TVREV’s Week In Review: Facebook Opens The Floodgates For Livestreaming

Originally published at TVREV.com

1. Streaming Services Dominate Sundance

The snowy streets of Park City, Utah are usually home to names like Weinstein, Fox and Sony. But this year, the people everyone wanted as BFFs had names like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

The streaming services were in town, and buying up everything in sight. And with good reason.

The people who watch the sorts of movies that “break” at Sundance are the same people who watch the sorts of original series that have made the likes of Amazon and Netflix so popular.

So it’s only natural that the next step would be getting into the movie business.

Indie films are not big moneymakers, at least not for the studios. There was a period in the ’90s when the industry was enamored of them, but that era is over, and to a large extent, the creative buzz has replaced by streaming TV series. Which is why the line from Transparent to Manchester By The Sea (this year’s Sundance favorite) is a pretty straight one and why Amazon allegedly ponied up $10 million for the rights to the latter.

In addition to a common creative sensibility, Amazon and Netflix can offer indie filmmakers something the studios have long neglected: data.

Both companies know their audiences inside and out, know what products they like, what they buy and what types of movies they’re likely to watch. So that when Netflix buys the rights to an Iranian horror film called Under The Shadow, it’s because they have data showing that there’s an audience for that type of film, especially now that they’re going to be in over 130 countries worldwide.

But data cuts both ways. While many of the movies Amazon and Netflix snatched up will get a full theatrical release (and the data that comes with that) before winding up online, others won’t, and if Netflix doesn’t share the online data with the filmmakers, it leaves them in the dark. That’s a particularly tough place to be, especially for small, independent filmmakers who are trying to raise cash for their next movie.

Data transparency aside, the key difference between between Amazon, Netflix and traditional distributors is that the former are looking for smaller passionate audiences, as opposed to larger indifferent ones. They know that with the right marketing, they can make money off these niche audiences, providing them with the sort of movies they crave but can’t find anywhere else.

Why It Matters

Amazon, Netflix and Hulu are in position to completely disrupt the movie business, provided they continue to play nice with theater owners. Data-driven targeting should allow them to connect quality independent films with the right audiences in a way that makes money for everyone involved.

In addition, their global reach means they can take American films and distribute them overseas, collecting data on those audiences that they can use to target future films. That equation works in reverse too, as foreign movies can be targeted to the right American audience.

TV networks should take note too, as these movies are a potential way for Netflix and Amazon to differentiate themselves from the networks and to replace the syndicated content the networks keep threatening to keep for themselves.

What You Need To Do About It

Pay attention to what Netflix and Amazon are doing with the data. Are the films they’re buying hits? Are they buying similar ones? Are they developing a reputation as saviors of the creative community? Make sure your monitoring includes overseas markets as well as the US.

2. Facebook Rolls Out Facebook Live Video To All Their iPhone Users

If Twitter wasn’t having a bad enough month, now they’ve got to worry that Periscope, their one bright spot this past year, is under attack from Facebook and its 1.5 billion users. While the functionality is only available for iPhone users now, Facebook has announced plans to make it available for Android sooner than later.

Live streaming is one of those technologies that’s been around for a while, in various formations, but it started to have a moment last year. Periscope and its peers Meerkat and YouNow have been steadily gaining users, but we’re thinking brands can’t help but be seduced by Facebook’s sheer numbers when it comes to live streaming.

The caveat, of course, is user experience: will Facebook Live be as easy to use as Periscope and will it click with Facebook users, who don’t necessarily see Facebook as a real-time platform?

Why It Matters

Live streaming is big. It’s a great way to bring fans behind the scenes of a series or a sporting event. Networks have had good results with Periscope and its kin, but Facebook Live gives them real census level user numbers to work with. This could be when live streaming really breaks out. Or it could prove to be a fad of limited appeal. (We’re banking on the former.)

What You Need To Do About It

Start developing a live streaming strategy and/or adapting your existing one to Facebook Live. Even if most Facebook users ignore the new platform, there will be enough of them paying attention to dwarf the audiences Periscope et al. have and then some.

But more than that, understand why live streaming is important, how it can help create a deeper connection with your show or brand and start experimenting with it.

Originally published at tvrev.com on January 29, 2016.