Peak TV is a Battleground for Peak Talent

It was announced this past Monday that Shonda Rhimes, prolific showrunner was leaving ABC studios to join rival Netflix. This news came on the heels of Disney (parent to ABC Studios) announcing plans to launch its own streaming service and as a result would subsequently be removing its films from the Netflix service in 2018. The gauntlet has been thrown down as content is clearly the crowning glory of streaming services. Whether we have reached peak TV might be a matter of debate but the battleground for talent is just beginning.

Shonda Rhimes is a rare talent and a game changer in every respect of the word. Her list of accomplishments and accolades are singularly impressive and clearly prove that any deal struck for her talents is a savvy one. Netflix, armed with deep pockets and incredible ambition are in the talent acquisition game and will not be slowing down anytime soon. Netflix has proven to be an attractive home for creative talent, which could point to some interesting trends in the content space.

· Creators are looking for environments that are non-traditional and allow for them to have more control of the product and their schedule. The traditional network environment with its longer scheduling and production calendar is not ideal for many content developers. Streaming services are also known for more edgy content, which allows creators to push boundaries in a way that just can’t happen on traditional network.

· The financial incentives are significant. Traditional network is still beholden to an advertising model and that pie is becoming smaller. Streaming services with their robust subscription rolls have the deep pockets to incentivize top-level creators to join their ranks. Traditional network will find it increasingly difficult to compete with the funding apparatus in place for original content.

· Diversity is becoming more of a central issue in the development and success of content. ABC has made inroads as a home to diverse content due in part to Shonda Rhimes and her impressive slate of programming as well as shows like Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. This could signal that creators who specialize in telling diverse stories will be in high demand. Streaming services have already shown a greater capacity to tell these stories as compared to traditional network.

Content is king but talent is upending that equation. Continue to watch the throne in the talent wars to come.

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