Long Reads for the Long Weekend (Summer 2021 Edition)

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One of the casualties of 2021 was my newsletter edition that featured links to my favorite stories, podcasts and newsletters every so often. Adding the “Streaming Ratings Report” every week was enough extra work that something had to go. Add that lots of other newsletters curate entertainment business news better, and it made sense to focus on my strengths (data analysis and strategy) and not curation.

That said…

…I still have some articles that over the last year I loved. And since it is a long weekend, here is a list of a few favorites to give you some long reads for a long weekend. We’ll rotate “entertainment” stories with “tangential” stories.

(Previous editions here or here if you missed them.)

1. One Big Casualty of the Streaming Wars: Profits

This article was, far and way, the best article I read in the last year. Seriously.

The point Doug Shapiro makes is central to my thinking: the collapsing of linear TV, streaming and home entertainment revenue into only one revenue stream (streaming) will make a smaller entertainment pie for everyone. That’s a crazy conclusion, but it makes sense. And not enough folks grapple with it. (Trust me, I’ll continue to write on it.)

2. Cal Newport’s New Yorker Articles

If you’ve read or followed me for any bit of time, you’ll know I’m a “deep work” devotee. Living the deep life isn’t easy, but it’s worth striving for. (Social media’s siren song is always singing.) If you need an introduction to his work, I recommend his New Yorker articles. Here are the two best:

Slack is the Right Tool for the Wrong Way to Work
The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

If that intrigues you, I recommend reading Deep Work, and then A World Without Email. The latter may be the single most important business book of the decade. If you want disruptive innovation, that is it.

3. Kim Masters on AT&T in The Hollywood Reporter

I don’t think it is a stretch to call Masters the “doyen” of trade reporting. Others are great, but she might be the best. When major news breaks she usually follows up with the most “must read” pieces. In this case, her reporting on the AT&T/Discovery/Warner Bros saga is must read.

4. Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight’s Election Postmortem

This essay is fairly chart heavy and statistical. But if you were devouring news back in November, and haven’t checked back in, now is the time. In particular, Silver shows what it means to be an honest forecasting: evaluating what you did and didn’t get correct in a comprehensive manner.

5. The Ankler on the HFPA Controversy “Let’s All Do the Grandstand The Golden Globes

The Ankler used to be Hollywood’s secret favorite newsletter but let’s admit it: It’s now just Hollywood’s favorite newsletter. The issue on the HFPA was about the best coverage of a single issue it delivered all year and I recommend it. (Warning: it’s behind a paywall.)

6. The Gamblers podcast by David Hill for The Ringer

I started this podcast series to listen to the pool shark episode, but stayed for the whole thing. The theme that really makes me recommend the whole podcast is that the professional gamblers have an insane amount of skill they use to make a living. This isn’t about quick tricks, easy scores or luck; it’s about hard work and training. Which feels fairly relevant for business folks everywhere.

7. “Why Did the ArcLight Fade Away? Inside the Sad Final Chapter of the Pacific Theatres Chain” by Gene Maddaus at Variety

Earlier this year, the Arclight theaters never reopened after the Covid-19 pandemic. This long investigative piece by Maddaus explores the fascinating backstory to this theater chain. A legacy theater business from a line of theater owners, the creation of the Arclight had as much to do with the founder’s mission of self-discovery as finding a new business model.

8. The Economist magazine on Taiwan and the Green Transformation

As part of trying to avoid social media, one of my favorite offline activities is reading issues of the Economist in paper. Crazy, right? I highly recommend the issues on Taiwan and how American can transform its energy infrastructure.

Honorable Mentions

I did read a lot of great things over the last year. Here are the honorable mentions:

– Hanna Fry in New Yorker “When Graphs are a Matter of Life and Death

– Michael Schneider in Variety: “Audiences and Advertisers Embrace the Early Cable Aesthetic of Pluto TV, Other Free Streaming Platforms

Madeline Berg in Forbes: “From ‘Poor as Hell’ to Billionaire: How Tyler Perry Changed Show Business Forever” 

– Burt Helm at Fast Company: “Sex, lies, and video games: Inside Roblox’s war on porn

Transmission Week by David Roberts in his Volts Newsletter

Reader Recommendations

I put a call out for reader recommendations here, and here’s what the crowd asked for:

– Emily Horgan “How The Netflix Jr. YouTube Channel Built Its Impressive Viewership

– Shaun Assael and Jean-Jacques Taylor “Broken Route 

– Gabriel Barradas “Finding the Voice in Subscription Services

– James Hercher “The Birds Eye View of Amazon’s Advertising Business”

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.

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