Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Media’s Mega-Mergers Are Already Having an Impact on Storytelling

Alex Cranz, io9:

Now imagine what’s happening right this moment. The House of Mouse may already be self-censoring because it has a brand image to uphold. That self-censorship will now be applied to nearly 40 percent all the movies you watch, and between ABC and Hulu and Disney+ it will own a whole heckuva lot of the TV you consume too. AT&T is cutting costs and killing favorites to try and build a popular and inoffensive rival to the other big streamers (and Disney’s looming giant). CBS and Viacom have only just begun their own plans for streaming domination, but already people are noting, and/or hoping, for reboots and continuations of their favorites.

Cranz’s piece illustrates the necessary impact on storytelling when new films and television shows are run through the machinations of a shrinking number of large studio, the largest of which has a particularly sensitive approach to more challenging topics. But because these companies also control many of the distribution channels to the greatest degree since United States v. Paramount, it’s possible that independent films would find themselves shut out of an audience even if they could be financed.

Or, perhaps the combined bureaucratic weight of these mega-studios will cause them to collapse on themselves; they may find it difficult to produce captivating new works. That doesn’t seem to be likely. When all but a couple of the twenty highest-grossing films of the year are either franchise tie-ins or sequels, we’ve demonstrated a booming market for mediocrity.

AT&T, Disney, and CBS haven’t been as explicit in noting their desire for our viewing habits, but it’s absolutely one reason they’re pushing into the streaming space and trying to gobble up as much of the pie as they can. “Basically, sign up as many subscribers as possible and get them into the service, and give them a chance to enjoy the great intellectual property and product that will be part of that service,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told a group of analysts and reporters last week, per a CNBC report.

Nothing would warm my heart and disrupt my stomach more than for “intellectual property” to replace the current miserable term for anything made by anyone in any context.