Capitalizing on Content: The Money-making Ways of Media Companies

Netflix, in recent times, has become a powerhouse of content creation. They went from being a small streaming service that funded indie projects to a full-fledged production company. This transition has been more than apparent with the enormous number of titles they put out every year. Most of them, of course, being Noah Centineo films.

Centineo’s existence, however, can be endured by film enthusiasts when on the other side of the spectrum, you have incredible shows like Dark, Orange is the New Black, Bojack Horseman, and many more. But with the new decade already here, Netflix has decided to pull the plug on some of its best shows. All the above-mentioned shows are soon going to be out of business. Among them, Bojack Horseman came as the biggest surprise to most fans.

“We had a wonderful time making Bojack. Couldn’t be more proud. Fell in love with these characters just like everyone else did but sadly Netflix thought it was time to close the curtains and so here we are. They gave us a home for 6 beautiful years. Nothing we could do about it.”

Aaron Paul

Show-runner, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, in an interview with Vulture, confirmed that the show wouldn’t have ended anytime soon if it were up to him. Disappointed fans even took it upon themselves to stand against this decision. Despite the support, Bojack Horseman will come to an end with its final season releasing in January. So why did Netflix have to cancel a show that seemed to be doing fairly well?

The success of a TV series is usually measured by the amount of time it stays on-air. Most popular shows run for six or more years. Friends lasted for ten seasons, grey’s anatomy is still going strong with fifteen. However, that isn’t the case anymore. An average Netflix series runs for up to three seasons and that is if it’s doing well. The streaming service also ensures that a series after cancellation stays exclusive to the platform. No other network is allowed to pick it up nor does Netflix produce follow-up content, leaving fans in despair. The question remains — what is in it for them to keep killing these beloved shows?

Netflix runs on a very specific money-making algorithm. The only reason they keep cancelling running shows and introducing new ones is to make more profits. Their business model is based on subscriptions. People tend to subscribe to Netflix or rather any streaming platform when they see shows and movies they are interested in. So, to cater to more demographics, Netflix produces new content at an extremely rapid rate. The problem is they only have so much money to keep the old shows running.

When Netflix first started out, it had only a handful of original shows such as ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange Is the New Black’. Continued subscription to the streaming service could only be ensured by keeping the viewers interested with new enticing episodes of these shows. But the platform now debuts hundreds of shows every year. If these shows don’t find immediate viewership, they drown in a stream of never-ending content, made worse by minimal marketing. The result? Shows like ‘One Day At a Time’ and ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ get cancelled despite having loyal fanbases. The only reason being that these shows don’t bring more subscriptions to the table.

Several shows have suffered a premature death like that. ‘Sense 8’ was supposed to run across five seasons, laying out an intricate and well-planned story, but it was cut short to two seasons and was given a final two-hour episode to wrap up the tale.

For popular shows like Stranger Things, however, renewal is an obvious decision. With each new season of such shows comes increased viewership and new subscribers. Netflix also focuses on advertising its popular shows more than its new ones because their data shows that these shows help them gain more profits.

Netflix has always been a data-run business. They have found that most shows beyond their second or third season, don’t generate significant numbers of new subscribers. Brand new content, however, does indeed do that. If an old show is cancelled, loyal fans will surely get upset about it, but only until a shiny new show comes along and takes its place.

This is not only unfair to the fans but even more so to the creative minds behind these shows. The quality of content as a whole has also gone down significantly in this process. At the end of the day, an enterprise is supposed to make money and that is what Netflix does. The company, at the moment, is the biggest streaming platform in the world but it has some serious up and coming competition. Networks such as Amazon Prime and Disney Plus are major rivals working on similar money-making schemes. Netflix, therefore, isn’t the only media company running blindly behind profits.

DISNEY

The decline in the quality of content is most apparent in recent Disney films. While we have gotten to grow up with original masterpieces such as The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland, today’s kids have been raised on unimaginative live-action versions of these movies. Corporate greed has stolen the creativity involved in the process of content making.

Why is Disney rebooting its original movies as ‘live-action’ and watering down their content?

The answer is pretty obvious; taking old popular movies and wrapping them in a brand new layer of CGI is an excellent way of earning profit. By now, you have probably sensed the pattern.

Companies will do whatever they can to increase their revenue. They are completely fine with using the same old formulas in the name of nostalgia. Stories don’t get the thought process they deserve anymore because of this corporate greed. For example, Marvel is infamous for taking extreme measures to maintain the secrecy of their scripts to create hype. It almost seems like they care more about potential leaks than the contents of those leaks. A lot of their movies have become stale because of repetitive writing.

The remaking of the stories we have loved leaves the filming process devoid of much creativity. It is but an imitation of a story already told. We should have the opportunity to develop complex feelings towards new characters as well as explore new worlds and settings. In an ever-advancing world, why do we have to consume stories that have already been told?

People deserve better content made with love and dedication. Creators deserve to use their imagination and put passion into what they create. They should have the opportunity to dream up new characters and put them in situations that they themselves have concocted. They shouldn’t be made to remake old content to use nostalgia as a cash cow.

Conclusion

From what we have gathered so far, the current situation of films and shows looks pretty bleak. At this point, a call to support content creators might seem like a shallow way to positively end this piece. You probably think it barely makes any difference. However, great stories still do exist and many more are waiting to be told. Talented artists are itching to express themselves and their creativity is not something that can be contained. As long as artists exist, they will find a way to deliver their art to us. The least we can do is support them in the process.

Written by Tanya Jain and Chintan Gandhi for MTTN

Graphic Artwork by Shambhavi Sanjay

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