Tag Archives: Disney plus

The future doorstop

That is how we sometimes see a book, a doorstop, a missile towards our partners (and sometimes really annoying elderly teens), a weight for the papers we need, when a book is not really what we wanted, it gets a secondary function. So even as some saw this specific book as ‘A beautiful defense of the common man and woman against a technological elite’, I consider a book like ‘The Tyranny of Big Tech’ as one that is not stating the issues. 

Did I read it?
Nope, and I do not have to, the article clearly shows a republican (who looks like he recently stopped being a teenager) who is aiming for money from both the left and the right. When we see “According to Hawley, it’s not our politicians, our lawyers, our Ivy League graduates, or our Hollywood celebrities. It’s Big Tech – those big names like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Google that have embedded themselves in our lives to an almost irreversible degree”, I see the beginning of a BS string of texts that will most certainly become debatable and utterly rejectable. You see Zuckerberg attended Harvard whilst designing Facebook, Dorsey came up with the idea for Twitter at NYU, Jeff Bezos was already done with Princeton when Amazon became the idea, Apple was the child of Steve Jobs who attended part of Reed and dropped out, Sergey Brin and Larry Page came from Stanford, so what is left of “not our Ivy League graduates”? Oh and I with my 5G IP am from UTS (Sydney), so there! And when we get to “have embedded themselves in our lives to an almost irreversible degree” we get a lot more. Apple (Macintosh) offered what consumers wanted, Google did the same, Facebook did it even more and created a new digital era and they all OFFERED it to consumers, they planned long term and they won, the small minded people lost. The exception is the Amazon guy who doesn’t need to spend on Shampoo, he offered something to rural people all over the world which they never had access too. In the US this is 60,000,000 people and in the EU it is 125,000,000. One firm aimed for a little over 180 million consumers. The people shops forgot and now Amazon is the bad guy? So this is the setting from the start and the man with the teenager look (Josh Hawley) is already off to a bad start. So when we see “the robber barons reshaped the economy into a corporate monopoly to serve their own ends, in which an aristocratic elite govern above the labouring masses”, all whilst the US government stole from the native Americans whatever they could (99.655% roughly) is like the pot calling the kettle black. In this one pushed what they wanted, the other (current big tech) let the people decide on WHAT they desired and the consumers liked the free 1GB email (Google) whilst the internet providers offered 20MB for a fee. What would you do? That same grocery store (still Google) came up with additional ways to service the consumers (cookies anyone?), the offered shopping, information and choice, whilst those dabbling on the internet wee all about grabbing whatever coins they could get. When the consumers were happy players like Amazon created the Amazon Web Services offering a pay as you go approach, a cloud approach to small businesses. First web services in 2002 and cloud services in 2008, it would take IBM and Microsoft years to offer anything near that, the big tech of then were made basically redundant. And with the pay as you go there was a larger SaaS (Software as a Service) setting. The big 5 became big not because “Big Tech is a direct descendent of the Gilded Age robber barons”, but because they offered choice when the others were unwilling to do so. In this Apple stands alone. They were always the elite DTP solution (a lot more expensive than others) and in 1998 they recognised the needs of the consumer and the iMac was born, all whilst the consumer got the amazing phrase “There’s no step 3!”, an affordable solution in an age where PC’s were still running behind the facts. If you were not up to speed you were either lost or you became an Apple user. All this whilst the writer wants to push “descendent of the Gilded Age robber barons”, a stage none of them pushed for, it merely is in the statements of those who were asleep at the wheel between 1996-2006, they lost it all by not pushing the envelope and 5 companies got ahead. The fifth (Netflix) was like Facebook, it offered something never offered before and whilst we had to seek TV provider after TV provider, they offered what we wanted, movies and specifically movies not hindered by advertisements. They went from sales to rental to streaming and as the firm started in 1998, Hulu, Stan, HBO Max and Disney Plus, some well over a decade AFTER Netflix, so the statement from Josh Hawley is not just bogus, it is utter nonsense. So when we see “Washington, D.C. politicians routinely protect the interests of Big Tech over and against the freedom and well-being of the American people” we see the joke that this book seemingly is. These systems were offered to consumers, you can walk away! I kept my Yahoo account for years later, until the information offered was too outdated or too much adjusted for localisation (against my will), so when we see ‘well-being of the American people’ I wonder what data he can actually produce (raw data, not aggregated and weighted data) and in the grand scheme of things, the US has 320 million people, Europe has 750 million and India has 1.3 billion. All enjoying what the five players are offering. In all that, the US is a mere 15% and on the global scale they do not add up to much, and the US is actually part of that failing. In the era of 1990-2010 American firms remained largely absent on the international scale, relying on someone to pick up the ball and none of them did and the American needs were swallowed by the voice of the consumers, no barons, no lawyers and no politicians. The people wanted what Google offered and Youtube now has over 2,000,000,000 viewers (I am one of them), so far none of the offerers were able to meet this and more important by 2005 both IBM and Microsoft were merely relying on Adobe Flash, these two players had nothing to offer. In 15 years they never really woke up and here I get to use Microsoft against itself with “Microsoft Stream is a corporate video-sharing service which was released on June 20, 2017 that will gradually replace the existing Office 365 Video”, so 12 years of inactivity, in comparison, the Chinese (the makers of Won Ton soup) gave us TikTok one year earlier and now has 100,000,000 active users. Players like IBM and Microsoft have been that much asleep at the wheel. As I personally see it, American BigTech is the only player (all 5 of them) that stops the USA from becoming utterly irrelevant, if they were not there China would be superpower number one and they are close of becoming that anyway, any issues with BigTech and every BS article in every newspaper with  some ‘alleged’ and ‘watchdog’ is merely another delay and it will help China to become the greatest tech power, US politicians (EU politicians as well) are helping China meet that goal.

BigTech, the virgin
BigTech is not holy, it is not innocent and it is no virgin (they got screwed by global politicians again and again, so they are definitely not virgins), BigTech are merely the innovators we always needed and the rest is merely a wannabe player, even Microsoft and IBM have fallen that much from grace. Microsoft had the most powerful console in the world and within 2 years they were surpassed by the weakest console of all (Nintendo Switch), IBM has its own stream of non-successes, and they are all crying to their politicians as to the bad bad tech companies. Most of them had no idea what the digital era was until they were surpassed by a lot of other players (some of them Asian). So when we consider the stage, we need to see the whole stage, not some setting of “Ending Big Tech’s sovereignty is about taking back our own, and we can begin to do that in the lives we live together. Big Tech works relentlessly to force individuals into its ecosystem of addiction, exhibitionism, and fear of missing out. It seeks to create its own social universe and draw all of life into its orbit. But the real social world, the life of family and neighbourhood – the authentic communities that sustain authentic togetherness – can act as a counterweight to Big Tech’s ambitions”, in this phrases like ‘force individuals’ is massively wrong, people have choices. I do not have Facebook on my mobile, I have no need for it there, I do not order from Amazon (I am a support your local hooker kind of guy) and I have currently no Netflix or Disney Plus subscription. That is 3 out of 5, I have an Apple because Microsoft dropped the ball 4 times in the last 5 years and IBM is too expensive for what it offers. I chose! We can all choose and that is where we realise that ‘The Tyranny of Big Tech’ is like a Chicago politician, all hot air and not too much on substance (judging from the article (at https://mindmatters.ai/2021/06/a-book-review-the-tyranny-of-big-tech/). He might at some point present a few parts that are relevant, I am certain that he will, but as a former Missouri’s Attorney General he will tread on places where he knows the answers, so as I see “holding Big Tech accountable where others don’t dare tread. In investigations, in legislation, I merely wonder how much legislation against BigTech made it through? It matters because it is what you can prove that matters, not what you claim. I made no claims, it is all timeline stuff, including the Chinese parts. 

Consider the choices YOU have, and make choices, it is your right. You need not be on Google, you can select Microsoft Bing. You will lose out on a lot but that is the choice you make. For well over 20 years Google offered choices, YOU were the consumer that selected WHERE you wanted to go and you went there. All whilst Microsoft could not be bothered, it seems to me that the Netscape Victory made them lazy and now they are no longer the relevant company, they are merely the Column B (or C) company. And consider being in a place like Antigo Wisconsin. Now try to buy a game, a DVD, a bluray, a 4K movie, a CD and a book. How many of these items will require Amazon? It was the foundation of 4G (Wherever I am) and it will be the stage of 5G (wheneverI want it), so when will 5G be available in Antigo Wisconsin? Consider these points and consider whatever Josh Hawley is trying to imprint on you and consider what you can find out for yourself. BigTech is not evil, BigTech is because the others became lazy, BigTech merely is and governments do not like the self sufficient organisations, the ones that do not make large contributions to them. In the end if you look into the shareholders and stakeholders of some of these players you get a very different picture, one you need to be wary of.

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Choices and Wisdom

We all have all kinds of wisdom, what we learned in school and that what as further tempered by work and eduction. Then there is the wisdom we get over time, from the things we have enjoyed doing, or loved doing for decades. No this is not some weird way to tell others that we are all well grown gynaecologists (without a medical education we really are not), yet some events, like photography, music, filming, gaming, reading. These are skills that develop over time. Some will never be great writers, but they grow a knowledge that allows them to recognise good and great pieces of writing, some will see great movies and TV series from the early beginnings, some will recognise a really great game. We all grow such skills, some faster and more complete than others. And here is where I am now. With Keno Diastima I am now at an impasse. I completed the thoughts on the cliffhanger on season 3, and as I see it, it will be one that will make jaws drop all over the field, yet what next? Try to get into season 4? Or end the story with a wide open ending? For some reason the second one is appealing to me. I haven’t thought of where to go in season 4, that is true enough, but in all that the setting of an open ending is appealing. It lets the viewer imagine what would be next. I personally never liked the American approach to finalise everything. The setting is that in the first finalisation is overrated, in the second it is that life is never complete, if we finalise we cannot perfect, if we cannot perfect we can grow, we can become better, the finalised people are mediocre or will never know the perfection they could have been headed to. It is like a lot of Ubisoft games, they are below par. 

Am I correct?
Well, the balance of probability states me to be correct, yet in opposition, we see God of War 4, Ratchet and Clank Rifts apart, Miles Morales. The PS5 is showing a whole host of games that ended up close to perfect, all whilst Ubisoft showed us games that were mediocre between 70% and 80%. So we have two stations, one showing me that I am right, one making it debatable and I am in the middle trying to make a choice. In all this I am wondering what to do. Even as I saw another side of some of the settings that I designed, as I see more and more evolutions in the IP I created, I also see that anything can be improved on, Keno Diastima is no exception. And in this yes, there is more to explore, but the appeal of finishing a story on a high is weirdly appealing. I wonder if J. Michael Straczynski faced this at the end of season 4 of Babylon 5? 

So how should I go about it? I am asking this of myself. Perhaps in a few days I see the light and a larger idea opens up, but it is not a guarantee. And within me the struggle continues shall I move forward, or not? It is a stage of wondering, not a stage of fear. Not a stage where we see ‘US lawmakers have introduced five bills aimed at limiting the power held by Big Tech companies’, bills that were designed out of fear, because overhauling the tax laws to fit all was too dangerous, powerful friends would be out in the cold and demonising a few is preferable, not unlike the Nazi’s who demonised the gypsies, the jews and a few others, remember that? How did that end? So when you see “The bills were drafted after a 16-month investigation into the powers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook” consider that a law on 4 is discrimination, an overhauled tax law including the 4 is the right direction. I have said that for the better part of 2 decades, yet we see an investigation of 16 months. How is there any level of equilibrium? How is there balance on al fronts when 4 are demonised? So when will they limit Netflix and Disney plus to give ‘equal’ way to the others? It is the beginning of dead people trying to live a little longer. Soon America will see a larger setting, soon they will claim the union of patents and IP into the economy, because it will be best for all the people, a limitation of 5 is preferable over the denying to nearly all, and the US still has no plan to avoid overspending by trillions on an annual basis. So whilst I look at the optional ending of a great ride, they are merely looking at the continuation of a mediocre ride and there is the rub, there is the flaw. We see it in movies, TV, games, books and software, yet we do not catch on, life is unpredictable. Those who wield choices to their end are all about staying in power, even though they do not contribute and they are scared, China is on their heels to surpass them technological and economical, a twofold loss. So whilst CNBC gives us ‘U.S.-China relations are ‘still deteriorating,’ says former U.S. ambassador’, we need to consider that the US overplayed itself economically in well over a decade and whilst they needed to strap expenses, they refused to do so, they entered a road of iteration, all whilst a nation without true innovation has no place to go, but to become a following sheep and the innovations by Huawei are proof of that, Apple, IBM, Microsoft all iterative, all whilst I designed more original IP by myself then all of them together. And that is separate from the ideas on movies, TV series and games I came up with, and that is besides the additions to existing games. 

I feel happy in some way and sad that several government are so scared and so dependent on the US that it is almost scary that the media (from a multitude of sources) are merely copy and pasting some news. Consider ‘Romanian president signs bill into law to ban Huawei from 5G’, as well as ‘‘No concrete proof’ of espionage: Malaysia on verge of Huawei 5G deal. For me the issue is that the US and others have NEVER EVER shown evidence that Huawei equipment was used for espionage. In opposition the equipment in use (Cisco for example) allows for example allows for all kinds of sneaky acquisition of data. The sources via Solarwinds are proof of other larger flaws, Huawei equipment is not needed. When you consider that and we see the US accusations, as well as copied accusations by others, all whilst no evidence was ever produced. The Verge gave us “There is no hard evidence to support this notion, and some of the reasons put forward for this notion are weak. For example, the background of the chairmen of Huawei. Huawei founder Mr. Ren Zhengfei once served in the People’s Liberation Army. As we know, serving in the army was one way of getting out of poverty for people in the countryside, which is where Mr. Ren is from. His time in the army was a short one and he was not in any important position”, as well as “Any supposedly safe Chinese product is one firmware update away from being an insecure Chinese product”. The second one is optional, but that applies to all American hardware as well, but the media is not giving us that part, are they? The media did (to the largest extent) avoid for the longest time to look into the Cisco flaw(s), even as Cisco informed their customers close to immediately. So what is wisdom? I am not sure if I am the right person to state that, but I do feel that limiting 5 players whilst they were not illegally acting is wrong on several levels and all whilst the IP and patent stage remains open, as such I will make a case for my IP to be placed in either the UK or Canada. They seem the safest place and when other figure out what I have figured out and the IP and patents of the Fortune 500 end up being registered in these two locations over the US, you will see that I am correct and the US will find them self in something close to a Wall Street free fall soon thereafter. 

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Choice, can you choose?

Yes, we have that. Can we choose, can we not? It is not really our fault, until there was streaming we had it all (to some degree) and now, in the streaming universe, can we actually make that decision? Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV, Google TV, Sony Core, Canal Plus, HBO, Stan, if we chose them all, we are looking at around $100 per month, the bulk of all people cannot afford that, so they must chose. In that setting it pretty much sets the global population to Netflix and/or Disney Plus. That was before the price hike, there is every indication that we alternate the subscription or choose one, optionally two out of the eight. In all this Google TV is the odd duck,. It is a pricey $65 a month, making it immediately unaffordable for a lot of people at present, yet for that price you get 65 channels including CNN, ESPN and Nickelodeon. It basically becomes a global contender to Canal Plus and that is not all. If Google takes the quick road as Sky Channel did around 1989 in the Netherlands, they could get a much better solution. The Dutch (read: Rotterdam) were all charged via their energy bill but for a mere $5 a month, but that gave the people 12 channels overnight, and when you hand the solution over to a million subscribers you have wiggle space. Yet in that setting where will Netflix, Disney Plus and the others fall? It could change streaming overnight and the partnership that Google TV has with Sony implies that Google TV will be in too many houses with a Sony TV soon enough. So as 2021 will shake the streaming industry to its foundation, I wonder what will happen to Netflix at that point as it has invested well over $100 billion in its services. This is by no setting the end of Netflix, it’s pricing is affordable as long as there is one and Netflix does have a lot more, but what happens when Disney Strikes a deal with Google TV as well? That is a setting that Netflix is not ready for and they do not have the capital to change the venue as they currently have it. 

I cannot give you answers, I d not have any, but there is clarity that there will be a larger first strike streaming war, and as I see it, Stan does not have much of a chance to survive it, Canal Plus will take a massive hit as well, they have the benefit that they are cheaper, but only half the amount of channels, when they add the 5 movie channels the price is almost even. Yes, I reckon that 2021 will be a slaughterfest on streaming players and there is no real winner in sight, or perhaps better stated, there are too many unknown variables for me at present too make a definite conclusion, but when we see that the largest part of 300 million Americans cannot meet their payments, add to that 700 million Europeans, 68 million Brits and 1 billion Indians, we can safely assume that there will be a slaughterfest, with Netflix and Disney Plus being the most likely survivors, but this is set on shaky grounds, there is a lot that can happen, but the union of Google TV and Sony Core gives us the stage that there will be wounded all over this battlefield, and as I see it, a stage with original materials is needed, for me it means that someone might take a liking to 2 movies, and optionally 2 TV series as well, for me it does not matter, I am focussed on my 5G IP. Yet I reckon that even there there will be streaming intersections on nearly every level and as such Google TV has the option to have a cheap solution for those who cannot afford the full price, but that comes with advertisements. An affordable streaming stage with advertisements, a stage where the value of a player like Google could optionally skyrocket, but to what level remains a mystery for now. 

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Lessons to be learned

We all have our flings, a lot of ladies still have an ongoing fling with ‘Sex and the City’, Whilst the man cannot help themselves but to run to the nearest cinema when they see the calling card ‘007’ (also known as 003.5 when he was young). Loads of people (myself included) were nuts about Star Trek, many were Babylon 5 fans (me too) and a lot of us could not wait for what would come after Star Wars. Some franchises get to us and they capture us. The same for the Marvel characters. But over the years I learned that a binge fetish comes with an attached version of digital tummy bounce. Too much, even of a good thing is not always good. I know, I had my events, there was the evening with two T-bone steaks (1.2 Kg beef in total), there was the 6 mango pancakes occasion when having Yum Cha in Chinatown, there was the case of me and the 11 turkey tandoori drumsticks in Stockholm and the less said about me and a two litre jar of custard the better.  This happens with movies and TV series too. During the lockdown I had a binge with 19 seasons of Midsomer Murders, Star Wars 1-9 (plus Rogue One), NCIS season 1 through 15, as well as a revisit on Blu ray of ALL Marvel movies. 

They tend to weigh on us, it is like we accept the universe we watch, but we also understand that what we see is not real, for some reason the borders face during a binge, have you never noticed that? So when I saw ‘Disney ramps up Star Wars and Marvel franchises’ (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55269531), I had my concerns. Now, for those who love the binge, who love their passion of Star Wars, Marvel or Disney, I am fine with that, I wish you all the best (and loads of happy fun), yet the article gives us two parts.

The first is “it also announced price increases from February next year”, OK, £7.99 per month might not seem a big deal, but with unemployment the way it is, it will make a lot of people unhappy. Australia gives us $8.99AUD per month (or $89.99 per year) which is interesting as it implies that for a year, you get 2 months for free, it would make the stage more interesting, but overall, it implies that Australia is getting Disney Plus almost 50% cheaper than the UK (which translates to $14.04 per month), as such in this global age, a lot of people will not be happy. This was merely an observation, not a stage of discussion.

The second part is seen with “Disney said that it planned to offer 10 new TV series in its Marvel and Star Wars franchises over the next few years”, and yes, we have an issue with ‘over the next few years’, which is blatantly inaccurate. The hype creators gave us WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye, WhatIf, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, as well as several movies (at least one title confirmed for 2022) as well as “roughly 10 Star Wars series are coming to Disney Plus, but it also gave some early details about a few of those series and other Star Wars projects”, which the Verge (at https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/10/22167976/disney-investor-day-2020-biggest-announcements-plus-marvel-star-wars-pixar-animation) gives us. 

We want to make it bout the money, but we need to look at the fact that a lot of people get to enjoy well over a dozen series in a setting that they LIKE, all whilst the US produced over 500 series last year that most of us (non-Americans) will not get to see. So is the stage of £2 (per month) really a lot? No, but it is the £7.99 (£80, or £96) a year that matters. You see, we all see the full time incomes, but there are plenty on £13,803 for part-time roles, which is not a lot, especially when the bills are paid.

Yet this is NOT about the money, consider the annual cost and consider the focal point of Disney Plus. There is off-course more to Disney Plus, but to have such a driven focal point can slap back to the owners. Yes, they are and should be proud of what they offer, but like gaming, we might have a favourite game, but at times we want something else and there are alternatives, but there is the snag for Disney, if the people turn away from Disney too often, someone will figure out to be a paying member two months a year and catch up on those months. What will Disney do, turn these paying customers away? 

The stage of annual fees versus returning fees will soon become a much more focussed debate and a focal point for revenue investigators all over, because it is not merely Disney that faces this consideration. In this, I have nothing against Stan, HBO, Netflix, Disney Plus, or Apple TV, but the people in a much larger setting have limited funds, they could consider one, some might consider a second one, but that is pretty much it, the quality of life in most of the Commonwealth and the EU is not in a good place. So whilst some are fighting over the pie, the consumer is considering another buffet

MonthChannel
JanuaryNetflix
FebruaryApple TV
MarchDisney Plus
April
MayNetflix
JuneApple TV
JulyDisney Plus
August
September
OctoberNetflix
NovemberApple TV
DecemberDisney Plus

In this setting we see three months a year, some might go for to month a year and optionally safe a little money, in that setting both Disney and Netflix will enter a tunnel of massive problems, their stage is not fitting the cost endured, you cannot make a case of $15,000,000,000 of costs a year and people merely coming for two months a year, the system will collapse and that is what Disney faces too. The people are lacking cash and optionally bandwidth too.

Do you think they will waste time on too much monthly fees, or will they wisen up and binge when they can, let’s not forget these executives promoted bingeing when it suited their needs, now it will not, and the spreadsheet deck that they hold does not permit the thought I am voicing here.

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Removing the floor

OK, I have made predictions in the past and most were close to spot on, some were just a little off, yet I had not ever for the life of me gotten it wrong by half a billion before. In ‘First the Soft‘ at (https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/04/27/first-the-soft/), I made the prediction: “we now see that Avengers: Endgame is heading towards a 700 million opening weekend (globally) is no stretch, it would make it the largest opening weekend in history“. Some claimed I was being too optimistic, perhaps I was at that a little; I now see from several sources that the estimate was off by a lot. The sources mostly re-quote Variety and when we realise that the reality of “According to Variety, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ pulled in $350 million in the US and an incredible $1.2 billion worldwide in its first weekend. This smashes the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ take by over $500 million“, we can agree that my thoughts on it being the best Marvel movie ever is not even close to the mark. The movie is now listed on 18th position of the best money making movies ever on a global scale, from naught to 18 in one weekend. This now implies that the movie could shoot to 3rd position in a week, optionally replacing Titanic in 2nd place, it is a record that James Cameron held for 21 years, and he also held the number one spot for 10 years which is now in equal danger of getting surpassed by Avengers: Endgame soon thereafter. I believe that will happen, yet the speed at which this could be happening at has never been seen before.

This news is actually more important than you might think. You see Hollywood is nothing if not revenue driven, so there is every chance that my beloved comic books form the 70’s and 80’s will find themselves to the big screen or some Netflix streaming channel. This is both awesome and optionally sad. When the money makers see the amount of money Marvel just grossed, it will make them step into the fairway and claim their own billions. The sad part is that there is every chance that people will concentrate on their dollar shaped pupils and forget that Avengers: Endgame is the result of 11 years and 22 movies, so whatever they do they need to be careful not to squander the option they would acquire.

One of the front runners in this would be the work of Don Lawrence. He became famous with the works of the Trigan Empire as well as Storm. The Trigan Empire has everything to become stellar, it is placed in what would be a ‘Nova Roma’ A roman empire but in the 21st century, so we get decadence, martial impact (for references see the Spartacus series), direct encounters (read: sex, combat and confrontational resolutions) as well as other elements making it highly desirable to the watchful eyes of millions. Getting it right would be an essential part in all this. Remember, that I Claudius failed in the first attempt until it was done right in the 70’s.

In second place there is the Spanish artist Segrelles who gave us ‘El Mercenario‘, a little more fantasy, but most pleasing to the eye in more than one way. It is utterly lacking realism (the dragons are a dead giveaway) but the stories have been intriguing since the beginning and the art has a certain flair that does go with the need for excellent story telling.

I am not giving you a top three. There are so many considerations. There is the Flash Gordon from the 70’s, there is Diabolik, although in this case it seems that Murdoch’s European pay-tv operation are already on that case, so I reckon that if they make that one dark enough, they might have an instant hit. This all has one additional benefit for me, there is every chance that someone will consider reprinting the comics by Angela and Luciana Giussani, a win-win for all. I believe that technology was the greatest push here. Now that special effects can set the stage more closely to what the comic book makers envisioned and gave to their audience, the sky has become the limit and as we see more and more revenue towards streaming, there is every chance that the biggest delays will be finding the actors committing to a series and finding the right actors, manpower will become the largest obstacle for moviemakers in the foreseeable future. I will happily volunteer there, but I know I am no Inspector Ginko (or inspector Gadget for that matter).

Yet we can also look into the other direction, for that we merely need to seek out André Franquin and his office boy Gaston, every company seemingly has one and therefor would bring instant joy, laughter and entertainment on a global scale, all mostly untapped ideas as American Netflix has been too localised in their searches (as well as the method of finding new stuff). Yet with Disney Plus on the horizon and other players like Stan making more and more waves, we might see a bidding war for the IP rights of these works soon enough.

 

 

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A screen made with real silver

Forbes gave us the news on Monday. Many expected it; many saw it coming and no one is really surprised. It’s ‘Netflix’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True‘. Stephen McBride gives us: “If you’ve been reading RiskHedge, you know I’ve been warning to keep money out of stock market darling Netflix (NFLX)“, he was of course correct, yet I would not go there for different reasons, reasons he actually mentions in part. As we are treated to: “It comes down to the lifecycle of disruptive businesses. Netflix pioneered “streaming” video where you watch shows through the Internet rather than on cable TV. For years, it was the only streaming service in town. Early investors rode this first-mover advantage to 10,000% gains from 2008 to July of this year.” Many, for the most the investors rejoiced. I saw the loaded cannon in another direction. As Forbes gives us, we are treated to: “Netflix had planned to spend $8 billion on shows and series this year… now it’ll spend roughly $12 billion. It now invests more in content than any other American TV network” that is where the danger is. You see, the cold hearted calculation is: 137 million users worldwide. This gets us on average $24 billion a year, it looks good, but it is not great. You see, this only works if this goes on in the long run, whilst it requires growth, it also requires people to stay with Netflix for a long time. Now, both are an option, but they have muddied the waters in another way. First there are the loans and the interest is due, as well as the principle of the matter (aka, the loan). It is optionally not a big thing if things were great moving forward, yet they are not. I had an idea earlier this year and I thought that handing it to Netflix is a great way to gain momentum. You see, I have written 1100 articles within the last 6 years alone and as such I do have a few ideas running around in my head.

Yet Netflix has a no-unsolicited submissions policy, so until you have an agent and such, there is no option. They only accept submissions through a licensed literary agent or from a producer, attorney, manager or entertainment executive with the players that Netflix has a pre-existing relationship. This makes total sense, yet it also gives rise to a much more expensive track, and $12 billion shows part of that. From my point of view new ideas and optionally the most profitable ones are found in what some would call ‘the geek corner’, these people can often not relate, cannot present but they tell great stories, they are most often really cheap and original. It is a much harder sell, yet the entire expense track could be down by at least 10%, saving Netflix $1.2 billion on the spot. Then there is the international concept. Some TV series became great in their own way. Sweden had Pipi Longstocking and that become a much loved character on a very global stage. Another Swedish treasure was a 70’s series called the White Stone, based on the book by Gunnel Linde, Sweden had its own share of successes down the track and we realise that some might seem less interesting nowadays. The Netherlands had the legendary series ‘Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?‘ It was a song story by children based on the Grimm story of the ratcatcher of Hameln. The series apart from some a few episodes is lost forever, which is a shame as this was a cultural highlight for the Dutch. The French had Thierry la Fronde, La demoiselle d’Avignon and several more, all unseen by a global audience. It is an option, but is that the case?

No it is not.

Netflix has shown that their money is well spent; series like Sabrina, The Haunting of Hill House and Altered Carbon are amazing achievements. We can clearly see that billions were well spend, yet in this donuts for dollars world, the overall stage (non-advertising space mind you), the annual setting for their audience is set to a requirement of close to 365 to 700 hours of TV entertainment a year to keep them, which that adds up to Sabrina, Star Trek Discovery, Haunting of Hill house, the Good Witch, Marvel’s The Punisher, Lost In Space, The OA, Seven Seconds, The Rain, Requiem, 3%, The Innocents, Sense 8, Grace and Frankie, Godless, The Mechanism, Dark, The Crown, Marvel’s Daredevil, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Stranger Things, Lady Dynamite, Glow, Sabrina, Altered Carbon, Mindhunter and at least 20 movies. They need to pull this off each year, and that pressure with Disney+ also increases, as the chance of switching to someone else is more and more likely.

We get that there are series that will always take the cake (Game of Thrones), and in this we see that there is some space to manoeuvre, but it is not a lot. You see, if someone loses the interest for 3 days, they will wonder what Netflix is for and optionally cancel, especially in this economy. That is the clear math I saw at the very beginning. It is not the price; $15 (the medium option) is more often than not a really acceptable price to most people. Netflix got that right, they merely need to find another additional venue for materials, because the well of creation will soon dry up, not merely because there are other players on the field, it is that Free to air TV, and other medium are vying for that same pool of viewers. Netflix as the first one has an advantage, but for how long?

Stephen McBride, a professional fund manager and the chief analyst at RiskHedge makes his financial case and that adds up to the findings I have. I am not sure on what the share price needs to be, yet his financial case and my mere view of the low average viewer gives light to a Netflix in trouble, how much is a clear unknown. Netflix has shown that with Sabrina and The Haunting of Hill House a new level of creepiness can be reached. Sabrina is a new take on what was fluffy, whilst The Haunting of Hill House had most of my friends scared beyond belief, so that series hit the mark. I saw the interesting catch on Lost in Space that after the original series and a movie can capture hearts all over the place, so Netflix is bringing the good stuff, no doubt about it. However, the entire setting is still low on hours. Even if year one for the audience is great, they will want more, or at least no less in the stage of year two and that is where I see trouble for Netflix. This business model will not work pumping billion after billion in a stage that grows ever more, and the path gets worse as more and more is borrowed.

That is the business case that is lost from the very start. This is all before we all realise that the need for Internet and 4K grows, so their infrastructure will shift within the next two years as well and their cloud will need a serious amount of cash to deal with that. I speculatively reckon that by 2021 (if Netflix makes it that long) will equal the NSA data server site at Camp Williams (Utah), so please take a moment to reflect on this. Netflix will in three years require the systems to facilitate to an audience and its hardware will be bigger than the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), with the ability to serve optionally a little over half a billion people. That is the path that Netflix is on and people wonder why I am overly negative. Well, overly negative is a stretch. It is the old fashioned sales pitch. A man sells his soul to the devil, the devil agrees and the deal is that he needs to grow his customer base by 20%. Those who know of the value of a chess set might know that one too. That man required as payment one grain the first tile, and double one the next one and so on, until all 64 tiles were paid for. 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128 (totaling 255 grains) and that is merely the first row, after that it goes fast and by the last row it the tile payment equalled the total grain production of Russia. In customer base you require a customer base that surpasses the total population, or in this specific case the hardware of a former super power. Also consider that over time Netflix needs to open a similar base in Europe and Asia to maximise the streaming within the time zones. How much will that cost? Oh and before you think that this is it, how much power will it take to keep that running? It is set to be $50 million a year in energy cost and 1 million gallons of water a day (per base). That is if there are no power surges and other calamities giving hardship to all this. Now we see more and more providers handing out one year of free Netflix, they will have a deal with Netflix, yet year one is not the problem, year two is the bigger issue, content makes that a challenge and as is stated in Forbes: “Netflix has three bad choices: continue borrowing billions and bury itself deeper in debt… dramatically raise its subscription prices… or cut back on making new content“, if we see the three, we wonder what impact monthly increases does, I reckon that they could go for the option of one price (HD, 4K) at the same price of $16. Basically get rid of Normal and merely have basic and premium (for $5 more), it will give a boost and most people might not worry about the $5, knowing that they could always upgrade their hardware and get better viewing. Borrowing billions is a non-starter as I see it, it merely lowers the lifespan, yet the final option ‘cut back on making new content‘, is not set in stone. What if we go by ‘making different new content‘, are they exploring that? This is where the golden oldies might bring life to the amount of materials they get at a much lesser expense. Disney is all about the family and the younger viewers. Disney rules that land, yet in the 70’s we saw that Scandinavia had its share of series appreciated by kids all over Europe and that might lower the edge that Disney has (to a small extent).

In addition, making different new content might also increase the amount of content that can be made with $12 billion. I hope Netflix pulls through, when we are confronted with The Haunting of Hill House we see that they have amazing diamonds to offer any crown viewer and I am curious what else they can come up with, especially after Sabrina.

When we consider this, how many have taken a look for the best TV series from the 70’s? I did and I reckon that this is not where we find the answers, there will be too many people remembering those, yet the international field where a local TV series makes it into the global population will be for the most real new stuff to many, there will be a risk, you see, for every remake like Three man and a baby there is the risk of having at least two mediocre versions like ‘the Birdcage’, and with an audience of 135 million moving towards 200 million diversity will be key. I am not sure how it is to be solved and the makers will have their challenge cut out for them, but the takings for them will be huge if they pull it off. In the end, the search for originality goes on and as we go for books, movies and optional video games (Alicia Vikander or Michael Fassbender anyone?) we see options. Yet how does it go when we go dark, really dark and we take a night at the museum into a very different direction? What if we push the nightwatchman into the Night watch and he has to survive the events of The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch in 1640, where he has to survive the night, not get shot for optional accusation of theft of the 100 florins that each of the 16 members had brought as payment to Rembrandt van Rijn and get back out without leaving a mark. We might think it is fun to walk in on Hortense Mancini by Jacob Fredinand Voet, yet what happens when you end up in The Wayfarer by Hieronymus Bosch (1503) and you have to get back then?

We can add twists on nearly any TV series, but will it work? It is not for us to solve, it is for Netflix to find a solution and that is where the problem starts, I might phrase it wrong, the problem did not start there. We were informed last year that Netflix cancelled 21 series, it does not really matter why, number of viewers tends to be the most likely reason, it merely adds the pressure for new content to be created, remember that they need between 365 and 700 hours per viewer for them to remain decently content. And in that picture, creating new content is a lot harder than merely creating a new season, the ante is up for the creators and so is the pressure for Netflix.

At least that is how I see it, and in this, the cinema has a silver screen, Netflix will need gold to score and they have to do it 20 times over each year making the effort unfathomable and each year that they do pull it off will add to the legend that started as Netflix.

 

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