Apple, which was grabbed by Will Smith, is becoming a rival to Netflix and Disney

Will Smith's punching scene at the Oscars surprised audiences all over the world, earning him the nickname "One Punch Man".

In contrast, Apple, as the first streamer to win the Oscar for best picture, can only take second place in popularity.

In the corners that we don’t pay much attention to, more similar muffled thunders are exploding. The interest of Hollywood studios and technology companies in streaming media is only increasing, and together they will cut down the Hollywood of the past.

Hollywood studios are embracing streaming

On April 8, WarnerMedia and Discovery Media officially completed a $43 billion merger.

WarnerMedia was spun off by its parent company AT&T and formed a new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, with Discovery Communications.

▲ Picture from: Warner Bros. Discovery

Both have their own strengths in the content area. WarnerMedia owns Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network, etc., with Harry Potter and DC heroes; Discovery Media operates Discovery Channel, Travel Life Channel, Animal Planet Channel and other cable networks, covering sports, home improvement, "Real life", such as wildlife, is best known as the Discovery Channel documentary.

The two companies also each have their own streaming platforms — HBO Max and Discovery+, which add up to nearly 100 million subscribers and are expected to merge into a single service that has the strength to compete with streaming giants Netflix (220 million subscribers) and Disney+ (subscribers). 130 million) against the court.

Many well-known names have since gathered under one roof, covering movies, comics, news, sports, documentaries, reality shows and other assets. The Financial Times pointed out that Warner Bros. Discovery will become the world's second largest media company after Disney, and the synergies generated by the two companies can save $3 billion a year.

▲ "Harry Potter". Picture from: Douban

Restructuring and mergers are a common way of staying alive in Western media groups, and this has happened time and time again in the past.

In the past, Hollywood was an era when big studios said nothing. They had their own theaters while making movies, and they were able to cover the sky in production, distribution and broadcasting.

The practice was later seen as a monopoly, and the Paramount Act of 1948 ruled that studios could not own their own theater chains. Coupled with the popularity of television sets, major studios have been seeking innovations in film technology while integrating with television, newspapers, and radio to transform into a comprehensive entertainment empire.

▲ 1955 Home TV.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Hollywood studios also experienced a wave of mergers and reorganizations, partly in response to the impact of emerging media such as cable television networks and video tapes on movies. In addition to the movie box office, they also hold the copyright income of video tapes, TV broadcasts, and peripheral products in their hands.

In 1997, Netflix started from the DVD sales and rental business. At first, it was a pure channel business. After several changes, it became a streaming media giant. It not only has a large number of self-made word-of-mouth dramas, invested heavily in famous film directors, and has mature subscriptions. Payment model, master user data acquisition, analysis and application capabilities.

Hollywood's new rival is here, and the streaming trend is still alive and well today. Different from the studio system in the past, streaming media is an Internet consumption model. It uses digital operations to produce, distribute, promote, and broadcast various parts. It is easier to know what the audience likes more, and rack their brains to keep the subscription revenue flowing.

Earlier in March 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, the six major Hollywood film companies became five, and the main control of the streaming service Hulu fell into the hands of Disney.

▲"Iron Man". Picture from: Douban

Disney's strength is that it owns many movie rights, such as Marvel movies, "Star Wars" series, Disney and Pixar cartoons, and has a good mass base in itself.

In November 2019, Disney launched the streaming platform Disney+ and a bundled subscription plan, allowing users to subscribe to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ at the same time.

In the face of the wave of streaming media, Warner and Disney made similar choices: join the streaming media camp, gather together in terms of content and scale, and win and retain subscribers, just like the goal of former Disney CEO Robert Iger- "Building a Significant Digital Company Direct-to-Consumer".

Tech companies rush to enter streaming media

Similar to WarnerMedia, on March 17, Amazon officially acquired MGM for $8.45 billion.

After Netflix wrote the streaming myth, Hollywood was on the offensive, and tech companies also wanted a piece of the pie.

A Hollywood studio founded in 1924, MGM will bring 4,000 films and 17,000 hours of TV programming to Amazon's Prime Video, including the James Bond franchise, classic "12 Angry Men," and the hit series "The Handmaid." "Story", etc., to enhance the ability of e-commerce giants to "storytelling".

▲ "Twelve Angry Men". Picture from: Douban

To date, Amazon's media business represents a relatively small part of its entire empire. Amazon's Prime membership benefits offer bundled services like free fast shipping, Prime Video, and more. Wired magazine joked about this :

If it didn't (acquisition), people might still keep their Prime memberships because they like free shipping…. Streaming isn't Amazon's core business, selling you stuff is.

Although not as large as Warner Bros. Discovery, the acquisition will at least prevent Prime Video from being left far behind by other streaming services.

In addition to Amazon, Apple is also a strong competitor in this area.

▲ "Morning News". Picture from: Douban

In November 2019, Apple TV+ was officially launched. The monthly subscription fee of $4.99 is the lowest price in the industry. However, as a fresh blood in the film and television industry, Apple's original video library is not comparable to Netflix and Disney. "Seeing" and "Base" both failed, and "Morning News" starring Jennifer Aniston with a single episode of $15 million is considered acceptable.

In 2022, Apple seems to be on the move. The exclusive drama "Life Cutting Technique" and "Pinball Game" won praise, and the released "Listening Girl" won the Oscar for best picture, which is another hot topic besides Will Smith's beating.

▲ "Life Cutting Technique". Picture from: Douban

Interestingly, the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences" behind the Oscars was founded by Louis Burt Mayer, one of the founders of MGM. His original intention was to take this opportunity to hold the future of movies in his hands. Streaming here.

In fact, the fledgling Apple paid $25 million for the distribution rights to "The Listening Girl" after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2021 — a record for Sundance, but not for a company. A company valued at $2.8 trillion is a drop in the bucket.

While the Oscars' popularity has declined, it remains a vital endorsement for streaming, attracting investors, famous directors, famous actors, and consumers. As WSJ pointed out :

The Oscars help boost Apple TV+'s profile, compete with Netflix and Disney+ for subscribers, and convince producers that Apple TV+ is the right place for high-profile movies and TV shows.

In addition to the huge capital reserves, technology company streaming media also has its own ecological blessing.

▲ Picture from: WSJ

Based on Apple's global hardware sales strategy, most iPhones and iPads will come with free Apple TV+ subscriptions ranging from three months to one year. Symbolically, on iPads and computer monitors at the Apple Store in Los Angeles, The Hearing Girl is set as the lock screen.

If Apple can convert a large number of consumers into Apple TV+ users in its own traffic pool, it is also promising.

In the final analysis, the streaming media industry is not a zero-sum game between Hollywood studios and Internet companies. It is a blow against old media by new media, and the annihilation of "front waves" such as DVD and TV networks.

Hollywood studios and Internet companies have their own strengths and weaknesses. They are contestants in the same arena, and the real eliminators have long been out of the spotlight.

We are getting used to streaming

Compared with the outdated form of media, it is still difficult to smile between the cinema and the streaming media, which also makes Hollywood studios in a dilemma.

On the eve of the closing of the merger, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced his departure. His attitude towards streaming media has caused a lot of criticism.

At the end of 2020, Jason Kilar proposed to cancel the window period of the theater during the epidemic, and the theater network will simultaneously release 17 Warner Bros. movies in 2021.

▲"Dune". Picture from: Douban

Nolan has never shied away from his distaste for the synchronization of the hospital network, calling HBO Max "the worst streaming service"; the director of "Dune" also took a critical attitude, describing the move as "a way to grab the audience's attention." Desperate attempt" .

However, the synchronization of the hospital network seems to be paying off a lot in terms of income. HBO Max and HBO had a combined 73.8 million subscribers at the end of 2021.

Warner has now canceled the synchronization of the hospital network, but it is a fact that the window period has become shorter and shorter in the past ten years. We no longer have to go through six months of a movie being shown in theaters, being made on videotape and DVD, and then playing on cable. On April 18, 45 days after its release, The New Batman will hit HBO Max.

▲ "The New Batman". Picture from: Douban

Originally, the income of the main creators of Hollywood blockbusters can be roughly divided into two parts: "remuneration + dividends". But now, this traditional distribution model based on the window period has lost the benefits of streaming media. In order to make "Wonder Woman 1984" available for streaming, Warner Bros. paid the director and starring tens of millions of dollars each to make up for the loss of dividends.

For this situation, the epidemic also played a catalytic role. In April 2020, an analysis report titled "Farewell to Hollywood" stated:

This crisis caused by the pandemic will permanently change the production and distribution of media content… Even if the fears of the new crown virus are alleviated, the number of American theatrical films will be greatly reduced, and the studio can only be accelerated by the accelerated shift to the streaming business. Seeking to survive… In essence, this crisis may make what the theater chain has been dreading come true.

▲ "Wonder Woman 1984". Picture from: Douban

At a time when consumers are going to the cinema less and less and regretting the loss of a better audiovisual experience, we are also used to watching movies through streaming media. We are no longer preoccupied and may be dealing with other sources of information while being drawn to the screen in front of us.

McLuhan believes that "the medium is the message", that is, "the most essential thing in communication is not the expression of the content, but the medium itself". Streaming is both a medium and reshaping content.

On the one hand, streaming, represented by Netflix, is becoming a haven for big-budget movies. Martin Scorsese once thanked Netflix for allowing him to make the 3.5-hour 'The Irishman' on his own terms.

▲"The Irishman". Picture from: Douban

On the other hand, when streaming media is based on Internet user subscription logic and is centered on Internet users, it may produce content that we "like" rather than "really need". Surrender to technical logic is not always conducive to the expression of content.

When streaming media players from all walks of life enter the market one after another, traditional Hollywood is dying, and new content production models and consumption models are born. Netflix has subverted Hollywood, Apple won the Oscar, and MGM is under the command of Amazon. Wherever the wind of entertainment is, they are going to make it possible for them to stay in the future.

Li Ruoqiuhuang, to exorcise evil. Working email: [email protected]

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