HOLLYWOOD– Hollywood deals bring big players merging and acquiring others. Do you like that blouse that Reese Witherspoon wore in Legally Blonde? Well, now that Amazon owns MGM, the owner of the film, purchasing that fashion statement might just be a click away. While no plans have been announced, the same Prime Video X-Ray functionality that allows viewers to pause a television show or film to learn more about the actors in the scene seems to be a natural next step for in-show products and purchases. So what do we expect this year? More integration of social media platforms and content with traditional media: for example, take TikTok’s increased presence on smart TV’s, and in turn, Roku’s $1 billion budget for original content. Expect more IP rights that are more valuable now than ever, as with more bandwidth and accessibility, more people can be entertained. Studios are making up for lost time during the pandemic, and they are spending up new movie production and fast-tracking releases to meet the consumer demand for new content.
Now Bugs Bunny and Guy Fieri just moved in together.. They’re Warner Brothers now. Yesterday, WarnerMedia and Discovery finally completed their $43 billion merger, creating a new Hollywood heavyweight for the streaming era. Longtime Discovery CEO David Zaslav-aka Zaz will run the new biz, Warner Bros. Discovery. What’s the upside? Warner Bros Discovery combines classic IP, streaming hits, and cable catnip under one roof think “Batman” and “Games of Thrones” and “Shark Week.” It also has 94 million subscribers between HBO Max and Discovery + putting it closer to Disney (130M) and Netflix (222M). The downside is Warner Brothers Discovery has $55 billion of debt, which could lead to “synergies” aka layoffs. Several high-profile execs have already been shown the door. The WBD is going full Hollywood. Zaz has spent months meeting with Hollywood’s biggest name to talk strategy. The goal: distance WBD from WarnerMedia’s former parent, AT&T. You may recall that AT&T bought WarnerMedia in 2016 and planned to run it like a tech biz. Yet development stalled during the 20 months it took for the deal to be approved and all the while Netflix and Amazon poached top talent and churned out content.
Corporate giants have bought unrelated media businesses before: Coke once owned Columbia Pictures and more recently, GE owned NBC. Both were eventually offloaded. The key to streaming may be streaming-WBD is more streamlined than AT&T, which was always a telecom biz at heart. But it’s still clunkier than its streaming-centric rivals because its top content straddles cable TV and streaming services. WBD has enough hot IP to compete with Netflixand Disney in the streaming wars. But added expenses related to cable programming and debt repayment may leave a narrow path to streaming profitability, and a big incentive to streamline even further.
Nintendo merges 2 hit franchises in an interactive Switch game, banking on the power of nostalgia. From the Game Boy to the Wii, Nintendo popularized video games as a family-friendly activity. Now the 133-year-old Japanese gaming icon is bringing together two of its most popular products. This month Nintendo will release “Nintendo Switch Sports,” a Switch adaptation of Wii Sports, the top-selling which break off from the Switch tablet let you kick, sprint, and hi Wii game that sold 83 million copies. Joy-Con controllers whicj break off from the Switch tablet let you kick, sprint and hit virtual balls with your hands. You can even strap the Joy-Con to your leg for soccer. Six mini-games including bowling, tennis, and sword dueling play out in vivid graphics on your Switch screen or TV. Despite supply shortages, Nintendo boosted its sales and profit outlook for the year. Its greatest strength lies in its iconic franchises, from Mario and Pokemon to the Wii series and Switch console- and leveraging them into new but familiar products. Switch Sports could gain hit status by merging two best-sellers.
Wishing everyone a Blessed Easter weekend, stay safe!