Andrew Wallenstein: It’s Code Red for the Broadcast Networks

The following editorial has been published in a recent edition of Variety magazine, by Andrew Wallenstein, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Variety:

“As we head into the annual upfront presentations in Manhattan this week, advertisers will be taking stock of what the hottest properties on TV are. So it’s strange to note that during a week in which the spotlight falls on those giant dinosaurs still roaming the media landscape – the broadcast networks – a very different kind of TV channel has stolen some of their thunder: YouTube Red.” (As Variety went to press, the service was renamed; it is now called YouTube Premium – ed.)

“While those broadcasters will be out touting their programming, the Google-owned subscription streaming service has what looks like its first breakout show in ‘Cobra Kai,’ a series launched earlier this month that continues the storyline from the ‘Karate Kid’ franchise with its original stars. It’s a timely but painful reminder to the broadcasters of a growing problem: The emergence of additional TV alternatives far beyond cable that are capable of commanding audiences sizable enough to eat into their ratings.”

“Imagine the parade of original-series invaders walking through the average traditional TV exec’s mind: First came Netflix, then Hulu, then Amazon. Apple is on the way. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat aren’t that far down the food chain.”

“And now YouTube Red? Has the time come to consider it a threat too? If a bona fide hit qualifies, then yes. Though YouTube has yet to share any data on how ‘Cobra’ is being received, Parrot Analytics provides an interesting snapshot with its own third-party data that measures demand for series in streaming video worldwide. Parrot found that ‘Cobra’ is not only far and away more popular than anything that has come out of YouTube Red previously, but is pacing well ahead of two other streaming series doing well right now: Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ and Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.'” (Mr Wallenstein is referring to Parrot Analytics’ demand data in this recent Variety article: ‘Cobra Kai’: YouTube Red’s ‘Karate Kid’ Sequel Outperforms Netflix, Hulu Shows – ed.)

“It’s entirely possible ‘Cobra’ is less a confirmation of yet another new player in the streaming originals war and more a reflection of how robust the once dormant ‘Karate Kid’ intellectual property is. But either way, it’s a sign of the times: The broadcasters featured in this upfront are finding out there’s more out there than ever to keep them up at night.”

– Andrew Wallenstein, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Variety [May, 2018]

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