Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW

Streaming platforms are spending big to keep you indoors this summer

Jasmine Garsd Mar 26, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Will this be you this summer? HBO Max, Netflix and Disney Plus certainly hope so. simpson33 via Getty Images

Streaming platforms are spending big to keep you indoors this summer

Jasmine Garsd Mar 26, 2021
Heard on:
Will this be you this summer? HBO Max, Netflix and Disney Plus certainly hope so. simpson33 via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Be honest. How many baking shows have you watched in the last year? How many British royal dramas? What about Japanese shows involving pandas doing death metal karaoke

(Anyone?)

OK. Well, warm weather is always a slow season for broadcast. But Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus and their competitors have had a captive audience for the last year or so. With the pandemic waning and the weather getting warmer, streaming platforms are ramping up efforts to keep especially antsy audiences interested.

“They’re going from selling ice cream in the summer to selling ice cream in the winter. It’s a very different marketplace they are going to face moving forward,” said David Offenberg, who focuses on the business of entertainment at Loyola Marymount University.

Things started escalating a few months ago, when HBO Max used “Wonder Woman 1984” to usher in a new deal. All Warner Bros. films will premiere on HBO Max this year, instead of in movie theaters exclusively. New York University professor Charles Schreger, who is a former HBO executive, called the strategy “bold, and expensive.” 

“It makes a very big statement about what the future is for theatrical films,” he said. 

Meanwhile, production overall has been rebounding. Los Angeles film permit applications increased by 43% between January and February.

Netflix this month reportedly dropped $55 million for a Gothic horror film with Christian Bale and $18 million for the U.S. rights to a thriller starring Liam Neeson.

The challenge for these companies will be keeping subscriber prices low while spending this kind of cash, which is why cheaper membership plans, supported by advertising, may be the next big thing. (HBO Max just announced one for the summer.) 

“Amazon and Netflix have to be looking very carefully at what HBO Max and Peacock and Paramount Plus have done,” said Tim Hanlon, a media analyst with the Vertere Group. 

He said there’s big money to be made. 

“Advertisers are clamoring to be in streaming video offerings because they know the vast majority now of viewership is not in linear television anymore,” Hanlon said. 

In fact, network television was just dealt another crippling blow. Amazon Prime will be paying a reported $1 billion a year to the NFL for exclusive rights to stream “Thursday Night Football” starting in 2023. For 10 years.

That’s a game changer, according to Hanlon. 

“The inclusion of digital rights in the NFL’s new deals with all of the big broadcast television entities is the beginning of the end of the classic broadcast television and local TV station model,” he said. 

But there’s still going to be a lot to watch this summer and some lower-price options. 

So yes, it’s a beautiful day, and your friends are waiting for you. But so is the Justice League. 

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.