Shift Happens - Not Everyone Likes the Same Video Content and Tastes Change

Shift Happens - Not Everyone Likes the Same Video Content and Tastes Change

“Maybe you should take a minute and think before you do anything drastic.” – Janet Matthews, “Dream Scenario,” A24, 2023

When Netflix first decided to release viewership data, we thought they were being really ambiguous.

After all, who cares about how many two-minute chunks of a show you watched or, for that matter, that a whole bunch of their global subscribes watched 20-30M minutes of a new movie/show release?

When we finally make our view now decision – usually based on their algorithm’s recommendation that are based on past viewing – we stick with the show/movie till the end unless it’s a really sucky piece of content.

Heck, they didn’t have to let us know at all since they weren’t pedaling ads so, the only reason to tell others if the project was liked was to attract more subscribers (was to say folks watched a gazillion minutes rather than 10+ M viewers).

Then the lightbulb lit.

They were giving us a real insight into the beauty and value of digital streaming content that was never possible with old-fashioned linear shows.

Back then, studios/networks (and advertisers) could get an idea of gross numbers but didn’t know – could probably care less – if folks actually really stuck with the video story.

But with ultra-detailed viewership data (and powerful analytics) they could learn so much more. They could not only determine what genre (horror, documentary, action, sci-fi, fantasy, anime or…) appealed most to their subscribers but also what actors, directors, storylines and plot twists/turns kept viewers viewing.

The more they learned, the more they could work with their show/movie partners to create not just better creative pieces but also stuff that more folks actually wanted to see and stuff they wanted to recommend/brag about to friends and people at work.

Yes, we know, everyone in the creative content industry has a pet video story she/he wants to produce, be in/be a part of but they also want to do more than bring the project to life; they want people to like it … really like it.

The entire conceptualization, creation, production process is the difficult part of the video content industry.

Sure, there are ample doses of timing and luck, but that’s more a leap of faith than talent because all of the work has been done. 


                                                                 Source – Giffy

Well, that’s not exactly true because after the film/show is done, the real work begins  … convincing folks to put their seat in a theater seat or catch it on the studios/streamers streaming service.  

Oh sure, Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-boss, has been widely quoted as saying, “Driving folks to a theater is not our business,” which really rubbed theater owners and the folks at AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) the wrong way – actually, it really P****d them off.

However, he was also savvy enough to know that showing a project in some theaters for a period of time was also good marketing to attract more subscribers.

And if they were nominated for a statue and just happened to win one, even better.

The Academy doesn’t want to admit that even though 2023 was a “good” year for theater attendance, the number of folks going to the movies has dropped steadily since 2012; and if it weren’t for pumping up the cost of tickets and their popcorn/junk food, theater chains would be underwater.  

Volume Down But… - The total number of people going to the movie theater has decreased steadily but theaters have continued to make a modest profit by increasing ticket and concession costs.

Gower Street theater analysts said that Barbie, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Oppenheimer pushed the global box office to $33.9B, up 31 percent from 2022 but still well below “the good ‘ol days.”

WBD’s David Zaslav and Disney’s Bob Iger know that except for budget busters like those mentioned above, their future profits will be with streaming and theatrical windows will be used to recover as much of their investments as possible while whetting the appetites for streaming viewers.

But Netflix, along with Amazon and Apple, also realizes that putting the very best they produce in movie theaters around the world for an exclusive period of time  is also a smart marketing investment.

Netflix will invest about $17B this year to create content for their 230M plus subscribers and some of them, like Oscar winners All Quiet on the Western Front and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, will appear in theaters to encourage folks to sign up to see them. The other films/shows will be added to their library.

Global Content – Consumer interest in films/shows that were created by crews in other countries are finding a welcoming audience in the US when they are in the right genre categories.  

Staying focused on their global markets is probably why Netflix, Amazon and Apple have produced solid demand with their subscribers.

The three are also less intent on delivering a huge box office hit – nice, but not necessary – since they put into practice what Stephen Follows, noted film industry researcher, has emphasized for years … the film industry is ruled by many losses and a few big hits.

   Streaming Lift – Movies have a tough time making a profit for studios – the majority lose money - but fortunately, the creators now have other avenues to get their content in front of a paying audience.

In fact, Follows research showed that over half of the film releases don’t even make enough money to cover their marketing costs – 78 percent made a profit equal to or less than their budget.

Okay, don’t worry; producers, directors, actors, crew and post-production folks get paid, and the movie house takes 50 percent (on average) of the ticket sales off the top. 

The real creative work is done by the studio’s accounting team that can turn a major loss into a minor inconvenience. 

Audience Acceptance – Studios and streamers have found that creative projects developed/produced by teams in other countries for the local audience also find people are interested in the work in other parts of the world.  

Rather than just rolling the dice on a few good projects, today’s streaming services are focused on understanding how well they can leverage the investments countries require they must make in local content and how well it is accepted/viewed by subscribers in other countries.

While the US/Canada continue to be the largest source and consumer of video content, they don’t have an exclusive on the creative development/production market.

No Corner on Market – While folks in Hollywood like to believe that tinsel town is the center of the video creative world, it no longer has a corner on the market.  Great creative minds and teams are developing/producing award- and audience-winning films/shows everywhere.

The global video production market is projected to be valued at nearly $99B this year and governments are helping finance the content production in their countries. 

Today, extraordinarily talented film industry professionals – screen writers, cinematographers, pre/postproduction, services, support – are located in nearly every country around the globe.

They include:

- India’s Bollywood

- China’s Hengdian World Studios and others

- The UK’s Pinewood and other studios

- Japan’s Nihon Eiga and other studio centers

- South Korea’s studios that have served up widely acclaimed K-pop and horror projects

- France’s expanding film industry

- German cinema centers

- Australia’s boom and dust industry

- Mexico and Latin American studios

- Nollywood and other rapidly emerging African centers

In other words, movie and show creation, production and consumption spans the globe.

Global Reach – With an audience that spans the globe, Netflix has developed good content production relationships everywhere with projects from South Korea, England, Spain and other countries to profitably increase their subscriber base.

An excellent example is how rapidly Netflix has leveraged its relationship with content sources in the various countries to entertain people in its 190 subscriber countries.

The key to the broader distribution – and acceptance – of “foreign” projects has been the rapid, economic implementation of generative AI subtitling and dubbing … and its acceptance by the viewing public.

Back in “the old days” when subtitling and dubbing films/shows was both expensive and time-consuming, there was always a major debate about the pros/cons of each and the audience trade-offs for each.

End of Tradeoff Discussions – Bong Joon Ho’s multi-Oscar winner,“Parasite,” hopefully put an end to the discussion as to whether people would watch video stories if they had subtitles or were dubbed.  Good films/shows will always attract an audience.  

But when Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite swept the Oscars and racked up major ticket sales plus increased home viewership around the globe, AI-enabled subtitles and ultra-effective dubbing became a new production checklist standard line item that streamers quickly said yes to both.

Personally, we prefer the subtitles combined with the story in the native language.  

Feels more like the way the creatives wanted to present the video content and it helps us learn/brush up on another language, especially our Spanish.


Great Language Practice – Internationally developed/produced films/shows are not only entertaining, they are also educational, helping you understand and use languages from around the world … just listen/practice.  

We figure it wouldn’t hurt us to learn something while we’re being entertained. It almost feels “necessary” since slightly more than 40 percent of the California population is Hispanic/Latino, and we enjoy going south of the border several times a year.

Of course, we enjoy a wide range of international shows/films to appreciate other countries’ video production work so we can appreciate how different and similar we all really are.

Or, simply said, we really believe that video stories can show us that the more we’re different, the more we’re the same.

The interesting thing that studios/streamers have found out is that folks in different countries like different genre of content and you see it very clearly when you see what films/shows have the highest viewership – yes, even ticket sales – around the world.

Different Genre – We don’t really understand why but people in various corners of the globe also have a tendency to prefer one genre of video content over others. That’s important for streamers to understand when they add projects to libraries in their various countries to keep existing subscribers and attract new subscribers.

No, there’s no clean guideline that says you should love everything that is reality, animation and horror and then turn your back on drama, documentary and comedy.

After all, we’re not huge sports fans.

Actually, we find world football (soccer) mostly boring except for a few minutes of excitement.  

American football and baseball can’t hold our attention, even during the series or bowl games.  

As for Basketball, well the “home team” is on a fantastic losing streak so, that’s not just boring … it’s depressing.

But good action, drama, “based on a true story” films and shows can hold our attention … even though we’re not one of those folks who just has to binge an entire season at one sitting.

It’s Relative – Yes, the monthly cost and the availability of lower-cost, ad-supported options are important as people decide if they’re going to add, drop or keep a streaming service; but ultimately, it comes down to the quantity/quality of content and viewer value.  

Nope, we’re in it for the long haul.  Besides, watching a show in 1–2-hour chunks is the best our behind and bladder can handle.

Probably one of the reasons we’re not putting our seat in theater seats is that directors are so in love with their own creativity that they have to test our stamina.

It’s the same at the office.

If a meeting goes more than a half-hour, it usually means we haven’t even figured out what the problem/challenge is, let alone a possible solution.

We know it has nothing to do with creative projects but … just sayin’.

We also dislike getting up and leaving before the end of the film because as Janet in Dream Scenario said, “We’re not even the type of people that like attention.”

We’ll just go into the family room, flick through our streaming services and see what the AI search of our viewing habits and “helpful suggestions” are.  

It probably knows more about what we’d like to watch than we do; and really, we don’t want to make one more “major” decision today.

Who knows, it might suggest a little variety in our life…


Andy Marken – - is an author of more than 800 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software, and applications. An internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields; he has an extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media, and industry analysts/consultants.


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