As I mentioned in my “five years of writing” anniversary and “one year of having a paywall” post, I want to do a better job of “improving the fighting position” (a military term for always getting better) in the upcoming year. And one of those tasks is updating collections of my “best” or most popular articles. This helps both new readers to get a sense of who I am and what I write about, but it also collects some of the most “important” things that I write, especially articles that debunk really common entertainment industry myths, all in one place. Substack highlights my most popular stuff, of course, but that list has a bias towards the recent past, especially because my subscriber counts keep growing!
Here’s a collection of my most popular series I’ve written, which, taken all together, represent an excellent primer on the state of Hollywood today, entertainment industry economics, and more.
Since I have both a Substack newsletter and an old school website some of the links to my newsletter, but most go back to my original website.
My Most Important Question of the Year
Perhaps the most important article I write each year is my “Question of the Year”.
2020 – What is the Same and What is Different Between Streaming and Traditional Entertainment?
2021 – Is Streaming “Winner-Take-All”/Will Streaming Become More Competitive?
2022 – What does the Next Generation of Cord Cutters Look Like?
2023 – How Do Entertainment Companies Change Their Strategies in 2023 (and Beyond)?
I’d add, one more question has been obsessing me since 2019: Who Will Win the Battle Between Aggregators (Streamers) and Bundlers (Devices/Operating Systems)?
The Future of Film: Should You Release Your Film in Theaters or Straight-To-Streaming?
In my post, “The Data Is In: Theatrical Films Massively Outperform Straight-To-Streaming Films” I finally addressed one of the biggest questions of the streaming wars: should films go to theaters or not? I’ve published three articles on this topic, but I’m collecting all of them in one convenient place/article, since this is more like a really long essay/e-book on the subject. So click on that link above to read the whole series.
Expect at least three more articles on this subject in the coming months.
The “Dogs Not Barking” aka Bombs, Misses and Flops, of the Year
One of my favorite/least favorite series to write each year (and now twice a year) is my “Winners and Losers of the Year” columns. On the one hand, I know that a lot of very talented people put their blood, sweat, and latte-fueled tears into making these TV shows and films; on the other, these streamers to spend millions making content no one watches…well, it just begs for more snark than usual from me!
Starting in 2022, my team and I compiled all of the “Dogs Not Barking” (aka films or TV shows that don’t make any of the ratings charts that I track; you can find a primer on our term, “Dogs Not Barking”, here.) Not all of these articles went to my own website. Some of them, from 2020, were published at the Decider website, then, later, some articles went to The Ankler.
– Which Streamer Won 2022? Who Lost? And the Genre Winners and Losers of 2022!
– The Winners and Losers for Film and TV for All of 2022
– Over 140 of the Biggest TV Show Flops, Bombs and Misses for the Second Half of 2022
– The Top 35 Film Flops, Bombs and Misses for the Second Half of 2022
– Which Streamer Has the Most Bombs in 2022?: It’s winners and losers time. We know about the bulls. But what the ‘The Bear’?
– The Biggest Flops, Duds, and Bombs on Streaming in 2022: Film: Part Two of our “Dogs Not Barking” For the Year So Far
– The Biggest Flops, Duds, and Bombs on Streaming in 2022: TV Shows: Our “Dogs Not Barking” For the Year So Far
– ESG Report: Uh-oh, Streaming Musicals Keep Bombing: Netflix’s ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ with Lin-Manuel Miranda was NOT another ‘Hamilton’ — and the problems kept mounting
– The Streaming Winners And Losers Of 2021: Film: The biggest films across streaming
– The Streaming Winners And Losers Of 2021: TV: You probably knew who won…but who came in second
– ‘The Mandalorian’ vs. ‘The Boys’ vs. ‘Star Trek: Picard’ vs. ‘Tiger King’: What Was The Biggest Streaming Show of 2020?
– ‘Borat’ Vs. ‘Hamilton’ Vs. ‘Greyhound’ Vs. ‘Wonder Woman 1984’: What Was The Biggest Streaming Movie of 2020?
– Dogs Not Barking (Or DNBs)…Explained: How We Define And Find Flops, Duds and Bombs in the Streaming Era
US Subscriber Estimates for Each Streamer & Ranking the Streamers
Since November of 2021, I’ve tried to provide semi-regular estimates of the number of US subscribers for the eight major streamers each quarter.
– Q3 2019 was the first time I collected official subscriber numbers in one place.
– Q3 2021 was the first time I made my own estimates. You can find my methodology here and here.
– Q4 2021
– Q1 2022 – This article provided massive 3,000 word explainer on how I calculate my estimates for each streamer.
– Q2 2022
– Q3 2022
I’ve also provided a history of Netflix’s subscriber counts here and here, along with a prediction of where Netflix’s US subscriber counts would and eventually did end up.
Over at the Ankler, I’ve been ranking the streamers, compiling as many different metrics as I can. You can find my Jun-2022 rankings here and my Jan-2023 ranking here.
Foreign Film Failures
My researcher/editor’s favorite series might be “Foreign Film Failures”, detailing all of the gigantic foreign-language bombs that Netflix puts out almost every week. We later expanded the series to include TV shows as well.
– Foreign Film Failures (in America) Plus Bridgerton’s Big Opening!!!
– Foreign Film Failures 2 – The Failuring
– Who Was More Magical: Obi-Wan Kenobi or Ms. Marvel? And Foreign film Failures III: The Revenge of the Failures
– For The Ankler, I wrote the unofficial “part IV” of this series, “Myth of the Global Streaming Hit” and I responded to some of the pushback in “Is This What the “Globalization of Storytelling” Looks like?”
– Finally, we closed out this series (for now) with “Foreign Failures Part V: My Fifth (And Final) Look at How Foreign-Language Streaming Titles Have Underperformed (and Why This Matters)”
And no, I haven’t had to revisit this series again, since there haven’t been any foreign-language hits since I wrote it. For more thoughts on foreign-language television, check out “Lessons from Asia’s Streaming Wars” at The Ankler (debunking the notion that foreign language shows travel well overseas and explaining why) and my first article on Squid Game, “How Much Should Streamers Pay for the Next Squid Game?”
Who is The “Average American” Viewer?
Answering the most important question of 2022 led to probably the most popular thing I wrote last year, my series on the “Average American Viewer”. (This series went up at The Ankler and is behind their paywall.)
– Part 1 covered age, race, where Americans live, and gender and gender identity.
– Part 2 covered religion, income and wealth, education, politics, and social media.
– Part 3 covered how much TV people watch, when they watch TV, what devices they own, and how they watch television.
– Part 4 covered what TV shows are the most popular on cable, broadcast and streaming, and I pondered the future of linear television.
– Finally, in part 5, I handed out a bunch of advice based on what I learned.
What I Got Right, What I Got Wrong
To hold myself accountable, like I think every pundit/columnist should, I review “What I Got Right, What I Got Wrong” about every six months. You can find past editions here:
– Q1 2022 (at the Ankler)
– Q3 2022
– Q4 2022
The Battle for the Next Game of Thrones and Hot August Genre Wars
Were you as pumped for the “Hot August Genre Wars” as I was last summer? I mean, I wrote a whole series trying to figure out what TV show would be the next “Game of Thrones”:
– Part I: The Introduction and POCD Framework
– Where We’ve Been
– Part II: How “People” Change the Odds of Success
– Appendix: Licensed, Co-Productions and Wholly-Owned Television Shows…Explained!
– Appendix: TV Series Business Models…Explained! Part 1
– Appendix: TV Series Business Models…Explained Part 2
– Appendix: Subscription Video Economics…Explained Part 1)
– How HBO Made Billions On Game Of Thrones
– How HBO Made Billions On Game Of Thrones – Director’s Commentary Part I
– How Much Money Did HBO Make On Game Of Thrones – Director’s Commentary Part II: The High Case, Low Case And Uncertainties
– How Much Money Did HBO Make On Game Of Thrones – Director’s Commentary Part III: Sanity Checking The Model
– What Amazon’s Half A Billion In Lord Of The Rings Costs Mean For The Streaming Wars
And then three or four (or six) different genre series came out in a couple of months competing for the crown!
I announced the second part of this series in “Hot August Genre Wars: Who Will Win The Battle For The Next Game Of Thrones?”, then looked at House of the Dragons’ big launch here, asked whether these shows would make any money, then declared a winner here. Unlike other series, I revisited this topic through the second half of the year in my weekly Streaming Ratings Report.
Renewals and Cancellations Score Card
So this one isn’t a series, yet, but it’s going to be! Earlier this year, I did my first “Renewals and Cancellations” score card. Expect more updates in the future.
How Much Money Will Disney Make or Lose on the Lucasfilm Deal?
I have this series highlighted on the front page, but this was one of my first (and most fun to write) series I’ve ever done, plus it provides a really excellent primer on the entertainment industry and making money in Hollywood.
– Part I: Introduction & “The Time Value of Money Explained”
– Appendix: Feature Film Finances Explained!
– Part II: Star Wars Movie Revenue So Far
– Part III: The Economics of Blockbusters
– Part IV: Movie Revenue – Modeling the Scenarios
– Part V: The Analysis! Implications, Takeaways and Cautions about Projected Revenue
– Part VI: The Television!
– Part VII: Licensing (Merchandise, Like Toys, Books, Comics, Video Games and Stuff)
– Part VIII: The Theme Parks Make The Rest of the Money)
– Part IX: Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Boo: Put It Together and What Do You Got?
– Part X: You’ve Been Terminated: Terminal Values Explained and The Last Piece of the Model
– Part XI: Disney-Lucasfilm Deal Part XI: Disney Will Make A 107% Return on the Lucasfilm Acquisition (And Other Conclusions)
An Intelligence Preparation of the “Streaming Wars” Battlefield
Is this series finished? Not really. Should I finish it? Maybe! I think later this year, I might need to update the “battlefield” and continue this analysis. Still, a number of the topics and concepts remain crucial to understanding stream.
– An Introduction
– Defining the Area of Operations, Interest and Influence in the Streaming Wars
– Unrolling the Map – The Video Value Web…Explained
– Aggregeddon: The Key Terrain of the Streaming Wars is Bundling
– The Flywheel is a Lie! Distinguishing Between Ecosystems, Business Models, & Network Effects and How They All Impact the Streaming Wars