Introducing EntStrategyGuy’s Blogroll and Newsletter Recommendations

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(Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a newsletter on the entertainment industry and business strategy. I write a weekly Streaming Ratings Report and a bi-weekly strategy column, along with other topics, like today’s article. Please subscribe.)

I’ve long been a fan of the “blog roll”, the old school term for when bloggers used to list out their favorite blogs, usually on the right-hand side of their website. Essentially, it was an analog version of what made Google search results so innovative (back in the early 2000s, when Google still was innovative): using links as a proxy for quality to figure out the most popular/influential/widely-read blogs.

If a blog that you read also loved another blog, chances are it was pretty good; it was an excellent way to find out who did the best work on the internet.

One of Substack’s big innovations is re-introducing the blogroll back into old school publishing. In this case, with their Recommendations list. (Again, placed right on the right hand side of the front page of most Substack home pages.)

Frankly, this old school tool (recommendations and/or blog rolls) makes for a better internet. Unlike social media, with its pressures to go viral (by being extreme or negative) recommending other newsletters is a way to reward other thoughtful, well-researched, nuanced writing, writers and platforms.

Today, I’m proud to finally unveil “The Entertainment Strategy Guy” blog roll—with recommendations on Substack where applicable—as part of my anniversary month. And frankly, it’s about damn time. I’ve had a paywall up for two years now, and I’ve been meaning to recommend other newsletters for much of that time, especially since so many of these great newsletters have also recommended my work. But I didn’t want to just publish a list; in classic EntStrategyGuy fashion, I had to make a research doc, scan my emails, and rewrite everything just to get to this point.

Reminder: if you want projects like this to go faster, please subscribe! And please check out these newsletters and subscribe to the ones you like, just like I did. You have to support the media you want and, often, that means paying for it with both your attention and your dollars.

(This article is free to all, but a reminder that my prices are going up next month, so please subscribe to lock in your $14 a month or $140 a year price. Once you’re subscribed, prices stay low going forward.) 

The Best Reads on the Entertainment Industry (in Alphabetical Order)

  • The Ankler – There are a lot of reasons that you should be subscribed to the Ankler—in addition to reading my bi-weekly columns over there and of course reading Richard Rushfield—but the biggest is to support independent media. Right now, the three major entertainment industry trade journals are all owned by one company, Penske Media, along with a bunch of other pop culture websites. So support independent journalism! As for specifics, the Ankler’s daily news brief, “The Wakeup” by Sean McNulty, is my favorite news roundup going, Elaine Low’s “Series Business” has been delivering the best coverage on content decisions, I really enjoy Peter Keifer’s reporting, I’ve been a fan of Rob Long’s Martini Shot since the 2000s, and I love The Optionist. (I can’t figure out how he reads so much!)
  • Axios Media Trends by Sara Fischer – With more of a focus on media news, Fischer’s weekly run down of media and entertainment stories balances well with the rest of my more entertainment-focused media diet. (This is not a Substack newsletter, but still good.)
  • The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood by Sonny Bunch – Maybe I’m biased because I agree with so many of his takes, but Sonny Bunch is one of the best writers on both film/cinema and the movie industry. In a time where many critics try their hands at business analysis (and often fail) he does both well. (He also invites me on his podcast!) Subscribe to both Sonny’s Friday columns and both of his podcasts, “Bulwark Goes to Hollywood” and “Across the Movie Aisle” with Peter Suderman and Alyssa Rosenberg.
  • State of the Screens by Michael Beach- A weekly dive on a trending topic in entertainment, Beach leverages charts from around the internet to explain various topics, with an emphasis on connected TVs and advertising. (Note: Also not on Substack.)
  • Hope for Film by Ted Hope – As someone who’s been writing about cinema and indie film for a long time, Ted Hope is a must read for everyone in Hollywood.
  • The Kids Streamersphere by Emily Horgan – When it comes to kids content and streaming, Emily Horgan knows her stuff. Also check out her podcast Kids Club media Podcast!
  • Media War & Peace by Evan Shapiro – Though I don’t always agree with every one of his takes (which is good!), Evan Shapiro is must read. In particular, his visualizations of the media universe provide a solid grounding of the media landscape.
  • Numlock by Walt Hickey – I’m continually delighted by the wonderful data and anecdata that Walt Hickey manages to dig up around the internet everyday. (And I need to read his book!)
  • The Outside Scoop by Scott Mendelson – I’ve adored Mendelson’s breakdowns of weekly box office results, especially forecasting how films will leg out, for years now. Frankly, we should all be thankful that he’s on Substack now.
  • Streaming Made Easy by Marion Ranchet – A new-ish Substack—at least I just discovered it—Ranchet dives deep into the European streaming market, a topic we could all learn more about.
  • “What I’m Hearing” by Matt Belloni at Puck – As many others have described it (including random podcasts I listen to) this newsletter is must-read by many people throughout Hollywood and I agree. (This one isn’t on Substack either.) I also enjoy the great Julia Alexander’s columns too.

Entertainment Industry Data Sources 

In addition to the data sources I use in the Streaming Ratings Report each week (Nielsen, Luminate, Showlabs by Plum Research, Samba TV, Metacritic, TV Time, and Just Watch), I also appreciate these data-focused newsletters and/or websites.

  • FranchiseRe Movie industry newsletter by David Gross – A great source on box office results each week, I’d also recommend David Gross’ “Six Essential Charts” page.
  • Hub-Intel by Hub Research – I’ve admired Hub Research’s survey data for a while now, and now that data hits my inbox via Substack.
  • The-Numbers – Okay, this isn’t a Substack newsletter, but I figured that I’d share my favorite source for box office data. If you’re still using Box Office Mojo, stop right now and start going to The-Numbers. They also have a new monthly report that I recommend as well.
  • The Quorum – Audience forecasting is a tricky business, but I trust the folks over at The Quorum website, who do it well. This is how I keep my pulse on which films are trending well.
  • Stat Significant by Daniel Parris – Daniel writes fun data dives into a whole bunch of fun topics across the realm of entertainment, including music. Check it out!
  • Stephen Follows newsletter by Stephen Follows – Another theatrical data wonk, Follows has a massive data set for films and regularly dives deep into the data, generating some terrific insights. (Not on Substack.)
  • Whats-on-Netflix by Kasey Moore. The best site for info on the world’s biggest streamer, period.
  • Wide Shot by Ryan Faughnder from the Los Angeles Times – From the Hollywood’s flagship paper, Faughnder dives into the biggest story of the week, along with links to the LA Time’s entertainment coverage.

Other Good Reads

  • BIG by Matt Stoller – I think that I might be overusing some words in this article, but Matt Stoller’s newsletter on monopolies and our modern economy is absolutely excellent, terrific, great, must-read, whatever. It’s one of my favorite newsletters to read each week, hands down. 
  • Cal Newport’s newsletter by Cal Newport – Cal Newport is my guru for productivity and should be yours too. Productivity can be a dirty word, but Newport’s focus isn’t on getting more done more quickly, but getting the right things done at the right pace. If you’re looking for where to start, I recommend his books Deep Work, then World Without Email. He also has a podcast. (Not a Substack newsletter.)
  • Cocktails with Suderman by Peter Suderman – If you read one newsletter on cocktails, it should be this one.
  • The GameDiscoverCo newsletter by Simon Carless – This newsletter covers video games in a similar way that I cover streaming ratings, and I love it.
  • Jabberwocking by Kevin Drum – Seriously, I don’t know how everyone in media isn’t reading Kevin Drum’s website every day. Often using very simple charts and data sources that everyone has access too, he challenges and debunks so many overused media narratives. (I do kind of wish this were a Substack newsletter.)
  • Money Stuff by Matt Levine. Levine writes incredibly insightful, explanatory and funny articles about the business of finance. And I respect his ability to put out quite long pieces on a daily basis. Also, his article on crypto, which took up a whole issue of Bloomberg magazine, is a must read. (Not a Substack newsletter.)
  • Noahpinion by Noah Smith – Along with Slow Boring, a very solid, centrist take on politics and the economy. I strongly recommend it.
  • Parent Data by Emily Oster – If you’re about to have a baby, or have a few, you must read Parent Data. Oster does data right. And give Expecting Better, her first book, to anyone you know who is pregnant or who wants to get pregnant.
  • Silver Bulletin by Nate Silver – I’ve definitely been inspired by Nate Silver’s approach to data. He’s the godfather of data journalism, his philosophical approach is top notch, and he’s a must read.
  • Simon Owens’ Media Newsletter by Simon Owens – This newsletter is such a great breakdown on the media, but with a focus on content creators. Everyone on Substack should read it.
  • Slow Boring by Matthew Yglesias – One of the best political newsletters out there. Period.

By the way, if I forgot or missed someone, I apologize in advance. As you can see, this list is already quite long, so I’m sure I made some mistakes somewhere. And if you’d like your newsletter to be included, I plan to regularly update this list, so send me a note.

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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