By reading various media news in the last year or so, a very disturbing pattern appeared. When media providers like Amazon, Apple, Google, Netfix, Microsoft tried to license content off of Hollywood, they were either given extremely high prices, or they were being rejected altogether. Microsoft even canceled a finished XBoX360-related video product recently because they couldn’t license content easily, Netflix is given harder and harder time as time goes by (notice how only a few good movies were added to their streaming service in the last few months), and even the almighty Apple had the door shut on its face numerous times.
Hollywood tries to keep the upper hand by slowing down innovation. They probably do know that by behaving this way they are damaging themselves in the long run, but these companies usually run with a plan for the next 2-3 years only, so as long as they make more money in the short term, it’s a worthy goal for them to behave like business jerks.
A few weeks ago I wrote on my personal blog that the only way to go over this licensing nightmare is for these companies to shoot their own movies/shows. And they should do that by employing a crew abroad, and shooting in cheaper countries with only some of the cast being American, a second Hollywood market can emerge. For cheap.
If done right, $1 bn can buy many, many episodes of many serialized shows, and hundreds of movies too. Sure, these would be cheaper productions, but for anyone who’s scourging on Vimeo will know that there are some amazingly talented filmmakers/producers out there, who could put to shame Hollywood for 1/10th of the cost! Check some of the embedded short movies on this article! I have some experience with shooting various video projects professionally, and so I’m a firm believer that people with true enthusiasm can produce amazing stuff on a string budget.
Netflix already tried the waters with this idea, with “Lilyhammer”, a show shot in Norway, by a Norwegian crew. Google set aside $100mil for Youtube original content too last year. And just a few days ago, Amazon was reported to be doing exactly the same: shooting its own original content!
Check my blog’s article for more explanation about how this would work, but there is one new additional point I would like to stress here. If Amazon, Netflix, Google etc start making their own content and never share with any other service, they will never win the licensing war. Fragmented, the good original shows/movies will be far and between, and Hollywood would still have the upper hand in content. But if that $1 bn of content I mentioned is shared between these tech giants, and they produce all this great new content together, and license that content amongst them, then they have a major advantage over the old way of doing things. Licensing would suddenly become easier, because it would be Hollywood who would do the begging instead.
Viewers will watch whatever is cool, and without FCC or MPAA breathing down a filmmaker’s neck for ratings, producing a cool show becomes easier. But see, that’s the first crucial step: united, these tech giants have a chance. Apart, they will remain slaves of LA.