Streaming has a bumpy history, and its future could be even more turbulent
One panel I really liked featured Bec Smith, Australian filmmaker now working as an agent in LA, and Samantha Lang, director and producer, discussing the history of streaming services. They painted a vivid picture of how the streamers went from being the ugly ducklings of the screen industry, to behemoths that made amazingly popular content – or so we think, because they never actually shared their viewership numbers.
That opaqueness about how many people were watching led to crazy deals for content creators and crazy salaries for streamer execs, many of whom didn’t come from a producing background (so they often gave showrunners enormous creative freedom – pro – but also couldn’t step in if production went awry – con). Not that cast and crew tended to see any of that largesse, hence the writers’ strike now, and more IR problems to come.
Now the streamers are contracting, and in a way which means less risk-taking and less new content. After all, who needs new stuff if you have reservoirs of old classics folks can draw on? Or reinventions of existing IP. If you want a deep dive on this topic, try this lengthy article by Josef Adalian and Lane Brown, which points out the many complexities of the situation the streamers find themselves in, all of which point towards – you guessed it – ads.