Amazon’s $8 billion bet on MGM won’t make Prime Video the new Netflix
Amazon simply dumped an $8 billion-plus chunk of change on MGM, a studio greatest identified for James Bond and its emblem of a roaring lion. The acquisition gives a possibility for Amazon to spin the spy movies into an enormous perk for its streaming companies. Nevertheless it’s laborious to imagine that dropping billions for the studio’s content material library is definitely going to prop up Amazon’s streaming companies — at the least on its personal.
Amazon already has a totally functioning studio arm that produces content material for its Prime Video service. Whereas it’s acquired a number of hits right here and there — Jack Ryan instantly involves thoughts — Amazon has, for the most half, struggled to achieve the Stranger Issues-level of viewer enthusiasm that its rivals typically get pleasure from. The corporate additionally owns IMDb TV, a free and ad-supported streaming service that’s really fairly first rate. A few of the service’s content material is a bit dated, however most of the curation feels pretty stable so far as pay-nothing title alternatives go. Nonetheless, Amazon might use a substantial content material overhaul.
MGM brings a major haul of high quality cinema to the desk, even when a lot of it’s older. The studio’s library consists of the Bond, Legally Blonde, and Rocky franchises, which isn’t nothing. It additionally owns an enormous again catalog of sequence and movies that embrace Tomb Raider, The Addams Household animated movie, Candyman, Creed, Actual Housewives, The Handmaid’s Story, and Fargo. Amazon stated it plans to “reimagine” these titles, which seems like spinoffs and remakes. “The actual monetary worth behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP,” Mike Hopkins, senior vp of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, stated in a press release.
However whereas, sure, there’s IP, it’s unclear how precious all of it actually is. A lot of MGM’s largest franchise properties are dated, and it doesn’t even absolutely personal the rights to Bond, its crown jewel. Plus, lots of MGM’s legacy titles like The Wizard of Oz, for instance, aren’t owned by the studio anymore. (Warner Bros. really now owns the rights to the iconic movie.) MGM, whereas actually iconic, is way from a top-tier studio churning out genre-bending up to date movies.
“It appears like they’re following a playbook from 5 years in the past,” Katharine Trendacosta, affiliate director of coverage and activism at Digital Frontier Basis, instructed GadgetClock by telephone. Of the $8 billion price ticket, Trendacosta stated, “it’s going to look like an fool transfer in about 5 years — as a result of that’s not really what the worth of any of these items is.”
That IP playbook — the one which landed HBO in its present model identification disaster underneath AT&T’s path — has left scraps so far as studios go. The playbook Amazon and different companies are pulling from appears to easily level to snapping up as a lot content material as attainable for his or her respective companies. However Amazon, and different service-oriented firms for that matter, at the moment are choosing over bones. The corporate can actually afford to drop billions on IP acquisitions for its companies. However at this level, no person can compete with what Disney’s been constructing for the higher a part of 20 years. And as Trendacosta identified, “we’re quickly operating out of studios.”
Practically a decade in the past, Disney acquired Lucasfilm — the studio behind the Star Wars movies — for simply over $4 billion. A couple of years previous to the Lucasfilm deal, the firm paid about the similar to snap up Marvel. In 2006, the firm paid a bit over $7 billion to amass Pixar. Positive, none of those offers have been performed amid what’s arguably the peak of streaming’s recognition. However even accounting for the streaming bubble we’re at the moment in and the worth of franchise IP for luring potential subscribers, the MGM deal nonetheless feels a bit like a ripoff.
“Hollywood has picked up Silicon Valley illness, though by this level, we should always know that doesn’t work,” Trendacosta stated. “Each leisure [property] is now a streaming service, which implies they consider themselves as tech firms — which is wrong.”
Trendacosta added that these companies are all appearing on a four-step enterprise mannequin: purchase IP, make as many issues as attainable, insert query mark right here, and attain profitability. However that works solely in the occasion that the grand plan is to be acquired. For smaller companies like Discovery Plus and even Peacock, that is smart. There are merely far too many streaming companies. These little companies won’t be capable of compete with the larger gamers without end, and we’re prone to see extra mergers like the one we simply noticed with WarnerMedia and Discovery. However what comes subsequent is unclear, significantly for mega-services. Proper now, it very a lot appears like mega-services are simply accumulating spare components, and that’s to say nothing of brand name identification confusion.
“Who’s going to purchase any of those locations? Nobody. They’re already massive,” Trendacosta stated.
Now, that’s to not say that there’s no worth in any respect in the deal. Amazon can actually financial institution on alternatives to spin out any of the legacy franchises it acquired — a lot in the similar method that rival companies do to spice up subscriber progress. Disney has achieved this with The Mandalorian and WandaVision on Disney Plus, and CBS has achieved the similar with Star Trek: Picard on Paramount Plus (previously CBS All Entry). However how a lot worth do these spinoffs add for Amazon?
“You’re speaking about overreaching and overpaying, which Amazon can do,” Jeff Bock, senior media analyst at leisure analysis agency Exhibitor Relations Co., instructed GadgetClock in an interview by telephone. “It doesn’t actually damage their backside line.”
By Bock’s estimation, such a transfer to amass the Bond IP, for instance, could possibly be a vertical integration play ought to Amazon ultimately determine to spend money on theaters — one thing that most likely sounds ludicrous earlier than you do not forget that Amazon owns Entire Meals.
“Is it attainable — and all people right here at the least in LA thinks so — that they could be considered one of the bidders on the ArcLight Cinemas or Cinerama Dome?” Bock added. “In the event that they see bookstores in the similar method they usually see grocery marts in the similar method, what’s to cease them from going brick and mortar and shopping for theaters, ultimately, as effectively.”
Which may be very true of the way forward for the Bond franchise. Whereas MGM was placing out a Bond movie each few years, Amazon might start to churn them out each one or two years, Bock speculated.
Finally, it’s too quickly to say for sure what Amazon plans to do with its shiny new field of legacy classics. It’s completely attainable Amazon will launch any forthcoming titles solely on Amazon, go for theatrical releases, or do some mixture of each. However whether or not its $8 billion funding will show precious could be very a lot but to be seen. And on its personal, it’s laborious to imagine that the MGM acquisition will make Prime Video a critical Netflix competitor in earnest.
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