Dec 10, 2019 - Economy & Business

A new entertainment world order

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Streaming companies are taking over as dominant players in film and television, forcing traditional entertainment companies to invest more.

Driving the news: Broadcast networks were shut out of Golden Globe nominations yesterday, while Netflix received 17 nominations for its TV hits.

  • Premium cable networks, like Showtime and HBO, which typically dominate nominations, also received fewer combined nominations than Netflix.

Yes, but: The Golden Globes will still air on NBC, a broadcast network.

  • That's because broadcast networks are still the most reliable places that award show creators, sports leagues and news producers can find a reliable live audience.
  • That's why TV advertising continues to command higher rates, according to a new report from ad-buying agency MAGNA.

Cable networks, which can't be accessed "over the air" through free TV antennas, are much more susceptible than broadcast channels to the viewership declines from cord-cutting.

  • Case-in-point: NBA ratings are falling heavily this season compared to their NFL counterparts. NBA games air mostly on cable, while NFL games air mostly on broadcast.

Be smart: Measurement still needs to be sorted out for streaming.

  • Part of why advertisers are still willing to invest heavily is they can reliable measure TV consumption across networks via Nielsen ratings, but streaming is proving much harder to measure.
  • Nielsen debuted streaming ratings last year.
  • At first, Netflix denounced them. But signs show that they are warming up to the idea of having a reputable third-party measure the success of their content against their competitors.
  • Nielsen said last week that Netflix's new hit movie "The Irishman" was streamed by 17 million in the U.S. in the first 5 days. Netflix didn't outwardly dispute the stat.

Between the lines: It will be hard for a company like Nielsen, which measures a sample of households only in the U.S., to paint a perfect picture of Netflix's total audience, which is mostly international.

The big picture: Many of the traditional TV networks and film studios will have to wait some time before they see any of their investments pay off.

  • For example, Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh said at an investor conference Monday that Comcast/NBCUniversal's new streaming service Peacock could be break-even in five years .

At the box office, film studios are investing more in major franchises that tend to wade heavily into action and adventure franchises, which are better experienced in a big-screen theater,

  • Disney, which has invested in expanding its franchise portfolio in the past few years, raked in more than $10 billion this year in box office sales, a new record.

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