Have you ever questioned the nature of your streaming content?
July 10, 2018 3:34 PM   Subscribe

The Atlantic speculates on HBO's future under Warner Media in our Netflix-dominated world. Previously on MeFi: The DOJ has lost its suit to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner.
posted by seemoorglass (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Like I needed another reason to hate AT+T.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:38 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

"The goal," [Netflix exec Sarandos] says, "is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."
GQ, January 2013
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:52 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

And, so, it came to pass that HBO began its precipitous slide into becoming the pay version of USA Networks.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:05 PM on July 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

The telecom industry drains the life out of everything it touches or absorbs. The toxicity of its worldview and corporate culture is probably second only to the tobacco or oil industry.
posted by treepour at 4:18 PM on July 10, 2018 [15 favorites]

Is there some rule now that everything has to go to shit?
posted by octothorpe at 4:26 PM on July 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

It seems so, doesn't it? I used to fear for the future. Now I just fear it.
posted by Splunge at 4:37 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

There is nothing worse than Prime Video.
posted by JamesBay at 4:55 PM on July 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

I hate att with a passion and I am glad I have zero of their shitty services in my life.
posted by nikaspark at 6:20 PM on July 10, 2018

(The day att buys t-mobile I will cry)
posted by nikaspark at 6:21 PM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Atlantic article is interesting, but seems to be stuck in some assumptions. Netflix's lack of Emmys doesn't smell like a problem of scale to me; I feel like it has plenty of Emmy-deserving shows that are (give or take) both at the quality level of HBO's best entries, and "bait" for the types of things EGOT voters drool over. I genuinely think Netflix's dearth of Emmys is a combination of it just being young, and a real bias against it as a streaming-only service since the Emmys are institutionally founded in television.

Tagline notwithstanding, HBO built its credibility when it was TV. Online streaming support came with HBO Go less than a decade ago, and required you to have a traditional cable subscription (so more of a convenience than a fundamental shift). HBO Now, which is the actual parallel to Netflix, is less than four years old.

Of the categories mentioned in the Atlantic article, HBO hasn't won any awards with a show that started airing after the launch of HBO Now.

Netflix was technically eligible for Emmys in 2008, but their original content strategy started in 2013 and that was the first year they received nominations.

When you talk about "scale" being a problem, that can be generally true for an ultracorp like ATetcT, which is so large that it can't enforce quality (as consumers define it) at any level.

But that's not the same as the scale problem Netflix is being accused of. HBO had to be picky because it was a television network and could only air one program at a time (mitigated but not solved by HBO2 and 3, and HBO Family/Latino/Comedy/etc.). But on Netflix you can watch Stranger Things and (ugh) Fuller House at the same time. "Having too much content" is not a problem Netflix actually has to worry about, because it is by nature different from how HBO earned its accolades.

Short version: Emmys are a bad metric on a timescale of less than a decade, HBO and Netflix are facing similar challenges from different starting points.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:35 PM on July 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

There is nothing worse than Prime Video.

Eh. It's "free" as far as I'm concerned -- I have a Prime subscription for the shipping costs, not the other stuff, and I have a Kindle to read books, mostly not the other stuff. And they carry The Expanse, though behind a bit.
posted by Foosnark at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

In another article I read (the Verge?) the ATT exec was quoted (I think they got him on tape) as saying HBO should "throw more stuff at the wall" like Netflix and (barf) Prime Video.

I swear, whoever does programming for Prime Video has a sick sense of humour. Ninety percent of it is moronic bullshit like Ancient Aliens, Hitler documentaries and Nostradamus drek.
posted by JamesBay at 9:02 PM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If I was AT&T, the easiest way to build a Netflix competitor is to just to start combining all the Time Warner stuff together into a streaming service. They have HBO and Cartoon Network and CNN. You also have an immense back catalog of movies and TV shows to put on the service that will last for decades.

Is it because some of these are tied up in rights and other channels, so it would be hard to put them into one service?
posted by FJT at 9:11 PM on July 10, 2018

Is there some rule now that everything has to go to shit?

We've had some bad trends going on for a long time (such as the consolidation of the US economy into fewer and fewer firms). Their impact just gets harder and harder to ignore.
posted by bookman117 at 9:35 PM on July 10, 2018

I'll agree that Prime Now is generally lame, but they've got a few notably good things. Fleabag and The Amazing Mrs. Maisel are both awesome IMO.
posted by microscone at 10:07 PM on July 10, 2018

If I was AT&T, the easiest way to build a Netflix competitor is to just to start combining all the Time Warner stuff together into a streaming service.

But successful, reasonably priced, quality Over The Top services that don't require a Cable TV subscription are telecom incumbents worst nightmare. Not clear what the strategy is here at all really.. Maybe they just want to make HBO Now seem like a shitty deal, driving some people back to Cable TV?
posted by Chuckles at 10:24 PM on July 10, 2018

(The day att buys t-mobile I will cry)
They can't. A large part of T-Mobile's network used to be Cingular, and when AT&T Wireless and Cingular merged, the FCC wouldn't let them keep both networks so they sold the Cingular tower network to Deutsche Telecom.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:52 AM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

They can't.

More directly, a few years ago AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile, and were blocked by anti-trust laws.

I don't get the 'grar' on this one. AT&T is saying they are going to spend more money making more new stuff. That's good isn't it? I mean, if you don't like Game of Thrones and paying way too much for old movies, then what is HBO for right now? Becoming more like Netflix will be a good thing.

And like several up thread said, the cheap, easy, lazy way would simply be to make all their already existing content more available - not spending money making new shows.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:48 AM on July 11, 2018

It's a classic acquisition integration issue.

Entertainment companies have always recognized that creativity scales only so far, and you not only can have, but should have, subsidiaries that overlap and compete with each other, and that have a wide variety of models and sizes for their operations.

Telecom companies ... not so much. Not really in the DNA of someone in Dallas who came up through Southwestern Bell's audit or engineering department to understand why pretty much every function at HBO has a duplicate at Turner, or why HBO doesn't just buy all its shows from Warner Bros. TV. etc.

On the other hand, I bet a lot of those ex-Southwestern Bell engineers and accountants are lifelong Batman and Superman fans, and they mike actually be able to shake up DC into something decent!
posted by MattD at 8:18 AM on July 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I (reluctantly) pay for Amazon Prime, because when that box of diapers or that last-minute birthday gift or that impossible-to-find-locally item is needed in a rush, there's no other way around it. So I get the relentless spam to try out Prime Video, and each time I try it, I'm *repelled* by Amazon's notorious lack of taste.

That works fine for a product warehouse (although the FSM help you if you need to go beyond the first page of search results) but they treat their video selection with the same lack of taste or care or curation. Here are some movies. You might like these other movies - about 75% of them are the same as the previous list. Oh, here are some more. By the way, some are included with Prime, and some aren't. Here are some original TV shows. Who has the patience for this? The only way it works is if I know exactly what I want before I start.

To their credit, Netflix does much better on this front. Even if I disagree wit their suggestions, I can see where they are coming from, usually. I detest the new auto-playing show intros, but there's some good stuff in there.

Too bad about HBO, though. Sounds like AT&T has decided that the golden goose will be squeezed as hard as possible to make more golden eggs pop out. I hope they wrap up Game of Thrones neatly before things go to shit...
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:42 AM on July 11, 2018

I wonder what the paid streaming world will look like in a couple of years. We can pay for Amazon, Netflix, Starz, etc. Disney's coming up.
It's like we're finally getting the disaggregation of channels cable tv refused.
posted by doctornemo at 12:33 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Amazon Prime does have a decent little selection of Rifftrax films to watch, fyi.

“I want more hours of engagement ... You get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world,” Stankey said.

Awww yeah, let's monetize the data stream from our customer base to leverage growth in the new global economy, motherfuckers!
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2018

It's like we're finally getting the disaggregation of channels cable tv refused.

And paying more for the privilege.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:17 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

"And paying more for the privilege." Exactly.
posted by doctornemo at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2018

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