As the economy forces everyone to tighten their belts, here’s what we may face next year in Hollywood and tech
2. Streaming content budgets are stabilizing.
Gone, at least for now, are the days of Netflix and others continually improving their content forward. Let’s face it, annual spending of $17 billion is hard to justify in a hyper-competitive market where all belts (including consumers’) are tightening and giving is real. Expect all major players to spend less on volume and more on focused impact. Evergreen franchise content, always reprogramming, is where it’s at (see Prediction #1 above). Just ask Disney – Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, The Avengers, Disney Princesses, oh my!
3. Netflix’s new tier of ads won’t be the great hope and savior that the streaming leader and its investors hope it will be.
In fact, Netflix’s lower-priced tier will cannibalize more premium subscriptions than expected and generate less money. These realities make things even more problematic for the streamer, which finds its most lucrative U.S. market essentially completely saturated. It is an international growth or explosion (at least as an independent). But overseas pricing pressures are even more challenging in a world that is significantly mobile-first. As we’ve long predicted, Netflix will eventually be bought (but it won’t be in 2023).
4. The TikTok clock is running out (or at least slowing down).
2023 is the year geopolitical realities hit the Chinese house of the bus as both sides of the “Aisle” pressure the feds to withdraw the application. To be clear, TikTok is definitely not going to be shut down. But its growth will be slowed by regulations and political pressure on the distribution front. Similarly, streaming music giant Spotify will see its losses continue to mount. It cannot escape its existential predicament—that is, the more it earns, the more it loses, due to its variable cost structure. Nobody is happy here. Neither the investors nor the artists who power the service.
5. Ticketmaster is feeling the heat and it’s only going to get hotter.
Call it the “Taylor Effect” as other ticketing platforms (including the new Web3 Ticketing) feel the opening caused by the disaster and quickly grab it Perhaps virtual monopolies like Ticketmaster, when operating in a vacuum, don’t feel the need to innovate to solve fundamental consumer problems — like broken ticket lines, rampant fraud, and massive price gouging by code-breaking resellers. But megastars ultimately hold the mega-power, and Taylor Swift’s fans will follow her lead to someone new. And the feds, once again, will help lead the way.
6. Elon Musk’s Twitter meltdown continues and his trolling of us all accelerates.
And as the once-revered tech titan of our time continues to go rogue, its increasingly maniacal moves are fueling mass defections and making room for new credibility-conscious social players—invested in content moderation—to emerge. Does anyone really believe that global leaders will trust this platform again? OK maybe that one. But maybe that’s the point, and it’s all part of a diabolical master plan where he breaks everything to turn Twitter into something else entirely – a hub for crypto transactions (I wrote about this possibility in my last column).
7. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook failure continues as his all-in Meta bet on “social VR” continues to burn through tens of billions of cash ($3.6 billion in Q3 alone) (I wrote about this in a recent column).
Zuck fails to understand that the real mass market metaverse opportunity today is in the gaming world. But misunderstanding the market for social VR isn’t the only culprit. Then there are the feds, who will make sure it happens. Facebook and Instagram are enemy no. 1 of the antitrust police. And wait, there are more. Tim Cook’s Apple is still a mega-threat. While Zuckerberg floundered, Cupertino learned. Which brings me to…
8. Apple is finally entering the metaverse market with its long-awaited “next big thing” – its new VR/AR glasses.
But unlike Zuckerberg, Cook won’t bet the farm on the metaverse and “social virtual reality.” Instead, he will underpromise in other use cases and then massively overdeliver. Apple’s introduction of AirPods is the model here. Yeah, those little white Q-tips didn’t “wow” us when they were first announced. But look at them now. AirPods are the most successful wearable of all time, stealthily becoming a giant ATM that continuously spits out billions and billions of cash.
9. Crypto may be crashing all around us, but NFTs will step into the mainstream to point the way to real transformational opportunities for creators and consumers alike.
While most everyone conflates the two, crypto and NFTs are not the same. Yes, both are born from the same Web3 blockchain blood. But NFTs can have real lasting utility and value (the real ones, that is, as I wrote previously). And it also disintermediates. Now content can bypass the middleman and go straight to the source of cash – the audience. Expect Hollywood producers to eventually find a new source of funding and artists to find a new way to monetize significantly (which in turn will fuel more art).
10. Jeff Bezos will follow Bob Iger’s lead and return to Amazon to bring back its idiosyncratic magic and investor mojo.
Both captains of industry were bored anyway. It’s much more fun to explore strategic transformational possibilities that affect virtually everyone on the planet. Bezos has already taken his Blue Origin ride into space with joy. It was fun while it lasted. Now there is more work to do.
Bonus: Speaking of Iger, one of his first stops will be Cook and his pals at Apple to explore a possible sale of the Mouse House.
Let’s not forget that Iger was on Apple’s board until 2019 and Steve Jobs gave birth to Pixar – so the shared DNA is undeniable. A long shot? Of course, thanks only to the Feds’ inevitable antitrust animus. And Iger even on Monday rejected this possibility as “pure speculation” in a town hall meeting (as reported by TheWrap). But Iger is also smart and charming. No good CEO shows his hand before playing it. If he and Cook eventually agree to marry (in a deal Wall Street would love), the duo could win over the feds by agreeing to divest Disney’s theme parks division (and maybe even more, including ABC Television and ESPN) as terms of the deal. Hey, I really have to vent in at least one prediction. That’s part of the fun!
So happy new year everyone! A lot of excitement awaits. Maybe not the right kind for the smitten brothers-in-arms Zuckerberg and Musk.
For those of you interested in learning more, visit Peter Creative Media at creativemedia.biz and follow him on Twitter @pcsathy.
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