it’s over. We’ve had a golden age in entertainment for the last half decade. The rise of streaming services has brought more TV and movies into our homes than ever before. It’s been a joy — and sometimes a chore — to keep up with every new offering Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and the rest have thrown at us. But over the past few months, we’ve seen a re-orientation of how many of these services do business, and it’s clear that the amount of content we’ve enjoyed, for the price of a monthly subscription, is coming to an end. Some of us feel that pain more than others.

Before streaming changed the landscape of Hollywood, it was a very different place. It could take years for writers to become show runners, and the number of plum roles for a new star was few and far between. There was a lot of reality TV—especially on cable—but scripted television was limited to a handful of channels. The owners of those channels have been in a brutal race for your eyeballs, making glory show after glory show to grab our attention. Since 1999, with the predecessor SopranosSomewhere in the mid-2010s was the golden age of TV.

Then came the streaming wars, and let’s be real: it was a blast. It was another golden age. Netflix has started pouring money into Hollywood to build a cache of big hits that can rival those of most big franchises like Disney and Warner Brothers and MGM. But while Netflix struggles to build bigger franchises out of it Strange things, BridgertonAnd The wizard (The latter two are based on very popular book series) was coming out. a lot of Successfully throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

Taylor Sheridan made his latest appearance at the Yellowstone Cinema Universe at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas earlier this month. The franchise was a huge success for both Paramount and, coincidentally, Peacock.
Photo by David Baker/Getty Images for Paramount Plus

And everyone seems to follow suit. The competing streams all clearly had their own content strategies based on such things. Game of Thrones, star wars, And whatever Cowboy Taylor Sheridan wanted to get up to, they were also willing to try in an unusual way before the streaming wars.

That experiment was of particular benefit to marginalized communities. Because TV and movie distribution channels were limited to cable and theaters for a limited time, Hollywood was cautious – only putting money into movies and TV that attracted large audiences, which meant that movies and TV were very male. – Oriented, very white, and very, very straight.

The streaming wars have opened up more avenues of distribution, which means action shows with women as leads, comedies that don’t need a white dude or big-time comedian to knock them off, and dramas with happy endings and titular characters. He was queer. We often like to measure diversity in entertainment by “firsts,” and in the past few years, we’ve collected more debuts than in the previous 12 years.

But Hollywood’s shortage of showrunners has come to an end in these unprecedented times when we have so much scripted content. While the streaming wars aren’t over, there is definitely a lull in the battle, and the streams are all adjusting their tactics. They’ve poured a lot of money into content in the hopes of keeping subscribers, but now the competition has increased, and it’s no longer possible to just shovel good shows into our mouths with little programming strategy other than saying, “It looks good.”

One woman puts her arm around another woman's neck and looks at him with love, the other woman looks at him with fear.

Come on warrior It was canceled this week because it was probably too gay for TV. (It was fun.)
Image: Manolo Pavone/Netflix

Last month, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings appeared on New York TimesTo talk about the platform and streaming in general, at the annual DealBook Summit, he made it clear that Netflix is ​​interested in making money and will take hits wherever they can, regardless of cultural costs, which means that he will happily give Dave Chappelle specials “over and over again.” They are so expressive that they provoke protests, but with smaller, more emphatic queer performances. Come on warrior And Babysitting club Delete – Although it seems to work well based on a few metrics that Netflix discloses.

An example of the streaming wars’ switch strategies is even more obvious if HBO Max is devastating. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has made it clear that many shows and movies will be sacrificed. Completed in practice Buttiger It was put on hold for tax savings (unloading the shelves would be expensive for the same reason), and over the summer and fall, dozens of additional movies and TV shows were unfairly pulled from the service to avoid paying back payments to those who worked on them.

This week, more shows got the same “anything to save a dollar” ax. Western worldIt was picked up alongside HBO Max, which was canceled after four seasons Nevers – the Joss Whedon-helmed show that got off to a great start before stopping in 2021. The second half of the first season is supposedly complete, but the other half will not air on HBO Max. Nor will the second season Minxan incredibly entertaining sitcom about running a dirty magazine for women, the show has already been renewed on HBO Max, and Difference He says he may be selling the service to other distributors.

It was a relatively common pre-streaming of TV shows that were suddenly canceled with all episodes locked. There were limited slots to broadcast things on TV, and TV channels preferred to re-air the last episode of a little-watched show if it could sell expensive ads on that re-run.

Two women in 19th century clothes embrace.

Nevers It was so brilliant that it suddenly became so amazing and now it’s so undone.
Image: Keith Bernstein/HBO

In the world of streaming, there’s infinite shelf space, which in theory means it doesn’t matter how many people watch something that’s already been commissioned and produced. a person He looks. That’s why pre-Zalav HBO Max had no problem showing shows that ended abruptly Swamp thing And that Flash Series from the 90s.

But you still have to pay royalties to creators, and if Zaslav thinks the audience for a particular show is too small compared to the money it pays to keep that content on the service, it won’t do that. And the cost of keeping those shows on the streaming service forever will probably get even more expensive soon. In the year In 2023, the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild will all negotiate new contracts with motion picture and television producers, and streaming residuals will be a major talking point.

And to keep track of the costs of creating and maintaining content on these services (and to be clear, I’m all for playing fair to all creators for their content), streamers don’t just want to keep your subscriptions — they are. Now I want to sell the viewership that every major stream has to offer with advertising.

That means the next phase of this streaming war won’t be about securing your long-term subscription with cool shows for smaller audiences. It’s about getting as wide an audience as possible to secure eyeballs for ads. And that means that this renaissance that appealed to a small segment of society will come to an end, and what’s left will become more expensive.

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