VOD Views – July 16, 2014


A recent Hollywood Reporter story shone a light on an interesting new wrinkle in the VOD world. In traditional media balance sheets, the way to discern what a show is worth calculated on how many people are watching, which then tells you everything from the amount you charge advertisers to how much to dangle in front of A list talent to star.

The number of people who tune in are the bottom line metric that’s determined everything in entertainment throughout the media age, and such results have always been more or less publicly available.

By contrast, Netflix is famously tight lipped about how many people watch on its network. It’s revealed how many subscribers it has, but the fact is that – out of the tens of squillions of paying members – nobody else knows how many people stream each TV show or movie.

So even though we think of ”Orange Is the New Black” or ”House of Cards” as big hits for the service, we really have no idea how big they are. And neither do the actors, their agents or any co-producers who might share their costs.

The Hollywood Reporter has more (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-is-netflix-show-worth-699297), but it’s interesting to wonder about how it’s going to change things. Might the online streaming services eventually be forced to make viewer numbers public (at least to partners and collaborators), or might some other yardstick of success emerge in the VOD age?

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the honeymoon period that accompanies every major new media platform, one of acquisitions and agreements on a grand scale. The latest agreement is that HBO has signed an exclusive deal with Amazon to bring content to viewers (http://www.deadline.com/2014/04/hbo-signs-exclusive-licensing-deal-with-amazon-prime).

On VOD now, end of the world stories are nothing new, but ”Parts Per Billion” (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/parts-per-billion/id852879226?uo=4&at=10lorC) is a look at how love reacts to a war that threatens to wipe out mankind with a surprisingly star studded cast of Frank Langella, Josh Hartnett, Rosario Dawson, Teresa Palmer and Alexis Bledel.

Also out, ”Devil’s Knot” (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/devils-knot/id855867828?uo=4&at=10lorC), based on the true story of the West Memphis Three and starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.

Finally ”A Wife Alone” (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/a-wife-alone/id873464893?uo=4&at=10lorC) tells the story of a single fateful night when a pretty young woman and her husband are embroiled in the vengeful games of a cruel, overbearing family patriarch.

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Drew Turney
An Australian-based film critic and celebrity interviewer now based in Los Angeles, California.