Tech and Entertainment in the Era of Mass Customization | a16z Podcast with Marc Andreessen and Reed Hastings

 

At the recent first-ever summit event with Andreessen Horowitz held in Silicon Valley, founding partner Marc Andreessen talked to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the future of tech and entertainment in an era of mass customization.

From a16z:

Imagine, for a moment, an alternative universe: One where Netflix got disrupted by some other streaming-content company that made its DVD rental business irrelevant. But that’s just a counterfactual of what could have happened. What actually happened is that Netflix cannibalized (or rather, “hybridized”) its own core business to make room for a more strategic one given where the tech was going…

Given how rare it is for companies to successfully disrupt themselves like this, Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix, shares how they did it in this episode of the a16z Podcast (based on a conversation with Marc Andreessen that took place at our inaugural summit event). But please don’t say “only the paranoid survive” — Hastings believes business leaders need more sophisticated metaphors “to anticipate the paths, and all the judgment it takes, of deciding which competitive path to most explore”. It also turns out that sourcing, managing, and supporting creative ideas and creators is not unlike the questions VCs ask themselves — like trying to figure out just how much experience entrepreneurs need (especially if first-timers, like the directors of “Stranger Things” were).

And finally, is there a “Netflix brand” or genre of content — and if so, just how far can you stretch it so the same brand can produce something like “Orange Is the New Black” one day and then “Fuller House” the next day? Or are we entering an “era of mass customization” where we only see content suited to our interests — dark and dystopian if that’s your thing, sunny and funny if not? How is the industry ecosystem evolving; where do telcos, Silicon Valley, Hollywood fit in? All this and more in this episode.

Advertisements

Amazon and NFL Films Create “All or Nothing” Series

Amazon has drafted NFL Films to create its new series All or Nothing, offering fans “a glimpse into the week-to-week drama that unfolds within the lives of players, coaches and owners of an NFL franchise during the course of the regular season.” The series will debut exclusively on Amazon Video with the inaugural season spotlighting the 2015 Arizona Cardinals later this summer. Overall, eight hour-long episodes will be produced.

 

“All or Nothing will deliver the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at America’s most popular sports and entertainment media property the NFL’s regular season and we couldn’t have asked for a better franchise for our inaugural season than the Arizona Cardinals,” said Jordan Levin, Chief Content Officer, NFL Media. ”We’re thrilled to team up with Amazon on this new series, providing fans even more ways to engage with award-winning NFL programming over a variety of digital channels.”

Sports Illustrated Expands Into Long-Form Video Content

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated is expanding into long-form video content with SI Films, with six feature videos to debut online.

“With changing consumption habits, especially among millennials, and the plethora of popular distribution outlets at hand, there are limitless opportunities to offer an independent voice and quality video programming,” said Sports Illustrated group editor Paul Fichtenbaum. “Sports Illustrated Films aims to capitalize on all of that.”

In addition to features produced in-house and external production houses, SI Films announced production deals with Mandalay Sports Media and Velocity to produce programming under the SI Films banner.

Two of the first films include:

“Brett Favre: Life After the Game” a profile one the NFL Quarterback who led the Green Bay Packers for several years.

“The Rise and Fall of the Danbury Trashers” a story of a minor league hockey team.

In addition, 40 others long-form videos are being added from content previously created, including three seasons of the “Underdogs” profile of high school football teams.

According to Variety:

“With this specific launch, we’re investing in programming we know consumers are going to watch,” Time Inc. senior VP of video J.R. McCabe said. The goal is “to create habitual viewing on the part of our audience.”

Under SI’s deal with Mandalay Sports Media, Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach are producing “Patrick and ‘Zo,” about the unique kinship and rivalry between Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, two pro basketball stars who both hail from Georgetown U. and squared off in the NBA. The deal with Velocity entails the creation of a video franchise, “100 Greatest Moments in Sports,” set to premiere later this year.

Mike Tollin, co-chairman of Mandalay Sports Media, said the company has boosted the number of its digital productions in recent years. Besides the SI Films project, MSM inked a deal to produce nearly 50 short films for Vice Sports and earlier this year launched scripted series “Sin City Saints” on Yahoo.

“I always evaluate a story and what shape and size it ought to take — is this a feature film, scripted series, unscripted series? Or is it a short-form digital piece?” he said. “Increasingly we’ve been leaning toward the latter because there’s an instant gratification, and an appetite that’s ravenous for content that can be consumed on small screens.”

The launch of SI Films comes after Sports Illustrated Group’s acquisition earlier this year of FanSided, a blog network of 300 sites, as well as its launch of Campus Rush, devoted to college football culture. In addition, Time Inc. has formed SI Play, a new division devoted to youth sports.

Overall, Time Inc. — like other historically print-oriented media companies — has been ramping up video production across all its properties. It’s set to open a 3,000-square-foot studio space in its new headquarters in lower Manhattan later this year.

The company’s video initiatives include Sports Illustrated’s live daily live talk show, “SI Now powered by Ford,” and Time Inc. is also a founding partner of 120 Sports, an over-the-top sports network.