The Medium identifies a few key trends each fiscal quarter that reveal the most important tensions and seismic shifts in the rapidly and dramatically changing media marketplace. The key trends help you answer a simple question: "What's next for media, and where's it all going? How are the pieces lining up for business models to evolve, succeed, or fail?"
Read the three key trends The Medium will be focused on in Q3 2023. This essay focuses on "Legacy media companies are throwing in the towel on their bets to own the consumer relationship in streaming and beyond".
[Author's Note: Because of the holiday and a couple of much-needed personal days last week, there will be no Must-Read Articles today. They will return next Monday morning.]
Last night, The Wall Street Journal reported that TikTok users “are posting episodes of TV shows and full-length films in bite-sized clips that users can watch in a long continuous string.” So, before the “Barbie” movie makes it onto streaming, anonymous TikTok users who are savvy with TikTok’s algorithms may “hack” a release of the entire movie in segments that can be as long as 10 minutes.
On its own, it’s a notable story given the scale of TikTok: 843 million monthly active users globally, according to one recent estimate by eMarketer. The article mostly discusses the challenges of copyright law and piracy on a platform of this scale: Accounts posting the content “rack up hundreds of thousands of followers, comments, likes and views”, but do not monetize the content. Piracy is nothing new to Hollywood or the media business: It is estimated to be a $71 billion problem globally. But this is a different type of piracy, one where the medium of TikTok is shaping a new consumption of Hollywood movies.
But this article hints at a deeper shift in content consumption: TikTok as a medium is beginning to shape and change how Hollywood content in legacy formats is being consumed. It is proving that the medium is the message, and traditional long-form content of TV and movies are now faring well in bite-sized pieces.
YouTube has already identified and adapted to this trend with Shorts. As The Financial Times reported this month, senior staff at YouTube “have expressed concern that Shorts… risks cannibalising its core business.” The growth of the format has created the risk that long-form videos, which produce more revenue for the company, are “dying out”.
But after a week where Disney cut back its growth estimates for streaming, and Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann discussed how Netflix is solving for growth at the Bank of America Securities Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, the question both are facing is whether consumer demand for Hollywood content has changed.
The rapid emergence and scale of TikTok and YouTube Shorts (2 billion logged in monthly users) seem to be disrupting and redefining both the value of "right title" to consumers of legacy media content and the units of output in which they are consumed.
Total words: 1,500
Total time reading: 6 minutes
I wrote about a version of this problem last summer in"The Office" Is Succeeding On YouTube, Less So on Peacock. In an interview with Recode’s Peter Kafka, actor B.J. Novak—who starred as Ryan Howard in “The Office—discussed how an entire new generation of viewers ...