MGM+ Exec: Transparency, Communication Key as Streamers Cut Content, Maintain Relationships with Creators
It’s a time of transition for the streaming industry. Market forces have dictated a shift in strategy for media companies, who must now focus on profits instead of simply luring gaudy numbers of new subscribers every quarter.
That change in strategies has led to cost-saving tactics that many observing the industry from the outside have considered extreme. This includes the cancelation of shows and movies that may have already completed production, which is a more and more frequent occurrence for streamers.
The trend first got attention when Warner Bros. Discovery infamously nixed the release of “Batgirl,” a $90 million movie intended to head directly to streaming on HBO Max. But the company decided it was more valuable as a tax write-off even though it was nearly completely finished; and to date, only a select few employees who worked on the film have ever seen even a rough cut of it.
While WBD CEO David Zaslav struck a defiant tone regarding cancelations, many content creators took issue with the way the company handled their specific show’s discontinuance. The problem was less the cancelation itself, and more the way that they felt it was mishandled by WBD.
That’s not the way that MGM+ president Michael Wright plans to manage his content slate moving forward, according to reporting from The Wrap. Speaking at a panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Wright acknowledged that sometimes drastic steps need to be taken, but that honesty and transparency can help avoid issues that lead to shows being pulled before they’ve run their narrative course.
“I think it’s a combination of sharing information regularly and being transparent with the storytellers, like with my own bosses,” Wright said. “We’re not guessing. We have a pretty good sense of, ‘How is this show?’ Even in this multiplatform distribution, we kind of have a sense. You always run the risk of not beginning production or not knowing the fate of a show. But, let me just be really clear, I don’t want [premature cancelations] to happen.
Content creators currently in business with AMC are hoping that the company’s chairman James Dolan was listening to Wright’s comments. AMC is currently seeking $400 million in write-downs across its linear and streaming platforms, and that has already led to some painful cancelations. The company has nixed second seasons of the animated sci-fi thriller series “Pantheon,” as well as the live-action “61st Street,” despite the fact that production on those seasons had nearly finished.
More streaming services could begin piling on content cuts as they seek a path to profitability. To some extent, that’s simply the nature of the industry, but as Michael Wright points out, transparency and honest dealing with content creators can avoid the acrimony that such content cuts have generated in the past, and in some cases forestall the need for cuts altogether.
MGM+ is a video streaming service that features original TV shows like the Emmy-winner “Godfather of Harlem,” the romantic adventure “Billy the Kid,” the contemporary sci-fi horror thriller “FROM,” and dramas “Rogue Heroes” and “Belgravia.” The service also has a library of Hollywood movies. This same service was previously called EPIX NOW.