Expert Voices: Content Partners' co-founder Steve Blume
Welcome to our latest edition of Expert Voices, where we talked with Steve Blume, co-founder of Content Partners, LLC, an entertainment-based investment fund and asset management company.
Why he matters: Blume has more than three decades of experience on the financial side of Hollywood, including CFO stints at Brillstein-Grey and Solomon International Enterprises.
What are three trends that you've found most fascinating this year?
- Growth of international programming: With no restrictions on shelf space, these companies are trying different things. ... Outside of the big blockbuster U.S. programs, I think a lot of markets would rather see their own stuff than Hollywood products. So I think it's really refreshing and exciting that we're getting to see some of that international programming now translate into the U.S.
- Talent agency consolidation: That's at the top of everybody's mind: what's going on in the agencies and how they've transformed themselves into these giant conglomerate organizations, where it's no longer about just the talent. It's now about brands and building businesses, and getting your A-list actor in a movie is sort of secondary to what they're doing. ... It's hard to believe that William Morris and ICM are both gone.
- AVOD gaining traction in the streaming wars: You're already starting to see an uptick in AVOD and FAST channels. ... I'm starting to see some better revenue out of that area from my library. It's a nice, nice uptick there.
What are you watching for the rest of the year?
- CAA-ICM integration: It'll be fascinating to see what happens with CAA and how they go public. And ICM has got a tremendous amount of debt, and they've got an odd mix of other assets.
- Studios' self-dealing: It used to be you'd have a studio and they would release a movie, and then they'd sell it to HBO. And so you'd have a market rate with HBO — that'd be an arm's length negotiation — and then maybe five years later they put it on their own channel. But there was enough of a market where, as a participant, you could reasonably understand what that was worth in the secondary market. But now they're putting it on their own systems in first run [syndication]. How much do they pay for it? ... The studios are not going to overpay for it when they pay themselves. "Top Gun" is a great example of that. When it goes to Paramount+, how much is Paramount+ going to pay Paramount? That's probably going to be a big fight. How much is Tom Cruise going to make?