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The Next Movie Studios

The Editorial Era…

For decades the big film and TV studios have been the primary source for video content and stories. Enter our friend, the great equalizer, the internet. Cable TV and movies began to decline with the introduction of p2p file sharing networks. YouTube picked up the shovel, social media dug the grave and now editorial platforms are putting up the tombstone. The smart networks are rushing to partner with the powerful editorials and the less savvy ones are closing up shop.  A new era is beginning.

Last year propelled by a popularity boost from their emmy winning show on HBO, Vice launched the Viceland channel on cable in a joint venture with A&E. Vice got the traction for their deal from a string of successful web series which were produced and syndicated more nimbly than network format content. However, their transition away from web series and into the network format hasn’t translated into a ratings boost for A&E.

But ratings aren’t the end all. As any marketer worth their salt will tell you, engagement is the golden standard against which the success of any campaign is measured. To that end, Viceland is winning. Their ratings may be low but they’re keeping viewers through ad breaks, something almost none of the other networks are doing. In fact, Viceland is so good at retaining its audience that they’re keeping 93% of them watching through the commercials.

Other networks are following Viceland’s lead, they’re realizing that the oversaturation of ads won’t work to keep viewers engaged. Editorial platforms know their voice and they know their audience. It’s far harder to keep a magazine in someone’s hands than it is to keep someone in front of a TV set. Now, their persistence has paid off. Advertisers have such a wide array of options for their ad buys and the people pulling the purse strings are generally savvier than they were even 5 years ago. They’re choosing to spend that money where the audience is highly engaged: in culture.

Hearst Media, who owns 50% of A&E, partnered with Verizon and purchased Complex Medialast year to get to the young male audience. Complex is a digital goldmine with 50 million unique visitors monthly and through that acquisition they have now established Complex Networks. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Refinery29, Buzzfeed, Forbes and Complex all have their own content studios. Editorial platforms have grown from short form to house a lot of attention and deliver various forms of content across a wide array of culturally and socially relevant subjects. It’s all about attention, for content to be king eyeballs have to be watching it.

The production of content is still economics. It all boils down to supply and demand. The supply comes from the studios and as such the burden of assessing demand falls squarely on their shoulders. The editorial platforms have successfully leveraged digital distribution to gain an edge over their more archaic competitors. The future Warner Brothers and Paramounts just may be your favorite news website. As more and more people come online the value of digital real estate will only increase. The editorials authentically capturing their respective cultural niches with their video will inevitably be the kings of this new era in content production.

Written by Nathan Raffel

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