Industry News

Hollywood’s math problem: Getting paid for streaming ‘hits’ first means identifying them

7 August, 2023

Many issues divide studios and streamers from the striking talent guilds, but one key sticking point involves how writers and actors should be fairly compensated for their work in streaming. And a major complication there is that streaming success remains such an impenetrable formula, influenced by resistance to provide clear data and hard-to-measure factors that cloud what constitutes a “hit.” In an interesting piece for Bloomberg, Lucas Shaw observed that streaming services’ lack of transparency about viewership is less about hiding their hits than covering up their failures. Those companies, he noted, “are spending a lot of money on shows people aren’t watching,” which is almost certainly true. The problem with that is audience levels aren’t the only metric when weighing the value of streaming series. Because unlike the old TV math – people watch show + network sells ads = profit – there are all kinds of benefits a show or movie can yield, or not, if you think about streaming services as big box stores, where luring customers inside, and keeping them there, is as much the objective as what they buy while perusing the shelves.

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