. And they want to win awards. They really want to work with big names that are in Hollywood.

Oren: Yeah. Apparently, Netflix has recently joined the Motion Picture Association of America.

Wes: Really?

Oren: Yeah. Because—and the reason is kind of sad, I mean, not sad, but kind of scary—is because Disney bought Fox, if you remember, and Fox was one of the members. So there was an open spot. And so, now Netflix has it. I guess I’m a little unclear what exactly the Motion Picture Association does, other than rate movies. Maybe that’s it—maybe that’s all they do.But Netflix is on it now, so that’s fun.

Chris: They had a huge fight with the—ugh, God, I can’t pronounce it. There’s a famous French cinema festival that has a lot of legitimacy, where—

Wes: The Cannes Festival?

Chris: Yeah. They had a huge fight over it because, to be in the Cannes Festival, you have to be shown in French theaters. And to be shown in French theaters, because there’s a Theater Guild, you have to let the theaters show your movie for six weeks before you release it on streaming, and Netflix really didn’t like that. So they got in a big fight where they withdrew a bunch of high-profile movies that everybody was looking forward to seeing, and people thought that was bullying the festival, and (laughs) it was a big deal.

Oren: It was a whole thing.

Wes: Man, I can’t wait for the Netflix original content for the story of how Netflix became legitimate in Hollywood. (laughs)

Oren: Oh, gosh.

Wes: The way Chris is describing this, it’s thrilling. I would probably watch that show.

Chris: (laughs) Okay. Recently, though, they are still, however, paying to license content, and this is one of the funniest things that’s happened recently. So Netflix paid a hundred million dollars to Comcast for Friends for one year. For one year of showing the show Friends. Now, it helps that the show is apparently extremely popular, and Netflix has tons and tons of data they don’t share with anyone about viewing habits. They know so much about what people watch, and it also has ten seasons’ worth, and hasn’t been showing anywhere for a while. And a lot of people were just, like, Comcast. You’re about to open it your own streaming service. Why are you giving your content to a competitor to strengthen their bid? And Comcast is like, but it’s just so much money. (laughs) Can we have this money and also have our streaming service?

Oren: Why can’t we have both of those things?

Chris: But the fact is that, after Friends shows on Netflix for a year, it is going to be less valuable, because lots of people will have seen it recently. So there’s a big question of whether or not Comcast Time Warner is really serious. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be in the streaming wars and have a chance, but they’re clearly not as devoted to it as they should be. So yeah, those are all my business shenanigan jokes about what’s happening right now. I do find it very entertaining. Of course, watching tech companies compete is kind of like my sports. So, should we talk about what content is coming up?

Oren: Yeah, but there’s one more thing. There’s one more strategy that we’ve missed. And this is the reason why I think it’s going to be Netflix and Disney in the end. So, Netflix is doing everything it can to produce its own content specifically for streaming. That’s what it’s doing. Disney’s strategy is a little different, and Disney’s is just to eat it’s competitors. That’s how Disney gets more content. It also produces its own content, but it doesn’t produce stuff specifically for streaming, or at least not a lot. Not yet. Right now, instead, it’s just buying up other entertainment companies in a way that is honestly a little bit concerning and should probably go on the list of companies that are too big and need to be broken up.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, there was a huge bidding war for, I think it was for Fox, between Comcast and Disney.

Oren: Yeah. And whoever won that, we were going to lose. If I had to pick one, I’d say Disney, but still, not a great solution either way.

Chris: Neither of those companies are great, right? They’re both too big. They’re both not really particularly ethical. Granted, it does feel like these days, whenever a tech company gets big enough and entrenched enough, they just become evil. Even Google, which had the whole “don’t be evil” thing, is definitely doing some evil things these days. It’s really too bad.

Oren: Although, at least in Google’s case, a lot of Google workers are not having it, and they’re raising a fuss, but that’s another separate topic.

Chris: Yeah.

Oren: So we’re getting towards the end here, but we should definitely at least talk a little bit about what’s coming up soon.

Chris: Okay. So obviously, it’s almost easier to say what isn’t (laughs) being turned into a TV show. Netflix in particular is making hundreds of stories a year. So naturally, anything big, like Dune and Wheel of Time, they’re both getting shows. There’s gonna be another Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) made by somebody.

Oren: Yeah, someone.

Chris: So we talked about the Lord of the Rings. For podcast fans, people listening, a lot of fiction podcasts are starting to get picked up. Welcome to Nightvale is getting a TV show, which I’m excited about. (Good) Omens is getting a six-part series. I’m also just excited about the fact that Netflix is apparently getting a Dark Crystal prequel made by one of the original creators with the actual Muppets and stuff.

Oren: I am not hyped for this.

Chris: (laughs) I will be hyped enough for both of us.

Oren: I don’t want to watch Gelfling genocide, okay? I’m just not interested.

Chris: Yeah, it is kind of disturbing that it’s a prequel. (laughs) Those are the big ones. Any other ones you guys want to comment on?

Oren: I’m sorta surprised there hasn’t been more Discworld. Every once in a while, we hear that maybe BBC is making a Guards! Guards! show, but it’s surprising to me that that’s not more of a priority, considering how every other big fantasy franchise is being converted.

Wes: Maybe with Good Omens, who knows?

Oren: Yeah, we’ll see. I did love the Wheel of Time one, where there was an article trying to pitch Wheel of Time as a feminist story that I was like, I don’t know if this is just like really bald-faced lying, or if the person who wrote this article just doesn’t know anything about Wheel of Time. Either way, it was kind of hilarious.

Chris: To be fair if I had to produce Wheel of Time …

Oren: Right. It’s always possible that this person knew something I don’t, and that the TV show actually is going to focus on women and not Rand, the most punchable main character in the world. But who knows? We’ll see. I’ll probably watch it just to find out.

All right. Well, I think that’ll be the end for this episode. Thank you, everyone, for listening. Before we go, I want to just give a quick thanks to two of our patrons; Kathy Ferguson, who teaches political theory in Star Trek, and Ayman Jabar. If anything we said piqued your interest, you can leave a comment on the website, Mythcreants.com. Otherwise, we will talk to you next week.

If this episode resonated with you, post a review on iTunes to increase the range of our spells. [Outro Music]

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

 

Comments

  1. Simeon

    You are glossing over a vital component of this dynamic. Sure, content plays a big part, but let’s look at the big players:

    Hulu is now owned by Disney, as will, of course, be Disney + as well.
    DC Universe is owned by WB.
    Amazon Prime is Amazon.

    All of these have other sources of revenue. Netflix is reliant exclusively on subscription, and to be frank, I don’t see how much further they can expand in the US, which is still the biggest streaming market. They are literal billions in debt, and as much legitimacy as their content might be getting, they still have very little to attract investment, because there aren’t real returns.

    For that reason, I predict that Netflix will actually be the first major casualty of the streaming wars.

    • Chris Winkle

      Yeah, I probably should have mentioned that the non-Netflix companies have other income streams they can use to subsidize their streaming business, and Netflix doesn’t. But personally, I’m still betting on Netflix. Amazon also took on huge amounts of debt back in the day to become the market leader in eCommerce, and it worked out very well for them.

      • Simeon

        That’s true, however Amazon was always selling goods. A store can keep expanding to an almost limitless capacity, and Amazon has. Netflix has more or less finished expanding in the US.

        • Chris Winkle

          I think Netflix’s strategy in the US is to dominate more free type and add content that’s in higher demand, allowing them to raise prices. At least, they are making the argument that there’s a lot of opportunity for growth in higher engagement amongst their current user base. I don’t know for sure that this is a good strategy, but with a new industry it’s easy to be caught up in an old mindset, and Netflix understands the streaming industry better than anyone else.

    • Roger

      Words of wisdom there Simeon.

      Netflix has popularity, but it needs to turn that popularity into profit. And fast.

      Streaming content needs to expand outside the US, which might be an issue. Europe is a pretty self-contained market.

      China is not a free country, so one would need to be complicit in censorship and other activities that would hurt your business elsewhere.

      In Russia and eastern Europe pirate streams are far more popular than legal ones. Why spend money to watch your fav series on a legal western website, when you can go to an abkhazian or adjarean website and watch all of them in HD for free, in Russian English or Georgian!

      Japan seems to be the best target, but the Japanese work long hours, read for long hours (even if a lot of it is light novels or manga, they still read more than western countries) or play games. They spend far less time watching TV as a result of all these other activities.

  2. Tifa

    I’m always excited to see each new podcast or article. Thank you for all your hard work!

    I won’t be getting Netflix anymore, because the price is getting a bit too high, so I guess I’ll look for another option. Or maybe I’ll just go read instead.

    PS Could you do an examination of the “abduction/kidnapping = romance” pitfall sometime? I feel like it’s something that doesn’t get addressed enough.

  3. Julia

    Back in the days of cable I groused that I didn’t want to pay a huge amount for scores of channels, most of which I wouldn’t watch, and then still have to pay extra for cable channels like HBO. “Why can’t I just pick off a menu and pay for only what I watch?” I wondered. Now I know why – because these streaming services add up very quickly.

  4. Oren Ashkenazi

    Behold, a transcript!

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy (updated 03/28/20) and our privacy policy for details on how we moderate comments and who receives your information.