Amazon has announced the acquisition of MGM studios for a total of $8.45 billion. It is by many accounts almost twice MGM estimated value. If we needed proof on where the battle for viewers is going to take place, this deal is confirming that streaming is where it will happen. This acquisition is the confirmation that Amazon realized a sole organic growth from within is not enough to gain market shares and compete head-to-head with Netflix, so they decided to grow faster and bigger through acquisitions.
Amazon in this deal acquired a catalog of over 5,200 movie titles among which the "James Bond" franchise. In the package is the "EPIX" pay TV network and some very successful TV series such as The Handmaid's Tale, Fargo, as well as reality shows like "Survivor".
Such an acquisition will not be without major restructuration. Amazon own productions are promoted and distributed by Amazon itself and MGM distribution is handled by United Artists Releasing.
Mergers and acquisitions are coming in waves, Apple, Viacom CBS, Comcast, Lionsgate and the entire entertainment industry is watching what's coming next.
INDEPENDENT FILM FINANCING
Bondit Media Capital has been one financing source available during the pandemic period. Bondit has just announced a partnership with Arcana Studio based in Vancouver to create "Bondit Canada Capital." This new venture will provide financial solutions to Filmmakers and TV Producers on the other side of the border. The model is based on the existing Bondit operations based in Los Angeles and is more than just financing solutions, as it also provides back-office work for Producers. Bondit’s ambition is to enlarge the roster of content creators bringing fresh ideas. The current multiplication of broadcast platforms makes quality content a highly demanded commodity.
With over 5 and a quarter billion USD invested in production since 2013 in 325 films & TV shows, Bondit has placed itself as a significant source of financing to independent Filmmakers. While banks and insurance companies have limited exposure risks taking during COVID, Bondit invested and contributed to the production of over 40 films and TV shows last year.
FROM POPULAR SITCOM TO POPULAR SERIES
Kaley Cuoco is now and forever associated with "The Big Bang Theory". Clearly, the popular sitcom has launched its actors into international fame. But what about their next move?
We know that "Friends" actors have experienced diverse fortunes after the end of the 10 yearlong running show. What do you do after acting in the most popular sitcom of all time? Go for an Encore? Star in a spin-off? Audition for feature film roles? Go behind the camera? Cuoco did not think long, and with time to dedicate to new projects she decided to be the actor and Executive Producer of "The Flight Attendant" playing on HBO Max. A thriller show in which Cuoco's character is being surrounded by mystery and complexity. The success of “The Flight Attendant” is in no doubt due to its scenario and lavish production but also because of Cuoco herself. This move has shown that Cuoco in real life is far from the "air head" she played in the "The Big Bang Theory" and she is now a frontrunner for an Emmy.
THE FESTIVAL, THE UK AND FRANCE
British participation to the next Cannes Film Festival is in jeopardy. The French government is imposing new quarantine regulations for travelers coming from the UK. As per June 1st, every traveler coming from the UK will have to isolate for 7 days, which will likely affect the British delegation and the festival alike.
The UK has 2,500 new Covid cases per day compared to 9,000 per day in France, so the UK participation does not really seem a threat. The French government is justifying the new restrictions by the "Indian variance" which is becoming a dominant strain in the UK. Cannes Film Festival organizers are looking for solutions to accommodate the British delegation, including waivers for the participants. Controversy is the last thing the festival needs. Like other major yearly events, the festival wants to go back to normality and fully resume its activities.
AVOD vs. SVOD IN EUROPE
Throughout the past decade, viewer requests for streaming services and viewing changing habits have been transforming the European digital TV market. AVOD is a relatively recent phenomenon in the European content sector. Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, and Rakuten have lately entered Europe's TV marketplace and are scaling their potential across the European audience. However, this expansion is complicated by the fact that European viewers can also watch video content from local broadcasters. In the UK, viewers have access to Channel 4 and Sky. In Spain, there is Antena 3 and Atresmedia. In Germany, there is Joyn and TVNOW.
In France, viewers can find streaming apps from M6, TF1, and Molotov TV.
Advertisers wish to make the most out of the current situation. As streaming services compete with linear TV advertising players, they do have one trump card in the user data which can be used for more granular and personalized audience targeting.
SVOD penetration in Europe is also skyrocketing. In the last decade, SVOD revenues have increased from 2.1 million Euros to 9.7 billion Euros, as driven by international platforms like Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO and Amazon Prime Video. Local streaming services like Turkcell, Now TV and Tivibu are keeping the pace by reinforcing their positions and looking to expand their share of the European market.
The number of subscriptions is expected to double from 10.26 million at the end of 2019 to 26.42 million in 2025 in Eastern Europe. This is due to the launch of new streaming services in the European Union, including Disney+ and local SVOD players like French group Salto and Britbox, a joint venture of the BBC and ITV.
THE GAMING INDUSTRY IN CHINA
Gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry in China. The market for digital gaming is enormous with over 625 million people playing mobile phones, PC and console games within China alone. China’s gaming industry has generated a revenue of approximately $32 billion in 2018, over a quarter of the global gaming income, clearly showing that China is a big player. 2018 has been the toughest year for the gaming market in China, as the government decided to ban all new video games for the entire year, in an attempt to prevent people from spending so much time playing games.
The ban has had the most adverse effects on video game companies, with the likes of Tencent and NetEase losing respectively 25% and 35% market shares. Nonetheless, the industry managed to recover and is flourishing again. The sheer market power held by Chinese in connection to its population is proving to be an issue for western companies. It is today nearly impossible to survive in this industry without shares of the Chinese market. The Chinese authorities know it and with the same fact facing other industries, they are now allowing Chinese families to make more babies.
MOVIE THEATERS ARE BACK
"A Quiet Place 2" results at the box office for its first weekend are very encouraging for the movie industry and especially theater operators with $48 million during the first weekend. The release of the original film 3 years ago had brought $300 million worldwide with a $17 million budget, showing the strength and health of the horror/sci-fi genre.
The sequel which was scheduled to be released March last year was one of the first major release to be postponed due to COVID. For the past year, much speculation about the future of movie going has been in the news, with theaters going bankrupt and major chains wondering if after COVID, people would feel like going to the movies again? Warner Bros. even allowed its 2021 film slate to be released in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously, a first for a Major Hollywood studio.
The figures posted by "A Quiet Place 2" are a reassurance that people are still willing to spend money to see a film in theaters. The test this fall will be the release of the new James Bond, a major production already delayed a few times.